THIS refers to the letter ‘Naval heroics’ (Sept 8), which commemorated the attack on Dwarka on the night of Sept 7-8, 1965. The mission codenamed Somnath was a great surprise for the enemy. The Pakistani fleet for the mission included eight ships, all of them old and outdated, and yet it was able to destroy the target and return without any loss.

The letter rightly eulogised the mission, but, surprisingly, forgot to name the commanding officer, Cdre S.M. Anwer. Just as mission Somnath is underreported in national history, the gallantry of the commanding officer Anwer remains unacknowledged.

He was an officer and a true gentleman who contributed and delivered much more than just the Somnath operation. In 1971, for instance, he was heading the Pakistan Marine Academy (PMA) in Juldian, near Chittagong. During the unfortunate events of that year, he was the last person along with his family to leave the academy premises just to ensure that all the cadets and staff were safely repatriated to West Pakistan.

Without wasting time, he established the academy, as a makeshift arrangement, at the Haji Camp in Karachi while strictly maintaining the high standards of training which attracted cadets from many countries, like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and others.

After a long struggle, he finally succeeded in acquiring land for the PMA in Karachi. This academy is on a par with international maritime training and education centres, as its graduates are serving around the globe.

The credit definitely goes to the late Cdre Anwer, the hero of 1965 naval war, but unfortunately his name is not highlighted at any forum.

History though will remember his services as a naval officer and as one of the pioneers of maritime training and studies in Pakistan.

Aamir Aqil

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021



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