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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Emergence of South Asian Naval Warfare

The Pakistan Navy is a volunteer force that has been in conflict with neighboring India twice on its sea borders and has been repeatedly deployed in the Indian Ocean to act as a military advisor to Gulf Arab states and other friendly nations during the events of multinational conflict as part of its commitment to the United Nations.

History revolves around interpretation. It is always available to provide whatever the reader or learner requires at the time. It provides motivation, boosts self-esteem, and instills a sense of pride. It defines historical phenomena and provides a list of regrets and lessons from which all parties can benefit. The negative and positive aspects of history provide the foundation for a state’s policies. There are numerous events and decisions in any nation’s history that can serve as a permanent source of motivation, pride, or even ignominy.

There has been a visible disparity in the distribution of assets between Pakistan and India since Pakistan’s inception in 1947. The same was true for military share, with the navy, in particular, showing a significant disparity. The Pakistan Navy received a small share in the form of two sloops, four fleet minesweepers, four harbor defense launches, two trawlers, and two frigates, as well as approximately 3600 personnel, including 180 officers.

Read more: The glorious journey of Pakistan Navy: Experiences and future prospects

Under the Western arrangements of SEATO and CENTO to contain Communism in the 1950s, Pakistan received limited military assistance, allowing for the purchase and supply of naval equipment, but only to a limited extent. Nonetheless, the addition of a submarine (ex-US TENCH class) to the Pakistan Naval Fleet in 1964 was a remarkable step that proved to be a significant deterrent to any neighboring country contemplating an attack. “Ghazi” was the name given to this submarine. It was only the second submarine in the Indian Ocean Region, and it quickly began patrolling its waters.

Operation Dwarka

Despite such a power imbalance, Pakistan has performed admirably in all of the challenges it has faced. One such incident that became a proud part of Pakistan’s history was the exemplary success of Operation Dwarka in the aftermath of the 1965 Pakistan-India war. Operation Dwarka emerged as a symbol of perseverance and demonstrated the professional capabilities of the Pakistan Navy. Dwarka is a coastal city in Gujrat, located on the northwestern peninsula. It has played an important role in Indian history, not only religiously and culturally, but also militarily. This is where the radar installation for guiding the Indian Air Force to launch attacks on important Pakistani cities, particularly Karachi, was located.

The main goal of Operation Dwarka was to provoke the Indian warships stationed at the former Bombay (now Mumbai) Port to come to the Arabian Sea, where the Pakistani submarine “Ghazi” was waiting to engage those ships. That operation, which began on September 8, 1965, involved seven Pakistan Naval vessels, while the submarine waited in the open sea. The bombardment of identified targets took only four minutes.

Read more: Tapping the untapped, Pakistan Navy organizing Maritime Expo (PIMEC)

Beginning of Formal Naval Warfare

Operation Dwarka was more than just a naval mission; it had many facets. It was the start of formal naval warfare between Pakistan and India, with the Pakistan Navy’s roaring success serving as a forerunner to future naval developments. It gained its objectives as the operation’s success left India licking its wounds; no retaliatory air, naval, or amphibious assault on the Indian coastline was launched after that.

The operation also served as a litmus test for the Pakistan Navy’s operational preparedness, coordination, and precision, as it was a highly successful mission: the given plan was fully followed, and all targets were met as instructed, despite the command of no radio communication being issued. Above all, Operation Dwarka significantly lowered the morale of the Indian Navy, to the point where even the Indian warship “INS-Mysore” which was stationed nearby in Cochin, did not respond to the Pakistan Navy’s assault.

Read more: Pakistan Navy rescues crew members from sinking Indian vessel

September 8 & Blue Diplomacy

The brilliant success of this operation etched an incredible chapter in Pakistan’s history and served as a springboard for further naval developments, not only in Pakistan but also on a regional level in Asia. Every year on September 8th, the Pakistan Navy commemorates the day of its victory and honors the officers who participated in this operation for bringing such success to the country. The Pakistan Navy has gained respect for its effective roles at various levels, particularly in “Blue Diplomacy.”

Since 2018, the Pakistan Navy has maintained ties with other actors by serving in Task Forces 150, 151, and 152, providing training and operational assistance to other regional navies, and participating in the launch of the Regional Maritime Security Patrol (RMSP).


The writer has done graduation in Strategic & Nuclear Studies from National Defence University, Isd and Post-Grad in International Relations from Istanbul University, Turkey. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.