BY CAPT SHAHID HUSSAIN

TThe moment is epochal, as a Muslim sovereign inspects his armed forces as Commander-in-Chief for the first time ever, since 1858 AD, when Bahadur Shah-Zafar, the last emperor of India was finally deposed by the western imperialists. It is momentous, for it exemplifies the wave of resurgence that prevailed, and independence movements that were to follow, in the entire Asia, Africa, Middle and Far East in the face of western hegemony. As epitome of the forces of liberty Quaid-e-Azam is hallowed by the future Van Guard of the defenders of a nation, whose very inception was a manifestation of the right of self-determination of a people, and not a product of a military venture, and that was unparalleled in political history of nations.

The acute foresight of a statesman was vividly displayed by Quaid-e-Azam when he devoted most, in his deliberations and commitments, to the defense needs of emergent Pakistan within just over a year that he lived as the supreme leader. The advent of Pakistan was not only unique conceptually but geographically too. There were detractors critical of two wings divided by a hostile land, but for a great nation-builder these were ranklings of petty minds devoid of in-depth strategic insights and oblivious to the callings of muslim destiny of India. It’s not far-fetched that when Quaid-e-Azam finally decided to inspect his armed forces formally, it was Pakistan Navy. Notwithstanding that Naval Arm stood first in the order of seniority at the inception of Pakistan it was also imperative, it retained its predominant status commensurate with the emerging geography of Pakistan in particular, and geopolitical state of the Sub-Continent in general.

        The unity of ‘two peoples’ inhabiting noncontiguous land, transcending all considerations of ethnicity and cultural diversity, uniting into a nation on principals of faith, was exceptional; if only, it could equally be matched by socio-economic magnanimity, political zeitgeist and synergic dynamism of Quaid-e-Azam by his successors. The military dimensions of the causes that lead to the separation of East Pakistan lay dormant in circumstances that involved the Army leadership into political activism. Negating the grand strategy of domination of the high seas and its vital sea lanes, with the ultimate aim to creating a blue sea navy as envisaged by Quaid-e-Azam and pursued by his immediate successors, the army leadership after having acquired political power evolved the doctrine of “the defense of east lies in west” giving central role to the Army, and consigning Navy into its secondary role of costal defense, and unilaterally placing Navy below army in the order of seniority of Arms. It was tragic that the strategic need of strong naval fleet armed with at least one carrier group, and bolstered by a mechanized army that thrived on mobility rather then number of troops - not to mention a viable tactical Air force equally poised in both wings - was over looked by the politicized military leadership of our nation. It was to be traded for a redundant policy of “strength in numbers” that never addressed the requirements of a qualitative, unified defensive approach with an overwhelming bias towards sustenance of lines of communications betwixt our two wings.                                     

    Brisk and resolute, and close at hand to Quaid-e-Azam, marches Lt Barkat Hussain, the parade commander and officer of the guard. Hailing from a clan of traditional soldiers, and a soil that bore many a sons that embellish the chapters of valor and gallantry in the annals of Pakistan’s Military history claiming the highest military honors; he possessed a military bearing not easy to emulate. This, complimented by an exceptional record of service and professional competence, qualified him to be the first ‘Joint Services Parade Commander’ of independent Pakistan. Proving his salt latter in the crucial years of early sixties he was to accomplish as its Commanding Officer the uphill task of recommissioning of the then de-commissioned P.N.S. Babur, the largest war ship and the only Battle Cruiser acquired by Pakistan Navy, and  held the highest position in naval training as the ‘Director Naval Training’ in the crucial pre-war years that was instrumental in the out right success of ‘Battle of Dawarka’ and the unassailable position Pakistan Navy retained through out the first all out war in 1965 between Pakistan and India.

 Rear Admiral James Wilfred Jafford, who follows, had the distinction of being the first C-in-C Royal Pakistan Navy; A diehard officer who had the interests of Pakistan navy close at heart unlike many of his British contemporaries.

He was most diligent and forthright in his dealings with Indian and British Governments in the initial raising and procurement of naval assets for Royal Pakistan Navy. It was for his devotion and affinity with the Nation of Pakistan that he was retained to command Pakistan Navy for two consecutive terms after independence.

