COVER STORY

Remembering Our Warriors
Vice Admiral Tasneem

DJ’s A H AMIN carried out an extensive interview of this illustrious Submarine Commander of the Pakistan Navy and a decorated hero of both the 1965 and 1971 Wars.

Q. Please tell us something  about your early life, your parents, family?

I was born in 1935 in a village called Mianwal located in District Jullundher, East Punjab. Our ancestors most likely came from Iran and settled in this area and took up agriculture as their livelihood. In Tehsil Nakoder there were a number of Muslim (mostly Arain Community) as well as Sikh Villages. Choudri Muhammad Ali former Prime Minister of Pakistan also came from the same area and his village was nearby. Most of our elders including my grandfather Choudri Muhammad Ibrahim and my father Choudri Muhammad Yaqub went to school at Shahkot which was the only high school catering for about ten villages. I was the eldest child followed by two sisters and two brothers.

My father being in Government Service got posted to Jhang in early Forties where we stayed till about 1970 when my parents shifted to Burewala where my father acquired a modest house and some land for post retirement life.

I started my early school in a Madrissa located in a Mohallah Bhabhrana of Jhang Saddar. This Mohallah was known by a Desi Dispensary run by Hakim Wali Muhammad mostly undertaking surgery without use of any western medicines. There was a large “Neem” tree, leaves of which dried or green, were the natural antibiotics which Hakim Sahib used in abundance. Any wounds accidental, or surgical were covered with a thick layer of “Neem Pattas” and dressing changed weekly. No infection, no antibiotics, no multivitamins, no fuss and the wound healed. Son of Hakim Sahib Dr. Muhammad Ismail was class fellow of my uncle Choudri Abdul Rashid and eventually Dr. Ismail served as an eye specialist in Kings Hospital, Madina Saudi Arabia. For his services and devotion to medical profession he was one of the first Pakistanis to have been given Saudi nationality and every child knew his name till he retired. I last met him in 1977 and was impressed with his humbleness, modesty and urge to serve the people.

At the Madrissa School in addition to Quran we also did other subjects, therefore, it was a balance education. We sat on the ground and the teacher used the chair along with his dreadful stick. I still remember Master Muhammad Aslam who started with me at Madrissa School and by sheer hard work and self-education ended up at the College, where I became his student once more.

After four years at Madrissa School, I joined 5th class at Islamia High School Jhang where Professor Abdus Salam (Nobel Prize) was also a student a few years earlier. Islamia High School was run and supported by Anjuman Khadim-ul-Muslimeen. This Anjuman was founded by Shaikh Ghulam Yasin who was also the first President. After his death Shaikh Elahi Buksh, Col. Abid Hussain (father of Syeda Abida Hussain) and Shaikh Abdul Majeed headed the Committee and raised funds for the school. Mosque was part of the school and Zuhr prayers were mandatory. Sunni and Shias were like brothers and on many outside school functions we prayed together. Emphasis was on quality education specially the science subjects. There was no electricity and petromax lamp was used for late night classes which was an improvement over the Classic lantern. Our Headmaster at Islamia School was Khawja Kamaluddin who had excellent command over English and a commanding voice. There was pin drop silence in the class when he uttered “Oh Boys Pay Attention”. I did my Matric in 1950 from Islamia High School Jhang and joined Government College before being selected for 6th JSPCTS Course at Quetta.

Q. Which individuals in your opinion influenced you most formatively?

My mother certainly, till I joined the Navy. She was a grand lady who was extremely intelligent endowed with great organizational skills, hardworking, loving, caring and always sacrificing for her husband and children. The year 1947 was a bloody year as far as Muslims of East Punjab were concerned including my family. Due to education, I was with my father at Jhang but my mother along with two sisters and brothers had to be rescued from the jaws of death because our village was burnt by the Sikhs and they executed publicly Choudri Muhammad Aslam the village leader. This sad episode is covered in the Urdu Novel “KHAK AUR KHOON” by late Nasim Hijazi. I had lost all hopes of seeing my family and used to cry at night missing them. My father, though depressed, kept my morale up and we both used to pray for their safe arrival. God eventually answered our prayers when one day suddenly my mother along with four children turned up. I was at school and someone brought the great news and I rushed home.

Q. What were your interests/hobbies as a young man?

I grew up during the Second World War and due to strong government media one was inclined towards the glamour of the uniform and the Armed Forces. I liked sports and football was my favourite game, at times even at the cost of my studies. I was good at studies and preferred science subjects over arts. Frankly, I liked adventure and, therefore, aeroplanes came first.

