Dr Masood Khattak l

An article titled “Pakistan Navy under Chinese spell & it’s faltering Naval Strategy” was posted on Indian specialized defense website Bharat Shakti. While the title itself gives away the notion of being nothing more than a propaganda piece, a closer look reveals that the writer Ravi Shankar seemingly is inflicted with the same confusion that the modern Indian state apparatus finds itself in.

The article starts off with a reference to the joint Chinese-Pakistan naval exercise of “Sea Guardians 2020” and the author then builds up the case for the notion of Chinese domination of Pakistan. Owing to the growing cooperation with Chinese Navy and increase in acquisition from China, the author referred Pakistan navy as an “appendage of the Chinese” in the Indian Ocean and in the state of strategic confusion.  The author seems to skirt the facts as from the onset, Pakistan navy has been maintaining diversified platforms and equipments of western as well as Chinese origin.  Similarly Pakistan Navy is a founding member of most of the US/ West initiated collaborative Security arrangements in North Arabian Sea while at the same time maintains very close cooperation with Chinese Navy.  Contrarily Indian Navy until very recently has been completely relying on only Russian weapon systems.  India as a whole appears to be in a state of confusion. On one hand it is engaged in ventures of unipolar US grand strategy such as containment of China but on the other hand it proudly displays its memberships in multipolar groups alongside China such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Indian Strategic Confusion at the national level also has a trickledown effect on military hardware procurement as well where the Indian armed forces in general and Indian navy in particular is spending around 55% of its allocated budget on equipment procurement & modernization without any clear vision. Stephen P Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta have also aptly described this unbalanced approach of Indian military modernisation as “Arming without Aiming”.

The author then moves on to another familiar Indian trope, that of “religious radicalization” which is often used in attempts to portray Pakistan as a terrorist sponsor. While this may be right in relation to certain isolated incidents, wherein a few individuals might have been involved in extremism but due Pakistan’s zero tolerance policy and stringent measures adopted such people were brought to justice swiftly eradicating the menace of religious radicalization form within the Armed forces. The author has put a complete blanket on Indian incumbent BJP Govt state policy of turning India into Hindu and totalitarian state. Due to which, Indian state machinery itself has played a rather very dismal role in not only ignoring Hindutva radicalization among its military ranks but actively promoting it. The case of Col Purohit, a military intelligence official who co-opted military grade explosives in order to attack Indian citizens as well as Pakistani civilians aboard the Samjhauta Express is a case in point.

The author thereafter blames Pakistan navy for patronage of drug smugglers and turning a blind eye on illicit flow of drugs form Makran coast into the North Arabian Sea. This assertion actually flies in the face of proof documented in major drug busts carried out by the Pakistan navy. Over the last two years, Pakistan navy has carried out a large number of anti narcotic operations in the North Arabian Sea confiscating more than 20000 tons of Hashish, Heroin and Crystal valued at around four hundred million dollars.

Towards the end the real essence of the article is revealed when the author starts praising all branches of the Indian military with relation to the post Pulwama scenario. It becomes apparent that article had an underlying agenda of pushing the Indian narrative about its failed aggression attempt in Feb 2019 by denigrating Pakistan. Interestingly he sweeps aside Pakistan navy’s successful blocking of Indian Submarines into Pakistani waters  as “propaganda’ despite proof but largely stands mute about Indian Naval performance during the same time including the overwhelming failure of the entire Indian apparatus to detect Pakistan navy submarines during the venture. The author also seems to be not privy to information that during said strained period, Indian navy extended port call period of Indian navy ship Prabal in first week of March at Omani ports amid fear to be intercepted by Pakistan navy during passage from Oman waters to India.  

Dr Masood Khattak is Non-Resident Fellow at Maritime Study Forum, based in Islamabad.