The last thing that Hitler wanted to produce was another great war. His people, and particularly his generals, were profoundly fearful of any such risk—the experiences of WWI had scarred their minds. To emphasize the basic facts is not to whitewash Hitler’s inherent aggressiveness, nor that of many Germans who eagerly followed his lead. But Hitler, though utterly unscrupulous, was for long cautious in pursuing his aims. The military chiefs were still more cautious and anxious about any step that might provoke a general conflict. A large part of the German archives was captured after the war and have thus been available for examination. They reveal an extraordinary degree of trepidation and deep-seated distrust of Germany’s capacity to wage a great war.
When in 1936, Hitler moved to reoccupy the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland, his generals were alarmed at his decision and the reactions it might provoke from the French. Because of their protests only a few token units were sent in at first, as straws in the wind. When he wished to send troops to help Franco in the Spanish Civil War they made fresh protests about the risks involved, and he agreed to restrict his aid. But he disregarded their apprehensions about the march into Austria, in March 1938.
When, shortly afterwards Hitler disclosed his intentions of putting the screws on Czecho-Slovakia for the return of the Sudetenland, the Chief of the General Staff, General Beck, drafted a memorandum in which he argued that Hitler’s aggressively expansionist programme was bound to produce a world-wide catastrophe and Germany’s ruin. This was read out at a conference of the leading generals, and, with their general approval, sent to Hitler. As Hitler showed no sign of changing his policy, the Chief of the General Staff resigned from office. Hitler assured the other generals that France and Britain would not fight for Czecho-Slovakia, but they were so far from being reassured that they plotted a military revolt to avert the risk of war by arresting Hitler and the other Nazi leaders.
The bottom was knocked out of their counter-plan, however, when Chamberlain acceded to Hitler’s crippling demands upon Czecho-Slovakia, and in concert with the French agreed to stand aside while that unhappy country was stripped of both territory and defences.
For Chamberlain, the Munich Agreement spelt peace for our time. For Hitler, it spelt a further and greater triumph not only over his foreign opponents but also over his generals. After their warnings had been so repeatedly refused by his unchallenged and bloodless successes, they naturally lost confidence and influence. Naturally, too, Hitler himself became overweeningly confident of a continued run of easy success. Even when he came to see that further ventures might entail a war he felt that it would be only a small one, and a short one. His moments of doubt were drowned by the cumulative effect of intoxicating success.
If he had contemplated a general war, involving Britain, he would have put every possible effort into building a Navy capable of challenging Britain’s command of the sea. But, in fact, he did not even build up his Navy to the limited scale visualized in the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935. He constantly assured his admirals that they could discount any risk of war with Britain. After Munich he told them that they need not anticipate a conflict with Britain within the next six years at least. Even in the summer of 1939, and as late as August 22, he repeated such assurances—if with waning conviction.
How, then, did it come about that he became involved in the major war that he had been so anxious to avoid?
The answer is to be found not merely, nor most, in Hitler’s aggressiveness, but in the encouragement, he had long received from the complaisant attitude of the Western Powers coupled with their sudden turn-about in the spring of 1939. That reversal was so abrupt and unexpected as to make war inevitable.
If you allow anyone to stoke up a boiler until the steam-pressure rises beyond the danger point, the real responsibility for any resultant explosion will lie with you. That truth of physical science applies equally to political science—especially to the conduct of international affairs.
Ever since Hitler’s entry into power, in 1933, the British and French Governments had conceded to this dangerous autocrat immeasurably more than they had been willing to concede to Germany’s previous democratic Governments. At every turn they showed a disposition to avoid trouble and shelve awkward problems—to preserve their present comfort at the expense of the future.
Hitler, on the other hand, was thinking out his problems all too logically. The course of his policy came to be guided by the idea formulated in a testament which he expounded in November 1937—a version of which has been preserved in the so-called Hossbach Memorandum. It was based on the conviction of Germany’s vital need for more lebensraum—living space—for her expanding population if there was to be any chance of maintaining their living standards. In his view Germany could not hope to make herself self-sufficient, especially in food-supply. Nor by buying it abroad could she obtain what was needed since that meant spending more foreign exchange than she could afford. The prospects of her obtaining an increased share in world trade and industry were too limited, because of other nations’ tariff walls and her own financial stringency. Moreover, the method of indirect supply would make her dependent on foreign nations and liable to starvation in case of war.
His conclusion was that Germany must obtain more agriculturally useful space—in the thinly populated areas of Eastern Europe. It would be vain to hope that this would be willingly conceded to her. The history of all times—Roman Empire, British Empire—has proved that every space expansion can be effected only by breaking resistance and taking risks . . . Neither in former times nor today has space been found without an owner. The problem would have to be solved by 1945 at the latest— after this we can only expect a change for the worse. Possible outlets would be blocked while a food crisis would be imminent.
While these ideas went much further than Hitler’s initial desire to recover the territory that had been taken from Germany after WW1, it is not true that Western statesmen were as unaware of them as they later pretended. In 1937-38 many of them were frankly realistic in private discussions, though not on public platforms, and many arguments were set forth in British governing circles for allowing Germany to expand eastwards, and thus divert danger from the West. They showed much sympathy with Hitler’s desire for lebensraum—and let him know it. But they shirked thinking out the problem of how the owners could be induced to yield it except to threat of superior forces.
The German documents reveal that Hitler derived special encouragement from Lord Halifax’s visit in November 1937. Halifax was then Lord President of the Council, ranking second in the Cabinet to the Prime Minister. According to the documentary record of the interview, he gave Hitler to understand that Britain would allow him a free hand in Eastern Europe. Halifax may not have meant as much, but that was the impression he conveyed—and it proved of crucial importance.
Then in February 1938, Mr. Anthony Eden was driven to resign as Foreign Minister after repeated disagreements with Chamberlain—who in response to one of his protests had told him to go home and take an aspirin. Halifax was appointed to succeed him at the Foreign Office. A few days later, the British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Neville Henderson, called on Hitler for a confidential talk, in continuation of Halifax’s November conversation, and conveyed that the British Government was much in sympathy with Hitler’s desire for changes in Europe to Germany’s benefit—the present British Government had a keen sense of reality.
As these documents show, these events precipitated Hitler’s action. He thought that the lights had changed to green, allowing him to proceed eastward. It was a very natural conclusion.
Hitler was further encouraged by the accommodating way that the British and French Governments accepted his march into Austria and incorporation of that country in the German Reich. (The only hitch in that easy coup was the way many of his tanks broke down on the road to Vienna). Still more encouragement came when he heard that Chamberlain and Halifax had rejected Russian proposals after the coup, to confer on a collective insurance plan against the German advance. Here it should be added that when the threat to the Czechs came to head in Sept. 1938, the Russian Government again made known, publicly and privately, its willingness to combine with France and Britain in measures to defend Czecho-Slovakia. That offer was ignored. Moreover, Russia was ostentatiously excluded from the Munich conference at which Czecho-Slovakia’s fate was settled. This cold-shouldering had fatal consequences the following year.
After the way the British Government had appeared to acquiesce in his eastward move, Hitler was unpleasantly surprised by their strong reaction, and the partial mobilization, which developed when he put the heat on Czecho-Slovakia in September. But when Chamberlain yielded to his demands and actively helped him to impose terms on Czecho-Slovakia, he felt that the momentary threat of resistance had been a face-saving operation—to meet the objections of the large body of British opinion headed by Mr. Winston Churchill, which opposed the governmental policy of conciliation and concession. He was no less encouraged by the passivity of the French. As they had so readily abandoned their Czech ally, which had possessed the most efficient Army of all the smaller Powers, it seemed unlikely that they would go to war in defence of any remnant of their former chain of allies in East and Central Europe.
Thus, Hitler felt that he could complete the elimination of Czecho-Slovakia at an early moment, and then expand his eastward advance.
At first, he did not think of moving against Poland—even though she possessed the largest stretch of territory carved out of Germany after WW1. Poland, like Hungary, had been helpful to him in threatening Czecho-Slovakia’s rear, and thus inducing her to surrender to his demands—Poland, incidentally, had not exploited the chance to seize a slice of Czech territory. Hitler was inclined to accept Poland as a junior partner for the time being, on condition that she handed back the German port of Danzig and granted Germany a free route to East Prussia through the Polish Corridor. On Hitler’s part, it was a remarkably moderate demand in the circumstances. But in successive discussions that winter, Hitler found that the Poles were obstinately disinclined to make any such concession and had the inflated idea of their own strength. Even so, he continued to hope that they would come around after further negotiations. As late as March 25, he told his Army Commander-in-Chief that he did not wish to solve the Danzig problem by the use of force. But a change of mind was produced by an unexpected British step that followed on a fresh step on his part in a different direction.
In the early months of 1939, the heads of the British Government were feeling happier than they had for a long time. They lulled themselves into the belief that their accelerated rearmament measures, America’s rearmament programme and Germany’s economic difficulties were diminishing the danger of the situation. On March 10 Chamberlain privately expressed the view that the prospects of peace were better than ever and spoke of his hopes that a new disarmament conference would be arranged before the end of the year. Next day, Sir Samuel Hoare—Eden’s predecessor as Foreign Secretary and now Home Secretary—hopefully suggested in a speech that the world was entering a Golden Age. Ministers assured friends and critics that Germany’s economic plight made her incapable of going to war, and that she bound to comply with the British Government’s conditions in return for the help that it was offering her in the form of a commercial treaty. Two ministers, Mr. Oliver Stanley and Robert Hudson, were going to Berlin to arrange it.
The same week Punch came out with a cartoon which showed John Bull awaking with relief from a nightmare, while the recent war scare was flying out of the window. Never was there such a spell of absurdly optimistic illusions as during the week leading up to the Ides of March 1939. Meanwhile the Nazis had been fostering separatist’s movements in Czecho-Slovakia, to produce a breakdown from within. On March 12 the Slovaks declared their independence, after their leader, Father Tiso, had visited Hitler in Berlin. More blindly, Poland’s Foreign Minister, Colonel Beck, publicly expressed his full sympathy with the Slovaks. On the 15th, German troops marched into Prague, after the Czech President had yielded to Hitler’s demand to establish a Protectorate over Bohemia and to occupy the country accordingly.
The previous autumn, when the Munich Agreement was made, the British Government had pledged itself to guarantee Czecho-Slovakia against aggression. But Chamberlain told the House of Commons that he considered the Slovakia’s break-away had annulled the guarantee, and that he did not feel bound by this obligation. While expressing regret at what had happened, he conveyed to the House that he saw no reason why it should deflect British policy. Within a few days, however, Chamberlain made a complete about-turn—so sudden and far-reaching that it amazed the world. He jumped to a decision to block any following move of Hitler’s and on March 29 sent Poland an offer to support her against any action which threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist.
It is impossible to gauge what was the predominant influence on his impulse—the pressure of public indignation, or his own indignation, or his anger at having been fooled by Hitler, or his humiliation at having been made to look a fool in the eyes of his own people.
Most of those in Britain who had supported and applauded his previous appeasement policy underwent a similar violent reaction—sharpened by the reproaches of the other half of the nation, which had distrusted the policy. The breach was cemented, and the nation reunited, by a general surge of exasperation. The unqualified terms of the guarantee placed Britain’s destiny in the hands of Poland’s rulers, men of very dubious and unstable judgment. Moreover, the guarantee was impossible to fulfil except with Russia’s help, yet no preliminary steps were taken to find out whether Russia would give, or Poland would accept, such aid.
The Cabinet, when asked to approve the guarantee, was not even shown the actual report of the Chiefs of Staff Committee—which would have made clear how impossible it was, in a practical sense, to give any protection to Poland. It is doubtful, however, whether this would have made any difference in face of the prevailing mood. When the guarantee was discussed in Parliament it was welcomed on all sides. Mr. Lloyd George’s was a solitary voice when he warned the House that it was suicidal folly to undertake such a far-stretched without first making sure of Russia’s backing. The Polish Guarantee was the surest way to produce an early explosion, and a world war. It combined the maximum temptation with manifest provocation. It incited Hitler to demonstrate the futility of such a guarantee to a country out of reach from the West, while making the stiff-necked Poles even less inclined to consider any concession to him, and at the same time making it impossible for him to draw back without losing face.
Why did Poland’s rulers accept such a fatal offer? Partly because they had an absurdly exaggerated idea of the power of their out of date forces –they boastfully talked of a cavalry ride to Berlin. Partly because of personal factors:
Colonel Beck, shortly afterwards, said that he made up his mind to accept the British offer two flicks of the ash off the cigarette he was smoking.
He went on to explain that at his meeting with Hitler in January he had found it hard to swallow Hitler’s remark that Danzig must be handed back, and that when the British offer was communicated to him he saw it, and seized it, as a chance to give Hitler a slap in the face. This impulse was only too typical of the ways in which the fate of peoples is often decided.
The only chance of avoiding war now lay in securing the support of Russia—the only power that could give Poland direct support and thus provide a deterrent to Hitler. But, despite the urgency of the situation, the British Government’s steps were dilatory and half-hearted. Chamberlain had a strong dislike of Soviet Russia and Halifax an intense religious antipathy, while both underrated her strength as much as they overrated Poland’s. If they now recognized the desirability of a defensive arrangement with Russia they wanted it on their own terms and failed to realize that by their precipitate guarantee to Poland they had placed themselves in a position where they would have to sue for it on her terms—as was obvious to Stalin, if not to them.
But beyond their own hesitations were the objections of the Polish Government, and the other small powers in Eastern Europe, to accepting military support from Russia—since these feared that reinforcements by her armies would be equivalent to invasion. So, the pace of the Anglo-Russian negotiations became as slow as a funeral march.
Very different was Hitler’s response to the situation. Britain’s violent reaction and redoubled armament measures shook him, but the effect was opposite to that intended. Feeling that the British were getting opposed to German expansion eastward, and fearful of being blocked if he tarried, he drew the conclusion that he must accelerate his steps towards lebensraum. But how could he do it without bringing on a general war? His solution was coloured by his historically derived picture of the British. Regarding them as cool-headed and rational, with their emotions controlled by their head, he felt that they would not dream of entering a war on behalf of Poland unless they could obtain Russia’s support. So, swallowing his hatred and fear of Bolshevism, he bent his efforts and energies towards conciliating Russia and securing her abstention. It was a turn-about even more startling than Chamberlain’s—and as fatal in its consequences.
Hitler’s courting approach of Russia was eased because Stalin was already looking on the West from a new slant. The Russians’ natural resentment of the way they had been cold-shouldered by Chamberlain and Halifax in 1938 was increased when, after Hitler’s march into Prague, their fresh proposal for a joint defensive alliance had a tepid reception, while the British Government rushed into an independent arrangement with Poland. Nothing could have been more certain to deepen doubt and heighten suspicion.
On May 3 a warning, unmistakable except to the blind, was conveyed in the news that Litvinov, Russia’s Foreign Commissar had been release’ from office. He had long been the chief advocate of co-operation with the Western Powers in resistance to Nazi Germany. To his post was appointed Molotov, who was reported to prefer dealing with dictators to dealing with liberal democracies.
Tentative moves towards a Soviet-Nazi entente began in April but were conducted on both sides with extreme wariness—for mutual distrust was profound, and each side suspected that the other might be merely trying to hinder it reaching an agreement with the Western Powers. But the slow progress of the Anglo-Russian negotiations encouraged the Germans to exploit the opportunity, quicken their pace, and press their suit. Molotov remained non-committal, however, until the middle of August. Then a decisive change took place. It may have been prompted by the Germans’ willingness, in contrast to British hesitations and reservations, to concede Stalin’s exacting conditions, especially a free hand with the Baltic States. It may also have been connected with the obvious fact that Hitler could not afford to postpone action in Poland beyond early September, lest the weather might bog him down, so that the postponement of the Soviet-German agreement until late in August ensured there would not be time for Hitler and the Western Powers to reach another Munich agreement—which might spell danger for Russia.
On August 23 Ribbentrop flew to Moscow, and the pact was signed. It was accompanied by a secret agreement under which Poland was to be partitioned between Germany and Russia.
This pact made war certain, and more so because of the lateness of the timing. Hitler could not draw back on the Polish issue without serious loss of face in Moscow. Moreover, his belief that the British Government would not venture on an obviously futile struggle to preserve Poland, and did not really wish to bring in Russia, had been freshly fostered by the way that Chamberlain had, in late July, started private negotiations with him through his trusted adviser, Sir Horace Wilson, for an Anglo-German pact.
But the Soviet-German Pact, coming so late, did not have the effect on the British that Hitler had reckoned. On the contrary, it aroused the bulldog spirit—of blind determination, regardless of the consequences. In that state of feeling, Chamberlain could not stand aside without both loss of face and breach of promise.
Stalin had been only too aware that the Western Powers had long been disposed to let Hitler expand eastward—in Russia’s direction. It is probable that he saw the Soviet-German Pact as a convenient device by which he could divert Hitler’s aggressive dynamism in the opposite direction. In other words, by this nimble-side-step he would let his immediate and potential opponents’ crash into one another. At least this should produce a diminution of the threat to Soviet Russia and might well result in such common exhaustion on their part as to ensure Russia’s post war ascendancy.
The Pact meant the removal of Poland as a buffer between Germany and Russia—but the Russians had always felt that the Poles were more likely to serve as a spearhead for a German invasion of Russia than as a barricade against it. By collaborating in Hitler’s conquest of Poland, and dividing it with him, they would not only be taking an easy way of regaining their pre-1914 property but be able to convert eastern Poland into a barrier space which, though narrower, would be held by their own forces. That seemed a more reliable buffer than an independent Poland. The Pact also paved the way for Russia’s occupation of the Baltic states and Bessarabia, as a wider extension of the buffer.
In 1941, after Hitler had swept into Russia, Stalin’s 1939 side-step looked a fatally short-sighted shift. It is likely that Stalin overestimated the Western nations’ capacity for resisting and thus exhausting, Germany’s power. It is likely, too, that he also overestimated the initial resisting power of his own forces. Nevertheless, surveying the European situation in later years, it does not seem so certain as in 1941 that his side-step proved to Soviet Russia’s disadvantages.
For the West, on the other hand, it brought immeasurable harm. The primary blame for that lies with those who were responsible for the successive policies of procrastination and precipitation—in face of a palpably explosive situation.
Dealing with Britain’s entry into the war—after describing how she allowed Germany to re-arm and then to swallow Austria and Czecho-Slovakia, while at the same time spurning Russia’s proposals for joint action—Churchill says:
. . . when every one of these aids and advantages has been squandered and thrown away, Great Britain advances, leading France by the hand, to guarantee the integrity of Poland—of that very Poland which with hyena appetite had only six months before joined in the pillage and destruction of the Czechoslovak State. There was sense in fighting for Czechoslovakia in 1938, when the German Army could scarcely put half a dozen trained divisions on the Western Front, when the French with nearly sixty or seventy divisions could most certainly have rolled forward across the Rhine or into the Ruhr. But this had been judged unreasonable, rash, below the level of modern intellectual thought and morality. Yet now at last the two Western democracies declared themselves ready to stake their lives upon the territorial integrity of Poland. History, which, we are told, is mainly the record of the crimes, follies, and miseries of mankind, may be scoured and ransacked to find a parallel to this sudden and complete reversal of five or six years’ policy of easy-going, placatory appeasement, and its transformation almost overnight into a readiness to accept an obviously imminent war on far worse conditions and on the greater scale. . .
Here was decision at last, taken at the worst possible moment and on the least satisfactory ground, which must surely lead to slaughter of tens of millions of people.
It is a striking verdict on Chamberlain’s folly, written in hindsight. For Churchill himself had, in the heat of the moment, supported Chamberlain’s pressing offer of Britain’s guarantee to Poland. It is only too evident that in 1939 he, like most of Britain’s leaders, acted on a hot-headed impulse—instead of with the cool-headed judgment that was once characteristic of British statesmanship.
Courtesy of: History of the Second World War by B.H. Liddell Hart, G.P. Putnam’s Sons New York 1970
During a visit to Dhaka in the late summer of 1968, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared Bengali demands for provincial autonomy to be in the best interests of the country. He assailed civil bureaucrats, the CSP in particular, for treating the people of the eastern wing as Kala Admees, literally black men. This derogatory attitude had misled the government into implicating Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the Agartala Conspiracy Case when they might have tried negotiating with him. Self-interested quarters in West Pakistan had started attacking the Awami League’s demands the moment they were announced by Mujib without examining their merits and demerits. Bhutto regretted that Mujib had refused his invitation to debate the six points set forth in public. Only two of the six points were totally unacceptable to the PPP leader, who was prepared to discuss the others in order to remove doubts and misgivings. He urged the government to find some political solution of the problem as such issues cannot be solved byforce.
Three years later, when the golden hues of eastern Bengal’s lush green landscape had been turned red with the steely might of oppression, the sharp-witted Bhutto stood knee deep in the bloodshed in East Pakistan alongside the leadership of a hated military junta. Upon returning to Karachi from Dhaka after the military crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971, the former foreign minister thanked the Almighty for saving Pakistan. He defended the military action publicly and accused Mujibur Rahman of conspiring with India to dismember the country. In private, he conveyed to Yahya Khan that even if limited military action had been found necessary to counter the threat of secession, a resolution of the crisis demanded a political solution that gave the people of the eastern wing their due share of both political and economic power. If the correct course is not followed, Bhutto wrote in a memo to Yahya Khan, then why should East Pakistanis want to stay a part of Pakistan–what stake would they have left in Pakistan with their due rights denied to them? Bhutto warned Yahya against projecting discredited Bengali politicians and strongly recommended providing economic relief to the rural populace of East Pakistan who had not yet been swept away by the Awami League’s propaganda. It was dangerous to create a situation in which the government was left facing a hostile public in both Wings during this national crisis, particularly when India is waiting to take advantage of the situation.
The military regime was disinclined to countenance civilian rule until the successful conclusion of the counterinsurgency operations in East Pakistan. Mindful of the risks involved in attacking the junta, Bhutto confined himself to calling for a transfer of power in the west, which he defined as democratization to deflect criticisms of his thirst for power. Similar steps were to be taken in the eastern wing whenever circumstances became conducive. Despite clear differences in their stances, Bhutto has come to be regarded as Yahya Khan’s accomplice in the making of the colossal human tragedy that culminated in the breakup of Pakistan in December 1971. Bhutto vehemently denied the charge. His differences with Mujibur Rahman were not in the nature of power struggle but a struggle of conflicting equities. For the Awami League leader, equity lay in an independent Bengal . . . for me in the retention of Pakistan. Mujib claimed that the six points were the property of the people of the eastern wing. For Bhutto, Pakistan was the property of the people and the Awami League’s demands a concealed formula for secession. it was in this that our points of view clashed.
The question of who ultimately was responsible for the 1971 debacle has spawned a rich harvest of commentary. At the political level, the debate on the causes of Pakistan’s disintegration has three sides to it in much the same way as one about India’s partition. The Pakistani Army might be seen as replacing the British at the base of the triangle, with Bhutto and Mujib substituting the Muslim League and the Congress as its two sides. As in 1947, the primary hurdle in the way of a mutually acceptable arrangement was how power was to be shared between the main political contenders within a federal state. The similarities between 1947 and 1971 should not be allowed to obfuscate the key difference between them. Unlike the British, who were transferring power before leaving the subcontinent, the Pakistani Army wanted to secure its own interests before passing the mantle to the victorious political parties. Despite the army’s self-interest in the outcome of the negotiations with the Awami League, a powerful current of popular opinion in Pakistan and Bangladesh has held that Bhutto in his greed for power bamboozled a mentally and physically unfit Yahya into dismembering the country. On this view, a conniving and unprincipled politician tricked the army into committing national suicide. Although there may be some merit in this view, the events of 1971 also had a fourth dimension in the form of India’s role, which had a direct bearing on the Pakistani Army’s calculations. To make sense of the single most important watershed in the subcontinent’s post independence history, therefore, requires retracing the evolution of the Awami League’s demands for provincial autonomy within the context of the formation and consolidation of Pakistan military bureaucratic state structure.