Q. Was the Navy a burning passion in your life scheme or did you join it because of some situational reasons?

Frankly, I ended up in the Navy as a routine but submarines have always been my passion even though the first Submarine was acquired by the Pakistan Navy nearly ten years after I joined the Navy. At Royal Naval College Dartmouth my Divisional (Platoon) Officer was Lieut. Holloway, a submariner, who inspired me about submarines by narrating heroic tales of World War II Submarine Commanders. He even arranged a short trip to sea in a submarine for our class which was adventurous and wonderful. Subsequently, while serving as ADC to President Ayub Khan I requested to be released so that I could join the first crew for acquisition of PN Submarine GHAZI from United States.

Q. Please tell us about the cadet life?

Having spent about 6 months in Cadet Training School at PNS Himalaya, Manora Karachi, nine of us were selected to go to British Naval Academy at Dartmouth in 1954. While we were at Dartmouth, Cadet Imranullah Khan (Later Lt/Gen.Imran) was at Sandthurst. We used to live at the same hotel in London during term breaks. At Dartmouth we had the British and Indian Cadets and Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries joined us later on board the training ship for sea training. On return from England as Midshipmen we were, under auspices of SEATO, sent to Australia for remainder of our training. On completion of our training I was commissioned in Royal Australian Navy on Ist January, 1957. Four months later I returned to Royal Naval College Greenwich for what can be probably described as Junior Officers War Course coupled with heavy dose of academics including nuclear science subjects. After graduation from Royal Naval College Greenwich there were a number of technical and operational courses at Plymouth and Portsmouth. On completion of these I returned to Pakistan and joined PNS Jahangir as a Lieutenant for my sea watch keeping. PNS Jahangir was an efficient ship under the command of Commander Ibne Ali. We participated in CENTO and Commonwealth maritime exercises. Ship was later based at Chittagong where we frequently patrolled along the  maritime boundary with Burma. On return of the ship from East Pakistan I did a short TAS (Torpedo and Anti-Submarine) Course at Himalaya. Subsequently I was selected as ADC to President and in March 1961 assumed my new assignment at Rawalpindi at the President House (Now COAS House).

Life at the President House was tough and simple. After departure of Captain Akhtar Ayub Khan as Army ADC we were only two, Flt. Lt. Anwar ul Islam as Air Force ADC and myself as Naval ADC. According to President’s wishes Military Secretary represented the Army while Navy and Air Force were represented by the two ADCs. One ADC was on duty for 24 hrs. with the President and other looked after the Begum Sahiba. Sherdil battalion was performing duties at the President House. Lt. Col. Naqvi was followed by Lt. Col.  Niazi as the Commanding Officer. Captain Asif Nawaz followed Captain Gohar Ayub as adjutant and Major Fazle Haq along with his juicy stories was commandant President Body Guard. President Ayub lived simply and so did we. Our living quarters including office were not air-conditioned and there was only one air-conditioned car in the President House which could only be used by the President and not even the Begum Sahiba. I remember once accompanying Begum Ayub to Peshawar for family condolences in scorching heat of summer in a non- air-conditioned car. She preferred to rough it out both ways but did not use or ask for the only air-conditioned car. Believe me that we the ADCs paid 4 annas a mile for use of car for non-duty purposes. For visits abroad the President always travelled by commercial flights (Boeing 720 mostly) and there were no special “treats” on board. Entourage for visits abroad was small and President did not mind staying at the Ambassador’s residence to save huge hotel bills. President Ayub being Head of State and Head of Government did not create much tension in summoning ministers and secretaries at five minutes notice. He mostly used green line (dialling himself) for discussion on files. Everyone answered his own green line and was expected to do so.

Q. Any contemporaries or senior in the Naval Academy who impressed you and who played a major role in formation of perceptions in your cadet life?

As I said earlier my Divisional Officer (Platoon Commander) at Royal Naval College Dartmouth who inspired me about the Submarine Service.

