The Present day Navy is more of a technical force comprising Ships, submarines, hovercrafts, Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) aircraft and helicopters equipped with state of the art sophisticated weapons, sensors, and propulsion machineries. The Naval platforms are composite units that carryout anti surface, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare operations. Beside modern naval platforms and gadgetry, the operations at sea are equally demanding and challenging specially during monsoon seasons and rough seas. Therefore, the naval crafts need crew which is highly trained, dedicated & motivated to take actions with best abilities and should be able to withstand operations at high seas. The navies during peace time contribute in furtherance of foreign policy by flag showing; contribute for the security at sea against maritime terrorism, piracy and other non-traditional threats. Navy also help to enhance blue economy by providing assistance for surveying the oceans for oil, gas, and various minerals.
Having embedded all capabilities has highlighted, Pakistan Navy (PN) is once such Navy that Defends the Maritime Frontiers of Pakistan. The vision of PN to meet the aforesaid challenges has been reviewed in the past three years which states, “PN is a Combat ready multi-dimensional force manned by highly motivated and professionally competent human resource imbued with unwavering faith in Allah SWT, and the national cause; that contributes effectively to credible deterrence, national security and maritime economy; safeguarding Pakistan’s maritime assets while radiating influence in the region with a global outlook.” In pursuance of this vision, PN has established three pillars, combat readiness, and emphasis on the improvement of maritime economy and to reinforce Islamic ideology in its correct perspective. For combat readiness regular exercises are being carried out throughout the year. The professional abilities of PN is evident from the post Pulwama standoff in which the PN Aviation unit detected an Indian Scorpene class modern submarine (INS Kalvari) on the night of 4/5 March 2019 south of Pakistani coast. The Indian submarine was tracked, and forced to leave the area while exercising restraint and sparing her in the larger interest of peace.
In operational domain PN conducted exercise Sea Spark in Feb 2020 in which all sea going units and shore establishments participated. Apart from operational readiness it provides opportunities to all ranks to test various warfare concepts. The exercise AMAN 2019 which has the slogan “Together for Peace” was conducted in Feb 2019 in which more than 46 countries participated including, extra regional countries like USA, UK, Italy, China and Russian Federation. Main objectives were projecting positive image of Pakistan contributing towards regional peace and stability, display united resolve against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain, develop collation building and multi-layer security cooperation to promote a safe and sustainable maritime environment, enhance tactical interoperability between regional and extra regional navies there by acting as a bridge between the regions. Last but not the least validating response, tactics, techniques and procedures to counter nontraditional threats in maritime domain. PN also made concerted efforts to achieve seamless integration with sister services especially PAF. In all the PN major exercises PAF actively participated.
According to Jane’s Fighting Ships 2019-20 PN fleet comprises destroyers/ frigates, submarines, LRMPs, Missile corvettes, gun boats and oil tankers. PN development program of past few years include enhancement of its surface, sub surface and air wing to meet growing challenges. Order for two Type- 054A frigate in Oct 2017 and two more in June 2018 from China was placed. A contract for four Milgem class Corvettes, with transfer of technology from Turkey was signed in Sep 2018. Two each to be built in Turkey and Pakistan. Contract of two Yarmook class Corvettes of 2,300 tons was signed with M/S Damen of Netherlands in June 2019 and the first ship PNS Yarmook has joined PN fleet. Similarly, another indigenously designed Fast Attack Craft Missile Corvette launched in Nov 2019 has joined the fleet. It is expected to join the fleet shortly. In the sub surface sector, order for eight Hangor class diesel electric submarines has been placed with M/S CSTC of China in 2015. Four each to be built in China and Pakistan respectively. An underway replenishment tanker has been inducted in the fleet in 2018. A Chinese built survey vessel was inducted in Nov 2018. It is equipped with the latest state of the art oceans survey equipments. It has certainly enhanced the surveying capability of Pakistan. To strengthen air arm, three multi role Seaking heloes and Luna NG UAV joined PN in 2020. Two modified ATR in anti-submarine and ant surface roles have also joined the air arm this year and two more will shortly join.
A lot of efforts have been put in the last few years for maritime awareness in government sector and private entrepreneurs. In accordance with print and electronic media, to make aware of the industrial potential of the Blue Economy the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) himself has interacted with the industrialists and addressed various Chambers of Commerce. Shipping to and from Pakistani ports are subjected to enhanced rates of insurance premiums as our EEZ is included in high risk area. PN is actively pursuing the case with Lloyds Joint War Committee (JWC) to get our EEZ excluded. A Chinese survey ship has conducted two researches of about 2 months each in 2018 and 2019. The results are encouraging. These will prove very useful for the enhancement of blue economy. To create a pool of maritime expertise in the private sector, courses pertaining to maritime fields have been introduced in the Bahria University Karachi Campus, such as BS in Maritime Business & Management, MS in Ports & Shipping Management, MS in Maritime Trade and Logistics, LLM in International Maritime Law. In addition, in Dec 19 a Maritime Center of Excellence (MCE) has been established in PN War College Lahore to maintain horizontal linkages with the think tanks.
In the support of Foreign policy, PN Ships and submarines visited friendly countries on flag showing missions. Some of PN ships visited Middle and Far East countries and in a major overseas deployment PN ships circum navigated African continent and developed long lasting friendly tiers. PN ships also port called Alexandria of Egypt, Casablanca of Morocco, Aksaz of Turkey, Algiers port of Algeria, Portsmouth of UK, St. Petersburg of Russian Federation, Hamburg of Germany and Tunis of Tunisia. About twenty-five flag showing missions were undertaken by the PN in the last three years. In all the visits ships were open to visitors. Senior officers onboard called on the government and military officials and the calls were returned. Documentaries on Kashmir cause were displayed for the world to know the Indian atrocities. These visits proved source of enhancement of goodwill between the friendly countries.
There has been considerable contribution of PN for the promotion in education and health sectors. Total students in Bahria institutions, like Bahria University, Bahria colleges are about 40,000 and in Bahria foundation schools are 27,500 approx. Wards of civilians are also given admission and provided quality education. In the medical field in past three years PN has established Thirty Six free medical camps. Approximately 25,000 patients of coastal areas have been provided free treatment and medicines.
Pakistan Navy is a multi-dimensional portent force in service of the nation both at sea and land. Beside the above operational capabilities, PN always stood by the nation in addressing various natural calamities like outbreak of COVID pandemic and floods in rural areas of Sindh & Balochistan.
Commodore (r) Dr. Anjum Sarfraz is PhD in International Relations from Karachi University. Has been director National Center for Maritime Policy Research (NCMR), director Bahria University Islamabad Campus and Senior Research Fellow in Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad.