After the partition of 1947, Pakistan and India fought on different occasions over Kashmir. In April 1965 during a sharp and short conflict, the Indian forces were ejected from the area in the Rann of Kutch. India agreed on the ceasefire offered made by Pakistan but quickly after the span of almost five months, the Indian Army tried to cross the international border through Lahore and Kasur while formally declaring the war.
The war lasted for seventeen days approximately at the end of which the Pakistan Army captured 20 officers, 19 Junior Commissioned Officers, and 569 other ranks of the Indian Army. All the troops from the army, navy and air force gave a befitting reply to the enemy and also made records in dog fights. Pakistan Army has evolved since all the forces have been into battles with the neighboring country as well fighting against terrorism for the last two decades.
A difference between the forces then and now can be seen through the international interactions between the forces and the joint exercises drills which are increasing every year. To pay a tribute to our forces and exploring the glory which they have brought us as a nation, the following details will shed light on the efforts of the past and achievements of the present.
PAKISTAN AIR FORCE (PAF): A SYMBOL OF PRIDE FOR THE NATION
In the war of 1965, PAF struck hard its rival force and kept it reeling under tactics of shock and unpredictability. Many victories came to PAF pilots in the war.
The most distinguished among those victories was Sarfaraz Rafiqui’s heroic first and last missions as a combat leader. According to the official data, he and his wingmen shot down 9 enemy fighters. Another golden feather in Pakistan’s cap was put by MM Alam while downing 5 Indian Air Force fighters in a single sortie.
In the other notable attacks, Haider’s Sabres wiped out of the Mig-21 force at Pathankot, destroying altogether 14 aircraft and the brilliant strike led by Shabbir, catching asleep the bomber base near Calcutta, during which it destroyed almost an entire Canberra squadron as well as some Hunter fighters.
Where the zeal of our fighter pilots played an important role in defeating the enemy, the contribution of PAF’s B-57 bomber force is equally significant. They throughout the war wreaked nightly destruction and disruption at the deeper enemy airfields.
While talking to Minute Mirror, Group Captain Muhammad Bahroni Director Media, PAF said, “By the grace of Allah, PAF has always proved equal to the task and has proved beyond doubt to be “Pride of the Nation”. Our prime focus has always been on the enhancement of operational capabilities keeping privy to the defense requirements of Pakistan and prevailing geopolitical scenario.”
During the war, PAF’s decisive contribution to the land war also came from the F-86 air support force that paralyzed the Indian Army formations trying to penetrate into Kashmir, Sialkot, Lahore, and Kasur.
“In that particular war, PAF emerged triumphant over a five times larger force. And they performed up to the high standards set for it during the preceding eight years,” said Bahroni
Pakistan Air Force owes a debt of gratitude to Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who during his maiden visit to Risalpur in April 1948 provided strategic guidance to then infant PAF, to develop into an air force “Second to None”.
Over the course of time, PAF has developed into a formidable force through the sheer dedication and hard work of its personnel. PAF development to present heights has also been a result of our visionary leaders who were alive to the contemporary environment and future needs.
While describing furthermore Bahroni told that apart from the fact that PAF is in continuous pursuit of modernizing its fleet, PAF’s benchmark is the quality of training and the motivation of its personnel to defend the motherland, a fact that was proven on 27 February 2019.
With other great achievements, JF-17 aircraft also has been a great success story for Pakistan in general and PAF in particular. Not only did it fulfill the requirement of replacing PAF’s aging fleet with the state-of-the-art weapon system but it also gave impetus to the production facilities at PAC Kamra.
“Currently, JF-17 Blk I & II aircraft are in active service with several combats ready multi-role fighter squadrons capable of carrying a variety of contemporary air to air and air to surface weapons. At the same time, development and flight testing of the latest JF-17 variant Block-III aircraft are in full swing and the aircraft would soon be inducted in PAF offering significantly enhanced capabilities including AESA radar, integrated EW suite, fused sensors information, and the new generation of weapons,” said Bahroni.
While guarding the air of the nation, military training/ exercises & knowledge sharing strengthens overall PAF’s operational preparedness and allow its combat crew to learn from other nations.
Apart from an operational perspective, it creates a bond of enduring friendships and mutual understanding of each other’s cultural values.
According to the official data, PAF regularly participates in numerous training programs and exercises with various countries.
“Shaheen series exercises is one such example where PAF and PLAAF regularly conduct exercises featuring evolving scenarios to enhance cooperation and interoperability between the two air forces. Similarly, in addition to regularly participating in ATLC series of exercises with UAE, PAF has recently participated in exercises with Air Forces of Qatar, KSA, Turkey, and Azerbaijan which depicts the importance given to knowledge sharing through mutual experience,” Bahroni told Minute Mirror
Apart from the military application, PAF actively participates in nation-building efforts, and its services in the health and education sectors have been worthwhile. As the relief flights were undertaken by PAF in March 2020 the Air Transport fleet of PAF was assigned the arduous responsibility to Airlift medical equipment and relief goods from the Peoples’ Republic of China to help fight COVID-19 Pandemic in Pakistan.
Bahroni said, “Pakistan Air Force undertook relief operations in the fight against COVID-19. In this regard, PAF C-130 aircraft also transported Zaireen from Dalbandin to Skardu. PAF transport fleet was instrumental in supporting PIA to undertake flight operations during the pandemic in addition to flying in Covid vaccine from China.”
