Role of Pakistan Navy in the 1965 War
By Sajjad Shaukat
Besides Pakistan Army and Air Force, Pakistan Navy also played a key role in defeating India in the 1965 war due to its excellent performance. Hence, by celebrating golden jubilee celebrations of that war, on 8th September, the whole nation pays tribute to martyrs and Ghazi’s of Navy.
In the war of 1965, the Operation Dawarka marked the first use of the Pakistan Navy in that war. The naval attack was launched by Pakistan on September 7, 1965 on western Indian shores. The town of Dwarka was chosen to be a target of the attack due to its historical relevance for Pakistan. In this context, Ghazi, the only submarine in the conflict arena was deployed to attack heavy ships of the Indian Navy, and the ships, aiding Operation Dwarka.
For the purpose, a flotilla of the Pakistan Navy under the command of Commodore S.M. Anwar, carried out a bombardment of the Indian Navy’s radar station coastal down of Dwarka, which was 300 km., south of the Pakistani port of Karachi. In this regard, Operation Dwarka was a significant naval operation.
When the Indo-Pak war broke out on 6 September 1965, the Ghazi was assigned to keep a vigil off the Bombay harbor which at that time was packed tight with Indian warships including the aircraft carrier Vikrant. The Ghazi was told not to tinker with smaller vessels, but focus on the heavier units. So effective was its blockade that no Indian warships dared run the gauntlet. It was the bottling-up of the Indian fleet by the Ghazi which enabled the Pakistan flotilla to move in and blast the Indian naval fortress of Dwarka. The Pakistani operation was successful and its warships harboured in Bombay, making the Indian Navy unable to sortie. Throughout the war Indian Navy’s aircraft-carrier was besieged in Bombay.
The Ghazi’s audacious performance won it 10 awards including two decorations of Sitara-i-Jurat and the President’s citations said, “The Commander Karamat Rahman Niazi operated the submarine in the enemy territorial waters from 6th September to 23rd September 1965 with courage and strong determination. His personal example of valour, sound judgment and aggressiveness inspired his officers and men to maintain a high degree of operational efficiency of the submarine in the face of the enemy”. The second-in-command Lieutenant Commander Ahmed Tasnim and Lieutenant Zafar Muhammad Khan won Sitara-e-Jurat.
The attack on Dwarka caused the Indian Navy led to questions, being asked in India’s parliament and subsequent post-war modernization and expansion, with an increase in budget from Rs. 35 Crores to Rs. 115 Crores.
However, Pakistan’s first submarine, the Ghazi, blazed a trail of raw courage and professional skill and national dedication which has inspired and guided the young naval arms and motivating the marines ever since. It established the tradition of aggressive patrolling across the strategic expanse of North Arabian Sea.
In this respect, an account of the Pakistan Navy’s performance is offered by India’s Vice Admiral Mihir Roy, a former Commander of the Vikrant and Commander-in-Chief of India’s Eastern Naval Command, in his 1995 book, “War in the Indian Ocean”. He writes, “But the Bombayites failed to understand the lack of success by the Indian fleet especially with sirens wailing, Jamnagar attacked and Dwarka shelled with the Indian fleet still preparing to sail was an affront to the sailors in white who could not understand what was holding the fleet back”.
Now, Pakistan Navy is in accordance with the modern trends of the naval warfare. In this context, a three-day joint seminar of Pakistani and Turkish navies was inaugurated at the Bahria Auditorium in November 2002. Commander Pakistan Fleet Real Admiral M.A. Tahir who was the chief guest, termed the seminar a viable platform not only to discuss modern naval warfare techniques, but also to provide an opportunity to the naval officers to improve upon their procedures and concepts in order to keep pace with the ongoing changes in the naval tactics and doctrines—for better conduct of naval operations in periods of peace and tension.
The basic aim of Pakistan Navy is to defend the territorial waters of the country, for which all sectors of the service are playing the role in a befitting and professional manner. In this connection, at the passing-out parade of a batch of Pak Marines at the Marines Training Centre, PNS Qasim, the Chairman, Port Qasim Authority, Karachi, Rear Admiral Sikendar Waqar Naqvi has stated in the recent past, “PNS Qasim played a vital role in training the Navy personnel to the optimum level of professionalism—these well-groomed and proficient mariners not only can defend the coastal areas, but will also play an important role in the inland protection”.
He elaborated, “In the present scenario of modern warfare tactics, any laxity and negligence would not be spared by the enemy. Complete self-confidence, highest degree of professionalism and total commitment to the task are the only tools to have an edge over the enemy”.
Nevertheless, Pakistan Navy is focusing on improving their professional skills and concepts according to the latest trends, and is equipped with modern submarines, war ships etc.
Notably, on this very occasion, one is reminded by the soul-stirring memories of the 1965 war against India, when naval officers and sailors instilled with the highest spirit of patriotism. Pakistan Navy’s courageous expeditions in defeating Indian Navy in that war and national commitment of defending the sea-frontiers of Pakistan by its heroes the naval personnel remains alive today. Drawing inspiration from the unparallel conducts of the 1965’s war, Pakistan Navy is fully prepared to meet any challenge of the enemy.
Nonetheless, the role of Pakistan Navy in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 is highly appreciable. While, securing Pakistan’s coasts, it played a vital role in defeating India in the 1965 war. Therefore, this 8th September is a special day due to the golden jubilee-ceremony of Pakistan Navy’s victory.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations