Pakistan surfaced on the global map during the time of the cold war between the USA and the USSR. Due to its strategic geographical location and its relevance to the main power objective of the USSR, Pakistan was thrust into a pivotal position of choosing a geopolitical bloc. As a newly formed nation, making choices on international and regional issues proved challenging since the goals and interests were specified but it was not viable for Pakistan to strategically align with existing powers as a newly established state. Right after obtaining independence, Pakistan faced this challenge and thus opted for military alliances and agreements to protect its national interests. Consequently, its reliance on military cooperation and construction of foreign policy portrayed Pakistan as a ‘Security State’, underlining the significance of the Armed Forces.
Being a state having multi-dimensional security threats, the Pakistan Armed Forces bore the enormous responsibility of protecting Pakistan’s national interests. Pakistan Armed Forces have always shown their professionalism from land to air to sea. As a result of increased maritime diplomacy and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the role of the Pakistan Navy has arguably expanded in recent years. In this context, Pakistan Navy’s vision of securing territorial waters and coastline, playing a constructive role in maritime security measures, combating darkness of the sea and exploring special economic zones is truly commendable.
At the time of independence, the Pakistan Navy received a share of 4 frigates, 4 naval minesweepers, 8 motor minesweepers and a harbor defense vessel. Initially, there was no established naval infrastructure and the naval headquarters was a one-room office in Karachi, which was later moved to the West Wharf Building and later to Napier Barracks (Liaquat Barracks). Although, it was a navy with extremely less resources, but the story of success started from there. With the resolution, commitment and tireless efforts of Pakistan Navy Officials, Pakistan Navy is now a commendable force possessing advanced minesweepers, Submarines, gunboats, fast patrol crafts, floating dock, rotary wing aircraft, submarine chasers, fast attack crafts, survey vessels, advanced missile systems and exclusive training ships etc. In addition, the Pakistan Naval Shipyard provides domestic maintenance services and indigenizes through contracts and technology transfer from friendly countries. The maritime cooperation with the Chinese Navy in the West and the recent naval agreement with Turkey are some examples in this regard.
Besides, Pakistan Navy is effectively engaged in ‘Naval Diplomacy’ to further our bilateral relations with the world. In this regard, bilateral Naval Exercises with several world navies are conducted on regular intervals to increase interoperability and promote bilateral relations. Increasing the naval strength and self-reliance is highly mandated by PN to maintain effective operational presence in Indian Ocean Region. The recently inducted type 054A Frigates, PNS TIPPU SULTAN and PNS SHAHJAHAN marked the completion of project of four Chinese built Tughril Class Frigates followed by the launching of PNS Tariq at Karachi Shipyard indicates the momentous steps taken towards more powerful maritime defence. Similarly, Pakistan is also attaining the capability of submarine construction with two Hangor Class Submarines under construction at KSEW with the help of China.
At the coastal borders of Pakistan, Navy has come a long way to help nation building through development of the educational institutions, coastal community building projects, relief operations during previous year floods and rescue & relief operations during recent tropical Cyclone Biparjoy in the form of evacuation of affectees along the creeks area.
Above all, cognizant of the international obligations and changing international scenario, Pakistan Navy redefined itself and has played vital role in securing the international waters and ensuring regional peace. The general area of this operation is the North Arabian Sea, including parts of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Pakistan is part of international task forces (CTF- 150 and CTF-151) and has done excellent job in international campaign against piracy, drug and human trafficking. Pakistan in conjunction with other coalition partners has carried out various successful operations and seized many ships. Pakistan Navy also joined the US led coalition, called Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP) in the year 2004. The campaign, which is maritime component of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ (OEF), designed to keep a check on sea-borne terrorist elements.
With declaration of regional fate changer project CPEC, the responsibility of Pakistan Navy has increased drastically to ensure security of multi billion project. To respond call of duty, Pakistan Navy raised a specialized Task Force to provide security to Gwadar Port and the projects under CPEC. Henceforth, undoubtedly Pakistan Navy is now an important component of the economic security of Pakistan.
In a nutshell, Pakistan Navy started its journey with limited resources, but with the vision, resolution, commitment and tireless efforts of countries’ leadership and sacrifices of the Navy personnel, Pakistan Navy is now a committed and professional sea arm that has proved its professionalism internationally. Moreover, from security of coastal borders to the nation building efforts, Pakistan Navy has always come up to the expectations of the nation in these seventy years. With the current vision to address sea blindness, exploring natural resources in special economic zones and securing of gigantic economic opportunity, CPEC, Pakistan Navy is emerging as a significant economic component of the country.