PAKISTAN NAVY (PN): DEFENDERS OF SEA FRONTIERS
Pakistan Navy has come a long way from an infancy stage to a credible naval force. The performance of PN in the past as well as after Pulwama crisis has been commendable where the force timely detected and foiled an Indian Navy submarine’s intrusion into Pakistani waters.
Alfred Thayer, a United States naval officer and historian once said, “Possession of sea power increases a country’s prestige, security and influence, weakness at sea leads to political and strategic blunders.”
In July 1965, a large portion of the Indian Navy was at Madras carrying out exercises with the British submarine Astute and the venue shifted to Vishakhapatnam in August. From the time of the Rann of Kutch operations, for the next four to five months the PN ships went to sea frequently and carried out intensive manoeuvres.
While exclusively talking to Minute Mirror Commodore (rtd) Naveed Ahmed, DS Research at PN war college said, “With a disparity of 5:1 in the strength of forces in Kashmir, it was not feasible at all to resist the Indian pressure along with the cease-fire line which was mounting by every passing hour. That is why to take the pressure off, Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam on the night of 31 August/ 1 September.”
The role assigned to PN was the maritime defense which included seaward defense of the ports, keeping the sea lines of communications open, escorting merchant ships, protection of coasts against amphibious assaults, interdiction of shipping, and assisting the army in the riverine operations in East Pakistan.
“Keeping in view of all those roles the units of PN were deployed to put them to maximum effective use. Our submarine was deployed off Bombay to look after the heavy units of the Indian Navy, the situation gave us the margin to carry out a really charged and offensive action against Dwarka without any resistance from the enemy,” said Ahmed.
After the successful Dwarka mission in which the task was to draw the heavy enemy units out of Bombay for the submarine attack, to destroy the radar installation at Dwarka, and to divert Indian air effort away from the North, the flotilla remained patrolling at dusk and dawn.
While shedding light on the details the Commodore said, “The city of Dwarka was completely blacked out and the target could only be identified on radar. It took four minutes to complete the bombardment and it went successful.”
Pakistan Navy has achieved a lot since then. Along with the strong defense mechanism, it has also started iteration of the multinational naval maritime exercise.
The seventh round of Aman exercises happened in 2021, which started on 12 February, in which participants from the naval forces of 45 countries came to the waters of the Arabian Sea.
“Aman exercise is our pride, where the opening ceremony held in the port of Karachi. It is a non-block exercise. A total of 45 navies were a part of Aman 21 with their vessels, aircraft, anti-terror units or delegates, involved in sea and harbor phases of the exercise,” said the Commodore.
KHYBER RIFLES: THE GUARDIANS OF KHYBER PASS
It is not like Pakistan had trouble with only one neighbor. Over the period of time where conventional war was fought between Pakistan and India on the east side of the border, the conflict with Afghanistan at the northwest side also never diminished.
Khyber Rifles, which are known as the guardian of the Khyber Pass is Pakistani paramilitary’s Frontier Corps which has the jurisdiction to guard the border with Afghanistan at Torkham. Torkham is one of the most important crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan as compared to the other four crossing points.
Torkham is a historic gateway between Pakistan and Afghanistan from where great kings, monarchs and warriors have passed from Central Asia to Sub-continent through the historic Khyber Pass.
To stop the infiltration from Afghanistan, Pakistan has started to build its state-of-the-art border management system (BMS) at Torkham, which will be completed by 2023 along with the integrated transit trade system (ITTMS).
Which is being established on 500 Kanal at Torkhum. After its completion over 10,000 cargo trucks and 25,000 pedestrians would cross the area per day against around 16,000 to 20,000 people and 700 to 900 cargo trucks crossing daily.
Along with the investment of almost 16 bn rupees for ITTMS which is completed 31 percent, another $500m investment has happened to put a fence for securing the border and monitoring the movement. The fence has been completed by 90 percent which will be completed in 2022.
Colonel Rizwan Commandant Khyber Rifles, while giving the briefing to the media said, “More than 90 percent of the fencing has been completed and the rest will be completed by 2022, to stop all kinds of illegal movement from Afghanistan”.
Pakistan shares an almost 2,640 kilometers long border with Afghanistan, which comprises 11 provinces of Afghanistan and two provinces of Pakistan. From this area 2280 kilometers of area is fenceable.
“The border area adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has been fenced completely, a small amount has been left in Chitral region, due to presence of heavy snow we are not able to fence it properly but we have BMS there”, said Rizwan.
With every passing day, new developments are happening in Afghanistan, and the flow of Afghan refugees increased from Pakistan to their native land Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. According to the official data provided by the border management more than 15 lac people have crossed the border from both sides since January 21.
During the visit, the media teams were taken to the Torkham terminal and Big Ben check post, which is approximately at the height of 3800 feet above sea level to get brief about the fencing mechanism.
With all its glory and grandeur, Pakistan Army has dedicated this year’s 6 September towards the families of the martyrs and a huge campaign was launched by Inter-Services Public Relations Pakistan to meet the families and tell them how big is their sacrifice for the stability of the nation. According to the official data, Pakistan has lost 83,000 lives during the war on terror that has cost the country almost US$126 billion. It is high time where we should be going out and reaching to the families of our heroes to tell them that THE NATION IS STANDING WITH THEM!