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Traditionally, nations have grappled to endure and preserve dominance to guarantee a safe environment that ensures their superiority. In times gone by, pre-eminence of states has been ascertained by economic might and unassailable political resolve in association with maritime supremacy and naval might. The history of Pakistan Navy is bursting with the examples of battle readiness, tactical marvels and glorious maneuvers. In addition to that, the South Asian region has been rife with conflicts and skirmishes ever since the inception of India and Pakistan, due to the hostilities and war mongering tendencies of India. The two rivals share a history of stand-offs, conflicts and wars fought over territorial conflicts. As a consequence, the region has been declared to be a nuclear flashpoint by the experts. India's penchant for aggression has destabilized the peace of the region many a times in the history. The most recent example is the forceful and cruel annexation of Kashmir and that too without the consent of the Kashmiri people. The war of 1965 is also an apposite example of India’s aggression where it violated the international law by intruding the international borders without a formal declaration of war.

Nevertheless, the Indian aggression of 1965 met with the indomitable resolve of the Pakistani Armed Forces to protect the homeland, no matter the cost. The Pakistan Navy in this regard played a substantial role to defend as well as secure the coastal borders along with the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs). Notwithstanding the fact that the Pakistan Navy was not at par with the then conventionally superior Indian Navy, it became a nightmare for the enemy by its sheer will, operational preparedness and ingeniously superior tactics. Pakistan commemorates the 8th of September as the Navy Day every year to pay homage to the gallantry and valor exhibited by the naval force. Incidentally the role of the Pakistan Naval submarine, PNS Ghazi is indisputable as it played an instrumental role in the execution of the Operation Dwarka, turning the tide in favor of Pakistan during the war. The role of a state's navy is to maintain, train and equip combat ready naval forces that are fully capable of winning wars to deter aggression and maintain the freedom of the seas. Pakistan Navy proved its mettle in this context and the Operation Dwarka has been declared a magnificent example of tactical victory by the experts.

Operation Dwarka, symbolizes the first use of Pakistan Navy during the war of 1965. The offensive by the Pakistan Navy on the western shores of India was launched on September 7th, 1965 with the chosen mark being the town of Dwarka because of its historical relevance for Pakistan. PNS Ghazi, the only submarine in the 1965 conflict theatre, was deployed in this context to attack heavy Indian Navy ships and assist during the Operation Dwarka. Consequently, an armada of Pakistan Navy under the command of Commodore S. M. Anwar, bombarded the coastal radar station of the Indian Navy at Dwarka, situated 300 km south of the Pakistani port of Karachi. Thus, Pakistan successfully incapacitated the Indian Air Force as well on the coastal front. In the interim, PNS Ghazi was tasked to keep watch on the Indian warships including the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant at the Bombay harbor. Deployment of the PNS Ghazi gave a definite edge to the Pakistan Navy as it effectively blockaded the Indian fleet and enabled its Pakistani counterpart to successfully execute the operation. As a result, the Indian Navy’s mobility was compromised which impeded them from threatening the SLOCs throughout wartime along with ensuring the triumph of its counterpart. Moreover, Operation Dwarka became known as a sign of Pakistan Navy’s superior professional acumen and perseverance regardless of the power disparity.

In the wake of the 1965 war, Pakistan Navy exponentially enhanced and upgraded the capabilities of its fleet so as to reduce the imbalance of power in the Indian Ocean Region. That is how again in 1971 PNS Hangor successfully sank the INS Kukri along with the morale of the enemy. Presently, Pakistan Navy is at par with the contemporary trends of the naval warfare and prepared to tackle the conventional and non-conventional challenges with the primary objective to defend the territorial integrity of the country. Pakistan Navy has internationally gained respect because of its efforts in the field of blue diplomacy by being an effective part of the Task forces 150, 151 and 152. Furthermore, the role of Pakistan Navy in the 1965 war is exceedingly commendable because it not only secured the coast but also defeated Indian Navy despite of the conventional disparity proving that it is completely capable and equipped to meet any challenge against the state in the future.

Zubeda Anjum Niazi

Zubeda Anjum Niazi can be contacted at [email protected]