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Pakistan Navy War College (PNWC) is principal seat of learning for mid-career officers of Pakistan Navy. The training is by way of a yearlong staff course. Since inception in 1971, the college has groomed and trained officers of Pakistan Navy and equipped them for contemporary staff and warfare needs. Over the years, the college has gone through gradual transformation to become a hub of professional maritime security and staff studies in Pakistan Navy. With 51st staff course in progress, the year 2021 marks the Golden Jubilee of Pakistan Navy staff courses. A staff course is an important milestone in the professional career of officers.

PNWC has come a long way from modest beginnings in 1968. In order to mark the Golden Jubilee of Pakistan Navy War College, it may be worthwhile to recall the journey. Prior to the inauguration of Staff College, Pakistan Navy relied upon foreign staff courses. This however, did not meet professional requirements of the Navy. A modest effort was accordingly initiated with a staff school established at PNS Himalaya, Karachi in 1968. The school provided for basic staff work training to junior naval officers. Later on, staff school was shifted to PNS Karsaz, Karachi and inaugurated as Pakistan Navy Staff College in 1971. Vice Admiral Muzaffar Hassan, the then Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Navy inaugurated the staff college. It also marked the commencement of the first-ever PN staff course in July 1971.

With the passage of time, the number of participants as well as professional needs of PN continued to grow, making it inevitable to move the college to a more appropriate locale. After due deliberation, Lahore was chosen as the next site, being the heartland and capital of the most populous province of Pakistan. Another reason for relocating to Punjab was that it provided large human resource capital for the Navy. Additionally, it was long felt that presence of Navy was greatly needed in Punjab to sensitize local population in Punjab on maritime and naval issues.

For the purpose, a building on Mall Road (Shahra-e-Quaid-i-Azam), Lahore was acquired and altered to meet ad-hoc requirements of the college. The building was inaugurated as Pakistan Navy War College in August 1996 with the commencement of 25th PN staff course. The college also affiliated itself with Punjab University for award of B.Sc. (Hons) degree to graduating officers. On establishment of Bahria University (BU) in 2001, the college changed its affiliation to BU. Similarly, with up-gradation of National Defence College to National Defence University (NDU) in 2007, PNWC became constituent college of NDU for award of M.Sc. War Studies (Maritime) degree to qualifying officers.

The college was moved to Naval Complex Walton, Lahore in 2011. This again was a make-shift arrangement. Alongside, construction work for a purpose-built state-of-the-art building equipped with modern training facilities of international standards commenced. The present-day Pakistan Navy War College building at Walton, Lahore was inaugurated in 2014 by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan. 44th PN staff course commenced side by side.

A PN staff course is 20-week off-campus and 45-week on-campus training of officers of the rank of Lieutenant Commander and Commanders. The PN staff course also embraces a large number of officers from friendly navies. Various modules in the course are designed with emphasis on leadership and staff skills, strategy and warfare besides national security. On completion of the course, the officers are awarded MS War Studies (Maritime) degree by NDU, Islamabad. During the course, participants also avail an opportunity of inland study tours over and above a foreign study tour. Overall 2334 graduates from Pakistan Navy (1634), Pakistan Army (90), Pakistan Air Force (91), civil society (03), allied officers from 30 friendly countries (526) have graduated from Pakistan Navy War College since the inception in 1971.

With the country’s heavy dependence on sea trade for running the economy and its proximity to strategic choke points in the heavily militarised Indian Ocean Region (IOR), ensuring security of maritime highways and protecting other vital maritime interests is crucial for Pakistan. Over the years, PN War College has contributed greatly in advancing the cause of country’s maritime interests besides engendering maritime awareness in the vast reaches of the country.

In this context, Maritime Security Workshop (MARSEW) is worth mentioning. It was first organised in 2017 at PNWC with the core objective to underscore the importance of maritime sector, blue economy and maritime security. Participants from different walks of life including parliamentarians, academia, media personalities, bureaucrats and policy-makers are invited to participate in this annual 10 days’ workshop consisting of on-campus academic activities and a visit to navy setups in the South including port of Gwadar.

With 50 years of devoted service, PN War College has undoubtedly proved to be an architect of fine breed of officers for the Pakistan Navy as well as friendly navies. It is therefore no surprise that PN War College has become a distinguished name in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.