Q. What was your impressions about the political life of Pakistan in the 1950s?

In Fifties I was mostly away at high seas undergoing tough sea training. Landmark was 1956 when as a young Sub/Lieut I received my first medal (republic medal) and started to write P.N. (Pakistan Navy) instead of RPN (Royal Pakistan Navy) after my name. After 1956, politics at home, as I recall, became an arena for a bunch of wrestlers as governments fell in rapid successions and Ministers changed loyalties overnight to retain their jobs. We used to, while training in England, feel embarrassed with state of affairs at home. We kept on hoping against hopes that somehow democracy will work in Pakistan but it was not to be so. Therefore, notwithstanding my training with British Navy which inculcates Democracy being the only acceptable form of government, I along with other young officers took a sigh of relief when Armed Forces took over the Government in October, 1958.

Q. How was the row between Admiral Siddiq Chaudri and Ayub viewed in the navy?

President Ayub is dead and Admiral Chaudri is alive but according to me both behaved like great gentlemen in this matter. Admiral Chaudri differed and as per service traditions resigned in grace. President Ayub on his part let bygones be bygones and never “chased” the Admiral thereafter or hindered their family business of BECO. As a matter of fact while his ADC President Ayub asked me a couple of times to inquire discreetly if all was well with Admiral Chaudri and his business concern. They both met in public with mutual respect and regards.

Q. What was the standard of training and professionalism like in the Navy of 1950s?

In Fifties most of the officers trained with Royal Navy and other foreign navies. We received the same training as their own cadets and there was no mercy if you faulted. Sole objective was to achieve highest degree of professionalism for the young officers.  Even mess life was part of the training.

Q. What are your recollections about 1965 war?

While ADC to President I got married in March, 1963 and then having left Nahid to complete her studies at the college left for Submarine training at United States Submarine School, New London, Connecticut. Lt/Cdr. K. R. Niazi was the Commanding Officer designate and I was given the assignment of Operations Officer. After the Basic Course we were assigned to various U.S. Submarines for sea training. I joined USS Angler, a World War II Submarine, under the command of Commander James Rooney who was an excellent person and helped me qualify in diving, torpedo firing and other operations of the Submarine. He was courageous enough to even give me independent watch at night, a great responsibility which I discharged with utmost devotion, alertness, presence of mind and correct reaction to emergencies. Before commissioning of PNS/M GHAZI in June 1964 three of us (Lt.Cdr. Niazi, Lt.Cdr. Bazal, myself) qualified a prospective commanding officer course with other allied officers mostly from Latin America. Crew of GHAZI was well  formed up and efficiently integrated. Being the first Submarine, we felt very proud and Commanding Officer displayed exemplary leadership. He led us from the front and forged us into a fighting crew by the time we returned to Karachi in Aug, 1964. Submarine service owes a special debt to Admiral A.R. Khan then

C-in-C Navy for his affection to the new service. He protected us from usual service jealousies and gave us special treatment so that we may overcome the teething problems and other difficulties normally faced by a new arm of the service. Therefore, Admiral A.R. Khan is truly founder of the submarine service and people of my seniority cannot forget it.  A few months later I took over as Executive Officer (Second-in-Command) of PNS/M GHAZI. Rann of Kutch crises had started followed by tension and action in Kashmir. PNS/M Ghazi undertook a couple of patrols in enemy waters off Bombay and by shadowing Indian ships tested their defences and gained confidence. By good planning we were already in our area off Bombay on 6 September when Indians attacked on international border. The morale was high and we were itching to attack any Indian warship, not knowing that Indian Navy felt safe in the harbour and would not venture out due to presence of Ghazi. We came to Periscope depth and heard President Ayub’s speech which was a great morale booster. Towards the second week of September Ghazi had to return discreetly to Karachi for 24 hours to rectify a defect concerning our ECM (Electric Counter Measures) Mast. We returned to our war station and still found the Indian Navy bottled up in harbours. Incidentally government had not permitted attack on Merchant Shipping so War Ships were the only legitimate targets. This enabled our surface fleet to bombard Dwarka which was a daring operation without any air cover. During third week of September a short time after sunset we detected two Indian Naval Warships while at Periscope depth. The Commanding Officer (Commander Niazi) had a good look at the target and conveyed parameters (speed, course, draft etc) of the target to fire control coordinator (myself). He was also gracious enough to invite me for a quick look through the Periscope to confirm his observations on the target, which I did without hesitations. We prepared four Torpedoes and after I confirmed good fire control solution on Torpedo Data Computer, the C.O. ordered “Shoot” and torpedoes left one after the other for the target. Two torpedoes scored a hit damaging  the target and thus putting it out of action for rest of the war.