The Politics of Denial
Starting its independent career without the semblance of a centre, Pakistan showed its determination to parry external and internal threats to its survival by developing an elaborate hydra-like state structure during the first two and a half decades of its existence. Steeped in the classical tradition of colonial bureaucratic authoritarianism, the state sought to penetrate society, extract resources from the economy and manipulate the polity rather than devolve responsibilities or serve as a two-way channel of communication between the rulers and ruled. The early demise of representative political, processes shored up the centralizing logic of bureaucratic authoritarianism, replacing the democratic requirements of consensus with the dictatorial methods of coercion. The primacy of the central state in all spheres of a society characterized by regional heterogeneities and economic disparities generated rancour among the constituent units, breeding a web of political intrigue and instability that affected the functioning of state authority at the local and provincial levels.
Unable reconcile the imperatives of state building with those of nation building, successive ruling combinations tried to gain legitimacy by playing up the Indian threat and paying lip service to a vaguely defined Islamic ideology. With a narrowly construed security paradigm defining the centre’s conception of national interest, the perspective of the provinces was sidelined, if not altogether ignored. Rumblings of protest in the provinces were put down with an iron fist or given short shrift by invoking the common bond of religion. Islam in the service of a military authoritarian state proved to be divisive. Far from unifying a people fractured along regional and class lines, the state’s use of religion encouraged self-styled ideologues of Islam to nurture hopes of one day storming the citadels of the Muslim state. The great populist poet Habib Jalib poured scorn on the state’s appropriation of Islam to promote national unity. “ISLAM IS NOT IN DANGER” he cried out in a memorable poem. It was the idle rich, the exploiters of the peasantry and labour, the thieves, tricksters, and traitors in league with Western capitalists who were endangered.
Proponents of such populist ideas were hounded and winnowed out. With the press in chains and civil society the target of novel forms of social and political engineering, the odds were stacked against the advocates of democracy. After derailing the political process in 1958, the military-bureaucratic establishment tried securing its bases of support. This meant bypassing political parties and using state power to bring segments of dominant socioeconomic groups under the regime’s sway through differential patronage and selective mobilization. During the heyday of modernization theory in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pakistan under military rule was hailed in some quarters in the West as a model of social harmony and political stability in the developing world. The expectations were sorely belied by the realities on the ground. The methods employed to construct and consolidate the state exacerbated provincial grievances, with dire consequences for Pakistan’s political stability and tenuous federal equation. State-sponsored processes of political inclusion and exclusion, the economics of functional inequality, and neglect of regional disparities made it increasingly difficult to administer two geographically separate parts, triggering the ignominious downfall of two military regimes and sowing the seeds of disintegration of the country.
The breakup of Pakistan was the result of the autocratic policies of its state managers rather than the inherent difficulties involved in welding together linguistically and culturally diverse constituent units. Islam proved to be dubious cement not because it was unimportant to people in the different regions. Pakistan’s regional cultures have absorbed Islam without losing affinity to local languages and customs. With some justification, non-Punjabi provinces came to perceive the use of Islam as a wily attempt by the Punjabi-led military-bureaucratic combine to deprive them of a fair share of political and economic power. Non-Punjabi antipathy towards a Punjab-dominated centre often found expression in assertions of regional distinctiveness. But politics more than cultural differences stoked regional resentments. Clarion calls for provincial autonomy were effectively demands for better job opportunities, basic social services, and a larger cut of state finances.
Here the fault lines in the Pakistani state structure played a decisive role. The demands of the military establishment on the state’s meagre resources left little for development in the provinces. Seeing India as a near and present danger, the military-bureaucratic establishment used Pakistan’s geo-strategic location to attract American military and economic assistance in return for supporting Washington’s Cold War agenda. Once a partnership had been struck with the United States, a security-conscious state fostered a political economy characterized by high defence and low development expenditure. The primary goal of the state’s development initiatives were to enhance revenue rather than social welfare— a process that saw the no- elected institutions edging out the elected institutions in the struggle for dominance in the new state. These non elected institutions carried a legacy of uneven recruitment patterns from the colonial era, compounding the difficulties in integrating diverse linguistic and socioeconomic groups.
An overarching reason for the Pakistani state’s faltering steps in the quest for social support and legitimacy was that the federal centre came to represent the interests of the dominant non-elected institutions more effectively than those of the regional socioeconomic groups to which at different stages it was loosely tied. Apart from extending patronage to its functionaries and locating them in key sectors of the economy, the state defined the field of political privilege. In the absence of democratic politics, the dominance of a predominantly Punjabi civil bureaucracy and army heightened the grievances of non-Punjabi provinces and the linguistic groups within them. The entrenched institutional supremacy of a Punjabi army and federal bureaucracy, not Punjab’s dominance over other provinces per se, had emerged as the principal impediment to restoring democratic processes in Pakistan. In the face of chronic tensions between the centre and the regions, the religious glue of Islam alone could not bind a diverse and disparate people into a nation.
The proposed homeland for India’s Muslims was envisaged in the Lahore Resolution of 1940 as a federation of sovereign and autonomous units. The hint of confederalism quickly fell by the wayside in the heady aftermath of 1947. The first requirement of the new government in Karachi was to establish its writ over two geographically distinct constituent units. In the absence of a preexisting central apparatus and effective political party machinery in the provinces, pragmatism was the better option. The Government of India Act of 1935 was adapted as the provisional constitution and later made the bedrock of the 1956 and the 1962 constitutions. Aimed at perpetuating, not terminating colonial rule, the Act of 1935 retained certain unitary features of the British Indian state to counterbalance the concessions of federalism. Unlike most federal systems of government, the constituent units were made subject to a single constitution. The federal centre arrogated superior powers in legislative, financial and political matters. Soon after independence, the provinces were deprived of the financial autonomy granted to them under the act and made dependent on central handouts which, given the severe shortage of funds, were wholly inadequate for their development needs.
The future course of democracy was imperilled in a country whose federal configuration to begin with consisted of fifteen different entities—five provinces and ten princely states—of vastly uneven size and political importance. Troubled by the political implications of an overall Bengali majority in the federation, officialdom in West Pakistan gave enthusiastic support to the merger of the western wing under the one unit scheme. Unlike the western wing, with its heterogeneities, East Bengal was in relative terms linguistically and culturally homogenous. It was also politically more volatile than parts of West Pakistan. Bengalis felt passionately about their autonomy and were prone to leftist ideologies and sporadic bouts of violence. They resented the use of their hard-earned foreign exchange to beef up a military establishment wedded to the curious strategic doctrine of defending the eastern wing from West Pakistan. Seeing an Indian hand in Bengali demands for provincial autonomy, the federal government declared them seditious and, in turn, used this to justify its centralizing and homogenizing designs. But neither the threat of India nor the allure of Islam could save the centre from the wrath of constituent units reduced to being hapless appendages in a state that was federal in form and unitary in substance.
If East Bengal was a thorn in the side of the federal establishment, the fourteen units composing the western wing presented a political and constitutional conundrum. Most of the princely states claimed some semblance of sovereignty and had to be cajoled and coerced into acceding to Pakistan before being summarily bundled into the one-unit scheme of October 1955. Those that resisted, Kalat, for instance—were clobbered with an iron hand. As the largest of the tribal states in Baluchistan, Kalat enjoyed the allegiance of tribal chiefs who, though monitored by the British resident in Quetta, had retained autonomy over their local affairs during the colonial period. The Pakistani centre’s encroachments on Baluchistan threatened to alter a jealously guarded status quo. Sporadic eruptions of armed insurgency became a recurrent feature of politics in Baluchistan. This was not too difficult given the impoverishment of the people and the absence of the most rudimentary forms of infrastructure for the economic development of the province. During the 1960, Sher Mohammad Marri spearheaded the resistance under the umbrella of the Baluch Liberation Front. The battles fought by the Pakistani Army in the rugged terrain of Baluchistan shaped its institutional psyche in decisive ways. Baluch nationalists were labelled miscreants working hand in glove with either Afghanistan or the country’s premier enemy. This perception did not remain confined to the military. Tarring regional demands with the Indian brush became such an entrenched part of the official discourse of nationalism in Pakistan that the managers of the centralized state regarded legitimate demands for provincial autonomy with deep suspicion.
Consequently, even in the relatively quiescent parts of West Pakistan, there was no love lost for an unresponsive centre that continued swallowing up larger and larger chunks of provincial revenues without contributing much for the development of local infrastructure and social welfare. The massive demographic changes accompanying partition strained the limited administrative capacities of Punjab and Sindh to breaking point. While the exodus of non-Muslims disrupted the economic and educational networks in these provinces, accommodating the bulk of the 7.2 million Muslim refugees from India within a short span of time was impossible without the sustained help of the central government. Preoccupied with matters of defence and its own political survival, Karachi’s assistance to these provinces fell well short of expectations. In the absence e of funds and efficient administrative solutions, the rehabilitation of refugees was quickly transformed into an explosive political issue. Several provincial politicians used it to chip away at the centre’s uncertain authority.
Accounting for 10% of Pakistan’s population by 1951, the refugees permanently altered the political landscape of Punjab and Sindh. Despite taking in a much larger percentage of Muslims fleeing parts of East Punjab ravaged by violence, Punjab had a relatively easier time absorbing the mainly Punjabi-speaking migrants into its social fabric. By contrast, the influx of mainly Urdu-speaking migrants into Sindh created a clutch of political and cultural problems for the provincial administration. More than half a million refugees came to Sindh during the initial years of independence. Almost two-thirds of them opted for urban centres like Karachi and Hyderabad while the remainder settled in the rural areas of this overwhelmingly agricultural province. In principle, the incoming migrants were expected to replace the non-Muslims in both the urban and rural areas. However, the problem of resettlement was far more complicated and the ensuing tensions between local Sindhis and the newcomers much fiercer than in Punjab. For one thing, the outflow of Hindus to India was slower in Sindh than in Punjab. For another, some of the more powerful Sindhi Muslim landlords are said to have grabbed nearly two-thirds of the agricultural land vacated by the Hindus before migrants from UP, Hyderabad Deccan, or East Punjab could make their presence felt. The situation was particularly fraught in Karachi, a thriving cosmopolitan city of 400,000 in 1947, but one in which construction activity had not kept pace with the growth in population due to World War II. The preferred destination for a majority of uprooted Urdu-speakers from North India’s urban areas, Karachi had thinly spread municipal facilities, whether for health, communications, water supply, electric power, or housing, that were incapable of bearing the burden of its new population.
The sheer pace of the sociocultural and political transformation of Sindh can be seen by the jump in the number of Urdu speakers from a mere 1% of the population in 1947 to 12% by the time of the 1951 census. With just a sprinkle of Urdu speakers at the time of partition, Karachi by the late 1950s had become a migrant city with more than half its population claiming Urdu as their mother tongue. This would not have been possible if the provincial government had succeeded in getting its way. Within a year or so of partition, relations between the centre and the Sindh government had nose-dived over the forcible separation of Karachi from the province. Justified on the grounds of national interest, the loss of Karachi rankled the Sindhis all the more because they were not compensated for the loss of the province’s primary revenue earner. Under the circumstances, the centre’s advocacy of Urdu-speaking migrants’ right to space, gainful employment, and adequate political representation was perceived as a deep-seated conspiracy to displace Sindhis from a position of dominance in their own province. The centre’s preference for authoritarian methods over democratic ones even during the first decade after independence only confirmed the worst fears of the Sindhis. Calling themselves muhajirs, or refugees after the early community of Islam that migrated from Mecca to Medina, the Urdu speakers believed that their sacrifices of life and property for Pakistan entitled them to a privileged position in the new state. Lacking a provincial base of their own, the class, occupational, and emotional profile of many Urdu speakers made them particularly susceptible to the appeal to religion by self-styled “Islamist” parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami and the JUP, which had made Karachi the focus of their oppositional politics. Paradoxically enough, their religious pretensions and claims of cultural superiority over other linguistic groups suited a West Pakistani establishment, harping on the Islamic identity of Pakistan and Urdu as the cultural motif of its national unity, much more than political parties with provincial bases of support.
The concordat between the centre and the better-educated Urdu speaking muhajirs, many of whom held top positions in the federal bureaucracy, had large implications for Pakistani politics. Even before the first military takeover of 1958, the migrants’ success in creating a social and political niche for themselves, especially in Karachi, was intensely resented not only by Sindhis but also by Punjabis, Pathans, Gujaratis and Baluchis who had come to the city looking for employment and a better quality of life. Antipathy towards the Urdu-speaking migrants was not a facet of the Sindhi sociopolitical scene alone. It extended to other provinces where the educated classes felt slighted by the cultural pretensions of the Urdu speakers. This was true even of those members of the urban Punjabi middle and upper classes who accepted Urdu as their lingua franca in the interest of national cohesion. Urdu was much less prevalent in the NWFP and Baluchistan. The Pathan provincial elite gradually took to it for pragmatic reasons without abandoning their own mother tongue, Pashto. In Baluchistan, Urdu was resisted as an alien imposition by a rapacious and indifferent government.
The suspension of democratic government in October 1958 gave a fillip to these sentiments and, in turn, provoked the centre into draconian measures in the name of national unity. Disgruntled politicians with regional bases of support were either locked out of Ayub’s bureaucratically controlled political system or locked up in jail on various grounds. Pakistan under military rule flouted the elementary norms of federalism, accentuating strains in centre-province relations. As the non-elected institutions were the main beneficiaries of administrative centralization and democratic denial, their overwhelmingly Punjabi character caused bitterness among non-Punjabis. Unable to allocate financial resources equitably to the provinces and unwilling to grant them their share of power, the federal union of Pakistan was built on a fragile branch that was liable to break under the weight of its own contradictions.
To prevent this eventuality, steps had been taken as early as 1949 to placate the non-Punjabi provinces by instituting a quota system for recruitment to the federal government services. This failed to provide adequate, far less equitable representation to the provinces or the linguistic minorities within them. Instead of correcting centrifugal trends, a centralization drive by an administrative bureaucracy dominated by Punjabis and Urdu speakers fanned provincialism. Bengalis led the non-Punjabi charge in demanding better representation in the civil, diplomatic, and armed services. The federal centre was accused of pursuing policies of internal colonization by posting Punjabi and Urdu-speaking civil servants to the non-Punjabi provinces to pilfer their meagre share of resources. Instead of consulting with the provinces or making a prior reference to the legislature, the federal centre soon after independence had temporarily withheld the share out of income tax. In an audacious move, the centre arbitrarily took away the right of the provinces to collect sales tax, the single most elastic source of their revenue. Justified in the name of national interest, the centre’s monopolization of the entire gamut of fiscal and financial arrangements to pay for a debilitating defence burden extinguished such hopes as existed of generating a measure of federal bonhomie.
The nub of Bengali hostility towards the West Pakistani establishment was the pernicious logic of functional inequality. Once militarization and industrialization became the twin pillars of Pakistani officialdom’s development rhetoric, an astonishing range of special concessions were offered to West Pakistani-based business families at the expense of the agricultural sector in East Pakistan. Raw jute grown in the eastern wing was the leading foreign exchange earner during Pakistan’s first decade of independence. In the fall of 1949, Pakistan exercised its financial sovereignty by refusing to follow the example of Britain and India and devaluing its currency. As the centre’s economic wizards had correctly calculated, this boosted export earnings by nearly 40%. The non devaluation decision brought down jute and wheat prices while those of other essential commodities increased. By imposing heavy export duties to the detriment of agriculture, the central augmented its foreign exchange reserves. The additional foreign exchange was used to finance the defence procurement effort and the industrialization of West Pakistan. Bengali grumbles about being used as milk cow for the security and development of the western wing were dismissed or conveniently misread as evidence of secessionist and pro-Indian tendencies.
So long as even the most compromised form of a federal parliamentary system was in place, it was impossible to leave the provinces completely in the financial lurch. Soon after the controversial erosion of provincial fiscal rights, the central government entered into negotiations with the provinces to arrive at a more mutually acceptable allocation of financial resources. An official of the Australian treasury, Jeremy Raisman, had been asked by the Pakistan government to examine the existing financial arrangements between the centre and the provinces. In January 1952, the Raisman Report increased the provincial proportion of federal finances. It gave East Bengal just under two-thirds of the export duty on raw jute but turned down Punjabi and Sindhi requests for a cut in the export duties in view of the federal government’s precarious financial position. Raisman also rejected provincial demands that the sales tax should be distributed among them and not shared between them and the centre. Although a positive development in an otherwise grim federal landscape, the Raisman Award did not go far enough in alleviating centre-region frictions over the all-important issue of financial autonomy.
If the centre’s tight fistedness could be justified in the light of the strategic and economic consequences of partition, its overbearing attitude towards the cultural sensitivities of the provinces was inexcusable. There were powerful undercurrents of cultural alienation in provincial demands for autonomy. Bengali outrage at the centre’s Urdu-only language policy was just the tip of the iceberg, concealing a deep-seated resentment at the marginalization of their culture in the emerging narratives of the Pakistani nation. The wounded pride of the Bengalis had met with a rude shock on February 21, 1952, when the centre’s crackdown on the student-led language movement in Dhaka led to the killing of four students and injured several more. Commemorated as Martyrs’ Day by Bengali ever since, the incident is thought to have marked the beginning of the politics of dissent that culminated in Bangladeshi nationalism and independence. Bengali linguistic nationalism, however, was one among several factors that led eventually to the breakup of Pakistan.
Bengalis were not alone in feeling aggrieved by the centre’s imposition of Urdu as the official language. A section of Punjabis belonging mostly to the lower and less well-off middle classes, bemoaned the loss of their linguistic tradition in the rush to embrace Urdu. They felt alienated by the state’s artificial attempts to imitate the mores of the Mughal court. Their opposition was not to Urdu but to its patronage by the federal centre at the expense of Punjabi, a language with a rich and vibrant oral and written literary history spanning a thousand years. Confusing cultural assertion with parochialism, the central government harassed Punjabi intellectuals working to promote their regional language, declaring the more recalcitrant among them as “anti state.” The suspension of parliamentary government in 1958 dealt a hammer blow to regional linguistic aspirations not only in Punjab but also in non-Punjab provinces. Fancying himself as the great unifier, General Aruba suppressed regional literary associations, dubbing some of them as extensions of the banned Communist Party.
State coercion could at best curb the growth of mass-based language movements, not dilute the enthusiasm of the more ardent protagonists of linguistic regionalism. Bengalis defied the government’s crude attempts to prevent them from celebrating the birthday of the revered Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. The ban on his works in the state-controlled media heightened Tagore’s appeal as a symbol of Bengali resistance against an intrusive and dictatorial centre. Bengali writers and poets used Tagore, along with socialist and communist themes, to highlight the exploitation of East Pakistan and attack the state’s Islamic ideology. In West Pakistan too, regional languages like Punjabi, Pashto and Sindhi continued to expand their readership by increasing their literary production independently of the state. Advertising the risks of forcibly regimenting cultural traditions, Urdu came to be seen as an alien implant at the service of a neo-imperialist agenda.
The centre’s myopic handling of provincial sensibilities on language was matched by ham-handed attempts at marshalling Islam in the cause of nation building. With the religious ideologues agitating for the introduction of sharia, senior bureaucrats set about feverishly establishing the religious credentials of the state. The result was a strange convergence of interest between an authoritarian centre, besieged by a crescendos of demands for provincial autonomy, and a spectrum of Islamic ideologues looking for ways to squeeze through the woodwork to the apex of state power. Although it is impossible to exaggerate the extent of the symbiosis between these two distinct forces, the state’s emphasis on its religious identity lent greater legitimacy to the would-be-ideologues of Islam than the ground realities merited. But there was a world of difference between using religious preachers to advance the state’s homogenizing logic and a commitment to turning Pakistan into a conservative, hidebound Islamic state on a narrowly construed reading of Islam.
Ever since the Objectives Resolution of 1949–ostensibly a victory for modernist interpretations of Islam—the so called religious parties had chastised the state overlords for not living up to the ideals of Islam. Mawdudi, the leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami, lent ideological starch to this argument. In his opinion, it was the duty of a state created in the name of Islam to mold the hearts and minds of its citizens according to the tenets of their religion. There was no scope for citizens to influence or contest the state’s understanding of Islam. Mawdudi defended this on the grounds that because sovereignty in an Islamic state was vested in Allah, such perfect justice and equity will prevail that dissent would amount to apostasy. The Jamaat ideologue had pretensions about pressing his credentials as an Islamic scholar with infallible authority to interpret the divine will. Consistent with his view of the state in Islam as a spiritual democracy, Iqbal had proposed reposing the authority in an elected Parliament. In Mawdudi’s authoritarian conception of an Islamic state, there was no possibility of Parliament debating, far less defining God’s will. Muslims not confirming to his idea of Islam were implicitly excluded from Mawdudi’s definition of a believer. In another significant departure from the poetic visionary of Pakistan, who had held that the idea of the state was not dominant in Islam, Mawdudi considered the acquisition of state power vital to attain the ideal Islamic way of life. He proposed a jihad to seize state power and declared the lesser jihad (against the enemies of Islam) to be more important than the greater jihad (with one’s inner self). Jihad was justified against internal Muslim others quite as much as against non-Muslims, sharpening the edges of the fault lines in the battle for the soul of Pakistan. There was no place in this scheme of things for any mutually negotiated coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Islamic state was the ideological embodiment of Muslim belief in one God and the Prophet Muhammad. Consequently, non-Muslims had to be debarred from holding key positions of responsibility. The same logic led Mawdudi to propose that Indian Muslims, a rump of a once significant community, had no choice but to live according to the dictates of the Hindu-majority community.
Mawdudi’s idea of indoctrination and his strident anti-Indian rhetoric coupled with an insistence on Islam held out attractions for a military dominated state. However, there was no question of the decision makers in the military and civil bureaucracy letting the clerics rule the Islamic roost. During Ayub Khan’s era of enlightened Islam, Mawdudism became a word of execration and also fear. The religious lobby’s potential to kick up a popular storm to the detriment of an authoritarian regime fully dawned on the general within years of his usurpation of state power. Moon sighting for the Muslim festival of Eid was a source of contention among the believers, with the clerics using it as an opportunity to enhance their public reach. When the Ayub regime tried rationalization of the process in 1967 by setting up a committee that proceeded to announce a day for Eid, the ulema led by Mawdudi protested this unwarranted intervention by the state in a sphere they regarded as their exclusive preserve. Five of them were quickly put behind bars, including Mawdudi, and the press prohibited from reporting on the matter. Throughout the Ayub era, Mawdudi bore the brunt of the state’s coercive apparatus and was dragged through the courts in lengthy and financially withering legal battles. Ayub vented his fury against the Jamaat leader, calling him a traitor and true enemy of Islam. In any other country, the dictator opined, Mawdudi would have been lynched like a dog, but in Pakistan we have rule of law of which traitors take full advantage and protection.
A gaggle of senior civil bureaucrats close to Ayub’s way of thinking set about conjuring up the idioms of an Islamic ideology designed to expedite national integration rather than any visible kind of religiosity. What ensued was a scrappy tug-of-war between self-styled ideologues at the helm of state power and the bearded legions with their prayer rosaries, whether in the mosques, seminaries, or on the streets, over the authority to interpret the message of Islam. Among the main casualties of the struggle was the centre-province equation, with dire consequences for the federation. The state’s recourse to religion was designed to counter claims based on cultural diversity and difference. Intended to facilitate unity among Pakistan’s diverse regions, cynical uses of Islam served to undermine any sort of consensus on national identity. For a largely destitute populace seeking to eke out a decent living, matters to do with Islam’s ritualistic, doctrinal and spiritual aspects were not the primary issue. Singling our Islam as the only thread in the intricate regional weave of Pakistan’s national identity was a crudely conceived policy of homogenization through which the military-bureaucratic state succeeded in making an issue out of a non issue. A citizenry more in tune with the eclectic and varied social makeup of the country was quite comfortable wearing multiple affinities of region, religion, and nation. Policies of national indoctrination in the name of Islam generated derision, dismay and dissension, most noticeably in the eastern wing.
