DR MASOOD KHATTAK
AN article titled “Pakistan Navy under Chinese spell & its faltering Naval Strategy” was posted on Indian specialized defence websiteBharat Shakti.While the title itself gives away the notion of being nothingmorethan a propaganda piece, a closer look reveals that the writer Ravi Shankar seemingly is inflicted with the same confusion that the modern Indian state apparatus finds itself in. The article starts off with a reference to the joint Chinese-Pakistan naval exercise of “Sea Guardians 2020” and the author then builds up the case for the notion of Chinese domination of Pakistan. Owing to the growing cooperation with Chinese Navy and increase in acquisition from China, the author referred Pakistan Navy as an “appendage of the Chinese” in the Indian Ocean and in the state of strategic confusion. The author seems to skirt the facts as from the onset, Pakistan Navy has been maintaining diversified platforms and equipments of western as well as Chinese origin. Similarly Pakistan Navy is a founding member of most of the US/West initiated collaborative Security arrangements in North Arabian Sea while atthe sametime maintains very close cooperation with Chinese Navy. Contrarily Indian Navy until very recently has been completely relying on only Russian weapon systems. India as a whole appears to be in a state of confusion. On one hand it is engaged in ventures of unipolar US grand strategy such as containment of China but on the other hand it proudly displays its membershipsinmultipolar groups alongsideChina such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Indian StrategicConfusion atthe national level also has a trickledown effect on military hardware procurement as well where the Indian armed forces in general and Indian navy in particular is spending around 55% of its allocated budget on equipment procurement and modernization without any clear vision. Stephen PCohen and Sunil Dasgupta have also aptly described this unbalanced approach of Indian military modernisation as “Arming without Aiming”. The author then moves on to another familiar Indian trope, that of “religious radicalization” which is often used in attempts to portray Pakistan as aterrorist sponsor.While this may be right in relation to certain isolated incidents,wherein a fewindividualsmight have been involved in extremism but due to Pakistan’s zero tolerance policy and stringent measures adopted such people were brought to justice swiftly eradicating the menace of religious radicalization from within the armed forces. The author has put a complete blanket on Indian incumbent BJP Govt state policy of turning India into Hindu and totalitarian state, due to which, Indian state machinery itself has played a rather very dismal role in not only ignoring Hindutva radicalization among its military ranks but actively promoting it. The case of Col. Purohit, a military intelligence official who co-optedmilitary grade explosives in order to attack Indian citizens as well as Pakistani civilians aboard the Samjhauta Express is a case in point. The authorthereafter blames Pakistan navy for patronage of drug smugglers and turning a blind eye on illicit flow of drugs from Makran coast into the North Arabian Sea. This assertion actually flies in the face of proof documented in major drug busts carried out by the Pakistan navy. Over the last two years, Pakistan navy has carried out a large number of anti-narcotic operations in the North Arabian Sea confiscating more than 20,000 tons of Hashish, Heroin and Crystal valued at around four hundred million dollars. Towards the end the real essence of the article is revealed when the author starts praising all branches of the Indian military with relationtothe post Pulwama scenario. It becomes apparent that article had an underlying agenda of pushing the Indian narrative about its failed aggression attempt in Feb 2019 by denigrating Pakistan. Interestingly he sweeps aside Pakistan navy’s successful blocking of Indian submarinesinto Pakistani waters as “propaganda’ despite proof but largely stands mute about Indian naval performance duringthe sametime including the overwhelming failure of the entire Indian apparatus to detect Pakistan navy submarines duringthe venture.The author also seems to be not privy to information that during said strained period, Indian navy extended port call period of Indian navy ship Prabal in the first week of March at Omani ports amid fear to be intercepted by Pakistan navy during passage from Oman waters to India. —The writer is Non-Resident Fellow at Maritime Study Forum, based in Islamabad.