By: Muhammad Sohail Ahmed
The Pakistan Navy is the naval warfari uniformed service branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces serving the motherland in forefront of the seaside. Pakistan Navy is playing a commendable role in the national security of Pakistan. The security of the nation, and the state including citizens, economy and institutions, are considered to be the national security and regarded as a duty of the government.
Pakistan Navy is the guardian of the nation in avoiding sea threats from all sides. In his recent visit to Turkey, the Pakistani Chief of Naval Staff signed a contract for four Type Milgem-Class anti-submarine corvettes equipped with stealth technology and designed by the Turkish shipyard. The enormous importance was shown by the fact that the President of Turkey was the chief guest in the ceremony. In his address, he spoke with a clear vision about the future. It encompassed the Turkish will and desire to take Pakistan shipbuilding Industry and Pakistan Navy forward in their pursuit of self-sufficiency, through designing, building and maintenance. This a capability that so far only 10 countries in the world enjoy. What is so great about it is that Allah has gifted us with an enthusiastic partner which is treading on this path.
Due to intellectual property rights, the existing 10 countries may not be able to help Pakistan or Turkey. President Tayib Recep Erdogan informed that out of the 100 top defence companies, there are already five Turkish companies. Defence imports have come down to only 30 percent and the Turks are to bring it to zero, by 2023. Since the Pakistan Navy is the user of the new corvette, it must be very keen to operate it without facing the problem of spares. Therefore, by the time these platforms, out of which two will be constructed at Karachi Shipyard, would be commissioned, there will be self-sufficiency with Turkey for spares. There is probably some portion of spares that would be outsourced to Pakistan.
This is going to be self-sufficiency with assurance of spares for Pakistan Navy. President Erdogan highlighted that Turkey had already suffered due to sanctions in the past by the supplier countries. Pakistan has also faced the same problem through the notorious Pressler Amendment and under the Kerry-Lugar bill.
President Erdogan informed that his country, after being able to construct unmanned and manned aerial vehicles as well as satellites, would soon achieve self-sufficiency in designing and manufacturing fighter aircraft. Pakistan can also engage in the pursuit of designing and manufacturing its indigenous fighter programmes. That way, our children will have more jobs, better standards of education and a greater understanding and control over technology.
Speaking at the steel-cutting ceremony, President Erdogan unveiled the future programme to design and construct a conventional submarine for Turkey. The Turkish Navy ship, The TCG Kinaliada, was also commissioned during the ceremony. Turks call it their national warship programme. He appreciated the quality of equipment, high standard of discipline and well-qualified men who would make these platforms a highly competitive programme in warship construction and operation. Pakistan would certainly benefit from this cooperation as it has its development plans to pursue. Availability of a trusted friend would be of great help.
Once again the Turkish people have proven their unflinching support to Pakistan. This time it was on the Kashmir issue, as the most unambiguous stance forcefully supporting Pakistan came from Turkey. President Erdogan not only mentioned it in his address to thw United Nations General Assembly, but he also highlighted during the ceremony that eight million Kashmiris were in an open prison and facing atrocities. He emphasized that he would continue to raise the issue at all forums and levels. This convergence of thought and alignment of national objectives must be utilized for future cooperation with Turkey in defence, diplomacy, science and technology by both the governments. Besides highlighting the sufferings, the Pakistan Navy Chief thanked the Turkish leader for his unwavering support to Pakistan.
No doubt the Turkish nation has proven the adage that a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Besides Turkey, Malaysia has supported the right of self-determination for Kashmiris, a principled stance that Pakistan has always supported. The Iranian parliament has sympathized with the Kashmiri Muslims besieged in the Indian occupied territory. The recent visit of the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and UAE has been a great support to the Kashmiri brothers in the Indian-occupied territory. They are in a state of curfew since 5 August. The overwhelming support from China has convinced our leaders to plan a visit to China to thank its leadership for providing full support to Pakistan and the Muslims of Kashmir.
The Indian move to attempt and announce the illegal annexation of Kashmir was well thought-out and planned in such a way that soon after the announcement, Indian PM Narendra Modi would start an official tour of the Gulf states, known to support Pakistan. This trap created an embarrassment to these states as the state visits are planned well in advance. However, photo sessions of Modi with the leaders in the Gulf countries generated the false impression that they were supportive of, or ambivalent to, the Indian move. As the dust settles and the picture is getting clear, it is emerging that there is reasonable diplomatic support to Pakistan from the above-stated countries in particular and the Muslim Ummah in general.
However, within India, there are some diverging views and one such view is that which has come from a retired judge of the Indian Supreme Court who has predicted that Kashmir will be a Vietnam for India. I believe that India is not the USA, and Pakistan is not Cambodia for taking the wrath of India as Cambodia had to take from the USA before it pulled out of Vietnam.
It can be also visualized that since both the USA and Russia have asked Pakistan and India to sort out the matter directly between themselves, they are not yet clear on the likely outcome of this conflict. Therefore, Pakistan stands at the high moral ground in front of the world community and is likely to emerge as successful in this standoff. Pakistan should also support Turkey in its efforts to establish peace in Syria.
The author is a retired commodore of the Pakistan Navy, and can be reached at [email protected]