Pakistan emerged on the map of the globe when the world was in a phase of the cold war between the USA and the USSR. The strategic location and relevance with the core power objective of the USSR put Pakistan into a vital position to choose a block. It was quite difficult for a newly emerged state to take a position on international and regional matters as the objectives and interests were defined but was not possible for Pakistan to strategically incline towards existing powers as a newborn state. Pakistan soon after the independence faced this issue and thus went for the military alliances and agreement to secure its vested national interests. Therefore, military-based cooperation and foreign policy construct illustrated Pakistan as a ‘Security State’ hence signifying the importance of the Armed Forces.
Being a state having multi-dimensional security threats, a huge responsibility came on the shoulders of Pakistan Armed Forces to secure the national interests of Pakistan. From the land to air and to the seas, Pakistan’s Armed Forces always proved their professional excellence. In wake of increased naval diplomacy and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the role of the Pakistan Navy has expanded credibly in recent years. In this context, the vision of the Pakistan Navy in securing the territorial waters and coastal line, constructive role in Maritime Security, addressing Sea blindness, and exploring the special economic zones is really commendable.
At the time of independence, Pakistan Navy got the share of 4 frigates/ sloops, 4 fleet minesweepers, 8 motor minesweepers, and harbor defense launches. Initially, there was no established naval infrastructure and the Naval Headquarters was a one-room office in Karachi which was later shifted to a building at West Wharf and subsequently to Napier Barracks (Liaquat Barracks). Although, it was a navy with extremely few resources, but the story of success started from there. With the resolution, commitment and tireless efforts of Pakistan Navy Officials, Pakistan Navy is now a commendable force possessing advanced minesweepers, Submarines, gunboats, fast patrol crafts, floating dock, rotary-wing aircraft, submarine chasers, fast attack crafts, survey vessels, advanced missile systems, and exclusive training ships, etc. Moreover, the Pakistan Navy dockyard provides a home-based maintenance facility and is on the way of acquiring self-indigenization through agreements and transfer of technology from friendly countries. The Naval cooperation with the Chinese Navy, west, and most recently the naval agreement with Turkey are few examples to quote in this regard. The current Naval Headquarters is a hub of logistics and technological facilities along with the well trained human resources.
Besides, the advancement in the war field Pakistan Navy is also busy in effective ‘Naval Diplomacy’ across the globe. In this regard, recently two ships PNS ASLAT and PNS MOAWIN were on the deployment of African countries this year. During the deployment, PNS ASLAT and PNS MOAWIN visited various African countries including Morocco, Mauritania, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Nigeria to strengthen bilateral ties with African countries, enhancing maritime collaboration and developing interoperability. Pakistan Navy flotilla established medical camps in African countries to generate goodwill amongst the local populace and strengthen ties with host nations. During the medical camps, people were provided routine checkups, minor surgical, and dental treatments by the Pakistan Navy’s medical staff. Moreover, Pakistan Navy officers and sailors onboard interacted with officials and diplomats of various countries deciphering goodwill gestures with their counterparts.
At the coastal borders of Pakistan, the Navy has come a long way to help nation-building through the development of the educational institutions, coastal community-building projects, and relief operations. Besides, Pakistan Navy is also helping the coastal community through various relief operations like medical camps, food provision, and assistance during natural calamities.
Above all, Cognizant of the international obligations and changing international scenario, Pakistan Navy redefined itself and has played a vital role in securing the international waters and ensuring regional peace. The general area of this operation is the North Arabian Sea, including parts of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Pakistan is part of international task forces (TF- 150 and TF-151) and has done an excellent job in international campaigns against piracy, drug, and human trafficking. Pakistan in conjunction with other coalition partners has carried out various successful operations and seized many ships. Pakistan Navy also joined the US-led coalition, called the Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP) in the year 2004. The campaign, which is the maritime component of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ (OEF), designed to keep a check on sea-borne terrorist elements.
With a declaration of regional fate changer project CPEC, the responsibility of the Pakistan Navy has increased drastically to ensure the security of the multi-billion project. To respond to the call of duty, the Pakistan Navy raised a specialized Task Force to provide security to Gwadar Port and the projects under CPEC. Henceforth, undoubtedly Pakistan Navy is now an important component of the economic security of Pakistan.
In a nutshell, Pakistan Navy started its journey with limited resources, but with the vision, resolution, commitment, and tireless efforts of countries’ leadership and sacrifices of the Navy personnel, Pakistan Navy is now a committed and professional sea arm that has proved its professionalism internationally. Moreover, from the security of coastal borders to the nation-building efforts, Pakistan Navy has always come up with the expectations of the nation in these seventy years. With the current vision to address sea blindness, exploring natural resources in special economic zones, and securing of gigantic economic opportunity, CPEC, Pakistan Navy is emerging as a significant economic component of the country.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.