The votaries of the Pakistani state’s centralizing and homogenizing project arrogantly dismissed dissenting reactions as products of ignorance, insularity, and worse still, secessionist inclinations. General Ayub had a visceral dislike for the advocates of provincial rights, who he thought were disrupting the economic progress of the country. The Pakistan Council for National Integration was established with the explicit objective of promoting better understanding among the people of the two wings in order to fashion a common national outlook. Reading rooms were opened in key cities, and lectures, seminars and symposia were held on the theme o& national unity and integration. Some of these did help lift the veil of ignorance between the two halves of the country. But without qualitative changes on the political and economic front, integrative rhetoric without a concrete action was wholly ineffective in bridging the gulf separating the Bengali from the people of West Pakistan.
Ayub had banked on the leavening effects of his economic development policies to justify keeping tight curbs on political activity. This was excessively optimistic, as he soon found out. Under his regime’s externally stimulated development policies, East Pakistan received a bigger share of state resources than in the 1950s. But with 55% of the population, a share of 35% of the total development expenditure was neither fair nor equitable. The centralized nature of the state-directed development effort, in any case, ensured that the economy of the eastern wing continued to lag well behind that of the western wing. The regime’s growth oriented strategies increased regional income disparities without any improvement in Bengali representation among army officers, which remained at a lowly 5%. The higher income levels in West Pakistan were ascribed by officialdom to the effects of the “Green Revolution” and the leap in agricultural production that had ensued after the introduction of new technologies. In fact, inter regional discrepancies in growth and development were a direct result of the policy to use East Pakistan’s export surplus to finance West Pakistan’s deficits. The federal government’s hollow propaganda incensed Bengali popular opinion further, galvanizing support for the Awami League but, at the same time, threatening to subsume its campaign for provincial autonomy with cries for full independence.
By courtesy of: The Struggle for Pakistan by Ayesha Jalal, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2014
East Pakistan’s possible secession had always troubled Pakistan’s first military ruler. Ayub Khan’s worst fears came true when the radical Bengali leader Maulana Bhashani, after sitting out the 1970 elections, upped the ante by calling for an independent and sovereign state of East Bengal as envisaged in the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution of March 1940. The general pondered whether he was witnessing the beginning of the end.
This was what most Bengali nationalists always meant when they talked of complete provincial autonomy. The fiery left-leaning Maulana may have been venting his fury against West Pakistani callousness towards the recent cyclone victims and, by the same token, cashing in on an opportunity to take some of the shine off the Awami League. Even before the results of the 1970 elections were out, Ayub suspected that Bhashani’s firecracker would spur Mujib into lighting the bonfire of Pakistani unity. The Sheikh seemed to have been waiting for such an opportunity—making independence a common cry of Bengal and turning it into an irresistible movement. Several of Ayub’s visitors, including former as well as serving members of the federal cabinet, agreed with him that it was now only a matter of time before the eastern wing separated from the rest of Pakistan. With the Awami League’s landslide victory, Mujib was no longer a free agent but a prisoner of his vast support. Bhutto, too, would be loath to make any compromise that would allow his opponents to accuse him of selling West Pakistan down the drain.
As the architect of a political system that was threatening to fall apart, Ayub’s forebodings offer a poignant insight into his reading of history. On January 4, 1971, he recorded the strange irony of fate that had seen Pakistan escaping the tyranny of an inflexible and hostile Hindu majority, only to end up facing an untenable situation where one wing was about to establish its permanent majority without bearing a proportionally higher burden or higher liability. The alternative to this artificial alliance was independence or a loose confederation. Ayub thought that Bhashani’s call for independence, if premature, was more representative of the inner feelings of his people. The President was unimpressed by the fact that Mujib was not asking for independence but wanted complete autonomy for the eastern wing within a federal arrangement. From Ayub’s angle of vision, Mujib was stalling for time in a calculated attempt to milk Punjab and Sindh of their surpluses before opting out. Although in the 1970 elections, Punjab and Sindh sold themselves to Bhutto and had no choice of their own left, Ayub wondered whether they would not rebel against such an idea. He surmised that the demand for separation may well start in these provinces once the reality dawns, as it was bound to in course of time, that they are being robbed.*
*Italics are diary entries of Ayub
Ayub had put his finger on the crux of the 1971 crisis. Who was liable to secede from whom, the majority in the eastern wing or sections of minority in the west? If Pakistan was to remain united, by what democratic or federal principle could anyone prevent the majority population in the eastern wing from redressing past injustices by diverting resources from the western wing to develop its own economy? Mujib interpreted the Awami League’s absolute majority as a validation of his six-point program for provincial autonomy. But the program had not formed part of the electorate debate in West Pakistan, where the Awami League did not win a single seat. Bhutto had taken the PPP into the 1970 elections on a socialist platform. The PPP leader told the commission investigating the causes of Pakistan’s military defeat in 1971 that he had refrained from attacking the Awami League’s program at public meetings because they were venues for emotional outbursts, not reasoned arguments about the political and constitutional niceties of the six points. Bhutto had criticized the Awami League’s provincial autonomy demands at small gatherings of lawyers and intellectuals in West Pakistan, arguing that they were not in the best interests of the country and could lead to secession.
In the run-up to the 1970 elections, right-wing parties opposed to the PPP in the western wing were more vocal in criticizing the Awami League’s six points, which they often equated with the breakup of the country. After the elections, the PPP reaffirmed its commitment to a constitutional settlement within the framework of Pakistan. Because Pakistan was a federal and not a unitary state, Bhutto argued , it was vital to secure the consensus of the federations units. He never explained how a consensus was to be obtained after the elections. Though it emerged as the majority party in West Pakistan, the PPP’s support base was confined to the Punjab and Sindh. In the NWFP and Baluchistan, the Deobandi-oriented Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) fared better at the polls. Along with the defeated parties and politicians of West Pakistan, the JUI led by Maulana Mufti Mahmud could not be shut out of discussions on the future constitutional arrangements.
This made Bhutto’s claim to speak on behalf of West Pakistan indefensible and hints at the essence of his dilemma. On the threshold of a historic opportunity, the PPP chairman found himself between a rock and a hard place. The PPP had done well but not well enough. Although the party’s radical program accounted for its electoral success in central Punjab, where the Green Revolution coupled with the Ayub’s regime irrigation projects had made the most impact , Bhutto’s controversial decision to enlist the support of conservative landlords in south Punjab and Sindh had played an equally important part in the PPP’s victory.
Tensions within the left and right wings of the PPP threatened to split the party even before Bhutto had succeeded in registering his claim to power. To make matters worse, in cutting a deal with Mujib, Bhutto ran the risk of being denounced as a traitor in West Pakistan. Wary of becoming the butt of West Pakistani criticism if he compromised with Mujib, Bhutto miscalculated his ability to withstand the ill effects of becoming a willing pawn in the regime’s game plan to thwart the Awami League’s bid for power. If he wanted to avoid being called a traitor to West Pakistan at all costs, Bhutto was equally determined not be cast in the role of arch-conspirator in the breakup of Pakistan. Bhutto’s role in the post- 1970 election crisis has to be assessed in the light of the positions taken by Mujib and Yahya Khan, not to mention the structural obstacles in the way of a smooth transfer of power from military to civilian rule in Pakistan.
The basic democracies system had been designed to safeguard the centre from challenges mounted by political parties with broad-based support at the provincial level. instead, opposition to Ayub’s exclusionary political system crystallized in East Pakistan in the form of six points, which for all practical purposes, made the centre redundant. Most political parties in the western wing wanted an effective, if not a strong centre that could lend credence to the existence of Pakistan as a sovereign independent state. There was scope for discussions between the representatives of the two wings, leading to a narrowing of differences on the question of centre-province relations. But the localization of political horizons under the basic democracies system had prevented the forging of meaningful alliances between political parties both within and between the two wings. This in large part explains why the six points elicited such different responses in East and West Pakistan.
The main bone of contention between the two wings was the powers of the federal centre. The Awami League’s vision of a limited centre was a red flag for the gendarmes of the Pakistani State.
1. The first of the six points called for the creation of a federation of Pakistan in the true spirit of the Lahore Resolution with a parliamentary form of government based on the supremacy of a legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
2. The second point confined the powers of the federal government to defence and foreign affairs and vested all the residual subjects in the constituent units.
3. According to the third point, there were to be two separate but freely convertible currencies for the two wings and, if that proved unworkable, a single currency for the whole country with constitutional safeguards to prevent the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Moreover, the eastern wing was to have its own reserve bank and a separate fiscal and monetary policy.
4. The fourth point stripped the federal centre of its powers of taxation and revenue collection and handed them to the federation units. Turning the twenty-four year logic of military fiscalism in Pakistan on its head, the fourth point made the federal centre dependent on handouts from states taxes to meet its expenditures.
5. If this did not raise the hackles of the military brass, the fifth point certainly did. It envisaged separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings, with the federal centre getting an agreed percentage of their financial resources. Indigenous products were to move free of duty between the two wings. But this gesture to federalism was offset by the provision empowering the constituent units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
6. The sixth point’s demand for a separate militia or paramilitary force in East Pakistan was anodyne by comparison to the drastic readjustment that was being proposed in the apportioning of finances between the federal centre and the federating units.
Yet for all the clouds darkening the political horizon, there was also an element of creative ambiguity in the post electoral context. It was evident that Mujib’s six points were negotiable, and he was not thinking of secession. His conception of a free Bengali nation was not incompatible with something less than a fully separate and sovereign state. If the military junta had seized this opening to negotiate the terms for a transfer of power with the newly elected representatives of the people, the course of Pakistani history might have been different. Stung by election results that were completely contrary to the intelligence reports, Yahya delayed announcing a date for the meeting of the National Assembly, which was to function as both the legislature and the constitution- making body. This aroused Bengali suspicions, prompting Mujib to take a more rigid stance on the six points. On January 3, 1971, at a mass meeting of a million people at the Dhaka Race Course ground, all the Awami League members of the national and provincial assemblies took an oath of allegiance to the six points. Most telling was Mujib’s assertion that the six points were the property of the people of Bangladesh and there could be no question of a compromise on them.
Yet when he met Yahya Khan in the second week of January 1971, Mujib was a paragon of moderation. As the general had not bothered studying the six points, Mujib explained them to him and asked whether he had any objections. Yahya said he had none but noted that the Awami League would have to carry the West Pakistani political parties, the PPP in particular. Mujib urged him to convene the National Assembly by February 15 and predicted that he would obtain not only a simple majority but almost 2/3 majority.Admiral Ahsan, who was then still governor of East Pakistan, noted that with its absolute majority, the Awami League could bulldoze their constitution through without bothering about West Pakistan’s interest. Mujib was quick to the defence: No, I am a democrat and the majority leader of all Pakistan. I cannot ignore the interests of West Pakistan. I am not only responsible to the people of East and West Pakistan but also to world opinion. I shall do everything on democratic principles. Mujib wanted to invite Yahya to Dhaka three or four days before the assembly session to see the draft constitution. If you find objections, Mujib told Yahya, I will try to accommodate your wishes. Towards that end he promised to seek cooperation of the PPP as well as other parties in West Pakistan. The Awami League realized that the western wing did not need the same measure of autonomy as East Pakistan. In a telling statement of the inner thinking of the Awami League leadership, Mujib said that although he was prepared to be of help, he did not wish to interfere in any arrangements that the West Pakistani leadership may wish to make. Looking forward, Mujib talked of about drafting Yahya’s address to the National Assembly, which he wanted convened no later than February 15, and went so far as to say that the Awami League intended to elect the general as its presidential candidate.Mujib spoke of a democratic parliament and discussions on issues to find acceptable formulas inside and outside the Assembly. The meeting ended with Yahya flattering Mujib by calling him the next prime minister of Pakistan.*
*The Report of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission of Inquiry into the 1971 War (as declassified by the Government of Pakistan) (Lahore Vanguard).
An uncompromising public posture contrasted with private reassurances exchanged bythe main actors and complicates the story of the tripartite negotiations that preceded the military action in East Pakistan. As far as Mujib was concerned, a formula could be worked out to save the unity of Pakistan even while pursuing legitimate Bengali demands. Soon after the elections, Mujib is said to have conveyed to Bhutto through a personal emissary that he could have the big job in return for accepting the six points and joining hands with the Awami League to force the military back into the barracks. Taken aback but excited about the idea, Bhutto declared that he was personally not opposed to the six points but had to carry the party with him. Secure in his knowledge of his powers under the LFO, Yahya Khan exploited Bhutto’s uncertainty about the PPP’s reaction to striking a deal with the Awami League. On his return to West Pakistan, Yahya stopped off in Larkana to visit Bhutto at his ancestral home. There is no record of what transpired at the meeting but the president would almost certainly have mentioned his conversation with Mujib, though he did not tell Bhutto about the Awami League leader’s readiness to discuss the outstanding constitutional issues both inside and outside the National Assembly. Yahya might also have hinted at the limits to which the regime was prepared to accommodate the Awami League’s demands. Any reference to the LFO and Pakistan’s national interest would have alerted Bhutto to the military establishment’s distaste for the six points.
The junta downplayed the meeting between Yahya and Bhutto, describing it as coincidental. There were several subsequent consultations between the two men that were far from incidental. The existence of a secret channel of communication between the PPP chairman and the martial law administrator pointed to a collusion, generating a rash of negative speculation in the eastern wing. Bhutto was already held in high suspicion when he arrived in Dhaka on January 27 for the first round of talks with the Awami League leader. Bengali doubts about Bhutto’s intentions were strengthened when, after eight hours of being holed up alone in a room with Mujib, the PPP leader did not go beyond seeking clarification on the six points. There was no mention of joining hands to oust the military regime. Mujib was understandably disappointed and puzzled by these tactics.
Upon returning from East Pakistan, Bhutto denied any differences with Mujib and said that their talks had been exploratory in nature. Before these statements could have a salutary effect, two Kashmiris hijacked a Indian Airlines Fokker on January 25, 1971, and forced it to land in Lahore. While Mujib condemned the hijacking on principle, Bhutto rushed to Lahore airport to greet the freedom fighters who were granted asylum by Pakistan. That the regime and the PPP chairman had been ensnared soon became apparent when the hijackers blew up the plane two days later and New Delhi reacted by banning all Pakistani connecting flights from using Indian airspace. This increased the distance between East and West Pakistan from 1,000 to 3,000 miles around the coast of Sri Lanka. The hijacking widened the gulf between Bhutto and Mujib and brought Indo-Pakistan relations to an all-time low, especially once the tribunal set up to investigate the incident concluded that the hijackers were not heroes but Indian agents. Mujib’s stance on the hijacking intensified Punjabi hostility towards him, making it more difficult for Bhutto to compromise. On February 21 a PPP convention vowed to abide by the chairman’s decision not to attend the session of the National Assembly scheduled for March 3.
Yahya Khan used the excuse of a deteriorating political situation and the Indian threat looming on the borders to dismiss his civilian cabinet and invest the governors with martial law powers, a first step to clearing any hurdles in the way of a military action. The decision indicated the president’s semi-isolation and made him more dependent on the military hawks in the National Security Council (NSC). On the evening of February 22, he presided over a conference in Rawalpindi attended by the governors, martial law administrators, and intelligence officials where a decision was taken in principle to deploy force in East Pakistan. An operational plan was discussed that envisaged the deployment of troops and the mass arrest of Awami League leaders on charges of sedition.*
Brigadier A.R. Siddiqi, East Pakistan, the End Game 1969-71 Karachi Oxford University Press
The governor of East Pakistan, Admiral Ahsan was the only one to raise his voice in objection. Along with Sahibzada Yaqui Ali Khan, the commander of the eastern forces, the governor insisted on the imperative of finding a political solution and openly expressed dismay at the unthinking jingoism of West Pakistani officials who regarded the people of East Pakistan as a vast colonial population waiting to be proselytized.** Until the third week of February, Yahya had appeared to endorse his views, but now the tide had turned. On arriving in the capital from Dhaka, Ahsan was alarmed to notice a high tide of militarism flowing turbulently. There was open talk at the conference of a military solution according to plan. Ahsan’s refusal to endorse such a course of action made him unpopular with his colleagues, who thought he had sold out to the Bengalis.
**Admiral S.M. Ahsan in his testimony to the Hamoodur Rahman Commission
There is no indication that Bhutto was privy to the regime’s plans to clamp down on the Awami League leaders. Publicly, he persisted in calling for a political solution acceptable to both wings. Signs of the military leaning on Bhutto, albeit for its own institutional reasons, created the impression of complicity. The election results had blown Yahya’s cover under the LFO. A counter foil was needed to stop Mujib’s thunderous march to power. In his narrative of the events, Brigadier A. R. Siddiqi, the head of the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing, maintains that after the elections, General Gul Hassan, the chief of the general staff, told him, Let’s back Bhutto. In his memoir, Gul Hassan holds both Bhutto and Mujib in contempt and refers to them as creative liars whose ambition and vindictiveness made them prone to fabrications if that served their political purpose. What is undeniable is that the army had a clear self-interest in theoutcome of the post electoral negotiations. According to Siddiqi, the right of a provincial-cum-regional party to frame the national constitution and run the national government for the next five years was not acceptableto the military high command. Bhutto was preferred not because he was more worthy of trust than Mujib. The generals knew that the Awami League leader was no friend of theirs and feared he might try to seek a drastic cut in the army’s size and power. Circumstantially, Bhutto had better credentials. The PPP’s biggest majority was in Punjab, home to 75% of the army’s rank and file. This would force Bhutto to be “more reasonable and not touch the army.
Encouraged by the regular exchange of missives with Yahya Khan and his contact with other top generals in the regime, Bhutto became more insistent on not attending the National Assembly. While denying any fundamental opposition to the six points, he charged the Awami League with wanting to impose its preferred constitution on West Pakistan. Letting the majority frame the constitution of its choosing would make sense if Pakistan was a unitary state. In a country split in two parts that lacked any semblance off political cohesion, the federal constitution had to be based on the consensus of all the federations units. In the interest of national unity, Bhutto agreed to the six points barring the second and the fifth relating to currency, taxation, international trade, and foreign assistance. When push came to shove, he was prepared to accept all the points except the one pertaining to foreign trade and aid. If these were adjusted in favour of the centre, the PPP was prepared to cooperate with the Awami League in formulating the constitution.
The more ruthless of Bhutto’s critics have persisted in accusing him of stalling for time at Yahya’s behest. There is no question that Bhutto over estimated his ability to get the better of the general. Spurning Mujib’s offer to help eject the military from the political arena was an error for which history cannot absolve Bhutto. Like any politician, Bhutto needed the support of his party leadership. Notwithstanding the PPP’s studied public silence on the Awami League’s demands, Bhutto remained remarkably consistent in his stance on the six points. Raising the PPP’s objections to the conception of federation in the six points, he noted that there was no federation in the world without a second House of Parliament, a proposition Mujib had rejected. Equally objectionable was the fact that although some of the points upheld the principles of federalism, others implied a confederal arrangement between the two wings. The Awami League wanted West Pakistan to assume responsibility for the bulk of the external debt of the federal government. East Pakistan was to contribute only 24% of the centre’s running costs, and even this sum was to be set against “reparations” due from West Pakistan for its past exploitation of the eastern wing. On this basis, the entire central levy would have to be borne by the western wing for several years to come.
For a West Pakistani politician, let alone a Sindhi, to agree to such an arrangement was political suicide. Right-wing parties considered the six points blasphemous and would invariably denounce Bhutto for being opportunistic and, worse still, a traitor. His own ideologically divided party cadres were liable to revolt, certainly in Punjab, where the PPP had received strong electoral support in military cantonments. Leery of the Awami League’s absolute majority, Bhutto stuck to his guns about discussing the main points of difference before the meeting of the National Assembly. If Mujib had wanted Yahya to call the National Assembly by mid-February, Bhutto wanted the meeting postponed until the end of March so that the two parties could thrash out all the contentious issues.Ignoring Bhutto’s arguments but also falling short of accepting Mujib’s, Yahya had announced on February 13 that the National Assembly would meet on March 3, 1971. Bhutto said his party would not attend unless assurances were given that it would be heard. The PPP was not boycotting the Assembly but asking the Awami League to reciprocate its gesture of accepting four out of the six points. Likening the constitution to an essay, Bhutto said we accept the essay written in East Pakistan—but we want to write some concluding paragraphs which are of vital national importance.We have gone a mile to accommodate the Six Points, he continued, and request our East Pakistani friends to move at least an inch to accommodate our views.In a deliberate act of omission, Yahya Khan did not tell Bhutto about Mujib’s readiness to engage in discussions outside the Assembly. This implies that far from colluding with Bhutto, or for that matter with Mujib, as the PPP claimed, Yahya was looking to extend his regime’s continuation in office by pitting the two main parties against each other.
The tactic worked. Sensing the army’s reluctance to transfer power, Bhutto went on a verbal rampage through the populist alleyways of the historic city of Lahore. In a stormy speech to a mammoth crowd at Lahore’s Mochi Gate on February 28, he reiterated his line that Mujib had decided on the constitution and wanted the PPP to rubber-stamp the document. Bhutto demanded a postponement of the National Assembly or an extension of the 120 day-period for the formulation of the constitution. Getting carried away by the force of his own words, he threatened to break the legs of anyone, whether from the PPP or any other West Pakistani Party, who attended the National Assembly session in Dhaka.This was provocative in the extreme. The die had been cast; the Awami League leadership’s distrust of Bhutto was complete. Egged on by the intelligence agencies, most political parties in West Pakistan refused to attend the assembly session. On March 1, Yahya used the excuse to postpone the National Assembly and aggravated matters by not announcing an alternative e date for its meeting. While this sparked disappointment in West Pakistani political circles, the eastern wing exploded in violent frenzy. In clear evidence of serious differences in higher military circles, both Admiral Ahsan and General Yaqub resigned from their positions. With the removal of the two senior most West Pakistani officials who still believed in the need for a political solution, the military gunned down several demonstrations in East Pakistan on March 2 and 3 before returning to the barracks.
From March 1 until the fateful moment on March 25, 1971, when a crackle of gunfire disrupted the silence of the night in Dhaka, Bengali antipathy for the Pakistani military presence in East Pakistan soared. Food sellers refused to supply meat and fresh produce to the army while West Pakistanis and pro-government Urdu speaking Biharis were targeted by the Awami League muscle men. Despite clear and present provocation, the army desisted from taking action, purportedly to allow the political negotiations to succeed. Yet since a decision to resort to military action had been taken in principle, the lack of any remedial measure on the part of the military can equally well be seen as marking time to fly in troop reinforcements from West Pakistan.The state’s inaction after a vicious display of its coercive power emboldened Awami League workers to begin taking over state institutions. After March 2, Mujib popularly known as Bangabandhu (friend of Bengal) was running the civilian administration in East Pakistan from his unassuming two-storied home at 32 Dhanmandi. The three-member Hamoodur Rahman Commission set up to investigate the causes of the military defeat in East Pakistan chastised the military regime for letting the situation get out of hand, with the result that much greater use of force was needed later to regain control. There was no reason why keeping the door open for negotiations with Mujib was inconsistent with maintaining law and order.As far as the Commission could discern, the majority of the people of East Pakistan were not in favour of secession. But with the government doing nothing to stop the violence, it was difficult to prevent people from thinking that it was making ready to pack up and go. Even those who may have wished to oppose the Awami League were deflected from doing so.
By the time Yahya came around to announcing that the National Assembly would meet on March 25, Mujib’s stance had stiffened. Mindful of the extreme views in the Awami League cadres, who considered the six-points non-negotiable, he now demanded the immediate withdrawal of martial law and a return of all military personnel to the barracks, an inquiry into the loss of life, and an immediate transfer of power to the representatives of the people.Reluctant to transfer power, Yahya could not agree to these demands prior to the completion of the constitution making process. But he was prepared to ask the army to hold their fire until he had gone through the motions of trying to make Mujib see sense. Banking on the inability of the two main political parties to agree, Yahya Khan had eased into a life of excess in wine, women, and song. Yet the Hamoodur Rahman Commission did not attribute the general’s dereliction of duty to his heavy drinking. The supreme commander of the armed forces held his drink, though his mental reflexes had evidently slowed down. The information garnered by the Commission indicated that Yahya Khan, flanked by a close circle of military officials, played out a game in which no clear cut decision could be reached.