Q. How would you compare the Indian Navy with Pakistan Navy as you saw it in 1965 war in  terms of junior level leadership, intermediate level leadership, higher leadership, naval gunnery, etc.?

I have no hesitation in saying that we were far superior in 1965 war as far as leadership at all levels is concerned. Attack on Dwarka speaks for the excellence of Naval gunnery.

Q. Any forgotten heroes as you saw in 1965 war?

A higher recognition should have been given to participants of Dwarka operation.

Q. Any operational opportunities that Pakistan missed in terms of Naval warfare?

The Admiral elected not to answer this question.

Q. Please tell us about your service profile from 1965 till 1971?

I continued to serve as Second-in-Command of PNS Submarine Ghazi after 1965. After the war sanctions were imposed and it became impossible to get spare parts for Ghazi. PN Dockyard was manned by real professionals who through innovation coupled with exemplary dedication, kept the submarine operational. I assumed command of PNS Submarine Ghazi in March 1967 and continued to operate with restricted depth for safety reasons. Subsequently Turkish Navy after tacit approval from the Americans, agreed to refit Ghazi at their Gulchuk Shipyard. By now the submarine was not fit to dive and most of the equipment including engines needed major overall. Suez Canal was closed and voyage round the Cape amounted to half way around the world. C-in-C Navy, Late Admiral Ahsan personally asked me if I was confident to take Ghazi in the present condition to Turkey. Having faith in God and my crew we accepted the challenge though at some risk, and sailed for Turkey. My batchmate and good friend Lt/Cdr. Yousuf Raza was second-in-command. Lt.Cdr. Kadri and Sair were technical officers who through their sheer hard work kept us going. We stopped for fuel/ration at Mombasa, Lorenco Mark, Simonstown, Luanda, Toulon and Izmir before arriving at Gulchak Shipyard after a voyage of 2 months. While off Simonstown we almost had a collision with a super tanker whose autopilot malfunctioned and she would have split the submarine in two, had I not gone full astern (reverse) a few seconds earlier. The pooping sea brought the water upto the main induction (Inlet for Engine Air) and it would have flooded the Engine Room if God had not dawned wisdom on us earlier to shut this 36” hole and instead take the suction through snorked Induction Pipe which is at a higher level. Well, such are the hazards of the sea life and all is well if it ends well. After the prerefit trials I handed over the command of Ghazi to Lt/Cdr.Yousuf Raza and returned to Karachi to prepare for manning of French Submarines in France. We learnt French language at Karachi/Paris and subsequently arrived Toulon (France) to translate heaps of French Documents into English. Crew went through rigorous training programme on board French Submarines mostly using French language as means of communication. French Navy went out of the way to look after us and provided excellent training. I took command of PNS/M HANGOR (First Daphne Class Submarine) at French Naval Base Brest on 01 Dec’ 1969. Admiral Muzuffar Hassan C-in-C Navy and Mr. S. K. Dehlavi our Ambassador were present at the ceremony. After 3 months of sea trials in miserable weather of English Channel and subsequent operational work up at French S/M Base at Toulon, PN Submarines Hangor and Shuskuk sailed for home in Sept 1970. Once again the voyage was round the Cape and it took us three months to arrive at Karachi Port in Dec 1970. The President and C-in-C Navy came on board and greeted the crew.

Q. Please tell us about your experiences in the 1971 war?

Enough has been written about Naval side of 1971 war including a number of books by Indian writers. Briefly, things were heating up in East Pakistan and war clouds were visible over the horizon. I volunteered and NHQ approved a patrol in Enemy Waters in Aug 1971 to gather intelligence and pick up vital operational information for war time submarine operations. This was one of the longest patrols (over 30 days) by a Daphne Class Submarine. It helped us to build confidence and to test our stamina and equipment under wartime exacting conditions. On the night of 21/22 Nov when Indian Army crossed the International Border in East Pakistan we sailed again with full wartime load of Torpedoes and Hangor was on station off Bombay by about 26 Nov. A serious defect in seawater circulating system developed which required docking the submarine to effect repairs. It would have been shame all round returning to Karachi so soon. Therefore, with consultation and support of my officers and crew we decided to take risk. We rigged the submarine as a fishing boat (night vision), listed her heavily by shifting water in tanks, kept vigilance for enemy and with faith in God managed to rectify the defect within 36 hours. During the night one Enemy Warship approached us. We would have been sitting duck if he had opened fire. But I resisted the natural instinct to dive and kept my fingers crossed. The ship closed to about 1000 yards and then taking us to be a fishing boat turned back and left us. Such is the luck which favours the Brave who take risk. After rectifying our defect we were returning to our station off Bombay when on the night of 2/3 Dec 1971 Indian Fleet (8 ships) left Bombay and passed over us when Hangor was at 50 meters depth. It was an excellent opportunity to attack but in absence of NHQ orders to ‘shoot’ one could not act on his own. I do not think that Higher Military Command at Rawalpindi ever realised that three Pakistani Submarines were on their War Stations since end of November and, therefore, should have been authorized to attack  ‘Targets of opportunity’. Code word giving permission to attack Indian War Ships was received on 4 December and we started to look for targets.

