History is best judged by the word of writing, and several independent documental addresses of 1965 refute Pakistani claims of victory and support Bharat’s strategic earnings in the balance sheet of 1965 Bharat-Pak war.
Though both Pakistan and Bharat claim victory in this second Bharat-Pak war, the reality can be contested with strong arguments from Independent authors of that era.
Retired American diplomat Dennis Kux: “Although both sides lost heavily in men and material, and neither gained a decisive military advantage, Bharat had the better of the war. Delhi achieved its basic goal of thwarting Pakistan's attempt to seize Kashmir by force. Pakistan gained nothing from a conflict which it had instigated.”
English historian John Keay: “The war lasted barely a month. Pakistan made gains in the Rajasthan desert but its main push against Bharat's Jammu-Srinagar road link was repulsed and Bharatiya tanks advanced to within a sight of Lahore. Both sides claimed victory but Bharat had most to celebrate.”
American author Stanley Wolpert: “The war ended in what appeared to be a draw when the embargo placed by Washington on US ammunition and replacements for both armies forced cessation of conflict before either side won a clear victory. Bharat, however, was in a position to inflict grave damage to, if not capture, Pakistan's capital of the Punjab when the ceasefire was called, and controlled Kashmir's strategic Uri-Poonch bulge, much to [Pakistani president] Ayub's chagrin.”
Congress Country Studies conducted by the Federal Research Division of the United States “Losses were relatively heavy—on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan’s army had been able to withstand Bharatiya pressure, but a continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan. Most Pakistanis, schooled in the belief of their own martial prowess, refused to accept the possibility of their country’s military defeat by “Hindu Bharat” and were, instead, quick to blame their failure to attain their military aims on what they considered to be the ineptitude of Ayub Khan and his government.”
In his book National identity and geopolitical visions, Gertjan Dijkink writes –
The superior Bharatiya forces, however, won a decisive victory and the army could have even marched on into Pakistani territory had external pressure not forced both combatants to cease their war efforts.
The book titled The greater game: Bharat’s race with destiny and China, David Van Praagh wrote –
“Bharat won the war. It gained 1,840 km2 (710 sq mi) of Pakistani territory: 640 km2 (250 sq mi) in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan’s portion of the state; 460 km2 (180 sq mi) of the Sailkot sector; 380 km2 (150 sq mi) far to the south of Sindh; and most critical, 360 km2 (140 sq mi) on the Lahore front. Pakistan took 540 km2 (210 sq mi) of Bharatiya territory: 490 km2 (190 sq mi) in the Chhamb sector and 50 km2 (19 sq mi) around Khem Karan.”
However when concluding facts get reduced to figures, the result ain’t anything different.
• 2,862 Bharatiya soldiers were killed; Pakistan lost 5,800 soldiers
• Bharat lost 97 tanks; 450 Pakistani tanks were destroyed or captured
• Bharat won 1,920 sqkm of territory; Pakistan won 540 sqkm
Having said that, this war came across as a blot washer of Sino-Indo War of 1962. In 1965, we were three years down the line of a war defeat, followed by recent demise of Nehru to the possession of obsolete warfare, clearly the situation could have been worse, had the valour of our soldiers and principled approach of PM Shastri did not create a beneficial synchronisation.
However, 1965 too had its own set of lessons taught. Late General Harbarksh Singh, Padma-Vibhushan, Padmabhushan and Vir Chakra awardee who in his book War Dispatches reveals the lesson learnt from the War. When in ‘65, Chief of Army Staff Gen JN Chaudhari called up Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh-who was chief of western command then-to withdraw Bharatiya troops in Punjab, the General refused. The order, had it been carried out, would have meant the surrendering Amritsar to the Pakistani Army, besides lowering down the morale of Bharatiya Troops; thereby paving way another ‘62. Those lessons on various fronts were at the conceptual level, strategic and tactical level, leadership aspects, deployment of armours, signals and communication, limitations of paramilitary forces, misleading intelligence.
The book concludes that mere achievement, of surprise will not win battles unless the favourable circumstances created by it are exploited to the full.
The mental imbalance of the commander and the physical disorganisation of his troops following a tactical surprise must be taken full advantage of by bold and audacious action. During the conflict, the enemy was often found stunned and reeling, but the knockout blow came too late or never. In short, all scholarly works speak about the lessons and inability of Bharat to give decisive blow to Pakistan but no one supports the claim of victories by Pakistan.