Such a game was played out in the vitiated atmosphere of the negotiations. Yahya had set the tone on March 6 while announcing a new date for the National Assembly. Slamming the Awami League for misunderstanding his reasons for postponing the meeting of the National Assembly, he had said: I will not allow a handful of people to destroy the homeland of millions of innocent Pakistanis. It was the duty of the Pakistan Armed Forces to ensure the integrity, solidarity and security of Pakistan, and it was a duty in which they never failed. With Bhutto demanding time out at the decisive moment in the match, and the junta cloaking the threat of force in the flighty language of national unity, the Bangabandhu had few options. Mujib was now even more of a captive of his Awami League supporters who, realizing that the regime had no real intention of either sharing or transferring power, wanted Bengali to fight and take what was theirs by right.
On March 7, 1971, Mujib addressed a massive political rally at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka. A skilled public orator in Bengali, the Bangabandhu delivered a stirring speech that reflected the mood of his people. He called for every Bengali home to be turned into a fortress. As blood had already been shed, he was prepared to offer more blood to free the people of his country. The struggle this time is a struggle for freedom. The struggle this time is a struggle for independence, he proclaimed passionately, before concluding with the slogan JaiBangla ( Victory to Bengal). A virtual declaration of independence, Mujib ‘s March 7 speech did not, however, completely shut the door on further talks.
The negotiations that got underway in Dhaka in mid-March 1971 were peculiar in many respects. The presidential team closely choreographed the meetings. No minutes were kept, making it impossible to cross-check and verify either Yahya’s or Bhutto’s testimony to the Hamoodur Rahman Commission. Mujib did not appear before the Commission. He was assassinated in 1975, and the report was not declassified until 2001. Whatever the limitations of the inquiry commission’s findings, they do make it possible to piece together a proximate account of what transpired at the negotiations.At his first meeting with Yahya, Mujib demanded the immediate lifting of martial law and convening of the National Assembly. There was to be a simultaneous transfer of power at the centre and the provinces. Yahya accepted all the demands except the lifting of martial law on the rather lame excuse that this would create a legal lacuna.By the time the two men met again on March 20, their aides had worked out the modalities for ending martial law. Power was to be transferred to all five provinces but not for the time being at the centre, where Yahya was to remain in office. The National Assembly was to be divided into two committees, one for each wing. These committees were to meet together to frame a constitution on the basis of their respective reports.
This was a circuitous way to keep a divided country united. But, then, Pakistan was no ordinary country. Considering the Lahore Resolution of 1940, the idea of a confederation was not nearly so far-fetched. On arriving in Dhaka on March 21, 1971, Bhutto rejected the proposal to divide the assembly into two parts on the grounds that it pointed to a confederation and paved the way for secession. This was in line with Yahya’s own thinking. That night Bhutto consulted other PPP leaders, who concurred with the assessment. The next morning when the three protagonists met together for the first and only time, Yahya said that the PPP’s agreement was required for the Awami League’s proposals. Mujib bluntly told Yahya that it was up to him to persuade Bhutto. The discussions ended with the two politicians saying nothing to each other in the president’s presence. Outside the presidential salon, Mujib took Bhutto aside and asked for his help to overcome an increasingly grave situation. Afraid that the conversation might be tapped, the two walked out into the verandah and sat in the portico, where Yahya saw them, honeymooning with each other,as he snidely commented later. Mujib told Bhutto to become prime minister of West Pakistan and leave the eastern wing to the Awami League, warning him not to trust the military, as it would destroy both of them. Bhutto replied that he would rather be destroyed by the military than by history. While agreeing to consider the Awami League’s proposals, the PPP leader urged Mujib to place them before the National Assembly, as he was not prepared to give a personal pledge on such a serious matter. According to Bhutto, Mujib rejected the idea of the National Assembly being convened even briefly.
The only direct exchange between Mujib and Bhutto in the tripartite talks ended in a stalemate, though the two had planned on meeting again in secret. For a second time within a matter of months, Mujibur Rahman had solicited Bhutto’s help in dislodging the military regime. That the effort failed is not surprising once the haze is lifted from the moves and countermoves in the final days of a united Pakistan. Recourse to thick narrative detail reveals that the principle hurdle in the way of a united Pakistan was not disagreement on constitutional matters but the transfer of power from military to civilian hands.
More concerned with perpetuating himself in office, Yahya Khan was strikingly nonchalant about the six points. He left that to the West Pakistani politicians, in particular Bhutto, who, contrary to the impression in some quarters, was more of a fall guy for the military junta than a partner in crime. In his testimony to the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, Yahya blamed Bhutto for the failure of negotiations to make headway. What he did not reveal was that the policy of divide and rule had survived colonialism and become the preferred policy instrument of the post colonial state in handling an intractable and increasingly violent polity. It was a recipe for disaster at the service of a drunken and dissolute ruler, more capable of dividing than ruling according to any known norms of governance.
Given the historical evidence, the verdict on apportioning responsibility for the 1971 debacle in East Pakistan must go decisively against Yahya Khan and his senior military associates in the NSC.*
*The associates included, most notably:
General Abdul Hamid Khan
Lt. General S.G.M.M. Pirzada
Lt. General Gul Hassan
Major General Umar
Major General Mitha.
What clinched the issue for the military high command was the law-and-order situation in East Pakistan, where the Awami League was running a parallel government with bruising effect on the morale of the armed forces. Irritated by the daily abuse levied at the military presence by the Bengali press, they were incensed to find that India was actively supporting the dissidents. What the military’s eastern command did not gauge, thanks to a linguistically impaired intelligence network, was that its own Bengali troops strongly supported the Awami League miscreants. Although the decision to use military force in East Pakistan was taken only on February 22, plans had been put in place much earlier. As early as December 1970, East Pakistan’s martial law administrator, General Yaqub Khan, had worked out the operational aspects of imposing law and order in what was code named Operation Blitz. Yaqub subsequently resigned, warning against taking military action in a situation that required a political resolution. The alarm bells went off on March 23 when the Awami League marked Pakistan Day by hoisting Bangladeshi flags but fell short of declaring independence. There were reports of Jinnah’s portraits being defaced. More seriously from a military point of view, fighting broke out in Chittagong that day, with the East Pakistan Rifles and East Bengal Regiment joining hands with the dissidents against West Pakistani forces, completely paralyzing the port city. Faced with supply difficulties, the eastern command under General Tikka Khan was implementing the first stages of its Operation Searchlight Plan, while Yahya Khan and his aides continued their talks with Mujib and Bhutto.
It is commonly held that military action followed the breakdown of negotiations. But the talks never actually broke down; they were unilaterally abandoned on the orders of the president acting in unison with his inner military circle in Rawalpindi.A transfer of power acceptable to Mujib and Bhutto was still not outside the realm of possibility. The PPP leaders saw the Awami League’s revised proposals on March 25. These called for a confederation of Pakistan and two constitutional conventions, instead of the separate committees in the earlier version, which were to frame the constitution for each wing. The conventions would then meet to frame a constitution for the confederation. In shifting from a vaguely federal to a clearly confederal arrangement, the Awami League addressed the PPP’s main objection that the six points said contradictory things about the future constitutional structure. Separate constitutions for the two wings, followed by one for the confederation of Pakistan, accommodated the PPP leader’s fear of being diddled out of power by the Awami League. On March 14, he had made a similar demand at a public rally in Karachi’s Nishtar Park. Remembered in Pakistan as his udhar tum, idhar hum (you there, us here) speech, Bhutto had maintained that power ought to be transferred to the Awami League in the east and the PPP in the west. He was widely condemned in West Pakistan for sanctioning the division of the country. Dismissing accusations of colluding with Yahya Khan and being responsible for the politicalgridlock, Bhutto spoke of one Pakistan. The rule of majority for the whole country could become applicable only if the six-point demand with its secessionist overtones was dropped. As that was not being done, the rationale and logic of the six-point demand necessitated agreement of the majority parties of both the wings.
Bhutto’s two-majority thesis was conceded in the final version of the Awami League’s constitutional proposals. However, the notion of a confederation was wholly alien to the thinking of the military command in Pakistan. Having run Pakistan as a quasi-unitary state despite its federal configuration, the guardians of military privilege were not about to concede ground to those they saw as traitors. Instead of trying to bring the situation under control by disarming the East Pakistan Rifles and the East Bengal Regiment, the army gave vent to its rage by unleashing a reign of terror. Dhaka University was stormed and many students, faculty and staff killed. There was indiscriminate killing of civilians, with Hindus and intellectuals serving as main targets. The sheer ferocity of the military action ensured that Dhaka was quickly subdued, but fighting continued to rage in Chittagong and other key cities while the countryside remained in ferment. In a glaring instance of strategic oversight, Yahya and his aides moved to pummel the Awami League without fully considering India’s or, for that matter the world’s, likely reaction. The Pakistan Foreign Office should have had no difficulty anticipating India’s likely response. But the merrymaking general and his inner coterie of military generals in their ineptitude cut themselves off from the thinking of the Foreign Office. They also had made no clear plans on how to deal with East Pakistan after the objectives of the crackdown were achieved. Yahya Khan left for West Pakistan a few hours before the start of the military operation. From his room in the Intercontinental Hotel, Bhutto watched the army setting ablaze the horizon with breathtaking ruthlessness. Punitive action without any thought to reopening the political dialogue made no sense. Yet at no time after the first shots were fired in the barricaded streets of Dhaka on March 25,1971 did Yahya Khan restart negotiations with the Awami League. While most of the top Bengali leadership fled across the border to West Bengal, Mujib was promptly arrested and transported to a West Pakistani jail. Apart from a facetious trial in which he was given a death sentence, the regime made no effort to initiate dialogue with the Awami League leader.
With the international media flush with harrowing tales of the army’s atrocities and the plight of millions of refugees who had fled to India, Pakistan ‘s stocks slumped internationally. Archer Blood, the American consul general in Dhaka, thought it unconscionable for the United States to turn a blind eye to the reality of the oppression Bengalis were facing and to which the overworked term genocide is applicable. The only likely outcome of the conflict was a Bengali victory and the consequent establishment of an independent Bangladesh. It was foolish to give one sided support to the likely loser. In contrast to 1965, China politely distanced itself from a regime charged with genocide. Washington was a bit more forthcoming because the Pakistani government had recently helped the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to make contact with Beijing. But American support was more symbolic than real— a morale-boosting assurance that India would not be permitted to rip through West Pakistan. It did not extend to absolving the Pakistani regime of its crimes and misdemeanours. The story of the junta’s botched international diplomacy is a trifle less appalling than its abysmal failure on the military front. A brutal military crackdown in late March and April may have resulted in a semblance of order in key urban centres and around the cantonments. Once the monsoon set in, however, the army was constantly harried by the Bangladesh Mukti Bahini (Liberation Army) resorting to guerrilla tactics in the watery terrain of the Bengal delta. In late August 1971, India, which was actively training the Bangladesh liberation forces, buttressed its international position by entering into a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Soviet Union. The Pakistani Army’s strategic doctrine of defending East Pakistan from the western wing exploded in its face when India launched a full-scale attack on the eastern front. There were no effective lines of communications between key players in the regime and an internally divided GHQ, far less between them and the eastern command. Pakistani troops did fight the advancing Indian troops effectively in key sectors. The United States sent its nuclear carrier USS Enterprise from the Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal to hover on the edges of Indian territorial waters. But the surrender of 93,000 soldiers without a whimper on December 16, 1971, highlighted the magnitude of the defeat suffered by the Pakistani Army at the hands of its primary rival. General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, then in command of the eastern front alleged that the ignominy of surrender, which is a death warrant for a soldier was imposed on him and his men by our selfish rulers and selfish officers sitting in GHQin order to save West Pakistan. We accepted humiliation to save our homeland, the disgraced general claimed in his memoir.
Strategic blundering and political ineptitude combined to create a horrific nightmare for a military high command that was ill equipped to handle the situation. Once orders had been given to put boots on the ground and enforce law and order, pent-up frustrations shredded the last remnants of humanity still adorning the hearts of the West Pakistani troops. The ethical dilemma of killing fellow Muslims was quickly overcome. Bengalis were not just black men; they were Muslims in name only and had to be purged of their infidelity. Whatever the reasoning of the perpetrators, nothing can justify the horrendous crimes committed in the name of a false sense of nationalism. As in any war, there was violence on both sides against unarmed men, women, and children. But there was a world of difference between organized state coercion against a largely unarmed populace and the targeted violence of armed dissidents against known collaborators of the military regime.
A blackout on national and international news from East Pakistan kept the majority of the people of West Pakistan in a state of blissful ignorance. Some accounts of the massacre of civilians and rape of women in East Pakistan by the national army and its hastily raised Islamist militias known as razakars did filter through. Some West Pakistanis registered their protest. But few in the western wing were listening, convinced that the armed forces were performing their duty to protect the national integrity of the country against Indian machinations. This makes the words and actions of those brave souls from the western wing who did speak out that much more significant. Habib Jalib bewailed the savagery that had ravished East Pakistan. For whom should I sing my songs of love, he asked, when the garden is a bloody mess,when they were battered flower buds and blood drenched leaves everywhere despite an unstoppable rain of tears. Jalib had sensed that nothing could wash away the sins of the cabal of generals who had presided over the most inglorious moment in the history of Pakistan. The noted Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz also wrote poems in 1971 lamenting that events in East Pakistan had shaken his faith in humanity. Three years later when he visited Dhaka, Faiz felt a strange kind of estrangement upon meeting with intimate Bengali friends. After how many more meetings, he wondered, will we be that close once again? How many monsoons would it take to usher in a spring of unstained green in east Bengal?
The end of love has been so cruel and pitiless that the crushed heart longed in vain just to quarrel once again with old friends. Faiz had gone to Bangladesh, ready to offer everything, even the gift of his own life. Such was the distance between him and his closest friends that these healing words remained unspoken after all else had been said.
More than four decades after the bloody separation, the gulf between the erstwhile wings of Pakistan has grown wider in the absence of any remedial measure. Unable to forget, the people of Bangladesh might at least try and forgive if presented with a formal apology by their tormentors, Unwilling to learn the lessons of their own history, successive rulers of what remained of Pakistan in the west avoided owning up to the crimes committed by their defeated and disgraced predecessors. The tragedy of East Pakistan had been partially foretold by the wilful manipulation of centre-province relations in the 1950s and 1960s by a military dominated state. Yet a fully separate and sovereign state was an option of the last resort in the spring of 1971 once the military junta shut down all prospects of realizing Bengali national aspirations within a federal or confederal framework. What came in the wake of 1971 promised to be an endless trial by fire for the constituent units of a Pakistani federation that the military in league with the central bureaucracy insisted on governing as a quasi-unitary state.
By courtesy of: The Struggle for Pakistan by Ayesha Jalal, Harvard University Press 2014
Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy)
Sham No Varunaḥ (IAST)
May the Lord of the Water be auspicious unto us (English)
Navy blue, white
Jai Bharti (Victory to India)
Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS)
Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC
Vice Chief of the Naval Staff (VCNS)
Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, AVSM
Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (DCNS)
Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, AVSM, VSM
Headquarters: New Delhi
Sea King Mk.42C
UH-3 Sea King
Patrol: Boeing P-8 Poseidon; Ilyushin Il-38
Reconnaissance: IAI Heron; IAI Searcher Mk II
Trainer: BAE Hawk; HAL HJT-16
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star Admiral, commands the navy.
The Indian Navy traces its origins back to the East India Company’s Marine which was founded in 1612 to protect British merchant shipping in the region. In 1793, the East India Company established its rule over eastern part of the Indian subcontinent i.e. Bengal, but it was not until 1830 that the colonial navy was titled as Her Majesty’s Indian Navy. When India became a republic in 1950, the Royal Indian Navy as it had been named since 1934 was renamed to Indian Navy.
The primary objective of the navy is to safeguard the nation’s maritime borders, and in conjunction with other Armed Forces of the union, act to deter or defeat any threats or aggression against the territory, people or maritime interests of India, both in war and peace. Through joint exercises, goodwill visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief, Indian Navy promotes bilateral relations between nations.
As of 1 July 2017, 67,228 personnel are in service with the Indian Navy. As of January 2018, the operational fleet consists of:
one aircraft carrier
one amphibious transport dock
eight landing ship tanks
one nuclear-powered attack submarine
one ballistic missile submarine
14 conventionally-powered attack submarines
four mine countermeasure vessels
four fleet tankers
various other auxiliary vessels.
Early maritime history
The maritime history of India dates to 6,000 years with the birth of art of the navigation and navigating during the Indus Valley Civilisation. A Kutch mariner’s log book from 19th century recorded that the first tidal dock India has been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Indus Valley Civilisation, near the present-day harbour of Mangrol on the Gujarat coast. The Rig Veda, credits Varuna, the Hindu god of water and the celestial ocean, with knowledge of the ocean routes and describes the use of ships having hundred oars in the naval expeditions by Indians. There are also references to the side wings of a ship called Plava, which stabilizes the vessel during storms. Plava is the precursor of modern-day stabilizers. The first use of mariner’s compass, called as Matsya Yantra, was recorded in 4 and 5 AD.
Chola territories during Rajendra Chola I, c. 1030
Alexander the Great during his conquest over India, built a harbour at Patala. His army retreated to Mesopotamia on the ships built at Sindh. In the later of his conquest, records show that the Emperor of Maurya Empire, Chandragupta Maurya, as a part of war office, established an Admiralty Division under the Superintendent of Ships. Many historians from ancient India recorded the Indian trade relations with many countries, and even with countries as far as Java and Sumatra. There were also references to the trade routes of countries in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. India also had trade relations with the Greeks and the Romans. At one instance Roman historian Gaius Plinius Secundus mentioned of Indian traders carrying away large masses of gold and silver from Rome, in payment for skins, precious stones, clothes, indigo, sandalwood, herbs, perfumes, and spices.
During 5–10 AD, the Kalinga and the Vijayanagara Empires conquered Western Java, Sumatra and Malaya. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands served as an important halt point for trade ships en route to these nations and as well as China. During 844–848 AD the daily revenue from these nations was expected to be around 200 maunds (8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons)) of gold. During 984–1042 AD, under the reign of Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I, the naval expedition by Chola dynasty captured lands of Burma, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, and Malaya, and simultaneously repressing pirate activities by Sumatran warlords.
Marco Polo’s remark on Indian ships (1292 AD) … built of fir timber, having a sheath of boards laid over the planking in every part, caulked with oakum and fastened with iron nails. The bottoms were smeared with a preparation of quicklime and hemp, pounded together and mixed with oil from a certain tree which is a better material than pith.
During 14th and 15th centuries, Indian shipbuilding skills and their maritime ability was sophisticated enough to produce ships with a capacity to carry over hundred men. Ships also had compartments included in their design, so that even if one compartment was damaged, the ship would remain afloat. These features of were developed by Indians even before Europeans were aware of the idea.
However, by the end of thirteenth century Indian naval power had started to decline and had reached its low by the time the Portuguese entered India. Soon after they set foot in India, the Portuguese started to hunt down all Asian vessels not permitting their trade. Amidst this, in 1529, a naval war at Bombay Harbour resulted in the surrender of Thane, Karanja, and Bandora. By 1534, the Portuguese took complete control over the Bombay Harbour. The Zamorin of Calicut challenged the Portuguese trade when Vasco da Gama refused to pay the customs levy as per the trade agreement. This resulted in two major naval wars, the first one—Battle of Cochin, was fought in 1504, and the second engagement happened four years later off Diu. Both these wars, exposed the weakness of Indian maritime power and simultaneously helped the Portuguese to gain mastery over the Indian waters.
In the later seventeenth century Indian naval power observed remarkable revival. The alliance of the Moghuls and the Sidis of Janjira was marked as a major power on the west coast. On the southern front, the 1st Sovereign of the Maratha Empire, Shivaji Bhosale, started creating his own fleet. His fleet was commanded by notable admirals like Sidhoji Gujar and Kanhoji Angre. The Maratha Navy under the leadership of Angre kept the English, Dutch and Portuguese away from the Konkan coast. However, the Marathas witnessed remarkable decline in their naval capabilities following the death of Angre in 1729.
HMIS Bombay of Royal Indian Navy in Sydney Harbour during World War II
The origins of the Indian Navy date to 1612, when an English vessel under the command of Captain Best encountered the Portuguese. Although the Portuguese were defeated, this incident along with the trouble caused by the pirates to the merchant vessels, forced the British to maintain fleet near Surat, Gujarat. The British Honourable East India Company (HEIC) formed a naval arm, and the first squadron of fighting ships reached the Gujarat coast on 5 September 1612. Their objective was to protect British merchant shipping off the Gulf of Cambay and up the Narmada and Tapti rivers. As the HEIC continued to expand its rule and influence over different parts of India, the responsibility of Company’s Marine increased too.
Over time, the British predominantly operated from Bombay, and in 1686, the HEIC’s naval arm was renamed the Bombay Marine. At times the Bombay Marine engaged Dutch, French, Maratha, and Sidi vessels. Much later, it was also involved in the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824. In 1834, the Bombay Marine became Her Majesty’s Indian Navy. The Navy saw action in the First Opium War of 1840 and in the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. Due to some unrecorded reasons, the Navy’s name reverted to the Bombay Marine from 1863 to 1877, after which it was named Her Majesty’s Indian Marine. At that time, the Marine operated in two divisions—the Eastern Division at Calcutta under the Superintendent of Bay of Bengal, and the Western Division at Bombay Superintendent of Arabian Sea.
In 1892 the Marine was rechristened the Royal Indian Marine, and by the end of the 19th century it operated over fifty ships. The Marine participated in World War I with a fleet of patrol vessels, troop carriers, and minesweepers. In 1928, D. N. Mukherji was the first Indian to be granted a commission, in the rank of an Engineer Sub-lieutenant. Also, in 1928, the RIM was accorded combatant status, which entitled it to be considered a true fighting force and to fly the White Ensign of the Royal Navy. In 1934, the Marine was upgraded to a full naval force, thus becoming the Royal Indian Navy (RIN), and was presented the King’s colours in recognition of its services to the British Crown.
During the early stages of World War II, the tiny Royal Indian Navy consisted of fivesloops, one survey vessel, one depot ship, one patrol vessel and numerous assorted small craft; personnel strength was at only 114 officers and 1,732 sailors. The onset of war led to an expansion in numbers of vessels and personnel. By June 1940, the navy had doubled its number in terms of both personnel and material and expanded nearly six times of its pre-war strength by 1942. The navy was actively involved in operations during the war around the world and was heavily involved in operations around the Indian Ocean, including convoy escorts, mine-sweeping and supply, as well as supporting amphibious assaults.
When hostilities ceased in August 1945, the Royal Indian Navy had expanded to a personnel strength of over 25,000 officers and sailors. Its fleet comprised:
two depot ships
thirty auxiliary vessels
one hundred and fifty landing craft
two hundred harbour craft
several offensive and defensive motor launches.
During World War II the Navy suffered two hundred and seventy-five casualties—twenty-seven officers, two warrant officers and 123 ratings killed in action, two ratings missing in action and a further 14 officers, two warrant officers and 123 ratings wounded.
For their role in the war, the officers and ratings of the Navy received the following honours and decorations:
a KBE (Mil.)
a CB (Mil.)
10 Indian Defence Service Medals
a Royal Humane Society Medal
105 mentions in dispatches
118 assorted commendations.
Immediately after the war, the navy underwent a rapid, large-scale demobilisation of vessels and personnel.
From the inception of India’s naval force, some senior Indian politicians had voiced concerns about the degree of “Indianisation” of the Navy and its subordination to the Royal Navy in all important aspects. On the eve of WWII, the RIN had no Indian senior line officers and only a single Indian senior engineer officer. Even by the war’s end, the Navy remained a predominantly British-officered service; in 1945, no Indian officer held a rank above engineer commander and no Indian officer in the executive branch held substantive senior line officer rank. This situation, coupled with inadequate levels of training and discipline, poor communication between officers and ratings, instances of racial discrimination and the ongoing trials of ex-Indian National Army personnel ignited the Royal Indian Navy mutiny by Indian ratings in 1946. A total of 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in the strike, which spread over much of India. After the strike began, the sailors received encouragement and support from the Communist Party in India; unrest spread from the naval ships and led to student and worker hartals in Bombay. The strike ultimately failed as the sailors did not receive substantial support from either the Indian Army or from political leaders in Congress or the Muslim League.
