Operation Trident and its follow-up Operation Python were naval offensive operations launched on Pakistan’s port city of Karachi by the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The memory of the attack is not a pleasant one, as the Pak Navy lost the Minesweeper PNS Muhafiz, Destroyer PNS Khaibarsunk, MV Venus Challenger. Karachi harbour fuel storage tanks were destroyed and over 100 sailors lost their lives. The aim was to create an economic blockade, and Pakistan cannot afford to face such a threat ever again.

At the launch of the largest tanker constructed in Karachi shipyard, the Prime Minister made an indication of greater cooperation with Turkey in the construction of ships in the future as well. The 17000-tonnne heavy tanker fleet that was being inaugurated is a more contemporary version of its counterparts in the Pakistan Navy, has the capability to stay at sea for at least three months, and can provide dry and liquid cargo to other navy ships at sea. This support ship seems necessary if the Pakistan Navy were to expand its operations in the Indian Ocean, which it is likely to do once the Gwadar port has been completed. Karachi’s ports are currently the only connection Pakistan has in the way of trade routes through the sea.

Turkey’s role in this process is welcoming, and judging by the specifics of the tanker just built, Turkey’s shipbuilders are aware of modern techniques and necessities. Added to that is the boon of a continuing partnership with Turkey, which has not been affected by the Pak-Turk schools’ episode.

95 percent of the country’s trade comes in or goes out through the sea. With increased trade and an unfriendly neighbour that shares waters with Pakistan, it is high time that the Pakistan Navy is brought up to speed with the rest of the world. Pakistan’s Navy cannot hope to catch up with the Indian Navy, considering the state neglected to do this in the past 69 years, but establishing a fleet that is capable of ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean is imperative to increasing sea trade in the near future.

This does not mean that the Pakistan Navy should now start taking in part in the arms race that the armies of both countries are currently involved in, but there can be an increased presence in the Indian Ocean as a deterrent and the fleet should be capable enough to protect any trade ships that serve to profit Pakistan.