Written by Muhammad Ammar Alam

For thousands of years, Navies of the world duked it out for supremacy. Over the
millennia, the importance of a strong Navy has grown. From the ancient Egyptian Battle
of Delta to the now-infamous World War II; massive battles using aircraft carriers,
submarines and more brought about the modern era of naval warfare. Ever since then,
the aircraft carrier is considered a pinnacle of powerful navies. However, that is slowly
starting to change. With larger, faster and more powerful weapons, these large ships
are becoming vulnerable. New weaponry in the world of Navy has given way to more
efficient and effective methods of defense. The importance of Navy, hence, cannot be
understated. When Pakistan got independence, the Naval Force was divided between
India and Pakistan. While India got lion’s share of assets, Pakistan got nothing but
scrap. At the time of independence, Pakistan was given 4 frigates, 4 fleet
minesweepers, 8 motor minesweepers and harbor defense launches. From a very
modest beginning in the early years, today Pakistan Navy has steadily grown into a
potent and efficient naval force. Be it the 1965 war or the Operation ‘Somnath’, Pakistan
Navy has been achieving success in defending the coast of our country. After WW2, the
first major strike by submarine in 1971 was launched by Pakistan Navy when it sunk an
Indian Frigate KHUKRI. Needless to say, Pakistan Navy has become a powerful and an
important part of our defense system.
Navy is among the three classes of a country’s defense, arguably the most
important being a skill-intensive force. Navigating and protecting coasts of a country that
has been embroiled in many geo-strategic proxies and wars is a challenge. With its
exceptional manpower and planning, the Pakistan Navy has been safeguarding the
coast steadfastly. The armed forces may capture the spotlight when it comes to national
security against external and internal threats, Pakistan Navy works behind the scenes in
discretion as it stands guard at thousand-kilometer long coastline of the country.
According to the official website, the mission of Pakistan Navy is “to protect maritime
interests of Pakistan, deter aggression at and from sea, provide disaster relief,
participate in development of coastal communities and contribute to international efforts
in maintaining good order at sea.” As Pakistan approaches its 74 th  Independence Day,
this mission to protect the national seas holds even more importance.
The developing relationship between China and Pakistan, embodied by the
agreement on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2016, has ameliorated and
strengthened Pakistan Navy to a greater extent. Pakistan and China both continue to
engage in naval exercises and cooperation in the Arabian Sea thanks to the
development of Gwadar under CPEC. The growth in naval strength of Pakistan Navy
taking active part in global maritime initiatives, ramping up efforts to preserve Freedom
of Seas is highly appreciable. This is evident that Pakistan Navy and the Pakistan
Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) has confiscated an estimated two tons of cannabis,
9000 kilograms of hashish and a hundred kilograms of crystal meth during their anti-
trafficking operations.

Keeping this in mind, one might ask: why Pakistan should focus on sea defence
considering that the major threat comes from the LoC on land? The answer lies in the
fact that Pakistan Navy has played crucial roles in the preceding wars with India
unbeknownst to the general populace during 1965 war, the Navy conducted the
“Operation Dwarka” by launching a devastating attack on the India state of Dwarka
where the enemy’s radar facilities were annihilated with the help of submarines. Hence,
the critical role played by the Navy during war time cannot be overstated as the battle
on the seas can make the difference between victory and defeat.
The term national security is evolving to incorporate the dynamics of the seas in
addition to other security aspects. As we celebrating another Independence Day at the
beginning of a new decade, it is important that Pakistan ascribes a considerable share
of importance to the contribution of Pakistan Navy as it does to the other aspects of
military. This is even more important going forward as Pakistan looks to kick-start its
journey towards becoming an economic hub in the likes of China, Europe and the
Middle East courtesy of the CPEC and its associated benefits. In this context,
Commander Azam Khan, the drafter of the national Maritime Doctrine, has aptly
remarked, “the flash points are shifting to the sea.” It is hoped that this advice is taken
note of by the national policymakers.