Independence to the end of the 20th century
Following independence and the partition of India on 15 August 1947, the RIN’s depleted fleet of ships and remaining personnel were divided between the newly independent Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan. 21 percent of the Navy’s officer cadre and 47 percent of its sailors opted to join the portion of the fleet which became the Royal Pakistan Navy. Effective from the same date, all British officers were compulsorily retired from the Navy and its reserve components, with Indian officers being promoted to replace British senior officers. However, many British flag and senior officers were invited to continue serving in the RIN. After independence, the Indian share of the Navy consisted of 32 vessels along with 11,000 personnel. Rear Admiral John Talbot Savignac Hall headed the Navy as its first Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) post-Independence. When India became a republic on 26 January 1950, the Royal prefix was dropped, and the name Indian Navy was officially adopted. The prefix for naval vessels was changed from His Majesty’s Indian Ship (HMIS) to Indian Naval Ship (INS). At the same time, the imperial crown in insignia was replaced with the Lion Capital of Ashoka and the Union Jack in the canton of the White Ensign was replaced with the Indian Tricolour.
By 1955, the Navy had largely overcome its post-Independence personnel shortfalls. During the early years following independence, many British officers continued to serve in the Navy on secondment from the Royal Navy, due to the post-Independence retirement or transfer of many experienced officers to the Royal or the Pakistan navies. The first C-in-C of the Navy was Admiral Sir Edward Parry who took over from Hall in 1948 and handed over to Admiral Sir Charles Thomas Mark Pizey in 1951. Admiral Pizey also became the first Chief of the Naval Staff in 1955 and was succeeded by Vice Admiral Sir Stephen Hope Carlill the same year The pace of “Indianising” continued steadily through the 1950s. By 1952, senior Naval appointments had begun to be filled by Indian officers, and by 1955, basic training for naval cadets was entirely conducted in India. In 1956, Ram Dass Katari became the first Indian flag officer, and was appointed the first Indian Commander of the Fleet on 2 October. On 22 April 1958, Vice Admiral Katari assumed the command of the Indian Navy from Carlill as the first Indian Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy. With the departure in 1962 of the last British officer on secondment to the Navy, Commodore David Kirke, the Chief of Naval Aviation, the Indian Navy finally became an entirely Indian service.
The first engagement in action of the Indian Navy was against the Portuguese Navy during the liberation of Goa in 1961. Operation Vijay followed years of escalating tension due to Portuguese refusal to relinquish its colonies in India. On 21 November 1961, Portuguese troops fired on the passenger liner Sabarmati near Anjadip Island, killing one person and injuring another. During Operation Vijay, the Indian Navy supported troop landings and provided fire support. The cruiser INS Delhi sank one Portuguese patrol boat, while frigates INS Betwa and INS Beas destroyed the Portuguese frigate NRP Afonso de Albuquerque. The 1962 Sino-Indian War was largely fought over the Himalayas and the Navy had only a defensive role in the war.
INS Kursura, an Indian submarine which played a vital role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war
At the outbreak of Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Navy had one aircraft carrier, two cruisers, nineteen destroyers and frigates, and one tanker. Of these twenty-ships ten were under refit. The others were largely involved coastal patrols. During the war, the Pakistani Navy attacked the Indian coastal city of Dwarka, although there were no military resources in the area. While this attack was insignificant, India deployed naval resources to patrol the coast and deter further bombardment. Following these wars in the 1960s, India resolved to strengthen the profile and capabilities of its Armed Forces.
Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The ship played a crucial role in enforcing the naval blockade on East Pakistan and ensuring India’s victory during the war.
The dramatic change in the Indian Navy’s capabilities and stance was emphatically demonstrated during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Under the command of Admiral Sardarilal Mathradas Nanda, the navy successfully enforced a naval blockade of West and East Pakistan. Pakistan’s lone long-range submarine PNS Ghazi was sunk following an attack by the destroyer INS Rajput off the coast of Visakhapatnam in the midnight of 3–4 December 1971. On 4 December, the Indian Navy successfully executed Operation Trident, a devastating attack on the Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi that sank a minesweeper, a destroyer and an ammunition supply ship. The attack also irreparably damaged another destroyer and oil storage tanks at the Karachi port. To commemorate this, 4 December is celebrated as the Navy Day. This was followed by Operation Python on 8 December 1971, further deprecating the Pakistan Navy’s capabilities. Indian frigate INS Khukri, commanded by Captain M. N. Mulla was sunk by PNS Hangor, while INS Kirpan was damaged on the west coast. In the Bay of Bengal, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed to successfully enforce the naval blockade on East Pakistan. Sea Hawk and the Alizé aircraft from INS Vikrant sank numerous gunboats and Pakistani merchant marine ships. To demonstrate its solidarity as an ally of Pakistan, the United States sent Task Force 74 centred around the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal. In retaliation, Soviet Navy submarines trailed the American task force, which moved away from the Indian Ocean towards Southeast Asia to avert a confrontation. In the end, the Indian naval blockade of Pakistan choked off the supply of reinforcements to the Pakistani forces, which proved to be decisive in the overwhelming defeat of Pakistan.
Since playing a decisive role in the victory, the navy has been a deterrent force maintaining peace for India in a region of turmoil. In 1983, the Indian Navy planned for Operation Lal Dora to support the government of Mauritius against a feared coup. In 1986, in Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian Navy averted an attempted coup in the Seychelles. In 1988, India launched Operation Cactus, to successfully thwart a coup d’état by PLOTE in the Maldives. Naval maritime reconnaissance aircraft detected the ship hijacked by PLOTE rebels. INS Godavari and Indian marine commandos recaptured the ship and arrested the rebels. During the 1999 Kargil War, the Western and Eastern fleets were deployed in the Northern Arabian Sea, as a part of Operation Talwar. They safeguarded India’s maritime assets from a potential Pakistani naval attack, as also deterred Pakistan from attempting to block India’s sea-trade routes. The Indian Navy’s aviators flew sorties and marine commandos fought alongside Indian Army personnel in the Himalayas.
In October 1999, the Navy along with the Indian Coast Guard rescued MV Alondra Rainbow, a pirated Japanese cargo ship.
21st century onwards
Guard of honour at the INA, 2012.
In the 21st century, the Indian Navy has played an important role in maintaining peace for India on the maritime front, despite the state of foment in its neighbourhood. It has been deployed for humanitarian relief in times of natural disasters and crises across the globe, as well as to keep India’s maritime trade routes free and open.
The Indian Navy was a part of the joint forces exercises, Operation Parakram, during the 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff. More than a dozen warships were deployed to the northern Arabian Sea. In October, the Indian Navy took over operations to secure the Strait of Malacca, to relieve US Navy resources for Operation Enduring Freedom.
The navy plays an important role in providing humanitarian relief in times of natural disasters, including floods, cyclones and tsunamis. In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Indian Navy launched massive disaster relief operations to help affected Indian states as well as Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Over 27 ships, dozens of helicopters, at least six fixed-wing aircraft and over 5000 personnel of the navy were deployed in relief operations. These included Operation Madad in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Operation Sea Waves in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Operation Castor in Maldives, Operation Rainbow in Sri Lanka and Operation Gambhir in Indonesia. Gambhir, carried out following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, was one of the largest and fastest force mobilisations that the Indian Navy has undertaken. Indian naval rescue vessels and teams reached neighbouring countries less than 12 hours from the time that the tsunami hit. Lessons from the response led to decision to enhance amphibious force capabilities, including the acquisition of landing platform docks such as INS Jalashwa, as well as smaller amphibious vessels.
From top to bottom: INS Ranjit, INS Jyoti and INS Mysore
During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Indian Navy launched Operation Sukoon and evacuated 2,280 persons from 20 to 29 July 2006 including 436 Sri Lankans, 69 Nepalese and 7 Lebanese nationals from war-torn Lebanon. In 2006, Indian naval doctors served for 102 days on board USNS Mercy to conduct medical camps in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and East Timor. In 2007, Indian Navy supported relief operations for the survivors of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh. In 2008, Indian Naval vessels were the first to launch international relief operations for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. In 2008, the navy deployed INS Tabar and INS Mysore into the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy in Somalia. Tabar prevented numerous piracy attempts, and escorted hundreds of ships safely through the pirate-infested waters. The navy also undertook anti-piracy patrols near the Seychelles, upon that country’s request.
Sea King helicopters operating aboard INS Viraat
In February 2011, the Indian Navy launched Operation Safe Homecoming and rescued Indian nationals from war torn Libya. Between January–March, the navy launched Operation Island Watch to deter piracy attempts by Somali pirates off the Lakshadweep archipelago. This operation has had numerous successes in preventing pirate attacks. During the 2015 crisis in Yemen, the Indian Navy was part of Operation Raahat and rescued 3074 individuals of which 1291 were foreign nationals. On 15 April 2016, a Poseidon-8I long-range patrol aircraft managed to thwart a piracy attack on the high seas by flying over MV Sezai Selaha, a merchant vessel, which was being targeted by a pirate mother ship and two skiffs around 800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi) from Mumbai.
Currently, the principal roles of the Indian Navy are:
In conjunction with other Armed Forces of the union, act to deter or defeat any threats or aggression against the territory, people or maritime interests of India, both in war and peace;
Project influence in India’s maritime area of interest, to further the nation’s political, economic and security objectives;
In co-operation with the Indian Coast Guard, ensure good order and stability in India’s maritime zones of responsibility.
Provide maritime assistance (including disaster relief) in India’s maritime neighbourhood.
Command and Organisation
While the President of India serves as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, the organizational structure of Indian Navy is headed by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), who holds the rank of Admiral. While the provision for the rank of Admiral of the Fleet exists, it is primarily intended for major wartime use and honour. No officer of the Indian Navy has yet been conferred this rank. The CNS is assisted by the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS), a vice-admiral; the CNS also heads theIntegrated Headquarters (IHQ) of the Ministry of Defence (Navy), based in New Delhi. The Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (DCNS), a vice-admiral, is a Principal Staff Officer, along with the Chief of Personnel (COP) and the Chief of Materiel (COM), both of whom are also vice-admirals. The Director General Medical Services (Navy) is a Surgeon Vice-Admiral, heads the medical services of the Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy operates three operational Commands. Each Command is headed by a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the rank of vice-admiral. The Eastern and Western Commands each have a Fleet commanded by a rear admiral, and each also have a Commodore commanding submarines. The Southern Naval Command is home to the Flag Officer Sea Training.
Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Command is a unified Indian Navy, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Coast Guard theater command based at the capital, Port Blair. Commander in Chief Andaman and Nicobar (CINCAN) receives staff support from, and reports directly to the chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) in New Delhi. The Command was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2001.
Chief of Naval Staff
Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC
Vice Chief of Naval Staff
Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, AVSM
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff
Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, AVSM, VSM
Chief of Personnel
Vice Admiral A. K. Chawla, AVSM, VSM, NM
Chief of Materiel
Vice Admiral G. S. Pabby, AVSM, VSM
Director General of Medical Services
Surgeon Vice Admiral A. A. Pawar, VSM
Director General of Naval Operations
Vice Admiral S N Ghormade
Director General of Naval Design
Rear Admiral Anil Kumar Saxena, NM
At operational command level
Western Naval Command
Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC
Eastern Naval Command
Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, PVSM, AVSM
Southern Naval Command
Vice Admiral AR Karve, PVSM, AVSM
Andaman and Nicobar Command
Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, AVSM
Indian Navy has its operational and training bases in Gujarat, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These bases are intended for various purposes such as logistics and maintenance support, ammunition support, air stations, hospitals, MARCOS bases, coastal defence, missile defence, submarine and missile boat bases, forward operating bases etc. Of these, INS Shivaji is one of the oldest naval bases in India. Commissioned in February 1945 as HMIS Shivaji, it now serves as the premier Technical Training Establishment (TTE) of the Indian Navy.
In May 2005, the Indian Navy commissioned INS Kadamba at Karwar, 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Goa. Built under the first phase of the Project Seabird, it first exclusively controlled base by the Navy without sharing port facilities with commercial shipping. The Indian Navy also has berthing rights in Oman and Vietnam.The Navy operates a monitoring station, fitted with radars and surveillance gear to intercept maritime communication, in Madagascar. It also plans to build a further 32 radar stations in Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives and Sri Lanka. According to Intelligence Online, published by a France-based global intelligence gathering organisation, Indigo Publications, the Navy is believed to be operating a listening post in Ras al-Hadd, Oman. The post is located directly across from Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan, separated by approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) of the Arabian Sea.
The navy operates INS Kattabomman, a VLF and ELF transmission facility at Vijayanarayanapuram near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. INS Abhimanyu and INS Karna are two bases dedicated for MARCOS. Project Varsha is a highly classified project undertaken by the Navy to construct a hi-tech base under the Eastern Naval Command. The base is said to house nuclear submarines and a VLF facility.
Indian Navy has a specialized training command which is responsible for organisation, conduct and overseeing of all basic, professional and specialist training throughout the Navy. The Commander in Chief of Southern Command also serves as the Commander in Chief of Training Command. The Chief of Personnel (CoP) at HQ of Indian Navy is responsible for the framework of training and exercises the responsibility through Directorate of Naval Training (DNT). The training year of Indian Navy is defined from 1 July to 30 June of the following year.
Officer training is conducted at Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala, on the coast of Kerala. Established in 2009, it is the largest naval academy in Asia. Cadets from National Defence Academy also move to INA for their later terms. The Navy also has specialized training establishments for gunnery, aviation, leadership, logistics, music, medicine, physical training, educational training, engineering, hydrography, submarines etc. at several naval bases along the coastline of India. Naval officers also attend National Defence College and Defence Services Staff College for various staff courses to higher staff appointments. A dedicated wing for naval architecture under Directorate of Naval Architecture at IIT Delhi is operated by the Navy. Indian Navy also trains officers and men from the navies of friendly foreign countries.
As of 1 July 2017, the Navy has a sanctioned strength of 11,827 officers (10,393 serving with 1,434 under strength), and 71,656 sailors (56,835 serving with 14,821 under strength). This is inclusive of naval aviation, marine commandos and Sagar Prahari Bal personnel.
India uses the Midshipman rank in its navy, and all future officers carry the rank upon entering the Indian Naval Academy. They are commissioned Sub-lieutenants upon finishing their course of study.
While the provision for the rank of Admiral of the Fleet exists, it is primarily intended for major wartime use and honour. No officer of the Indian Navy has yet been conferred this rank. Both the Army and Air Force have had officers who have been conferred with the equivalent rank – Field Marshals Sam Manekshaw and Cariappa of the Army and Marshal of the Indian Air Force (MIAF) Arjan Singh.
The highest ranked naval officer in organization structure is the Chief of Naval Staff, who holds the rank of admiral.
Admiral of the Fleet1
In the Indian Navy, the sailors are initially listed as, Seaman 2nd class. As they grow through the ranks they attain the highest rank of enlisted personnel, Master chief petty officer Ist Class. Sailors who possess leadership qualities and fulfill requisite conditions in terms of education, age etc. may be commissioned through Commission worthy and Special Duties (CW & SD) scheme.
Master Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Master Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Chief Petty Officer
Naval Air Arm
Indian Navy P-8I Neptune aircraft deployed in Seychelle
The naval air-arm of the Indian Navy currently operates twenty-one air squadrons. Of these, ten operate fixed-wing aircraft, eight are helicopter squadrons and the remaining three are equipped with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Building on the legacy inherited from the Royal Navy prior to Indian independence, the concept of naval aviation in India started with the establishment of Directorate of Naval Aviation at Naval Headquarters (NHQ) in early 1948. Later that year officers and sailors from the Indian Navy were sent to Britain for pilot training. In 1951, the Fleet Requirement Unit (FRU) was formed to meet the aviation requirements of the navy.
On 1 January 1953, the charge of Cochin airfield was handed over to the navy from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. On 11 March, the FRU was commissioned at Cochin with ten newly acquired Sealand aircraft. The navy’s first air station, INS Garuda, was commissioned two months later. From February 1955 to December 1958, ten Firefly aircraft were acquired. To meet the training requirements of the pilots, the indigenously developed HAL HT-2 trainer was inducted into the FRU. On 17 January 1959, the FRU was commissioned as Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 550, to be the first Indian naval air squadron.
Currently the air arm operates an aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with ability to carry over thirty aircraft including:
Domestic-built ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.
The Kamov-31 choppers also provide the airborne early warning cover for the fleet.
In the anti-submarine role:
the Sea King Ka-28
the domestic built HAL Dhruv are used.
The MARCOS also use Sea King and HAL Dhruv helicopters while conducting operations.
Maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations are carried out by the Boeing P-8 Poseidon and the Ilyushin 38.
The UAV arm consists of the IAI Heron and Searcher-IIs that are operated from both surface ships and shore establishments for surveillance missions.
The Indian Navy also maintains an aerobatic display team, the Sagar Pawan. The Sagar Pawan team will be replacing their present Kiran HJT-16 aircraft with the newly developed HJT-36 aircraft.
HAL Dhruv helicopter of the Indian Navy extracting Marine Commandos MARCOS on Navy day 2013 at Kochi
The Marine Commando Force (MCF), also known as MARCOS, is a special forces unit that was raised by the Indian Navy in 1987 for Amphibious warfare, Close Quarter Combat Counter-terrorism, Direct action, Special reconnaissance, Unconventional warfare, Hostage rescue, Personnel recovery, Combat search and rescue, Asymmetric warfare, Foreign internal defence, Counterproliferation, Amphibious reconnaissance including Hydrographic reconnaissance. Since their inception MARCOS proved themselves in various operations and wars, notable of them include Operation Pawan, Operation Cactus, UNOSOM II, Kargil War and Operation Black Tornado. They are also actively deployed on anti-piracy operations throughout the year
The names of all in service ships (and Naval Bases) of the Indian Navy are prefixed with the letters INS, designating Indian Naval Ship or Indian Navy Station, whereas the sail boats are prefixed with INSV (Indian Naval Sailing Vessel). The fleet of the Indian Navy is a mixture of domestic built and foreign vessels, as of January 2018, the surface fleet comprises:
1 aircraft carrier
1 amphibious transport dock
8 Landing ship tanks
4 mine countermeasure vessels
10 large offshore patrol vessels
4 fleet tankers
7 Survey ships
1 research vessel
3 training vessels and various auxiliary vessels
Landing Craft Utility vessels
Small patrol boats.
After INS Viraat was decommissioned on 6 March 2017, the Navy is left with only one aircraft carrier in active service, INS Vikramaditya, which serves as the flagship of the fleet. Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier procured at a total cost $2.3 billion from Russia in December 2013. The Navy has an amphibious transport dock of the Austin class, re-christened as INS Jalashwa in Indian service. It also maintains a fleet of landing ship tanks.
INS Shakti, a Deepak-class fleet tanker
The navy currently operates:
three Kolkata, three Delhi
five Rajput-class guided-missile destroyers.
The ships of the Rajput class will be replaced soon by the next-generation Visakhapatnam-class destroyers (Project 15B) which will feature a number of improvements.
In addition to destroyers, the navy operates several classes of frigates such as:
three Shivalik (Project 17 class)
six Talwar-class frigates.
Seven additional Shivalik-class frigates (Project 17A class frigates) are on order.
The older Godavari-class frigates will systematically be replaced one by one as the new classes of frigates are brought into service over the next decade.
Smaller littoral zone combatants in service are in the form of:
corvettes, of which the Indian Navy operates the Kamorta, Kora, Khukri, Veerand Abhay-class corvettes.
Replenishment tankers such as the Jyoti-class tanker, INS Aditya and the new Deepak-class fleet tanker- help improve the navy’s endurance at sea.
INS Chakra, the nuclear attack submarine of the Indian Navy
As of December 2017, the Navy’s sub-surface fleet includes:
1 nuclear-powered attack submarine
1 Ballistic missile submarine
14 conventionally-powered attack submarines.
The conventional attack submarines of the Indian Navy consist of:
the Kalvari (French Scorpène-class submarine design),
the Sindhughosh (Russian Kilo-class submarine design)
the Shishumar (German Type 209/1500design) classes.
India also possesses a single Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine named INS Chakra. She is under lease to India for a period of ten years. Three hundred Indian Navy personnel were trained in Russia for the operation of these submarines. Negotiations are on with Russia for the lease of the second Akula-class submarine.
INS Arihant was launched on 26 July 2009 in Visakhapatnam, and was secretly commissioned into active service in August 2016. The Navy plans to have six nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in service soon. Arihant is both the first boat of the Arihant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and the first nuclear-powered submarine to be built in India.
Gun firing trials of INS Kochi
Barak 8 missile fired from INS Kolkata
The Navy use a mix of indigenously developed and foreign made missile systems. These include:
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles
Ship Launched Ballistic Missile
Cruise and anti-ship missiles
Air to air missiles
Surface to air missiles
Air to air guns
Anit-submarine rocket launchers.
Its inventory comprises:
100 mm (3.9 in) AK 190 gun with a range of 21.5 kilometres (13.4 mi)
In the recent years BrahMos has been one of the most advanced missile system adapted by the India Navy. It has been jointly developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russian NPO Mashinostroyeniya. BrahMos is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation. The BrahMos has been tailored to meet Indian needs and features a large proportion of India-designed components and technology, including its fire control systems, transporter erector launchers, and its onboard navigational attack systems. The successful test of Brahmos from INS Rajput provides Indian Navy with precision land attack capability.
India has also fitted its P-8I Neptune reconnaissance aircraft with all-weather, active-radar-homing, over-the-horizon AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes. Indian warships’ primary air-defence shield is provided by Barak 1surface-to-air missile while an advanced version Barak 8 is in development in collaboration with Israel.
India’s next-generation Scorpène-class submarines will be armed with Exocet anti-ship missile system. Among indigenous missiles, ship-launched version of Prithvi-II is called Dhanush, which has a range of 350 kilometres (220 mi) and can carry nuclear warheads.
The K-15 Sagarika (Oceanic) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which has a range of at least 700 km (some sources claim 1000 km) forms part of India’s nuclear triad and is extensively tested to be integrated with the Arihant class of nuclear submarines. A longer range submarine launched ballistic missile called K-4 is under testing, to be followed by K-5 SLBM.
Electronic warfare and systems management
Sangraha is a joint electronic warfare programme between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Navy. The programme is intended to develop a family of electronic warfare suites, for use on different naval platforms capable of detecting, intercepting, and classifying pulsed, carrier wave, pulse repetition frequency agile, frequency agile and chirp radars. The systems are suitable for deployment on various platforms like helicopters, vehicles, and ships. Certain platforms, along with ESM (Electronic Support Measures) capabilities, have ECM (Electronic Countermeasure) capabilities such as multiple-beam phased array jammers.
The Indian Navy also relies on information technology to face the challenges of the 21st century. The Indian Navy is implementing a new strategy to move from a platform centric force to a network centric force by linking all shore-based installations and ships via a high-speed data networks and satellite(s). This will help in increased operational awareness. The network is referred to as the Navy Enterprise Wide Network (NEWN). The Indian Navy has also provided training to all its personnel in Information Technology (IT) at the Naval Institute of Computer Applications (NICA) located in Mumbai. Information technology is also used to provide better training, like the usage of simulators and for better management of the force.
The Navy has a dedicated cadre for matters pertaining to information technology cadre named as Information Technology Cadre, under the Directorate of Information Technology (DRI). The cadre is responsible for implementation for enterprise wide networking and software development projects, development activities with respect to cyber security products, administration of shore and on-board networks, and management of critical Naval Networks and software applications.
India’s first exclusive defence satellite GSAT-7 was successfully launched by European space consortium Arianespace’s rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana in August 2013. GSAT-7 was fabricated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to serve for at least seven years in its orbital slot at 74°E, providing UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band relay capacity. Its Ku-band allows high-density data transmission, including both audio and video. This satellite also has a provision to reach smaller and mobile terminals.
GSAT-7 approximately has a footprint of 3,500–4,000 kilometres (2,200–2,500 miles; 1,900–2,200 nautical miles) over the Indian Ocean region, including both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal region. This enables the Navy to operate in a network-centric atmosphere having real-time networking of all its operational assets at sea and on land.