On night of 2/3 December the Indian Fleet was heading towards our waters and, therefore, I broke Radio Silence to inform NHQ about the enemy movement. Indians naturally intercepted this transmission and located my position. Instead of despatching a hunter killer group the Indian Naval Ships altogether avoided the area while transiting in and out of Bombay. It was frustrating to see lucrative targets passing outside my area and range. On about 6 December, I requested NHQ to shift my area and in anticipation of approval headed for the new area. Approval from NHQ came promptly and by 8 December Submarine Hangor stationed herself at the middle of New Area. We could hear SONAR of Enemy Ships and it took us some time to establish their Search Pattern. We were operating in shallow depth with bathy conditions extremely favourable for ships to detect submarines. Similarly sea was flat calm and any use of periscope, even for short duration, would be immediately picked up by Enemy Radars and sure suicide for the submarine. Therefore, we closed the two targets at 50 meters depth with caution, prudence and exercising all professionalism to avoid our own detection. At about 2000 hours one target came within firing range and with excellent fire control solution one torpedo was fired. The torpedo homed on to the target, passed under and did not explode. Immediately we turned round at high speed and fired second torpedo on the second ship. The torpedo exploded under the magazine of INS KUKRI and the huge explosion broke the ship in two and she sank in less than two minutes causing heavy casualties. KUKRI was ship of the Squadron Commander Captain Mohindera Nath Mollah who went down with the ship. Meanwhile, third torpedo was fired on Enemy Ship closing in fast to attack Hangor. The ship on hearing the torpedo reversed course, increased speed to outrun the torpedo. The torpedo hit her at long distance causing severe damage. Indians lost about 250 men in this action including Squadron Commander Captain M.N. Mullah. For the next three days Hangor was subjected to extensive depth charge attacks. Someone in the crew kept the count and according to him it came to be 156 attacks during this period. An extensive air search combined with surface ships made our life miserable but with intelligent evasive action we managed to survive these attacks and arrived in Karachi safely after the ceasefire.

Having trained very hard including patrols the Hangor Crew had become efficient, well integrated and above all motivated for war. It was a team effort where everyone did his bit and did it well. I had the privilege to command an outstanding, intelligent and hard-working set of officers proven by the point that later on one made CNS (Admiral Bokhari) two Vice Admirals (A.U. Khan and myself) one Rear Admiral (R.A. Kadri) two Commodores (Waseem and Pasha). Others would have gone up too if they had stayed in the service. In deference to intelligence and professionalism of my officers I tolerated free discussion (a trait I picked up from Admiral Niazi while serving on board Ghazi) even if it was pain in the neck at times. Hangor action being a team effort I wish everyone of the 52 crew to have been rewarded but sadly it could not be so. Government awarded four SJ’s, four TJ’s and a number of Imtiazi Sanads. I, however, morally share my second SJ with all my officers, CPOs and Sailors who made it possible for us to sink first warship by a submarine torpedo since Second World War. I owe profound gratitude to all my crew members for their loyalty, dedication, hard work, professionalism and support given to me during the war. 

Q. How would you rate the performance of the Pakistan Navy in the 1971 war?

Keeping in mind the constraints Navy did well. We lost a destroyer and a minesweeper while Indians lost KUKRI and damage to another Surface Ship. Loss of submarine GHAZI was due to operational accident and Indians have never claimed it as such.

Return of surface fleet to harbour after loss of PNS Khaiber by Indian missile attack, however, did not go well with rank and file. It was not exactly a morale booster. I am sure some more respectable way could have been found to maintain the  “fleet in being” while remaining at sea. I appeared before Hamud-ur-Rahman Commission and said so in answer to their query. I was a bit surprised when released portion of HR report did not recommend any action against those (mostly retired or dead) who were architects of this decision.

