Ehsan Ahmed Khan

Allah orders in the Quran “And prepare for them whatever power and whatever garrisoned horses you can, to (spread) awe thereby into (the hearts) of the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others, apart from them (i.e., besides them) that you do not know; Allah knows them.” (Surah Al Anfal Verse 60).

These verses are not just the metaphoric description of military preparations more than 1400 years ago, but delineate the principles of deterrence. With the increase in lethality of modern age weapons and global averseness towards fighting large scale conventional wars especially amongst rival with equitable war fighting and power projection potential, the space for war has shrunk. Conversely, today’s war fighting is wrapped in many cloaks that are inclusive of kinetic as well as non-kinetic means, commonly referred to as hybrid warfare. The corner stone objective remains to avoid wars and that is achieved by maintaining effective deterrence in all dimensions i.e. air, land and sea. Hence contemporary armed forces are structured and configured not only to fight and win wars but essentially to deter wars.

Historically geopolitics remained land centric and that’s where most wars had been fought for the control of territory. With transition of geo-strategy in favour of geo-economics, maritime security has gained increasing significance with a desire of maritime powers to uphold principle of Mare Liberum while concurrently safeguarding own interests. 

As a fall out of end of British Colonial rule over Indian Subcontinent, the military hardware was distributed amongst Indian and Pakistan armed forces. It was an unjust distribution which grossly favoured India. The distribution was even starker in case of Pakistan Navy which had a very humble beginning in 1947. But over time Pakistan Navy has grown in size and capability transforming into a regional maritime force to reckon. Throughout its history Pakistan Navy, despite being enormously out gunned and outnumbered, had kept a numerically much superior enemy at bay. Destruction of radar station at Dwarka and bottling up of entire Indian Navy in port in 65, sinking of Khukri in 71 by submarine (an achievement only by PN and Royal Navy post WW-II), detection and confrontations with Indian submarines in 2016 and 19 (post Pulwama) is reflection of Pakistan Navy’s commitment to its task and above all its perpetual operational readiness. 

On October, 28 Pakistan Navy carried out an impressive fire power demonstration in North Arabian Sea that included launch of a number of offensive weapons from different surface and air platforms. The successful destruction of targets at extended ranges speaks volumes of proficiency of Pakistan Navy’s personnel and reaffirms its strong combat capabilities to respond against any act of aggression by an adversary. While Pakistan Navy has gradually transited towards achieving self-reliance in anti-surface and land attack capabilities, successful engagement of targets by erstwhile anti-ship missiles also indicates the proficiency of PN personnel with reliable logistical and maintenance systems that ensures operational and war worthiness of systems that were procured decades earlier. On the contrary India has been struggling for reliability of its acquired as well as locally built missile systems, not to mention the recent dismal performance of much boasted Nirbhay cruise missile which failed again despite years of testing and trials.

Pakistan Navy fire power demonstration was very aptly timed just after the Indian Navy test fired its own set of missiles along its coast. These tests come at a time when India is bloating with its self-assumed status of “Net Security Provider” through new found honeymoon with the United States and being partner to QUAD or “Asian NATO” to challenge growing Chinese influence in the region. The message from Pakistan was firm and clear to digress India from its misconceived ideas of becoming regional hegemony, altering the regional security stability and intimidating Pakistan. Simply put the punch line is; any misadventure at sea would be dealt firmly and with parity in effects. Another aspect of this fire power display was the Chief of the Navy’s presence on the frontline amongst his troops shortly after assuming command of the Navy. This purely reflects the clarity in operational thought and seamless linkage from strategic to tactical level and unanimity of intent of the leader as well the lead.

Since Pakistan’s independence every successive Indian government, especially the incumbent fascist regime, has been literally bending over its back to undo Pakistan. It continues to amass billions of dollars’ worth military hardware but blatantly ignores the miserable plight of its own poverty struck population. Indian hegemonic desires coupled with hysteric paranoia over CPEC and more recent signing of BECA with US can disturb the regional security balance. Pakistan Navy’s recent live weapons firing is not only a positive step towards maintaining and promoting regional stability through deterrence but also an unwavering display of it intent against a belligerent hegemony.