INS Mumbai with Indian Navy flag during International Fleet Review 2016
The President of India is entitled to inspect his/her fleet, as he/she is the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The first president’s fleet review by India was hosted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 10 October 1953. President’s reviews usually take place once in the President’s term. In all, ten fleet reviews have taken place, including in February 2006, when former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam took the review. The latest, on February 2016, by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The Indian Navy also conducted an International fleet review named Bridges of Friendship in February 2001 in Mumbai. Many ships of friendly Navies from all around the world participated, including two from the US Navy. The second international fleet review, the International Fleet Review 2016, was held off Visakhapatnam coast in February 2016 where Indian Navy’s focus was on improving diplomatic relations and military compatibility with other nations.
Naval ships from 17 nations Indian Ocean Naval Symposium participated in Milan exercise 2014
India often conducts naval exercises with other friendly countries designed to increase naval cooperation and to strengthen cooperative security relationship. Some such exercises take place annually like the Varuna with the French Navy, Konkan with the Royal Navy, Indra with Russian Navy, Malabar with the US Navy, Simbex with the Republic of Singapore Navy, and IBSAMAR with the Braziland South African navies. The Indian Navy also conducted exercise with the People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2003 and sent ships to the South China Sea to participate in the fleet review. Apart from the Indian Ocean, India has steadily gained influence in the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, Indian Navy conducted naval exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and U.S Navy in the Pacific, and signed an agreement with Japan in October 2008 for joint naval patrolling in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2007, India conducted naval exercises with Vietnam, Philippines, and New Zealand. In 2007, India and South Korea conducted an annual naval exercise, alongside India participation in the South Korean International Fleet Review in 2008. In the same year, India held the first Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) with an objective to provide a forum for all the littoral nations of the Indian Ocean to co-operate on mutually agreed areas for better security in the region. Since the past decade, the Indian naval ships have made goodwill port calls to Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, South Africa, Kenya, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and various other countries.
INS Satpura in the U.S for RIMPAC 2016
In 2006, the first TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercises) was held during which Indian Navy experimented the doctrine of influencing a land and air battle to support the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. Since then, TROPEX has been conducted annually every year with an exception to 2016.
The first Atlantic Ocean deployment of the Indian Navy happened in 2009. During this deployment, the Indian Naval fleet conducted exercises with the French, German, Russian and British Navies. Indian Navy also carried out a Joint Naval exercise with Sri Lanka Navy code-named SLINEX-II from 19 to 24 September 2011. The exercise was aimed at increasing the capabilities of the two nations in carrying out anti-piracy operations and exchanging professional knowledge. Once in two years navies from the Indian Ocean region meet at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the event is named as MILAN.
The Indian Navy’s all Woman INSV Tarini crew at Lyttelton port (New Zealand), during their global circumnavigation expedition.
The Indian Navy regularly conducts adventure expeditions. The sailing ship and training vessel INS Tarangini began circumnavigating the world on 23 January 2003, intending to foster good relations with various other nations; she returned to India in May 2004 after visiting 36 ports in 18 nations.
Lt. Cdr. M. S. Kohli led the Indian Navy’s first successful expedition to Mount Everest in 1965; the Navy’s ensign was again flown atop Everest on 19 May 2004 by a similar expedition. Another Navy team also successfully scaled Everest from the north face, a technically more challenging route. The expedition was led by Cdr Satyabrata Dam of the submarine arm. Cdr. Dam is a mountaineer of international repute and has climbed many mountains including the Patagonias, the Alps among others. In 2017, to commemorate 50 years of the Navy’s first expedition in 1965, a team set off to climb Mount Everest.
An Indian Navy team comprising 11 members successfully completed an expedition to the Arctic pole. To prepare, they first traveled to Iceland, where they attempted to summit a peak. The team next flew to eastern Greenland; in the Kulusuk and Angmassalik areas, they used Inuit boats to navigate the region’s ice-choked fjords. They crossed northward across the Arctic Circle, reaching seventy degrees North on skis. The team scaled an unnamed peak of height 11,000 feet (3,400 m) and named it ‘’Indian Peak’.
The Indian Naval ensign first flew in Antarctica in 1981. The Indian Navy succeeded in Mission Dakshin Dhruv 2006 by traversing to the South Pole on skis. With this historic expedition, they have set the record for being the first military team to have successfully completed a ski traverse to the Geographic South Pole. Also, three of the ten-member team—the expedition leader—Cdr. Satyabrata Dam, leading medical assistants Rakesh Kumar and Vikas Kumar are now among the few people in the world to have visited the two poles and summited Mt. Everest. Indian Navy became the first organisation to reach the poles and Mt. Everest. Cdr. Dilip Donde completed the first solo circumnavigation by an Indian citizen on 22 May 2010
Future of the Indian Navy
The HAL Tejas Naval Prototype-1 takes-off from the Shore Based Test Facility at Goa
By the end of the 14th Plan (2019), the Indian Navy expects to have over 150 ships and close to 500 aircraft. In addition to the existing mission of securing both sea flanks in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea, the navy would be able to respond to emergency situations far away from the main land. Marine assault capabilities will be enhanced by setting up a new amphibious warfare facility at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.
The Indian Navy has initiated Phase II expansion of INS Kadamba, the third largest naval base, near Karwar. Phase II will involve expansion of the berthing facilities to accommodate 40–45 more front-line warships, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, raise manpower to 300 officers and around 2,500 sailors, and build a naval air station with a 6,000-foot runway. This is to be followed by Phase IIA and IIB, at the end of which INS Kadamba will be able to base 50 front-line warships. The Indian Navy is also in the process of constructing a new naval base, INS Varsha, at Rambilli for its Arihant Class submarines.
India plans to construct a pair of aircraft carriers:
The first, INS Vikrant, was launched in 2013 by Cochin Shipyard and undocked in June 2015. It is expected to be completed by 2017 and undergo extensive sea trials thereafter with commissioning planned for 2018. Vikrant displaces 40,000 tonnes and will can operate up to 40 aircraft, including 30 HAL Tejas and MiG-29K fighters.
The second ship, INS Vishal (formerly known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-II), will displace around 65,000 tonnes and is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy by late 2030s. With the future delivery of Vishal, the Navy’s goal to have three aircraft carriers in service, with two fully operational carriers and the third in refit, will be achieved.
As of November 2011, the Defence Acquisition Council launched the Indian Navy Multi-Role Support Vessel programme. The Indian Navy has subsequently sent out an international RFP for up to 4 large landing helicopter docks. The contenders are expected to tie up with local shipyards for construction of the ships.
In addition to aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships, the Indian Navy is acquiring numerous surface combatants such as:
The Visakhapatnam-class destroyers
The Project 17A-class frigates
ASW shallow water corvettes
New submarine types include:
The conventional Kalvari-class
The nuclear Arihant-class.
New auxiliary ships include:
Five Replenishment Oilers
A Missile Range Instrumentation Ship
An Ocean Surveillance Ship.
The Indian Navy signed a deal with General Atomics for 22 Sea Guardian drones at an estimated cost of $2 billion in August 2017. This is the first instance of General Atomics drones being sold to a non-NATO military.
Accidents in the Indian navy have been attributed to ageing ships in need of maintenance, delayed acquisitions by the Ministry of Defence, and human error. However naval commentators also argue that as India’s large navy of 160 ships clocks around 12,000 ship-days at sea every year, in varied waters and weather, some incidents are inevitable. Captains of erring ships are dismissed from their command following an enquiry. The accident on board INS Sindhuratna (S59) led to the resignation of the then Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral D K Joshi on 26 February 2014, who owned moral responsibility. The navy is envisaging a new ‘Safety Organisation’ to improve safety of its warships, nuclear submarines and aircraft in view of its planned increase in fleet strength over the next decade.
Indian Naval Ensign
The Indian Navy from 1950 to 2001 used a modified version of the British Naval jack, with the Union flag replaced with the Indian Tricolor in the canton. In 2001, this flag was replaced with a white ensign bearing the Indian Navy crest, as the previous ensign was thought to reflect India’s colonial past. However complaints arose that the new ensign was indistinguishable as the blue of the naval crest easily merged with the sky and the ocean. Hence in 2004, the ensign was changed back to the St. George’s cross design, with the addition of the emblem of India in the intersection of the cross. In 2014, the ensign as well as the naval crest was further modified to include the Devanagari script: Satyameva Jayate, which means ‘Truth Alone Triumphs’ in Sanskrit.
The Pakistan Navy is the naval warfare branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces, responsible for Pakistan’s 1,046 kilometres (650 mi) of coastline along the Arabian Sea, and the defence of important civilian harbours and military bases. The Pakistan Navy came into the existence after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. The President of Pakistan serves as the Supreme Commander of the Navy under Article 243 (2) of the Constitution of Pakistan, and the Chief of Naval Staff heads the Navy. Navy Day is celebrated on 8 September in commemoration of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
The Pakistan Navy’s current and primary role is to protect the country’s economic and military interests at home and abroad, executing the foreign and defence policies of the Government of Pakistan through the exercise of military effect, diplomatic activities and other activities in support of these objectives. In the 21st century, the Pakistan Navy also focuses on limited overseas operations, and has played a vital role in the establishment of the Pakistan Antarctic Programme.
The Pakistan Navy is supported by the Pakistan Coast Guard, and the Maritime Security Agency (MSA), the paramilitary forces of Pakistan.
The Navy is undergoing extensive modernization and expansion as part of Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror. Since 2001, the Pakistan Navy has increased and expanded its operational scope and has been given greater national and international responsibility in countering the threat of sea-based global terrorism, drug smuggling, and piracy. In 2004, Pakistan Navy became a member of the primarily NATO Combined Task Forces CTF-150 and CTF-151. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has significantly expanded the role of the navy, joint patrols with the Chinese navy as well as providing land and sea-based security to secure shipping lanes has become a priority. From December 2016 Pakistan’s Navy established TF-88 a taskforce that is designed to ensure there is security for maritime trade, this will guard the shipping lane routes by protecting Gwadar Port. The Pakistan Navy is the custodian of Pakistan’s second-strike capability with the launch of the submarine-based cruise missiles capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear warheads.
The Constitution of Pakistan makes the President of Pakistan the civilian Commander-in-Chief. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), by statute a four-star admiral, is appointed by the President with the consultation and confirmation needed from the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Chief of Naval Staff is subordinate to the civilian Defence Minister and Secretary of Defence and commands the Navy.
Today is a historic day for Pakistan, doubly so for those of us in the Navy. The Dominion of Pakistan has come into being and with it a new Navy – the Royal Pakistan Navy – has been born. I am proud to have been appointed to command it and serve with you at this time. In the coming months, it will be my duty and yours to build up our Navy into a happy and efficient force — Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, addressing the Naval Academy in March 1948.
The Pakistan Navy came into existence on the Fourteenth of August 1947 with the establishment of the State of Pakistan. The Armed Forces Reconstitution Committee (AFRC) divided the shares and assets of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) between the India and Pakistan, with the Royal Pakistan Navy (RPN) was inherited with two sloops, two frigates, four minesweepers, two naval trawlers, four harbour launches. Because of the high percentage of delta areas on its coast, Pakistan also received many harbour defence motor launches. As part of the Commonwealth of Nations, the prefix “Royal” was used until the state was proclaimed a republic in 1956.
The Navy endured a difficult history, only 200 officers and 3000 sailors were inherited to the Navy, the most senior being Captain HMS Choudhri who had little experience in military staffing. The Navy suffered perennial problems with inadequate staff, lack of operational bases, lack of financial support, and poor technological and personnel resources. Secondly, it grew out as the smallest uniform branch that contributed in its lack of importance in federal budgets as well as the problems relating to its institutional infrastructure. The Army and the Air Force were the dominant force where the defence problems were based wholly on army and air force point of view. There were additional problems relating to the navy were the lack of facilities and maintenance machinery as the only naval dockyard in subcontinent was in Bombay in India.
To overcome these difficulties, the Navy launched a recruitment program for the young nation, starting in East-Pakistan but it proved to be very difficult to sustain the program; therefore, was moved back to Pakistan to concentrate the preferred recruitments for the Western Pakistanis. Furthermore, the Navy’s procurement was greatly determined by its war role and had to struggle for a role for itself throughout its history from its existence.
The beginning: 1947–64
The frigate PNS Shamsher in 1951
During the first war with India in 1947–48, the Navy saw no action as all fighting was restricted to land and air combat missions. On operational planning, Captain HMS Choudhri engaged on commanding a destroyer from Karachi to Mumbai to oversee the evacuation of Indian emigrants to Pakistan. In 1948, Pakistan Navy engaged in humanitarian missions to evacuate Indian immigrants trapped in disputed and hostile areas, with its frigates operating continuously. The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear-Admiral James Wilfred Jefford, had created a “Short-term Emergency Plan (STEP)” to work up the frigates and naval defences in case of escalation of the war at sea. In 1948, the directorate-general for Naval Intelligence (DGNI), a staff corps, was established under Lieutenant Syed Mohammad Ahsan, who served as its first Director-General, in Karachi. When the first war came to an end in 1948, the Navy temporarily established its Navy NHQ in Karachi and acquired its first O Class destroyer from the Royal Navy.
The Pakistan Navy heavily relied its dependency on generous donations from the Royal Navy with two battle destroyers, the PNS Tipu Sultan and PNS Tariq. The Tipu Sultan was commissioned on 30 September 1949, under Commander P.S. Evans, whilst the Tariq was placed under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Afzal Rahman Khan. The two destroyers formed the 25th Destroyer Squadron as the PNS Jhelum and PNS Tughril, under Commander Muzaffar Hasan, also joined the Royal Pakistan Navy.
In 1950, the Navy’s nationalization took place when many officers from the air force and army volunteered to join the navy and NCOs gaining commission as officers. Support from the army and air force to the navy led to the establishment of logistics and maintenance machinery with vigorous efforts directed towards integrating the navy presence in East-Pakistan, thereby creating opportunities for people in East-Pakistan to participate in the build-up.
In 1951, the Pakistan government called for appointing native chiefs of staff of the armed branches, but it was not until 1953 when a native chief of naval staff was appointed by the government. The British Admiralty, however, maintained the command of the Navy through Rear-Admiral Jefford who had native deputy chiefs of staff including Commodore H.M.S. Choudhri, Commodore Khalid Jamil, and Commander M.A. Alavi.
PNS Badr, a destroyer visiting Britain, 1957
During this time, many goodwill missions were carried out by the navy’s combatant ships, and non-combat missions were conducted under the auspices of the Royal Navy. In 1951, HMS Choudhri’s promotion papers as naval chief were approved by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan but it was not until 1953 when HMS Choudhri was promoted as Vice-Admiral and naval chief with the support from army chief Lieutenant-General Ayub Khan. He handed over the command of 25th Destroyer squadron to a Polish naval officer, Commander Romuald Nalecz-Tyminski.
In the mid-1950s, the Ministry of Finance awarded contracts to the Corps of Engineers for the construction of the Karachi Naval Dockyard. In 1954, several efforts were made to procure a Ch-submarine from the Royal Navy but was rejected by Admiralty who agreed to loan the Ch-class destroyer, the HMS Chivalrous, which was designated as PNS Taimur. From 1953–56, HMS Choudhri bitterly negotiated with the United States over the modernization of the navy and convinced the U.S. government to provide monetary support for modernization of aging O–class destroyers and minesweepers, while commissioning the Ch–class destroyers from British Navy. British Navy tradition were disbanded and cancelled when the U.S. Navy’s advisers were dispatched to the Pakistani military in 1955.
In 1956, the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan voted for promulgation of Constitution of Pakistan and proclaimed the Dominion of Pakistan as an Islamic Republic under the new constitution. The prefix Royal was dropped, and the service was re-designated the Pakistan Navy (“PN”) with the PN Jack replaced the Queen’s colour and the White Ensign respectively. The order of precedence of the three services changed from Navy–Army–Air force to Army–Navy–Air Force.
In February 1956, the British government announced the transfer of several major surface combat warships to Pakistan Navy that included a cruiser and four destroyers to be purchased with funds made available under the U.S. Military Assistance Program. In 1957, the Navy finalized the sale of sale of cruiser warship from the United Kingdom and used the government’s own fund to induct the warship that caused a great ire against Admiral Choudri by the Finance ministry in the country.
In 1958, the Navy made an unsuccessful attempt to induct the imported submarines from Sweden using the American funds that was halted by the United States and the Pakistan’s own Finance ministry even though the idea had support from Army GHQ. In 1958–59, the Navy NHQ staff began fighting with the Army GHQ staff and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the plans regarding the modernization of the navy that resulted in bitter interservice rivalry between army and navy which ended with Admiral Choudri’s resignation to the Presidency in 1959. From 1956–63, the warships, two destroyers, eight coastal minesweepers, and an oiler were procured from the United States and United Kingdom as a direct result of Pakistan’s participation in the anti-Communist defence pacts: the SEATO and CENTO.
Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and afterwards
In 1959, Vice-Admiral Afzal Rahman Khan was appointed the naval chief and built-up his relations with President Ayub Khan whilst the Navy retained hopes for procuring a submarine despite financial constraints. The Royal Navy accepted the requests from the Pakistan Navy for a regular visit to Karachi Naval Dockyard to provide firsthand experience in submarine operations in 1960–61. The Ayub administration did not increase the financial funding of the navy at the expense to army and air force but he did not object to American contributions to train the Pakistan Navy in submarine operations. The U.S. Navy provided an insightful and crucial training support to Pakistan Navy enabling it to conduct operations in long range and the proposal of procuring the submarine was met with favourable views in 1963 due to the prospect of Soviet Navy leasing a submarine to Indian Navy. In 1963, the United Kingdom began providing training and education on submarine operations, and in 1964, the PNS Ghazi was commissioned from the United States.
Even though, the navy nor air force were notified of the Kashmir incursion in 1965, the Navy was well-prepared at the time when the second war erupted between Pakistan and India in 1965. The naval chief Admiral Afzal Rahman Khan ordered all units of the Pakistan Navy to take up defensive positions off the coast but did not order any offensive operations in the Bay of Bengal. As the Indian Air Force’s repeated sorties and raids disrupted PAF operations, the Navy assumed a more aggressive role in the conflict. On 2 September, the Navy deployed its first long-range submarine, the PNS Ghazi under Commander K.R. Niazi which was charged with gathering intelligence on Indian naval movements that stalked the diverting threats posed by the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
The PNS Ghazi in 1965 theatre. In 1968, she executed a circumnavigation of Africa and Southern Europe to be refit in Turkey. Sunk in 1971 under mysterious circumstances.
On the night of 7/8 September, a naval squadron comprising four destroyers, one frigate, one cruiser, and one submarine, under the command of Commodore S.M. Anwar, launched Operation Dwarka, an attack on radar facilities used by the Indian Air Force in the small coastal town of Dwarka. The operation ended with limited damage to the area. After gunnery bombardment, the Ghazi was deployed against the Indian Navy’s western fleet at Bombay on 22 September and ended her operations and reported back to Karachi Naval Dockyard on 23 September 1965.
The naval operation in Dwarka had greatly increased the prestige of the Pakistan Navy and it had also alerted Indian Navy commanders to the significant threat posed by the Pakistan Navy, and to its own naval shortcomings. After the war, the United States imposed an arms embargo on Pakistan and Pakistani military began exploring options for military procurement from China, France, and Soviet Union. The United Kingdom offered the Navy to jointly built the Type 21 frigate but was rejected by Ayub administration that would only allow the financial capital to be spent on submarine procurement.
In 1966, the Pakistan Navy established its own special operations directorate, the Special Service Group Navy (SSG[N]) after the recommendations from the United States Navy. In 1966–70, Pakistan Navy had been aware of massive procurement and acquisitions of weapon systems being acquired from the Soviet Union and United Kingdom, and the danger it posed to Pakistan. In 1968–69, there were series of unsuccessful talks of acquiring the warships from the Soviet Navy which ended with no yielding results. Difficulties arose between and after the arms embargo was lifted by the United States which lifted based strictly on cash-and-carry basis. Pleas for strengthening the Navy in East Pakistan were ignored due to monetary issues and financial constraints restricted the Navy’s capabilities to function more efficiently.
In 1968, the Daphné-class submarines were procured from the France while operating Tench class that was refitted and upgraded by the Turkish Navy. Due to the Egyptian blockade of the Suez Canal, Navy had to execute a notable submerged circumnavigation operation from Indian ocean through the Atlantic Ocean to undergo a refit program at the Gölcük in Turkey which was the only facility to manage the refitting and mid-life upgrades of military computers of the Tench-class. Despite reservations harboring by the Navy NHQ about the aging Ghazi, she sailed under the command of Commander Ahmed Tasnim starting from the Karachi coast in Indian ocean to Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, through the Atlantic Ocean and ended at the east coast of the Sea of Marmara where the Gölcük Naval Shipyard was located.
In 1968–69, the Navy NHQ staff began its tussle with the Air AHQ staff over the issue establishing the naval aviation who feared the loss of fighter jets and their pilots in the sea and was hostile towards this idea. The United States entered in discussing the transfer of P3B Orion aircraft to the Navy in 1970 with Yahya administration but were not procured until the end of the 1970s. In 1970, the foreign relations between Pakistan and East Pakistan further deteriorated and the Navy knew that it was impossible to defend East Pakistan from approaching Indian Navy. Series of reforms were carried when Navy’s serious reservations were considered by the Yahya administration and East Pakistanis were hastily recruited in what was known as East Pakistan Navy but this proved to be disaster for Navy when majority of East Pakistani naval officers and ~3,000 sailors defected to India to join the Awami League’s military wing– the Mukti Bahini. Such events had jeopardized the operational scope of the Navy and the Navy NHQ staffers and commanders knew very well that it (Navy) was ill-prepared for the war and Pakistan was about to have a sharp lesson from India in the consequences of disconnecting strategy from reality.
Indo-Pakistan war of 1971
By 1971, the Navy NHQ staffers and their commanders knew very well that the Pakistan Navy was poorly represented in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and there was no main infrastructure to conduct defensive operation against the Eastern Naval Command of Indian Navy in Bay of Bengal. The navy was only able conducted the riverine-based operations that was being undertaken by the Pakistan Marines with the assistance from the Special Service Group [Navy] codenamed Barisal in April 1971. Although, the Governor of East Pakistan, Vice-Admiral S.M. Ahsan, made efforts to increase the naval presence and significance in 1969 but the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command continued to pose a significant threat since it had capability of conduct operations in long-range areas.
Furthermore, the defections from East-Pakistan Navy’s officers and sailors had jeopardize the Navy’s operational scope who went onto join the Awami League’s militant wing, the Mukti Bahini in a program known as Jackpot. Though, the program was disrupted by the Navy from further annihilation, but the naval facilities were severely damaged due to this operation on 15 March 1971. The East-Pakistan’s geography was surrounded by India on all three landward sides by the Indian Army as the Navy was in attempt to prevent India from blocking the coasts.
During this time, the Navy NHQ was housed in Karachi that decided to deploy the new MLU Ghazi submarine on East while the PNS Hangor in West for the intelligence gathering purposes.
At the end of East-Pakistan crisis…. We (Pakistan Navy, Eastern Command) had no intelligence and hence, were both deaf and blind with the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force pounding us day and night…. — Admiral Mohammad Sharif to U.S. Admiral Zumwalt in 1971
With no naval aviation service to guard the Karachi port, the Indian Navy launched a naval attack, Operation Trident, consisting of 3 Soviet-built Ossa class missile boats escorted by two anti-submarine patrol vessels on 4 December 1971. Nearing Karachi’s port area, they launched SS-N-2 Styx anti-ship missiles, which the obsolescent Pakistan naval warships had no viable defense against. Two of the warships, the PNS Muhafiz and PNS Khyber were both sunk, while PNS Shahjahan was damaged beyond repair. Outcomes were stunning for both sides with Pakistan suffering the loss of imported warships, and while India sustaining no damages to their attacking squadron.
