Pakistan is notorious for projecting wrong facts about its history. She has been telling a blatant lie that all the four wars fought with its neighbour India were thrust upon her by India. Reality, on the other hand remains that all the wars were started by Pakistan and India had no option but to fight them back in order to defend itself. Immediately after independence Pakistan, despite its Stand still agreement with the State of J&K, invaded the State by inducting tribals under the active support and guidance of Pak army. In 1965 Pakistan started the war by pushing its army personnel as guerrillas in J&K state under the operation Gibraltarand then afull-fledged attack, Grand Slam was launched inChhamb sector. In 1971Pakistan started with skirmishes in the eastern sector while dealing with the Mukti Bahini, the freedom fighters of Bangla Desh and then it initiated the war by attacking a number of Air Force Stations in northern India. In 1999 Pakistan pushed a large number of its Army men in the guise of Kashmiri militants to occupy the mountain posts in Kargil sector from where the Indian Army would normally withdraw during winter months and India had no option but to retaliate.
The other untruth being perpetrated by Pakistan is that the Pak army exhibited rare acts of valour and subdued the Indian Forces in all fronts to attain victory in this war. This contention of Pakistanis merely a cock and bull story and is not based on facts. But Pakistan was able to perpetuate this falsit yamongst its people through its controlled media and through biased writing of its history. In a country where amerest suggestion of criticism of the military performance is a taboo, such a story is easy to sell. Consequently large scale celebrations are organised throughout Pakistan on 6th and 7th of September every year.
A brief look on the happenings of the 1965 war would throw light on its true picture.The policy planners of Pakistan particularly her hot-headed Generals and its impetuous foreign minister Bhutto madea grand design of grabbing Kashmir from India. They were emboldened by the fact that India had faced a debacle against China in1962 and would not be in a position to withstand Pak’s onslaught also. A rich supply of modern and sophisticated weaponry by America further strengthened their wishful thinking. Then imaginative tales of ‘Martial Races Theory’of Pak Army were interwoven in this frame and it was thought that an adventure in Kashmir would be a cake-walk for their army. First of all they tested the waters in the marshy land of Rann of Kach where Pakistan had somegeographical and logistic advantages. Pakistan had upper hand there and this emboldened them further. Then Ayub Khan, the gullible Pathan was taken for a ride by his crafty Foreign Minister Bhutto and a design to liberate Kashmir was framed. Operation Gibraltar was launched by inducting some 30000 Pakistani army personnel and mercenaries in the State to carry outguerrilla war. Majority of them were caught by the alert Indian Army with the active cooperation of the civilians and the rest of them fled back to Pakistan. India retaliated on the cease fire line and in the process India captured lot of area of POK including the strategic Haji Pir, the logistic centre of infiltration. The capture of Haji Pir was a rare feat of bravery where sheer grit and determination was demonstrated by the Paras under the leadership of dashing Maj. R.S.Dayal.
In order to obviate its reverses, Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam and attacked inChhamb sector where it had some strategic advantages over India. She planned to take over Akhnur to disrupt link to Rajouri Poonch and subsequently to the Kashmir Valley. Though there was a great thrust of Pakistan Army in the sector through its armoured and artillery with 6:1 advantage yet India was able to stop this thrust. In order to ease pressure on Akhnur, the Indian forces carried out attacks, first in Lahore and then in Sialkot sectors. Pakistan later on retaliated in Khem Karan sector through its eliteArmoured Division but its sophisticated American Patton tanks met their Waterloo in the famous battle of Assal Uttar. The Grenadiers exhibited rare acts of bravery in this battle and the daring deeds of CQHav. Abdul Hamid in this battle has become a legend in the annals of Indian war history. In the Sialkot sector also India made deep penetrations and carried the battle up to Phillaura and Chawinda. According to neutral observers,Pakistan had lost 1840 sq. kms. of its trritory against 540 sq km. by India, Pak lost 3800 personnel against loss of 2862 by India, Pak lost 275 tanks against India’s loss of 170 tanks.
Despite these clear reverses and losses, Pakistan shamelessly projects its defeat in 1965 war as its victory. On 6th of September it celebrates Pakistan DefenceDay and on 7th of September its Air Force Day. In order to justify itsso-called victory, it puts forward its argument on three fronts. Firstly, its advances in Chhamb sector without realizing that the Indian forces stopped them far short of their target Akhnur despite Pak’s 6:1 superiority in armoured and artillery. Secondly, it claims its success in Khem Karan sector as it had captured 54 sq. km. area there without realizing that her most sophisticated tanks met with their Waterloo in this sector. Thirdly, the strange logic that it did not not letIndia take over either Lahore or Sialkot and prevented Gen. Chaudhary to have his ‘Chhotta’ in the Lahore Gymkhana, a euphemistic reply of Gen. Chaudhary when Ayub proclaimed to have lunch at Jammu. On the other hand it easily forgets its loss of strategic Haji Pir, India’s deep thrust up to Dograi in the outskirts of Lahore and up toPhillaur and Chawinda in Sialkot sector, the ignominious destructionof its sophisticated Patton tanks at the hands of Col.Tarapore, Maj. Joginder Singh,CQHav. Abdul Hamid. In this war Pak soldiers might have shown some individual acts of valour and its air force performed well but to term it as victory is preposterous only.