Q. Did the Navy suffer as a service in the period 1958-71 because the country was ruled by the army?

Not really. President Ayub got the first submarine (GHAZI) from the Americans and also provided funds for procurement of three DAPHNE Class Submarines from France. During General Zia’s time two AGOSTA Submarines were also added to our fleet. Similarly Air Arm of Pakistan Navy has expanded during Army rule.  As a matter of fact most of our Senior Helicopter Pilots did their training with the Army. Actual issue is Army’s perception regarding role of Surface Ships. It is not appreciated that surface ships are an essential part of any three dimensional modern Navy. Sixteen million tons of liquid cargo alone is imported for economic survival of the country and, therefore, going to war by halting country’s economic activity is absurd.

Q. Please tell us about your service profile from 1971 till retirement?

I left Command of PNS/M HANGOR in February 1972 and after one year at NHQ as Director of Submarine operations assumed duties as Commander Under Water Forces. In 1974 I joined United States Naval War College at Newport and graduated in 1975 after one year war course. On return to Pakistan I became “Directing Staff” at the P.N. Staff College, Karachi. In 1976, on promotion, I became Director Naval Operations and then Naval Secretary at NHQ. From 1978 to 1981 I was posted at Paris as Defence, Army & Naval Attache where I was also promoted Commodore. On return to Pakistan I assumed Command of Gearing Class Surface Ship PNS TAIMUR and also Commander Destroyer Squadron 25. Subsequently I was Commandant Navy Staff College and from there I moved to Naval Headquarters as ACNS (Training). In 1984 I was promoted to Rear Admiral and posted to NDC as first CI (ND) a newly created post. It was at NDC (1984-87) that I met then Brig. Pervez Musharraf and many of the other three stars recently retired or presently serving. From 1987-88 I was Dy. Chief of Naval Staff (Personnel) at NHQ and from there I went to Karachi to assume duties as Fleet Commander (1988-1990). As Fleet Commander I was promoted to three stars. From 1990 - 1991, I was Commander Karachi. In November 1991, I became Chairman, PNSC and the Chairman, Karachi Port Trust (KPT) from where I retired in November, 1994.

Q. Please tell us something about your tenure as Chairman KPT?

This question should be asked to Port Users for a final judgement. Suffice to say that I took special interest in Port Development. World Bank put our development projects in category “A”, a rare distinction for any Pakistani organization. I handled labour unions at the Port with affection and firmness. They cooperated and Port never closed for a day on account of labour dispute.

Q. What is the solution to the continuing Joint Warfare Higher Command structure in Pakistan? The JSHQ has so far failed to function as an effective higher headquarters and Joint Operations cannot be effectively conducted by a country without an effective Higher Defence Organisation?

Let us agree that JSHQ has failed and it is a drain on National Exchequer. Follow the Indian Model where each Service Chief acts in rotation as Chairman JCSC with a small secretariat at his disposal.

Q. The “submarine affair” has been a hot issue since the last six years. How do you view it operationally, procedurally and institutionally, i.e was the decision to buy the French Submarines in the best operational interest of the Navy and how it has affected the Navy as an institution etc?

Leaving the cost, kickbacks & commission etc. aside, I feel it was correct decision to buy French Submarines for very valid reasons including technical, weapons, and training continuity. My only observation is that we should have “pushed hard” for a more discreet/durable Propulsion System.

Q. It has been asserted in some quarters that the Navy had to bear the brunt of the flak in defence deals simply because it was viewed as a service which was less politically potent than the Army. Compare the Army deals which have been equally controversial but have never been subjected to a “Witch hunt” unlike the one conducted againsts Admiral Mansoorul Haq?

I agree to the extent that every thing seems to be O.K. for the service which spends 70% of the budget but nothing is right with spenders of thirty percent. It beats all human logic.

Q. It has been asserted by some Naval analysts (Commander Azam etc) that the Indians can effectively block Karachi. How far is this correct?