On 8 December 1971, the Hangor led by its Commander Ahmed Tasnim, sank the Indian frigate INS Khukri off the coast of Gujarat, India. This was the first sinking of a warship by a submarine since World War II and resulted in the loss of 18 officers and 176 sailors of the Indian Navy while the inflicting severe damages to another warship, INS Kirpan, by the same submarine. Pakistan Air Force that now acted for naval aviation made several attempts to counter the Indian missile boat threat by carrying out the aerial bombing raids over Okha harbour, the forward base of the missile boats. The Indian Navy retaliated with an attack on the Pakistani coast, named Operation Python, on the night of 8 December 1971. when a small flotilla of Indian vessels, consisting of a missile boat and two frigates, approached Karachi and launched a missile attacks that sank the Panamanian vessel Gulf Star, the PNS Dacca, and the British ship SS Harmattan were damaged.
The Python was a complete success for the Indian Navy, and a psychological trauma for Pakistan Navy, the human and material cost severely cutting into its combat capability, nearly 1,700 sailors perished at the barracks. Civilian pilots from the Pakistan International Airlines volunteered to conduct air surveillance missions with the PAF, but this proved less than helpful when they misidentified a Pakistan Navy frigate, PNS Zulfikar, as an Indian missile boat. The PAF planes made several attack runs before identification as Zulfikar by the Navy NHQ. The friendly attack resulted in further loss of navy personnel, as well as the loss of the ship, which was severely damaged, and the Pakistan Navy’s operational capabilities were now virtually extinct, and morale plummeted. Indian Navy observers who watched the raid nearby later wrote in their war logs that the “PAF pilots failed to recognize the difference between a large PNS Zulfikar frigate and a relatively small Ossa missile boat.” After the friendly attack, all naval surface operations came to a halt under the orders of chief of naval staff.
The Navy’s only long-range submarine, Ghazi, was deployed to the area but, according to neutral sources, it sank en route under mysterious circumstances. Pakistani authorities state that it sank either due to internal explosion or detonation of mines which it was laying at the time. The Indian Navy claims to have sunk the submarine.
The submarine’s destruction enabled the Indian Navy to enforce a blockade on East Pakistan. According to the defence magazine, Pakistan Defence Journal, the attack on Karachi, Dhaka, Chittagong, and the loss of Ghazi, the Navy no longer was able to match the threat of Indian Navy as it was already outclassed by them after the 1965 war.
The damage inflicted by the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force on the PN stood at seven gunboats, one minesweeper, two destroyers, three patrol craft belonging to the Pakistan Coast Guard, 18 cargo, supply and communication vessels, and large-scale damage inflicted on the naval base and docks in the coastal town of Karachi. Three merchant navy ships; Anwar Baksh, Pasni and Madhumathi; and ten smaller vessels were captured. Around 1900 personnel were lost, while 1413 servicemen were captured by Indian forces in Dhaka. The Indian Navy lost 18 officers and 176 sailors and a frigate, while another frigate was damaged and a Breguet Alizé naval aircraft was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force.
According to one Pakistan scholar, Tariq Ali, the Pakistan Navy lost half its force in the war. Despite the limited resources and manpower, the Navy performed its task diligently by providing support to inter-services (air force and army) until the end. The primary reason for this loss has been attributed to the central command’s failure in defining a role for the Navy, or the military in general, in East Pakistan. Since then the Navy has sought to improve the structure and fleet by putting special emphasis on sub-surface warfare capability as it allows for the most efficient way to deny the control of Pakistani sea lanes to an adversary.
Cold war operations and post-cold war: 1972–1998
Pakistan fully endorse the requirements of a strong navy, capable of safeguarding Pakistan’s sea frontiers and her Lines of Communication, monitoring and protecting her exclusive economic zone. Continuous efforts are at hand to provide the best available equipment to the Navy despite all economic constraints— Pervez Musharraf, 1999
After surrendering of Pakistan Eastern Command in East and unilateral decision of ceasefire in West, Pakistan learned a sharp lesson from India in the consequences of disconnecting strategy from reality. After the 1971 war, the Navy had to rebuild from ground and the government came to realize its failure for ignoring the needs of navy at the expense of air force and army.
By the end of 1971, the naval aviation was commissioned but it was not until 1974 when the aircraft joined the service that were procured from the donations from the Royal Navy. During the course of war, the co-ordination between inter-services was limited, lack of communication, poor execution of joint-operations, this led to the establishment of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee headquartered in JS HQ. In a small span of time, the navy facilities, manpower and profile of Navy was quickly arranged and raised by the coming and the first four-star rank admiral and the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Shariff reconstituted the Navy, and his services to Navy led him to be appointed as first navy admiral Chairman of Joint Chiefs Committee of Pakistan Armed Forces.
The Pakistan Navy came into public notice in 1974 after it had reportedly applied a naval blockade and played an integral role to stop the arms smuggled in Balochistan conflict after the police raid Iraqi Embassy in Islamabad in 1974. From 1974–77, the Navy provided logistical support to army and air force until stabilization of the province.
The Daphné Ghazi (S-134) deployed during the Operation Restore Hope, 1991
In the 1970s, the Navy sought to diversify its purchases instead of depending solely on the United States, which had placed an arms embargo on both India and Pakistan as the Navy sought warships deals with France and China. The Navy acquired the land-based ballistic missile capable long-range reconnaissance aircraft; it become the first navy in South Asia to acquire land-based ballistic missile capable long-range reconnaissance aircraft. In 1979–80, Pakistan procured the two Agosta 70 class submarines, Hurmat and Hashmat from France.
Dependency on the United States again fell in the 1980s and the Navy enjoyed unprecedented growth, doubling its surface fleet from 8 to 16 surface combatants in 1989. In 1982, the Reagan administration approved US$3.2 billion military and economic aid to Pakistan with Pakistan acquiring eight Brooke and Garcia-class frigates from United States Navy on a five-year lease in 1988. A depot for repairs, USS Hector followed the lease of these ships in April 1989. This was done due to the Zia administration’s cooperation with the Reagan administration against the Soviet Union’s invasion in Afghanistan.
However, the arms embargo was again imposed after the Soviet troops withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 when the U.S. President George Bush, Sr. was advised to no longer certify the existence of Pakistan’s covert nuclear arsenals program and the Pressler amendment was invoked on 1 October 1990. The lease of the first Brooke class frigate expired in March 1993, the remaining in early 1994. This seriously impaired the Pakistan Navy, which was composed almost entirely of former U.S. origin warships. Despite the embargo, the Navy assisted the UNOSOM-II to conducted military operation against Civil war in Somalia. In 1991–41, the Navy became involved with the Operation Restore Hope, dispatching one submarine and two destroyer frigates to support to the United States Navy’s operation in the civil War in Somalia, and extended its support in 1995 to took participation in Operation United Shield to conclude its side of operation after evacuating personnel and equipment of army, marines, and air force.
Realizing the warming relations between the United States and India, Pakistan Navy began concentrating on self-reliance for its operation needs when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto successfully negotiating with France for the technology transfer of Agosta 90B submarines in 1994–95. This was a controversial agreement with millions of dollars allegedly used for corruption by both sides as the air-independent propulsion technology was transferred despite India’s strong opposition. During the same time, the United Kingdom approved the sale of Westland Lynx and Sea King helicopters, equipped with ASW missiles which further enhanced the capabilities of Pakistan Navy.
After the nuclear tests conducted in 1998, there were several proposals made for Pakistan Navy’s transformation into a nuclear navy as it was seen against Indian Navy’s nuclear ambition. Earlier in 1990, the Navy began negotiations with People’s Liberation Army Navy to lease a nuclear submarine, a Chinese Type 091 Han class submarine after rival India Navy leased a Russian-based Charlie 1 class nuclear from Soviet Union. However, the Navy cancelled the negotiations with the Chinese Navy after the learning the Indian Navy had returned the Russian submarine was returned in 1991.
In 1999, the Navy saw serious disagreement with the civilian government over the issue of Kargil war that was launched solely by the Pakistan Army. Known as the Revolt of the Admirals in Pakistan, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Fasih Bokhari and his Navy NHQ staff maintained that the both Navy and Air Force had been deactivated. However, when Indian Navy launched Operation Talwar, Pakistan Navy had to respond by deploying the submarines and destroyers combatant ships to keep Indian Navy from Ports of Karachi and Baluchistan.
The Naval Air Arm maintained its reconnaissance and patrol operations near at the Arabian sea. In 1999, another proposal was raised to switched the air-independent propulsion of Agosta submarine to substitute with nuclear propulsion, however the proposal was dismissed.
Engagement in 1999 and 2001 standoff
In 1999, the Pakistan Army soldiers engaged with Indian Army and that fighting extended to the Navy who came under pressure to protect the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan while performing the non-combat missions. The Indian Navy’s rapid movement in the Arabian sea pushed the Navy to take the active measures and responded by deploying a large formation of submarines to gather intelligence on the movement of Indian naval vessels, their activities and presence. Over the appointment of Chairman Joint Chiefs, Admiral Fasih Bokhari and his Navy NHQ staff led to a serious disagreement with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, an event that is known as Revolt of the Admiral Bokhari, who resigned from his commission in protest.
In 1999, the Navy became involved in a military engagement with the Indian Air Force when the local news channels reported that the Navy had suffered serious casualty in a non-combat missions in terms of losing aircraft and personnel, roughly occurred just two weeks since the end of Kargil debacle. On 10 August 1999, the Indian Air Force’s two MiG 21FL fired and shot down a reconnaissance navy plane, the Atlantic, with sixteen personnel, including four naval fighter pilots on board. All hands and the aircraft were lost when it was shot down in the border area of the Rann of Kutch region by Indian Air Force, with both countries claiming the aircraft to be in their respective airspace.
The international observers noted that the wreckage fell well within Pakistan’s territory, giving credence to the Pakistan’s claim. But the investigation conducted by the Naval Intelligence revealed that the crash site was spread over 2 km on both sides of the border and most of the wreckage was on the Indian side. The Indian government released the bodies of all the 16 personnel killed in the crash, asserting their point that the aircraft crashed in India. The Indian Air Force stated that “the Atlantique was trying to return to Pakistan’s airspace after intruding more than 10 nautical miles (19 km) and as such was headed towards Pakistan….” This incident resulted in escalated tensions between the two neighbouring countries.
In October 1999, another mishap claimed the loss of Navy’s P3C Orion (ASW) aircraft crashed while on routine exercise towards the coastal town of Pasni in the Balochistan Province. In this non-combat mission, the casualties stood with twenty-one personnel, including two navy fighter pilots, eleven sailors and ten senior officers died in the incident—the cause of the incident was stated as a technical failure. During the 2001–2002 India-Pakistan Standoff, the Pakistan Navy was a put on high-alert and more than a dozen warships were deployed near at the Arabian Sea. In 2001, the Navy took serious consideration of deploying the nuclear weapons on its submarines although none of the nuclear weapons were ever deployed in the submarines.
During the 2001–02, there was another military standoff and Navy again put on high alert with deployment of more than a dozen warships were deployed near at the Arabian Sea. In 2001, the Navy took serious consideration of deploying the nuclear weapons on its submarines although none of the nuclear weapons were ever deployed in the submarines.
In 2003–04, there were several proposals made for acquiring the vintage aircraft carriers but the Navy itself had dismissed the idea since the country has not aspired to have an aircraft capability.
War on Terror and operations in North-West
Since 1995–97, the operational scope of Navy has increased, first participating in combat operation, United Shield with the United States Navy. Since 2007, the Navy has shifted into focusing the large-scale special operations and strike operations. The Navy plays an active role in the multinational NAVCENT, CTF-150, CTF-151, Operation Enduring Freedom. The command of the force was given to Pakistan from 24 March 2006, until 25 February 2008. Under Pakistan’s leadership, CTF 150 coordinated patrols throughout their area of operations to help commercial shipping and fishing operate safely and freely in the region. Additionally, CTF 150 Coalition ships made 11 successful at-sea rescues and made the largest drug bust in the CTF 150 AOO since 2005. Pakistan has contributed 13 different ships to CTF 150 and the current one being PNS Tariq. Development continues new warships, weapons, weapons technology, and as well as building the nuclear submarine for its current operational capabilities.
Since 2007, the Navy actively participated in Operation Black Thunderstorm, Operation Rah-e-Nijat, Operation Mehran, Operation Maddad, and is a major participant in War on Terror and the War in tribal areas of Pakistan. Due to its operational capabilities and ability to project force far from coastal areas of Pakistan, for instance the Northern Pakistan and abroad, the Navy remains potent asset for the Commander-in-Chief (the President of Pakistan) as well as the chief executive of the country (the Prime minister of Pakistan).
Despite its seaborne mission, the Navy had played an active role in controlling the insurgency in Tribal Belt in Western Pakistan, mostly taking roles in managing logistics and intelligence gathering as well as conducting ground operations with the army in Western areas to track down the al-Qaeda operatives. In 2011, the major terror bombing took place in Navy’s assets in various locations of Karachi by Al-Qaeda; the first of the bombings took place on 21 April 2011 on two naval buses and second bombing incident on 28 April 2011 on a naval coaster. An estimated 12 lives have been lost since the start of the bombing. A third bombing, and final bombing took place on 22 May 2011. The attack was on the PNS Mehran base in Karachi.
Since 2004, the Navy has been readily used in overland counter-insurgency operations, to ease off the pressure to Army and Air Force. The Northern Command (COMNOR) under a rear-admiral, conducted overland, signal intelligence, and bombing missions in the Tribal belt while its navy fighter jets attacked the hidden secretive places of militants. In the anti-terror, naval-based airborne missions using precision bombing tactics provided by the US Navy, the Pakistan Navy played a vital role in force-projection of its naval forces that played a significant role in controlling the insurgency, terrorism as well as proved the ability to conduct successful operations far from coastal areas won many presidential citations and praised by the government and the international recognition.
The Navy has been active as early as 2006–07 to track down the terrorist elements and al-Qaeda operatives around the country as part of the campaign against the terrorism. To limit the pressure on army and air force, the Navy executed far more difficult operations in Northern Pakistan, and its combatant assets fought Taliban insurgency in Western border with the ground forces. On 22 May 2011, the Navy’s first engagement with Pakistani Taliban took place in PNS Mehran, the headquarters of the Navy’s Naval Air Arm and the most populous Pakistani military installation, located near the PAF’s Faisal Air Force Base of Karachi, Sindh. During the event, around 15 attackers killed 18 naval personnel and wounded 16 in a sophisticated terrorist attack. According to the United States and Western intelligence sources, the attack was far more dangerous than the 2009 Pakistan Army General Headquarters attack and was better planned and more rehearsed than the previous attacks. It was the biggest attack on the Navy and its assets since 1971 and is believed to be the last major attack of militant mastermind Ilyas Kashmiri before being killed in the drone strike. The Special Service Group Navy (SSG(N)), carried out the counter-attack, which was the largest operation led by SSG(N) since Operation Jackpot of 1971.
Involvement in civil society
The Pakistan Navy has played an integral part in the civil society of Pakistan, almost since its inception. In 1996, General Jehangir Karamat described Pakistan armed forces’ relations with the society:
In my opinion, if we have to repeat of past events then we must understand that Military leaders can pressure only up to a point. Beyond that their own position starts getting undermined because the military is after all is a mirror image of the civil society from which it is drawn. — General Jehangir Karamat on civil society–military relations,
Between 11–21 May 2008, Pakistani warships PNS Badr (D-182), PNS Shahjahan (D 186), and PNS Nasr (A-47), as well as the Pakistan Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, participated in Exercise Inspired Union – multi-national exercises in the North Arabian Sea that also included the American destroyers Curtis and Ross.
Tsunami relief activities
The Navy has been involved in some peacetime operations, most notably during the tsunami tragedy that struck on 26 December 2004. Pakistan sent her combatant vessels to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives to help in rescue and relief work.
Pakistan Navy dispatched its two combatant vessels, PNS Tariq, a destroyer, PNS Nasr, a Logistic support ship, were deployed in the region. Under the tactical direction of former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral (retired) Shahid Karimullah, Pakistan Navy ships immediately rendered their assistance to Government of Maldives for evacuation of stranded tourists/locals from islands. Pakistan Navy continued this humanitarian assistance through rendering diplomatic and material support by sending two more ships with sizeable relief efforts to Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Pakistan Navy later assigned another relief mission to Sri Lanka dispatching two more combatant vessels. PNS Khaiber and PNS Moawin were dispatched to assist Sri Lanka. These vessels had three helicopters, a 140th Marine Expeditionary Force, military and civilian doctors, and paramedics. Besides, relief goods – medicines, medical equipment, food supplies, tents, blankets- are being sent in huge quantities. The diameter of relief operations was expanded to Bangladesh. And, Pakistan Naval vessels, carrying other Pakistan Armed Forces units, landed in Bangladesh for the first time since December 1971. The Navy, Army, and the Air Force had carried out the relief operations in the Bangladesh, where the Pakistani forces also anticipated reconstruction of civil infrastructure in the country.
As Army and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) gained momentum on militancy, the Navy took the whole responsibility of conducting the largest search and rescue operations in the 2010 floods. The Navy rescued and evacuated more than 352,291 people after launching the Operation Madad (English: “Help”) throughout Pakistan in August 2010. Since then, the Navy had provided 43,850 kg of food and relief goods to flood victims; 5,700 kg of ready-to-cook food, 1,000 kg of dates and 5,000 kg of food has been dispatched to Sukkur. The Pakistan Naval Air Arm had air dropped more than 500 kg of food and relief good in Thal, Ghospur and Mirpur areas. As of January 2011, under the program PN Model Village, the Navy is building the model houses in the affected areas. More than 87 houses were built and had been distributed to the local internally displaced person (IDPs). About 69,011 people have been treated in PN medical camps.
According to the Constitution, the President of Pakistan is the civilian commander-in-chief of Pakistan Armed Forces while the Prime Minister of Pakistan served as the chief executive of Pakistan Armed Forces, both the people-elected civilians, the President and Prime minister, maintains a civilian control of the military.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), a four-star admiral, is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee as well as the National Security Council (NSC) and the Nuclear Command Authority and is responsible for the sea defence of the country. They direct the non-combat and combatant operations from naval combatant headquarters (NHQ) in Islamabad, near army combatant headquarters (GHQ).
The Chief of Naval Staff has seven Deputy Chiefs of Naval Staff, ranging from Rear Admirals to Vice-Admirals; the Chief of Staff (COS) under whom the Naval Operations and Intelligence Directorates functions; the Naval Secretary (NS); the Quarter-Master General (QMG); the Hydrographer of the Navy (HPN); the Engineer-in-Chief; the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST); the Director-General of Training and Joint Warfare (DG Trig); the Directorate-General for Naval Technologies Complex (NTC); and the Chief of Naval Logistics (CNL). The responsibilities of Deputy Chief of Naval Staff are listed below
The Pakistan Navy has six major combatant commands
Commander of Pakistan Naval Fleet (COMPAK) – The command heads the surface, sub surface and aviation commands. COMPAK is headquartered in Karachi, Sindh. Previously, it included the 25th and 18th Destroyer Squadron (with Gearing class D16O, D164-168).
Commander Naval Air Arm (COMNAV) – Looks after the Naval air stations, and is the commander of the Naval Aviation, reporting into COMPAK.
Commander Submarine Squadron (COMSUBS)– Looks after the submarine operations, and is the commander of the submarine commanders, reporting into COMPAK.
Commander Karachi (COMKAR) – The Commander Karachi is responsible for the command of the shore establishment, naval facilities within Karachi. The COMKAR also provide services and training facilities for the Navy. The COMKAR also looks after the military protocol at Karachi. This command’s responsibilities also include harbour defence.
Commander COAST (COMCOAST) – The special command of SSG(N), Marines and Coastal stations.
Commander Central Punjab (COMCEP) – Looks after the naval and marine assets stationed in Punjab, and Southern skirts of Sindh.
Commander Logistics (COMLOG) – This command looks after the repair, maintenance and logistic infrastructure of PN.
Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) Conducts all types of operational training at Sea
Commander North (COMNOR) – Looks after the Naval installations in the north of Pakistan. The COMNOR commands the naval facilities in North-west Pakistan, Azad Kashmir, and Northern Areas of Pakistan. The COMNOR is also a major part of Pakistan’s Northern Naval Command.
Commander WEST (COMWEST) – Looks after the Naval installations in the west of Pakistan. The naval bases are Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwani. The COMWEST is a major component of the Western Naval Command of Pakistan Navy
The single headquarters for the Navy, the Navy NHQ, is in Islamabad at the neighborhoods of the Army GHQ, in the vicinity of Joint Staff Headquarters.
The NHQ function also includes the Judge Advocate General Corps of Navy, and the Comptroller of Civilian Personnel, the Hydrographer of the Navy (HPN) of the Hydrographic Corps; the Engineer-in-Chief of Naval Engineering Corps (NEC); Surgeon General of Navy; Quartermaster General of the Navy.
Naval Strategic Force Command
In August 2012, the Pakistan Navy inaugurated the Naval Strategic Force Command headquarters, described by the military as the “custodian of the nation’s nuclear second strike capability.
Pakistan Navy Officers on Guard by the Standard of the Navy and the Naval Jack
Commodore, Khan Hasham Bin Saddique of Pakistan Navy, left, hands a spyglass to French navy Rear Adm. Jean L. Kerignard during a change of command ceremony aboard PNS Tipu Sultan (D 186) while in port at Mina Salman Pier, Bahrain, 25 February 2008.
As the estimates made in 2003 and 2009, the Navy had approximately 25,000 active duty personnel. With additional 1,200 Marines and more than 2,500 Coast Guard; 2,000 active-duty Navy personnel in the Maritime Security Agency. In addition, there were 5,000 reserves, total combined forces exceeding 35,700 personnel.
In 2007, Navy gave commissioned to the first Baloch naval squadron, consisting of around 53 women officers and 72 Baloch sailors. In 2012, the Navy pushed its personnel strength to Baluchistan after sending a large formation of Baloch university students to Navy Engineering Colleges and War College as well as staff schools to complete their officer training requirements. The Navy established three additional facilities in Balochistan to supervise the training to its personnel. As of 2014 estimate, the Navy has a strength of 30,700 active duty personnel.
Education and training
The Pakistan Navy maintains large educational organizations, accredited institutions and scientific organizations to support the combatant and non-combatant missions, operations and shores activities on land. Its academic and accredited four-year university, the Pakistan Naval Academy, is the home of naval cadets for the future officers of Pakistan Navy, and offers academic degrees programs at its academy. The Pakistan Naval Academy also has provided education, athletic programs and military training programs to the officers of allied navies, among notables including the Chief of Staff of the Qatar Royal Navy (QRN) and many high-ranking officers of Royal Saudi Navy (RSN) as well as other navies in the Gulf were graduates of the Pakistan Naval Academy. The academy is a full-fledged academic and scientific institution catering to the needs to Pakistan junior naval officers.
The Pakistan Navy also managed, administers, and managed the various academic research universities in the country, including the Naval Educational Establishment (NEE). The Naval War College is a post-graduate and post-doctorate college that specializes in the techniques and developing ideas for naval warfare and passing them along to officers of the Navy. Other college includes the College of Logistics and Management (conducts research in military logistics); and Strategic Institute for Naval Affairs which conducts research on specializing in imparting Naval Warfare techniques to officers of the Pakistan naval forces.
The senior training institution for all service branches is the National Defence University (NDU) at the Islamabad. Originally established in 1971 at Rawalpindi, the university is mandated to provide training in higher military strategy for senior officers, the institution was relocated to Islamabad in 1995. It also offers courses that allow civilians to explore the broader aspects of national security, defence policy and war studies. In a program begun in the 1980s to upgrade the intellectual standards of the army, air force, marines and naval officers and increase awareness of the wider world, a large group of officers, has been detailed to academic training, achieving master’s degrees and even doctorates at universities in Pakistan and abroad.
Pay grade and uniforms
The rank structure is patterned on the Royal Navy model. It consists of commissioned officers and the Junior Commissioned Officers paygrade ranks only.
Structure of the Enlisted rank of the Pakistan Navy
Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO)
Fleet Chief Petty Office (FCPO)
Chief Petty Officer (CPO)
No Equivalent (NE)
Petty Officer (PO)
No Equivalent (NE)
Leading Rate (LH)
Able Seaman (AS)
Ordinary Rate (OS)
Science and technology
Apart from executing military operations, the Navy also maintains its own science and technology organizations and commands to promote scientific activities, knowledge, and engineering facilities in the navy. The Navy operates the Naval Directorate for Hydrography, served as the operational scientific naval oceanographic program for the Navy. The Navy also administer and operates the astronomical observatory known as Pakistan Naval Observatory, with primary mission to produce Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) for the Navy and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), though the Navy has also played a vital role in nation’s civilian space authority, the Space Research Commission in conducting studies on Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mathematics. The Naval Strategic Forces Command served as the primary scientific and military organization for the Navy, the command is charged with battling with naval-based nuclear weapons and controlling the operations of nuclear submarines.
