ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Navy (PN) on Friday claimed to have driven away an Indian submarine attempting to intrude into Pakistani waters.
“The submarine was detected and localised south of Pakistani coast on 14 November 2016. Thereafter, despite the submarine’s desperate efforts to escape detection, it was continuously tracked by Pakistan Navy fleet units and pushed well clear of our waters,” a statement issued by the Navy’s Public Relations Directorate (NPRD) said.
The submarine, which was German made HDW Type 209 diesel-electric vessel, was first detected as it was snorkelling [pulling air from the surface while at a shallow depth for the diesel engine] somewhere between Gwadar and Ormara south of Pakistani waters. PN subsequently kept tracking it, using both sea-based and aerial sensors.
A naval source said the submarine realising that it had been spotted abandoned its mission and retreated.
As the submarine was prevented from entering Pakistani waters, the precise objectives of the mission remain unknown. However, the prevailing environment may provide probable clues to its intentions.
Pakistan Navy is, however, convinced that Indian Navy has “deceitfully deployed its submarines against Pakistan with ulterior motives”.
Pakistan is convinced India has deceitfully deployed submarines with ulterior motives
The fact that it was underwater makes its intentions suspect, a military analyst said, adding that during normal movement the submarines are generally not submerged.
Anti-submarine expert retired Commodore Zafar Iqbal suspects that the submarine could have been on an intelligence-gathering mission for future use or collecting information about the activities taking place in the area.
It needs to be recalled that the detection took place ahead of fourth Pak-China joint naval exercise that commenced on Wednesday. The drill is aimed at promoting maritime security and stability in the region, specifically in the context of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Moreover, it coincided with the start of shipping activity under the CPEC from Gwadar. The first cargo ship escorted by a PN vessel left Gwadar on Sunday.
The design could be more sinister as well.
Commodore Iqbal speculates that the submarine may have been attempting to get near the coast for delivering saboteurs or weapons supply for terrorist groups.
He suggests it could be part of Indian tactics for upping the ante. Indian troops are already committing ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and Working Boundary in which seven soldiers and 26 civilians have been killed. “They could be possibly trying to engage us on multiple fronts,” he conjectured.
It was not the first instance of an Indian submarine attempting to intrude into Pakistani waters. There have been attempts in the past, a source said, adding the environment in which the latest incident happened made it important.
Convention on sea law
The UN Convention on Law of Sea does not allow a state to carry out manoeuvres or exercises in the exclusive economic zone and in the continental shelf of another coastal state without its consent.
The Navy, meanwhile, used the foiled intrusion attempt to show its preparedness.
“Pakistan Navy once again proved its vigilance and operational competence by detecting and blocking an Indian submarine from entering...Pakistani waters,” the NPRD said.
This detection of “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,” it added.
Published in Dawn November 19th, 2016