Significance of Pakistan Navy Day | By Cdre Dr Anjum Sarfraz (R)

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Significance of Pakistan Navy Day


KASHMIR is the unfinished agenda of partition of British India. The plan of 03 June 1947 stipulated the scheme of dividing the subcontinent into the dominions of Pakistan and India respectively by 15 August 1947.

The state of Jammu & Kashmir should have joined Pakistan because the valley had 93% Muslims. India sent its troops to Kashmir and occupied it in October 1947.

Kashmir is considered as ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan because all major rivers originate from there. The first war was fought in 1947/48 between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

India approached the United Nations to intervene and the UN recommended holding a plebiscite to settle the issue of whether the State would join India or Pakistan.

The plebiscite has not taken place even after demand of the residents of India-occupied Kashmir (IoK) and Pakistan.

It is a major dispute for normalizing relations. Due to this border skirmishes take place on the Line of Control (LoC) frequently.

In early January 1965, dispute of Rann of Kutch emerged. According to Abdul Sattar book, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy (p102-105), India contested 3,500 miles’ area north of 24 degrees’ parallel.

Fighting flared up in April. However, the British government persuaded both sides to agree to the ceasefire which took place on 1 May 1965. The issue was amicably resolved by a Tribunal. Keeping this in view, Pakistan Navy (PN) was ready for any more eventuality.

In the meantime, in August there was an uprising of freedom struggle in the IoK. India launched an offensive on the international borders on 6 Sep with the objective to capture Lahore.

Hence all-out war commenced, India as an aggressor. Pakistan defence forces gave a befitting response. According to Jane’s fighting Ships of 1965-66, PN had a cruiser, a submarine and 6 destroyers(DDs)/ frigates (FFs), whereas India had an Aircraft carrier, two heavy cruisers, and 19 DDs/ FFs. The Indian Navy (IN) had considerable numerical superiority.

However, Pakistan was the first country of South Asia which acquired a conventional submarine Ghazi from the USA in 1964. It played a major role in the war.

The commanding officer during the war was Commander Karamat Rehman Niazi, who later became CNS and executive officer Lt Cdr Ahmed Tasnim, who retired as Vice Admiral.

The message about starting of hostilities was received by PN at 0630 on 6 Sep. The Task Force comprising Cruiser BABUR and six destroyers and frigates left harbour by 0800 the same day and reached their assigned patrol stations.

Naval control of the shipping organization was activated to effectively control merchant ships. An embargo was declared on all merchant ships carrying war-like stores to India.

The river routes used by Indian steamers transiting through former East Pak were sealed. Orders were issued to seize all such vessels and their cargo.

All these actions were taken promptly in order to inflict severe losses to the enemy in terms of valuable cargo, ships and river craft.

PN Submarine Ghazi was deployed off Bombay area to sink heavy units of IN that is Aircraft Carrier Vikrant and two heavy cruisers, Delhi and Mysore. She was off Bombay on war patrol on 5 Sep.

This demonstrates good planning and foresight of PN higher command. In the afternoon of 7 Sep orders were issued to the Task Force to carry out bombardment of Dwarka from a distance, as close as 5.5 nautical miles with the objectives (1) to draw heavy enemy units out of Bombay for Ghazi to attack (2) to destroy radar installations at Dwarka (3) to lower Indian morale (4) to divert Indian air effort away from northern area close to Karachi. The city of Dwarka was completely blacked out.

Bombardment was started about 30 minutes past midnight 7/8 Sep and completed in five minutes. Each ship fired about 50 rounds. The Task Group after the successful mission safely arrived at its patrol station at 0630 on 8 Sep.

The Indian Navy youngsters even today ask their elders about this successful bombardment by a Navy much smaller in size than IN. The 8th September is celebrated as Navy Day to pay tribute to all those who planned and participated in the naval operations of 1965 war.

IN ships did not come out even after bombardment, therefore, Ghazi was assigned patrol off the Indian Kutch coast.

On 22 Sep she managed to get an IN frigate and carried out an attack with torpedoes at 7:11 PM. However, torpedoes did not explode. The commanding officer and second in command got gallantry awards of Sitara-e-Jurat (SJ).

Hardly any movement of IN units was observed in the North Arabian Sea and in the Bay of Bengal during the entire 16 days of 1965 war. The PN had achieved Sea Control, that is establishment of naval superiority in areas where operations were intended to be conducted.

The PN dominated the IN which was about 5 times more in number, by her superior training, planning, foresight and courageous execution of operations. The Pakistan Army fought the battle at every front with courage and good planning.

The Indian Army ambition after the surprise attack on 6 Sep to reach Lahore Gymkhana could not be achieved.

Major Shabbir Sharif got the highest award of Nishan-e-Haider while defending the motherland. The PAF achieved air superiority in the first few days of war. Squadron Leader M M Alam shot five Indian Hunters while flying Sabre in one sortie and made a world record.

He got gallantry award Sitara-e-Jurat. According to book, “History of Pakistan Air Force (p338), it was very unique sortie of PAF C-130 in which Air Marshal Noor Khan, Commander-in-Chief, flew over the Indian territory a few days before the commencement of war to assess himself the practicability of certain decisions which were required to be taken at the spot.

In fact, the 1965 war was a military success. We should pray for all those who exhibited acts of bravery, courage and laid down their lives for defence of the motherland.

—The writer is associated with the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA), Islamabad.

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