    Next proceeds Vice Admiral [then Commodore] H.M.S. Chaudhry, one of the most prodigious sons of Pakistan. He was the first Muslim to be commissioned in Royal Indian Navy and latter was to be the first Pakistani C-in-C Royal Pakistan Navy, and consequently Pakistan navy, after its redesignation in 1956. A paragon of moral and military courage he acted out feets of valor in naval combat beyond the call of duty as a young officer in Second World War. As C-in-C he would not relent in compromising the role of navy in the strategic defense needs of Pakistan in the face of critical opposition by the military rulers of the time. With utter disregard for personnel convenience, and in face of imminent threat to his carrier, he would persist in pursuing a defense policy that most suited and was envisaged by the founders of the Nation. This was to incur acute displeasure of the establishment that was pro Army. Indomitable till the last, he would maintain the high moral ground and resign the service in the best interest of the nation.

Seen next to him is Cdr Abdul Rashid who held important command and staff appointments in the formative years of Pakistan navy. Col Noles seen at the rear end was privileged to be the Military Secretary [MS] to the Quaid-e-Azam after independence.

Scouting the caravan are the two ADCs of Quaid-e-Azam. Lt Syed Mohammad Ahsan rose to the rank of Vice Admiral to be the third C-in-C Pakistan navy. He as the Governor of East Pakistan, along with Lt Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Khan Commander Eastern command were to be the lone voices of sanity in the gloomy year of 1971. He remained openly critical of the policies of the leadership in West Pakistan.

His exceptional strength of character in his refusal to endorse the militant stance of the government in West Pakistan, against the political unrest in East Pakistan, was not shared by those who wielded power, including many politicians. Finally the foresight of a visionary, who had remained in close liaison with the father of the nation, was in conflict with the short term and myopic leadership that forced him to relinquish his position, thereby removing a bulwark against the separation of East Pakistan. Remaining true to the lofty ideals set by his predecessors in the naval command, Admiral Ahsen, in his last stand, chose honor to expediency.

Capt Gul Hassan, who rose to the rank of a General to be the first COAS of Pakistan Army was, the best of military virtue and military tradition personified. Admired by officers and men alike for his charismatic leadership qualities, he set upon the task of salvaging the moral of a demoralized Army after the loss of East Pakistan. Having witnessed the pitfalls of military involvement into civil affairs, he resolved to show military’s strength in omission, rather then commission into political affairs of the nation. Ironically a stance that was call of the day and a boon for the future of democracy and civil rule was seen- paradoxically- as an attempt for an independence of military command by no other then the leadership of a new wave of democratic forces after a long interlude that was dominated by military rule. Remaining unwavering in his stance to carve out a professional army from the ashes of 1971 war, that was to have its final allegiance to the State rather then political governments, and exemplifying a military leadership that was non partisan and was a-political, Gen Gul Hassan left this lofty ideal to be pursued by his successors; as he was forced to relinquish his Command for living up to his principals, in the tradition of those other fore bearers who were to be the part of this caravan today.

14th of Aug 1947, when the largest Muslim nation state appeared on the world map with Quaid-e-Azam as its supreme leader, marks a day in the legacy of muslim civilization that once lit the breadths of the known world from Iberian peninsula at the shores of Atlantic to the farthest reaches of southeast Asia in pacific, and its lengths from Trans-Oxania to the heart of Africa. Never before had there been a global civilization that was steeped in arts and sciences, philosophy and jurisprudence. Pax Romana in earlier times could only govern through its military garrisons and laws, while Hellenic civilization in Aegean, and Vedic in India, that excelled in philosophy and sciences were never geographically extant.

The Dynamic spirit behind their lightning success that defined the Muslims and set them apart, were two imperatives namely “The Unity of God’ and “universal brotherhood”. Based on these simplified truths their excellence and creativity in philosophy and natural sciences was corollary to a deep sense of inquiry and an experimental approach towards sciences, making Islam congenial to the flowering of a civilization as never before.

obility and strength are the hallmarks of a civilizing people and the Muslims were pioneers in all aspects of maritime activity, turning Mediterranean into a Muslim lake, and commanded the Indian Ocean right through to the pacific, spreading Islamic culture and heritage into a global expanse.