The other educational facilities training institutions are included the PNS Bahadur, that conducts weapon system specialist courses; the PNS Himalaya, for providing the combat surface training courses for the NCO, JCO, and recruited sailors while the Higher Educational Training (HET) is a way to be commissioned officer from sailors.
The PNS Karsaz is the largest and most organized technical and naval combat training establishment of the Navy. The Karsaz has the privilege to host many heads of states since its commissioning. Karsaz served as a mother unit who gave birth to Naval Air Station Mehran, the Navy Engineering College, PNS Bahadur, and other Navy units and naval bases in that area. The unit celebrated its golden jubilee in 2003 under the command of Commodore M. Bashir. Chaudhry. The PNS Karsaz also houses one of the most modern Special Children School which was built at the cost of Rs. 88.00 million during 2003–05. Commodore M. Bashir Chaudhry who was the commandant Karsaz during this period was the force behind this project who collected the funds through philanthropists, got the school designed through NESPAK and finally constructed & put it into operation. The Rangoon Vala Trust (RVT) contributed the most in the funding of this school and other Navy sponsored programs.
The Navy Engineering College is one of the most recognized institute of the Navy and offers under-graduate, post-graduate, and doctoral programs in engineering, science and technology disciplines. The Navy Engineering College is controlled by the Navy but it has been an affiliated with the National University of Sciences and Technology and has become its constituent Pakistan Navy Engineering College, where officers and civilian students are offered degrees in Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics and industrial and manufacturing engineering.
Special Services Group (N)
Naval SSG conducting force-protection and under-water special forces training with their United States Navy counterparts, the US Navy SEALs.
The Special Service Group Navy (SSG-[N]) are the principle and elite special operations force (SOF) of the Pakistan Navy, part of the Naval Strategic Forces Command. The unit was established by then-CNS Admiral S. M. Ahsan under the advice and guidance of United States Navy SEALs, in 1966.
The SSG-N’s first combat operation took place in 1971 and its operational diameter has increased since then. SSG-N training is extremely tough, one of the toughest courses offered by the Pakistan Armed Forces and in the world. The SSG-N train together first with the special forces of the Pakistan army and air force, then the special airborne, seaborne, and diving courses are taught by the instructors to the recruiters of the veteran Navy commandos and elite operatives. SSG-[N] personnel are often sent to the United States to complete their training with the US Navy SEALs in Colorado and California.
Due to its interminable nature, the SSG-[N] are a classified and clandestine unit and their history of operations has never been released in the public domain. Although the official strength of the unit remains classified, its estimated strength is thought to be between 1000 and 1240 personnel in three regiments.
The Navy established the Pakistan Marines on 1 June 1971, by Admiral S.M. Ahsan, but they were decommissioned in 1974 due to their poor performance. However, after the Navy first reorganized, re-established, and re-visioned itself, proposals to establish Pakistani marines roughly equivalent to the United States Marines Corps were kept under consideration. Finally on 14 April 1990, the Pakistan Marines were again re-commissioned in the Navy with about 2,000 men who were drafted with plans to significantly expand the force to the size of a corps of approximately 45,000, by 2015. The Marines are under the control of the Pakistan Navy, using the same naval ranks. They are headquartered at PNS Qasim in Karachi.
The first Officer Commanding of the Pakistan Marines was an OF-4 rank officer, Commander M. Obaidullah. On 14 April 1990, a marine training base was commissioned to provide security cover to naval assets. The Navy decided to establish the Marines at Kasim Fort which was at that time under the operational control of PNS Himalaya. Finally, on 25 November 1990, PNS Qasim was commissioned and became the marines’ combatant headquarters, initially comprising eight naval officers, 67 Chief petty officers and petty officers, as well as 43 marine officers. The Marines specialize in seaborne operations, using the mobility of the Navy, although they are part of the Navy, not a separate branch. Marines wear camouflage uniforms when deployed to an operational environment but otherwise they wear Navy dress uniforms. The size of the Marines were tripled by Admiral Shahid Karimullah who pursued the case of an additional battalion and its development plan. Since its inception, the Pakistan Marines have been deployed in the Sir Creek region of the Indo-Pakistan borders.
Pakistan Navy personnel conducting a Maritime Interdiction Operation exercise with the United States Navy
The Navy also maintains a paramilitary division which prevents federal navy personnel from acting in a law enforcement capacity. The Maritime Security Agency (MSA) fulfils the law enforcement role in naval operations. The MSA has the capacity to conduct search and rescue operations in deep waters of Pakistan. The Agency was established after adopting the genesis at the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. Pakistan ratified the UN Convention in 1997 but established the MSA on 1 January 1987, for enforcement of national and international laws, policies and conventions at sea.
The MSA gained its constitutional status in 1994 by the Parliament and is now placed under the command of the Navy, commanded by an officer of two-star rank, a Rear-Admiral.
The Pakistan Coast Guard serves the same purpose as the Navy but, is a separate branch from it. The Coast Guard’s duties include relief efforts in the coastal areas of Pakistan, riverine rescue operations, and distribution of military rations. The Coast Guard does not perform operations in deep waters, rather such operations are performed by the MSA. However, it uses the mobility of the Pakistan Navy depending on the type of operations it conducts. The Coast Guard is under the command of the Pakistan Army and contains active-duty army members. It is commanded by a two-star rank Major-General
PNS Tipu Sultan
PNS Larkana Class Missile Boat
PNS Badr with USS Tarawa (LHA-1)
The names of commissioned combat and non-combat ships of the Pakistan Navy are prefixed with the capital letters “PNS” (“Pakistan Naval Ships”). The names of ships are selected by the Ministry of Defence, often to honour important people or places in the history of Pakistan. The offensive surface fleet of the Navy comprises 10 combat ships, including five former Royal Navy Amazon class frigates. PNS Badr has been decommissioned recently. The Navy intends to decommission the ships from their active service between 2010 and 2020. In 2005, the Pakistan Navy ordered four F-22P light frigates from China in a deal worth $750 million and all ships were commissioned by 2013. Under this programme three ships were built in China while the last ship was that was built in Karachi Shipyard under the supervision of the People’s Republic of China. The first frigate was, and its first lead ship was delivered on 5 April 2008. The F-22P Zulfiquar-class frigate Programme successfully ended when the F-254 PNS Aslat was delivered in July 2011. All four frigates can embark Harbin Z-9helicopters on deck. The F-22P is an improved version of the Type 053H3 Jiangwei II class light frigate and has a displacement of at least 2500 tons.
The frigate PNS Alamgir (former guided-missile frigate USS McInerney (FFG-8), being handed over to Pakistan Navy on 31 August 2010 at US Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
According to Jane’s, the Pakistan Navy was expected to place a formal request to the US for six Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates to augment its surface fleet. These were to replace their 40-year-old ex-British Type-21 frigates and act as stop-gaps until new Chinese-built F-22P frigates and corvettes are built and commissioned. However, in 2010 only one, the USS McInerney — a guided missile frigate, was transferred to the Pakistan Navy, after a $65 million refit. In 2013 the United States Congress “deliberately” placed “impossible” conditions on the transfer of further ships to Pakistan.
The weapons systems on the Navy’s FFG-8 have not yet been disclosed, but they could include the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) as well as Mk 32 torpedo tubes for Mk 46 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) torpedoes. The frigate USS McInerney (FFG-8) with limited anti-submarine warfare capability was handed over on 31 August 2010. The ship has been named PNS Alamgir (FFG-260) after the great Mughal Emperor Alamgir. The ship was transferred to Pakistan at Mayport, Florida.
According to Jane’s, at the military convention IDEAS 2004, former chief of naval staff Admiral Shahid Karimullah commented that at “least four additional new-built frigates will be acquired by the navy.” As of 2011, three of the four frigates are larger and superior to the first Chinese F-22P. The frigates are likely have a better air defence system and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, and use more advanced sensors, radar and electronics. Pakistan Navy is acquiring four Turkish Project MILGEM corvettes agreement signed during the 2017 IDEF defence exhibition in Istanbul, on May 10. According to an announcement from the Turkish Defence Industries Undersecretariat (SSM), the deal is expected to be finalized on June 30, 2017. The 99.5-meter ADA class corvettes that are in service with the Turkish Navy are anti-submarine warfare (ASW) oriented vessels designed to embark ASW/ASUW helicopters and fitted with Harpoon missiles and a 76 mm gun.
Corvettes & missile boats
The Pakistan Navy operates two Jalalat II class and two Jurrat class missile boats each armed with four Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles. The Jalalat II Class were locally produced using a German design, and the Jurrat class, which was also locally produced, is considered as an improved version of the Jalalat II class, with better sensors and propulsion.
In November 2006 the Pakistan Navy ordered two MRTP-33 and two MRTP-15 missile boats from Yonca-Onuk shipyards of Turkey. both have been delivered. The Navy has an overall requirement of eight MRTP-33s.
Pakistan Navy has also ordered two fast attack craft/missile boats, the 500–600 tons Azmat class, equipped with C802/803 anti ship missiles from China in December 2010. The Azmat class are based on the Chinese Type 037II Houjian-class missile boat. The first boat P1013 PNS Azmat was handed over to Pakistan Navy on 23 April 2012 and 2nd (PNS Dahshat) on 16 August 2012. These are the largest class of missile boats inducted in the Pakistan Navy as of 2012. Pakistan Navy is also, negotiating Milgem class corvettes with Turkey
Submarine Command of the Pakistan Navy
The programme of (submarine technology transfer) Agosta class submarine, envisages a very high degree of transfer-of-technology, which is bound to benefit the local industry in improving our indigenous capability of building air-independent propulsion, which is a viable substitute of nuclear propulsion…. — Rear Admiral Gulzaman Malik, Commander of Submarine Service Force, 1999,
The Submarines Service Force (SSF) is the major command and aggressive command of Pakistan Navy, with primary mission including the commencing of peaceful engagement, surveillance and intelligence management, special operations, precision strikes, battle group operations, and the control of Pakistan’s border seas. The Submarine command also takes responsibility to protect country’s sea lanes of communication as well as to protect the economic interests, foreign trade and development of the country
In mid-2006, the Navy announced its requirement of three new fast-attack submarines to replace the two Agosta-70 submarines and rebuild its submarine fleet— after retiring the four Daphne Class. Immediately, the French defence consortium, the DCN, offered its latest export design— the Marlin class submarine— which is based on the Scorpène class submarine, but also uses technology from the Barracuda nuclear attack submarine. However, the Navy chose the Type 214 submarine, during the “IDEAS 2008 exhibition”, the HDW director Walter Freitag told the media that: “The commercial contract has been finalized up to 95%. The first submarine would be delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 64 months after signing of the contract while the rest would be completed successively in 12 months”. However, in 2009, it was reported that the Navy had canceled its plans with HDW, the German government adjourn the deal further deliberation leading the Navy to cancel the contract with HDW while the German government seemed not-interested to transfer the submarine technology to Pakistan. However, the German government insisted that “a final decision should be made soon”. In 2012, an undisclosed navy official confirmed to media and news channels that the plan of acquiring German submarines has been scrapped, dismissed as the Navy is no longer interested in the German submarines.
The X-Craft submarines are charged with carrying out the mine laying, torpedo attacks, frogman operations and commando landing, roughly for special forces operations. Three submarines of this class are operated by the Navy. In 1985, the Italian Navy signed an understanding memorandum with the Navy and assisted the Navy to locally built these midget submarines. The Italian defence contractor, the COSMOS, supervised the first construction of the submarine while other two were built by Pakistan.
All the Navy’s submarines have been equipped with Anti-ship missile (AShM) which can be fired while submerged. The three submarines, the Khalid class, are equipped and capable of firing Exocet missiles, while the older Agosta 70A submarines have been equipped with United States Harpoon missiles. The PNS Hamza submarine has an AIP reactor, containing the MESMA Air Independent Propulsion system, while the PNS Khalid and PNS Saad were upgraded with the same MESMA AIP reactor system. The Navy also plans to integrate the Boeing Harpoon Block-II missile on to its Agosta-90B submarines; and the Agosta-90Bs can fire Black Shark torpedo, an Italian made naval variant.
Since 2001, the Navy has been seeking to enhance its strategic strike and precision capability by developing naval variants of the Babur land attack cruise missile (LACM). The Babur LACM has a range of 700 km and can use both conventional and nuclear warheads. Future developments of LACM include capability of being launched from submarines, surface combatants and aircraft.
Since 1964, the submarines have been active with Pakistan Navy, and five active-duty diesel electric submarines and three midget submarines, MG110, are in SSGN command.
In April 2014, the Pakistan Navy announced that it is in the process of shifting primary operations and naval assets, including its entire fleet of diesel-electric submarines (SSKs), from Karachi to the Jinnah Naval Base in Ormara.
Pakistan currently operates a range of patrol vessels procured from Turkey, China and the USA, as well as some domestically built. They are primarily divided among the 10th Patrol Craft Squadron and the Fast Patrol Craft Squadron.
On 10 June 2015, a formal agreement was signed between the Pakistani government and the “China Ship Trading Company” for the sale of total six patrol boats which will eventually replace the ageing Barkat Class Boats of PMSA. Of these ships four will be 600ton while two will be 1500 ton. Three (600 ton) and one 1500-ton boats will be built in China, and one 600ton and one 1500 ton at the “Karachi Shipyards and Engineering Works”. The contract price was not disclosed but a senior Pakistani official said at least USD 130 million had been allocated. CSTC (China) has launched two 600-ton boats three months ahead of scheduled time. PMSA Basol is the second ship launched by CSTC., while one 600-ton boat is under construction at KSEW which is expected to be delivered in early 2017.
Pakistan Naval Air Arm
After realizing the naval failure in the 1971 war, the Navy sought to modernize. The Navy took the research on using the aircraft at sea in 1971, after the war. Its aerial fighting unit is known as Naval Air Arm (also known as Naval Aviation) apart from the PAF. The naval fighter pilot course was introduced by the Navy and trained its fighter pilots at the Pakistan Air Force Academy, furthermore the navy pilots later went to Combat Commander’s School for fighter jet training. Since the 1970s, the naval air arm has become a full-fledged and potent service of the Navy. From 1993 to 1994, the Navy stepped in its efforts in sea-airborne operations when PAF donated and inducted five Mirage 5 ROSE fighter jets, later transferred the entire squadron to Navy armed with Exocet missiles. Since then, the Mirage 5 are piloted by the navy fighter pilots after passing the course with PAF Academy and certifying a diploma from a weapons system and combat training school. The Mirage 5 belonged to the PAF as well as operated by the air force but are piloted by the Navy fighter pilots who are under the command of senior ranking Navy officer. The Westland lynx helicopters have now been removed from active service and a tender has been issued for their removal.
Pakistan Naval Aviation is an important arm of the Pakistan Navy and assists in the surface and submarine flights to guarantee the safety of Pakistan sea borders.
Pakistan Naval Air Defence
In 2010, the Navy established another command after launching an air defence system, using the infrared homing man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs) system. The new command which is known as Pakistan Naval Air Defence (PNAD) are consisted the members of Pakistan Marines and Navy’s ground officers after the first battalion graduated from the Naval School of Weapon System Engineering. In 2010, the command air-launched and tested its first naval air defence system from Sonmiani Terminal— a space center of Space Research Commission (SRC) in the North Arabian Sea. Along with the members of Pakistan Marines, the PNAD members are deployed in all over the country to support the marine operations of Pakistan Navy.
FN16 Or HY-6 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, tested on 25 December 2010 by Naval Marines with a range of 6 km and altitude ~ 3.5 km)
Mistral shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, test fired on 25 December 2010 by Naval marines.
14 August 1947 – present
30,700 active personnel 5,000 reserves 63 ships & 101 aircraft
Ministry of Defence Pakistan Armed Forces
Naval Headquarters (NHQ)
Naval Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Urdu: Himmat ka aalam, Allah ka karam, Moujon pay qadam English: “Of courage, God’s grace, tread on the waves”
Navy blue and White
Navy Day is on 8 September
Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 Bangladesh Liberation War Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 Indo-Pakistani War of 1999 2004 Tsunami Relief Operations Operation Madad Operations Near the HOA War in North-West Pakistan Balochistan conflict
Vice-Admiral Haji Mohammad Siddiq Choudri (1912-2004)
Vice-Admiral Mohammad Siddiq Choudri (b. 1912—27 February 2004), HPk, MBE, HI(M) was a three-star rank admiral in the Pakistan Navy who was the first native chief of staff of Pakistan Navy. In 1953, he was appointed as second Commander-in-Chief after taking over the command from Royal Navy’s Rear Admiral J.W. Jefford, and served under two Governor-Generals from 1953–56, and then under President Iskander Mirza from 1956 until 1959.
He resigned from his command due to differences regarding the navy’s plans of modernization and to end the interservice rivalry with Army GHQ, Pakistan MoD, and the Presidency on 26 January 1959. He was one of the only few military officials who resigned from their commission over the disagreement with the civilian government and was eventually succeeded by Vice-Admiral A. R. Khan on 28 February 1959. He died on 27 February 2004 and was buried in military graveyard in Karachi with full military honors.
Early years and World War II
Haji Mohammad Choudhri was born in Batala, Punjab, British India in 1912 in an Arain family. Very little is known about his early life which based on combined military history of India and Pakistan. As many of contemporaries in the British Indian military, he was educated at the Rashtriya Indian Military College and later joined the Britannia Royal Naval College in the United Kingdom.
He was among one of the first Indians and first Indian Muslim to have gained commissioned as Midshipman in Royal Indian Navy’s Executive Branch in 1931.
He was trained as torpedo and anti-submarine specialist and held various officer’s appointments both at sea and with land-based naval formations before and after the World War II. He participated in World War II’s Pacific theatre as part of Royal Indian Navy on the side the United Kingdom against the Imperial Japanese Navy. He witnessed the Japanese surrender in 1945 and commanded a naval division that consisted of the two-ship formation that represented the Royal Indian Navy.
At the time of the partition of British India in 1947, Captain Choudhri was one of the senior-most Indian officer and decided to opt for Pakistan in 1947. He was among the first twenty naval officers who joined the Royal Pakistan Navy (RPN) as a Captain with a service number PN. 0001. He was the first most senior and the only Captain in the navy in terms of seniority list provided by the Royal Indian Navy to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in 1947. He served on the committee that was involved in the division of the RIN’s assets between India and Pakistan. He did not actively participate in first war with India in 1947, instead he commanded a destroyer from Karachi to Mumbai to oversee the evacuation of Indian emigrants to Pakistan. In 1950, he was promoted to one-star rank, Commodore, and appointed to serve as deputy commander in chief under Rear-Admiral J.W. Jefford. Admiral Rear-Admiral Jeffords’s retirement was due in 1951 and favoured continuously appointing the British officers in the armed forces.
Commander-in-Chief and resignation
The Pakistan government called for appointing a native chief of staff of army, air force, navy, and marines, and dismissed deputation appointments from the British military. In terms of seniority, he was the most senior officer to be appointed as an admiral in the navy but the British Admiralty and Commodore Choudhri himself was in doubt to be appointed as commander of navy mainly because of his youth and lack of experience in military staffing. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan approved his nomination papers as navy’s commander in chief on the condition that he would spend a year in commanding a squadron in sea, and then attend the Imperial Defence College. Upon returning to Pakistan in 1952 after he gained staff officer degree, he was appointed as Deputy Commander-in-Chief at the NHQ where he established staff corps and administration.
Although, the Pakistani government announced the appointment of navy’s first native commander in chief in 1951 and Commodore Choudhri’s nomination papers being approved by Prime Minister Ali Khan also in 1951, his appointment as navy’s first native commander in chief came only in effect in 1953 with the crucial help provided from the army’s Commander in Chief Lieutenant-General Ayub Khan. He was promoted as Vice-Admiral and assumed the command of the navy with an objective of expanding navy’s resources and infrastructure.
In 1951, Admiral Choudri decided to build the submarines and warships at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works, relaying his plans to the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance, but was told by the civilian planners that the “second-hand ships from the United Kingdom would be better off for Pakistan“, that eventually led the Navy to relay on the obsolete vessels that had to be acquire from the United Kingdom.
From 1953–56, he bitterly negotiated with the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy over the acquisition of warship and made several unsuccessful attempts for the procurement of submarines imported from the United States. In 1954, he convinced the U.S. government to provide monetary support for modernization of aging O–class destroyers and minesweepers, while commissioning the Ch–class destroyers from British Navy.
In 1955, Admiral Choudhri cancelled and disbanded the British military tradition in the navy when the U.S. Navy’s advisers were dispatched to the Pakistani military. British military tradition were only kept in the air force due to being under its British commander and major staff consisting of Royal Air Force officers. Despite initiatives, the Admiralty’s influence slowly vanished from the navy until the native officers were educated and promoted to flag ranks to replace the Royal Navy’s officers
In 1956, Admiral Choudhri sent recommendations for the construction of the seaport in Ormara and a naval base that would linked the Sonmiani, but it was bypassed Ministry of Shipping that cited financial constraints.
In 1957, he finalized the sale of cruiser warship from the United Kingdom and used the government’s own fund to induct the warship that caused a great ire against Admiral Choudhri by the Finance ministry in the country. In 1958, he made an unsuccessful attempt induct the imported submarines from Sweden using the American funds that was halted by the United States and the Pakistan’s own Finance ministry despite he had support from army chief General Ayub.
In 1958, his Navy NHQ staff began fighting with the Army GHQ staff and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the plans regarding the modernization of the navy. He was in bitter conflict with General Ayub who saw the purchase of PNS Baber and his submarine procurement approaches had jeopardized the foreign military relations with the United States. The MoD did sanction to pay off the costly PNS Baber but halted the crucial funds for the operations of the navy which had been assembled since 1956.
In another Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting chaired by General Ayub in 1958, he became involved with heated debate over the financial costs for the naval operations in deep sea. General Ayub reportedly reached out to the President Iskander Mirza and lodged a complaint against Admiral Choudhri by noting the Admiral of “neither having the brain, imagination or depth of thought to understand such (defence) problems nor the vision or the ability to make any contribution.” Admiral Choudhri then was called to meet with President Mirza to resolve the interservice rivalry between the army and navy but it was ended with “stormy interview” with the President.
Upon returning to NHQ, Admiral Choudhry decided to tender his resignation in protest as result of having differences with Navy’s plans of expansion and modernization. He resigned from the command of navy on 26 January 1959 and cited to President: “major decision[which] have been taken with disagreement with the technical advice I have consistently tendered…. concerning the concept of our defence, the appointment of our available budget, and the size and shape of our Navy.”
In 1958, Vice-Admiral Afzal Rahman Khan, who was known to be confident of General Ayub Khan, was appointed as naval chief by President Mirza.
Post-retirement and death
After retiring from Navy, he went on to establish Merchant Navy and promoted civilian shipping trade throughout his life. After retiring from Navy in 1959, he founded and became director of Pakistan Institute of Maritime Affairs (PIMA) which he remained associated with until his death in 2004.
He avoided politics and provided no commentaries on conflicts and wars with neighboring India in successive years of 1965, 1971, and 1999. He died of old age on 27 February 2004 and was buried in a military graveyard in Karachi.
In his honor, the government established the “HMS Choudhri Memorial Hall” at the National Defence University in Islamabad in 2005.
In office: 31 January 1953 – 28 February 1959
President: Iskander Mirza (1956–59)
Governor General: Khawaja Nazimuddin (1948–51); Malik Ghulam Muhammad (1951-55)
Preceded by: Rear Admiral James Wilfred Jefford
Succeeded by: Vice Admiral Afzal Rahman Khan
Civilian awards: Hilal-e-Pakistan
Nickname(s): HMS Choudhir; Admiral Choudhri
Service/branch: Royal Indian Navy (1930–1947); Pakistan Navy (1947–59)