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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Resilient posture of Pakistan Navy during Indo-Pak wars

History is always there to act as a lighthouse for those who have a thirst for knowledge. It has an incredible legacy for our coming generations to learn the sacrifices and bravery of those men in white who sacrificed their today for the better tomorrow of our nation. However, the most complex historical occurrences to examine are wars or violent conflicts. Particularly when the Indo-Pak wars are discussed and challenged academically, one can observe divergent viewpoints.    

Operation Somnath, famously known as Operation Dwarka, is undoubtedly a feather in the cap of Pakistan Navy PN during the War of 1965. September 8 will be remembered for the audacious attack by PN warships on Dwarka and the confinement of the whole Indian Navy IN fleet by PN submarine GHAZI.

On September 7, 1965, the PN attacked Dwarka, an Indian coastal town. For the first time, PN was pitched against a much bigger and technologically advanced IN. The results of this operation opened a new chapter of bravery, courage and unflinching faith.

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Looking at the excerpts of history

History is always there to act as a lighthouse for those who have a thirst for knowledge. It has an incredible legacy for our coming generations to learn the sacrifices and bravery of those men in white who sacrificed their today for the better tomorrow of our nation. It inspires, builds confidence, identifies historical events, and contains lessons learned for all developments during the operation. However, the most complex historical occurrences to examine are wars or violent conflicts. Particularly when the Indo-Pak wars are discussed and challenged academically, one can observe divergent viewpoints.

In the 1950s, Pakistan received little military assistance from the West through SEATO and CENTO and limited naval equipment purchases and supplies. Nonetheless, the arrival of a US TENCH class submarine to the PN in 1964 was a significant deterrent and a game-changer. This submarine was called “Ghazi” and soon began patrolling the Indian Ocean.

Pakistan and India have long been at odds, and the latter’s size and relative power made Pakistan’s security a top priority. Despite the imbalance in power equation between both countries, Pakistan has faced enormous challenges and has managed better in difficult times. The supportive evidence is remarkable achievements in Operation Somnath. The exemplary success of the said operation in the wake of the Indo-Pak War of 1965 was one such case that became a proud part of Pakistani history.

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What happened next?

Dwarka is a coastal city in Gujarat located on the northwestern peninsula that has been historically crucial for India, not just religiously and culturally, but also militarily. During Operation Somnath, PN was assigned to accomplish some key objectives. The focus was to destroy Indian surveillance capability by destroying the radar installations at Dwarka. It was also kept in principle to increase the radius of destruction not limited to tangible military paraphernalia only but also to inflict severe damage to the morale of Indian forces.

When the war was at its peak, the Indian Navy started to focus mainly on the West. It compelled Pakistan to protect its maritime boundaries in the Arabian Sea. Moreover, PN was tasked to safeguard Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) for smooth trade and activities of commercial nature. Indian amphibious assaults were a possibility in the creek areas and estuaries of West and East Pakistan.

Essentially, the PN accomplished the aforementioned key objectives of Operation Somnath and the assigned duties with less logistical and naval technology than India. But the only exception was the first objective, which was not put into use as the primary fleet of the Indian Navy was at port for getting necessary repairs. However, despite severe limitations and a naval power mismatch, Operation Somnath became a symbol of the PN’s professionalism.

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Operation Dwarka was a multi-faceted mission

It started traditional naval warfare between Pakistan and India, with the PN proving its worth. As a result of the operation’s success, Indian forces failed to launch any retaliatory action in air, naval, or amphibious assaults on the coastline. The operation also tested the operational readiness, coordination, and precision of PN.

The operation followed the plan and destroyed radar and other city installations, and made sure no radio communication was administered, which it did. Above all, the said operation fractured the Indian Navy’s morale, as one Indian cruiser, INS Mysore, stationed nearby in Cochin, did not respond to the Pakistani attack.

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The findings from the annals of history reveal that the stunning success of the operation opened new avenues and concerns for national interest in getting modern technologies to strengthen naval power. It includes assault and navigation of maritime territories of the coastal states in the region. The lesson from history is that PN has demonstrated itself as a dependable “Guardian” of Pakistan’s vast maritime frontier. Because of its global naval status, the PN has acquired technology, increased operational capabilities, impeccable training standards, and boosted morale.

The author is an Assistant Professor at Maritime Centre of Excellence (MCE), Pakistan Navy War College Lahore and holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad. He can be reached at aleem_gillani@hotmail.com. 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.