What began as a surprise intrusion into the Raan of Kutch, by Pakistan, in the summer of 1965, escalated into a full fledged war within a short span, clearly indicating Pakistan’s evil design and meticulous planning The Raan of Kutch attack in April 1965, was perhaps a precursor and testing ground for further action, to usurp the State of J&K, which happens to be the misconstrued raison d’être of Pakistani existence. In May, Pakistan launched operations at Kargil to cut-off the Srinagar-Leh Highway, followed by the infiltration of 30,000+ men, named the Gibraltar Force, in the month of August. Codenamed ‘Operation Gibraltar’ by Pakistan, the infiltration was a déjàvu of the 1947 Kabaili infiltration, albeit, more well-planned, prepared and lethal.
Pakistan thought it could wrestle out the State of J&K from a weak and vulnerable Bharat that was limping back to normalcy from the Chinese debacle of 1962. Emboldened by its foray into the western power backed military alliances like the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO), fuelled by its treaty of cooperation in military and economic affairs with China, Pakistan made what our Vice-President Hamid Ansari has aptly termed as a ‘political and military misadventure’. The thinking was to capitalise on newly acquired military might but for our men in olives, who gave a befitting reply. They showed that no technological supremacy or military might can stand before the valour of a soldier ready to make the supreme sacrifice to protect his Motherland or the unflinching patriotism of the common man who leaves no stone unturned to contribute to the safety of his Motherland or the prowess of an astute and accountable leader that can withstand all odds/ crisis and rise to the occasion. And Bharat had it all.
The 1965 War for the first time, displayed Bharat’s aggressive stance towards its enemy. It stated in clear and categorical terms, be it the snowy peaks of Kashmir or the marshy lands of Kutch, even a single inch of Bharat will not be compromised by her brave sons. Chasing Pakistani forces all the way upto Lahore and Sialkot, was a complete disconnect from Bharat’s age old image of being a passive and peace-loving country that was susceptible to the evil designs of aggressors from time to time.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 War, it is time for some serious pondering and stock taking. Here are some possible insights. The 1965 War was a glaring case of intelligence failure on many fronts, ranging the infiltration bid to the cache of enemy’s arms and ammunition. This led to some tactical and strategic blunders like accepting the September 23 ceasefire. The fact was Pakistan’s arms and ammunition supply had dried out a day before. One more blow by Bharat and Pakistan would be on its knees, sealing Bharat’s victory conclusively and perhaps changing the course of history of the sub-continent. We could not leverage our diplomatic skills to our advantage as well. At a time when Pakistan’s sworn allies, like the US, did not support Pakistan as it had blatantly violated the unsaid but long standing rules and practice of ‘just war’, Bharat made no pro-active attempts to garner international support on the matter and tilt the balance in our favour. We even failed to bargain hard on the negotiating table and gave up our hard-won advantage, the strategic Haji Pir Pass, without much resistance.
On a positive note, the 1965 War undoubtedly set new rules of the game and heralded a new era of strategic vision based on a ‘go for the kill’ approach, which Bharat unleashed for the first time in the most unapologetic and open manner. Things like ‘swift, multiple offensive, deep into the enemy territory’ under its pro-active conventional war strategy, was unheard of prior to 1965. Needless to say, the 1965 War prepared the ground for Bharat’s most famous and decisive victory in 1971, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh. And the most positive outcome was it restored the confidence of the defence personnel, after the Chinese debacle of 1962.
Whats more, we have learnt to measure our achievements by our own yardstick and also decided to celebrate them irrespective of others reaction. Bharat held its own purely due to brave hearts like Abdul Hamid, who laid down their lives to protect their Motherland.
To conclude, lets revisit the old dictum, ‘the best way to avert wars is to be ready for it’. Last week, while stressing on the importance of operational preparedness, the present Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, pointing to our belligerent neighbours growing arc of terror, stated that Bharat needs to be ready for ‘short wars’, short in terms of the time taken to mobilise troops and launch a strike and short in terms of the duration taken to ensure Bharat’s victory. But our ultimate strength lies in our unity, as a Nation and as People. When ‘we, the people’ come together, no threat is great, no enemy unbeatable, no region vulnerable and no Bharatiya dispensable.
K Aayushi (The writer is Director, Research,
J&K Study Centre)