‘Gwadar-bound’ Indian submarine chased away

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ISLAMABAD – An Indian submarine trying to enter Pakistan’s territorial waters, apparently aiming to reach Gwadar Port for spying, was driven away by the Pakistan Navy, it was learnt yesterday.

The incident comes as tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals continue to smoulder over unrest in the Indian-Occupied Kashmir, where the occupying forces in recent months have failed to reverse the surge in the freedom struggle despite worst-kind of atrocities against the civilian protesters.

A spokesman for the Pakistan Navy said in a statement yesterday the Indian Navy has deceitfully deployed its submarines against Pakistan with ulterior motives.

He said the unsuspecting submarine was detected and localised south of Pakistani coast on November 14. Thereafter, despite submarine’s desperate efforts to escape detection, it was continuously tracked by the Pakistan Navy fleet units and ‘pushed well clear of our waters’.

Interestingly, the submarine detection occurred just a couple of days before Pakistan and China started naval exercises in the Arabian Sea this Thursday.

Vice Admiral (r) Tasneem Ahmed, a leading defence analyst, said the German-made nuclear-powered underwater naval vessel apparently trying to reach Gwadar Port with ulterior designs was detected through aerial surveillance.

The strategic port is part of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was officially opened on Sunday amid funfair.

Tasneem said New Delhi was opposed to CPEC project and was trying its best to fail this regional corridor which is going to benefit most Pakistan and China – the two neighbours India considers its top enemies.

Indian navy spokesman Captain DK Sharma denied the Pakistani claim, saying it was “all blatant lies”. “We categorically deny Pak media report that Indian submarine was detected by Pak Navy and blocked from entering Pakistani waters,” ANI quoted Sharma as saying.

The Pakistan Navy also released video footage and photographs of the Indian submarine.

“The submarine was detected 40 nautical miles off the Pakistani coast in international waters and our naval assets detected and forced it back to 65 nautical miles,” said Vice Admiral (r) Tasneem Ahmed was quoted as saying by a local news website.

“She was snorkelling, because she knew she had been detected. So there was no point of further exhausting the battery,” said Tasneem, who himself has been a submarine commander having the honour of sinking Indian Navy warship INS Khukri during the 1971 war.

Pakistan Navy spokesman in his statement noted that India has persistently embarked upon a series of provocative actions against Pakistan, including Indian army’s unending serious ceasefire violations along Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

The Indian navy has also deceitfully deployed its submarines against Pakistan with ulterior motives, he said, adding that it was part of Indian attempts to divert attention from the indigenous freedom movement in Occupied Kashmir.

The ceasefire violations, at LoC in Kashmir and the border near Sialkot, too are habitually denied by India, which would respond by blaming the Pakistani troops of initiating the exchange of fire.

The spokesman said the naval force of the country has once again proved its vigilance and operational competence by detecting and blocking the Indian submarine. The PN, he said, continues to maintain a high level of preparedness and vigil to guard sea frontiers.

“This thriving encounter of detecting Indian Navy submarine at high seas and its continued surveillance not only speaks very high of Pakistan Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capability but also reflects the commitment and resolve to defend sea frontiers of Pakistan,” he said.

According to Commodore Mirza Foad Amin Baig, commander of the 18th Destroyer Squadron, the naval exercises of Pakistan and China started on Thursday and would continue until November 21.

They would cover a wide spectrum of maritime and naval operations by ships, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft, joint boarding operations by special forces, air defence exercises, communication drills and joint maneuvers by ships, Baig added.

Captain Chi Qingtao, flotilla commander of the Chinese Navy, said bilateral exercises would further refine operational capabilities of both navies, and were significant given the backdrop of the CPEC.

The 2,000km corridor aims to connect China with Pakistan’s southwestern Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas. This will provide the shortest route to Chinese cargo destined for the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

India has been trying to fan insurgency in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where Gwadar Port is located. India’s RAW has been funding and training separatists and sectarian outfits with the assistance of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency to keep the CPEC route insecure with the ultimate aim to fail this mega project.

In the past, Chinese workers have been attacked, killed and kidnapped in southwestern and northwestern Pakistan, including near the Gwadar Port by Baloch separatists and Taliban-affiliated armed extremists.

The Pakistani army has created a 10,000-strong force to provide protection to hundreds of Chinese workers, technicians and experts associated with the economic corridor. The new force, formed on the special request of the Chinese president, will comprise nine army battalions and six wings of the paramilitary forces.

China is already Pakistan’s largest trade and defense partner.