Indians can declare War Zones off Karachi and Balochistan Coast, sending a message to foreign merchant ships that they enter these areas at their own risk and foreign ships are liable to search by Indians for carrying ‘war material’ to Pakistan. These two Indian intentions backed by visible Indian Naval Force will discourage foreign merchant ships into our ports. Also insurance and freight rates will go sky high. No foreign sailor will risk his life for Pakistan and our own merchant marine can carry only fraction of our vital cargo. Next step for Indian Navy would naturally be to interdict merchant ships coming from Europe, Persian Gulf, Far East and Africa. Therefore, we will probably survive if it is a short war of less than 10 days. Anything longer, country’s economic activity will come to a grinding halt and the rest I leave it to your judgement.

Q. What future strategy do you propose for Pakistan in the Maritime/Naval sphere?

Three Arms of the Navy can be best compared with an aircraft where fuselage represents the surface and each wing represents air and sub-surface Arm. For the aircraft to be airworthy three elements must exist together. No Navy can simply exist on submarines and aircraft. The future strategy should be to undertake hightech build up for two offensive arms (Submarine & Air) and go for a low cost midtech build up of the surface fleet. I do not agree with our Nelsons for high cost ($ 300 million plus) surface ships because no commander will risk their loss at sea and 1971 history will repeat itself in “preserving” them by returning to harbour. Merchant marine and ports/harbours add to marine to about 100 ships in private sector according to a pragmatic/liberal shipping policy should have taken place yesterday. Similarly Gwadar Port should have been constructed twenty years ago.

Q. Please tell us something about your present retired life and daily routine?

I am presently working as a Senior Executive Vice President for Shahzad Group of Companies mostly dealing in oil and gas sector. We have concessions in Sindh Province and have drilled four wells in collaboration with other partners. By the grace of God we have found gas in three wells. From the first well, we are supplying gas to Sui Southern since December 2000. I work 9 to 5, six days a week, frankly a bit harder than sometime one works in the Navy. In Private Sector there is rest only after 5 p.m., therefore, I do miss my afternoon nap. Visiting fields in Sindh with summer temperature soaring to above 45oC is tough but I remain busy and keep fit by taking regular 4 miles jog/walk every alternate day. Alhumdo-Lilla! I devote considerable time to our grandchildren whenever they visit us, specially our 8-year-old granddaughter Shahzil who is very intelligent and I took her to Governor House Lahore for a special get-together of our course, 6th JSPTCS (9th PMA). She was thrilled to have been photographed with Grand Father Governor Safdar and other surviving Grand Fathers from our course.

Q. What measures do you recommend to raise the morale of the Pakistan Navy in the present scenario with one of the ex-naval chiefs being subjected to legal proceedings in the USA?

Morale of the Navy is the responsibility of the CNS and, therefore, this question better be addressed to him. However, I would be less than honest if, as a retired officer who has given best part of his life to the Navy, I didn’t admit my own low morale on reading these headlines in the press. The matter is under investigation and may be subjudice, therefore, one has to be careful in his comments.

If one former Naval Chief is under investigation, there are many former Naval Chiefs who have during their tenure made significant contribution towards building up the Navy. They have resigned on principle rather than continue against their conscions. One even died in office while working extremely hard for the service. They even today enjoy tremendous respect amongst sailors and junior officers which is so visible during service functions. So let us please see the positive side of it all.

Q. The “Naval Mutiny of 1946” was an important event in our history. We understand that many of its principal leaders were Muslims. Why is it that this event has been totally ignored in Pakistan?

I was eleven years old when the Naval mutiny took place in 1946. Someone like Admiral Sharif would be more qualified to answer this question.

Q. Which Head of State in your view had the finest understanding about the importance of Navy/Maritime sector in Pakistan’s history?

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto no doubt. After 1971 he gave special attention to the Navy. He came to NHQ to listen to us. After the presentation he gave a masterly summing up in stating that defence of the country is to be seen in totality encompassing land, sea and air and, therefore, we should see it from supreme national angle and disregard narrow service thinking.

Post-1971 we also had at Naval Headquarters Captain K.H. Zia as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) who was one of the most intelligent officers that I have served with. He had the vision to introduce Air to Surface Missiles and the Air Platform, Maritime Headquarters and back up Surveillance and Data/Communication System, integrated Command and Control and much more. Notwithstanding his ulcers, impatience and short temper I rate him as one of the finest officers that I have come across. Unfortunately, as always, in his zeal to get on at break neck speed he caused annoyance and thus became victim of service politics and intrigues. In Armed Forces under the military law there is no dearth of valid rules/regulations to retire someone prematurely if it is so desired. In premature retirement of Captain Zia, Navy lost an outstanding officer and immense contribution he would have made to the service.

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