In the estimates of neutral international observers, the outcome of the war was unambiguously in favour of India. Thus Devin T. Hagerty, the famous American Professor in his book “South Asia in World Politics” writes ‘Pakistan had suffered a clear defeat.’ In “National Identity andGeopolitical Visions” GertanDijkink, a Dutch author records ‘The superior Indian Forces won a decisive victory. ‘ Famous American writer Stanley Wolpert states that India was in a position to inflict grave damage to Lahore and controlled strategic Haji Pir, much to Ayub’s chagrin. Retired American diplomat Dennis Kux in “India and United States….” records’India had the better of the war. English historian John Keay in “India: A History” writes ‘Both sides claimed victory but India had most to celebrate.’ Even the biased US Office of the Historian, Department of State observes ‘and the second India-Pak War reached a stalemate.’These neutral international observers clearly demolish Pakistan’s claim tovictory.
Despite this assessment of neutral observers Pakistan unabashedly celebrates the “victory” every year. The celebrations go on for two days andhysteria is created in the whole country. There is a victory carnival with a show of military might, 21-gun salute, laying of wreaths, congratulations, parades, flying pasts, changing of guards, special TV programmes, newspaper supplements. Pakistan has succeeded in spreading the canard as the Army controlled the State-run electronicmedia; the people were fed on religious and parochial chauvinismand the supressed print media was under dictation.
In the opinion of many in India like DurgaDass, the famous journalist and author of ‘India from Curzon to Nehru…’, Pakistan would not have been able to carry on this humbug if India had attained some conspicuous victory like capture or at least the encirclement of either Lahore or Sialkot. KuldipNayyar in his famous book ” India, the Critical Years” states that allthe three pivotal players namely Gen. Chaudhary, Gen.Harbaksh Singh and Air Marshal Arjun Singh had confirmed him that taking over of Lahore or Sialkotwas not India’s aim. But to a commoner like your present author, the fall of either Lahore or Sialkot would have enhanced India’s prestige hugely and lead to a greater humiliation and demoralization of Pakistan particularly its army. Moreover these objectives were certainly in the reach of Indian forces. One of the columns lead by the brave Jatshad actually crossed Ichhogalcanal within hours of attack 6th Sept. and entered Dograi, in the outskirts of Lahore but had to retreat as its flank remained held up. This has given a subterfuge to the Pak Army, though mauled and bruised, to project the outcome of war as victory and make a fool of their gullible and sentimental people.
However, this white lie of Pak Army has begun to be exposed with the advent of freedom of media and popularity of social media in Pakistan. A number of intellectuals and former defence officers have come out with the real facts of 1965 war. There are number of posts in WikiLeaks and YouTube, in which the free thinkers and intellectuals like Najm Sethi, Hassan Nissar, Hussain Haqqani and Hamid Bashani have exposed the lie of Pak Army. Retired Air Marshal Nur Khan had also termed these celebrations as merely self-glorification by Pak Army. Air Marshal Asgar Khan has also exposed this pretension and has come to the conclusion that Pakistan had started the war and it met with disgraceful reverses. Many retired army officers have also come out with truth. With truth trickling out, the public has started to doubt the relevance of these celebrations and consequently the so-called victory is being observed in a subdued manner. It is not understood as to why the Pakistanis did not comprehend that had the 1965 war been a success, it would not have led to the demise and humiliation of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s first military ruler under whose watch the war was fought.
War is a war is a war and it brings devastation and death with it.It still had some positives forIndia. We learnt some useful lessons out of this war. For India the war afforded an opportunity to wipe out the memories of 1962 debacle and also taught us to hone and tweak further our strategy. This gave us confidence which led to decisive victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan. India, after the death of Nehru, had wavering doubts about the capacity of its leadership to lead the nation but the way mild-mannered Prime Minister Shastri took some tallest decisions, this fear was dispelled once for all.Synergy was found lacking in the military leadership during this war.Gen.Harbaksh Singh admitsin his autobiography “In the Line of Duty” his differences with his boss Gen. Chaudhary and some of his subordinates. India improved its command and control procedure and consequently the Indian forces fought aswell-oiled machinery in 1971.
The 1965 war, on the other hand, proved to be a bane for Pakistan. Since both America and Britain took Pakistan to be aggressor so despite they stopped arm supply to Pakistan despite agreements. Thus the Treaty obligations between them got strained to the advantage of India. Pakistan had merely stationed a depleted division of force with no tanks and few aeroplanes in its eastern wing. So people there felt that they have been left to their fate and thus got further disillusioned with its western wing. This sowed the seeds of disintegration of Pakistan. The myth of a mobile, hard-hitting Pakistan Army was badly dented in this war and the Indian army so boldly took them in 1971 that a record 93000 of them had to surrender humiliatingly. The war ended an era of magnificent economic growth in Pakistan which it had shown for some years under Ayub Khan.
(The author is a former civil servant)