1965

1965 was the year when India and Pakistan fought the second war in the nations’ history. This war, like the one previous, was fought over the territory of Kashmir. This war was fought in August-September of 1965, though the Pakistani version is that the war started on 6th September, 1965, with the Indian invasion on Lahore. The truth is somewhat different.

So what was the truth? To find out the truth, we have to go a few months before the month of September to find out the events that led to the war.

The fighting began in the month of January, with Pakistan launching Operation Desert Hawk. The stated reason for the operation was the dispute over Rann of Kutch, but many speculate that the actual objective was to divert India to the west, away from the main theatre of the coming war, in Kashmir, given that India had just had a military defeat in the 1962 war. With this operation, Pakistan tried to take control over the Rann, and this ended shortly with a British-brokered cease-fire.

Moving to Kashmir, the hostilities began with what Pakistan refers to as Operation Grand Slam. The idea behind Operation Gibraltar (who thinks up these names anyway) was to infiltrate Pakistani regular soldiers into Kashmir in the guise of Muhajideen, based on the assumption that the people of Kashmir would welcome them, and together, they could foment a rebellion in Kashmir. This didnt happen, and the people of Kashmir informed the Indian Army, and this operation was a failure. India counter-attacked across the LoC, capturing important important features like the Haji Pir pass. This was followed by the Pakistani counter-attack, nick-named Operation Grand Slam. The idea behind Operation Grand Slam was to capture Akhnoor, cutting communications and supplies to Indian troops further north. The Pakistan Army met major success at this point, given numerical and technical superiority, and the element of surprise.

To relieve the pressure in Kashmir, India decided to take the battle to Pakistan in Punjab, at Lahore. Given that Pakistan had concertrated forces at the Sialkot sector for the offensive on Akhnoor, the area leading to Lahore was defenseless. Seeing the lack of any defensive positions, the Indian Army stopped their offensive for a few hours, fearing a trap, which gave the Pakistani Army the time to move forces from Sialkot to the defense of Lahore. At this point, India had taken the village of Barkee, and was within firing range of Lahore International Airport. However, lack of intelligence, and tactical mistakes let to the Indian Army having to withdraw, most importantly the lack of information of the 3 Jat having taken Jallo Mur to the west of Icchogil canal. Further south, while Pakistan took the strategic town of Munabao in Rajasthan, India took the town of Gadra.

A large role was played by the Pakistan Air Force, and the fact that Indian Air Force was largely concentrated in the eastern region, for defending against a possible Chinese attack. According to estimates, Pakistan depleted 17% of their fleet, while India suffered around 10% losses. All in all, none of the two countries were able to achieve air superiority.

Some of the fiercest fighting, though, happened in Punjab. The Indian offensive on Sialkot, with the elite 1st Armoured Division, the “pride of the India Army”, was crushed by a much smaller Pakistani force at the Battle of Chawinda. On the other hand, the 1st Armoured Division, Pakistan’s Pride, invaded and captured the town of Khem Karan, with the objective of taking Amritsar. However, this division was decimated at the Battle of Asal Uttar (which incidentally means Fitting Reply) by a much smaller Indian force. The area came to be known as Patton Nagar, after the large number of Patton tanks destroyed.

The sea battle, on the other hand, was an unequal battle, and Pakistan controlled the sea-lanes, and bombed Dwarka, with most Indian ships in dock for repair or refitting, and unable to take part in battle. This was a contributor to the expansion and modernisation of the Indian naval fleet.

All in all, the war reached a stalemate when the cease-fire, brokered by the Soviet Union came into effect, and the Tashkent Declaration was signed. Lal Bahadur Shastri died in Tashkent, hours after the signing of the declaration, and in Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto started criticizing Gen. Ayub Khan for having lost the military victories on the negotiating table. Over time, this led to Gen. Ayub’s ouster, and the coming to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Gen. Yahya Khan.

Here are the two sides of the story, as told in programs from India and from Pakistan.

These stories diverge at times, based on the viewpoint you look at history from.

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