WAR surely is not an easy business and may go on for ages. Its outcome persists for years to
come and relations between the warring countries are dependent on the bitter experience of the past. Still, if a nation takes the risk of going to war, it should do so with tenacity, engaging all available elements of national power to achieve the anticipated objectives. The same goes for the India-Pakistan 1965 War, which could not bring about those desired goals that both nations thought of. Rather, the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 symbolises the deep distrust and relentless hatred between the two countries, which endures even today. The present situation in Kashmir and war hysteria by India always keeps the situation tense between both nuclear armed neighbours.
Since partition, Indo-Pak traditional rivalry continues at present where Kashmir, left as an unfinished agenda of partition, seeded the beginnings of conflict that is persevering under Indian hegemonic designs, even now. India started legal ploys to wear away the disputed status of Kashmir through constitutional changes and to bring it at parity with other Indian states. It imposed presidential rule apart from extending other Indian laws in Kashmir. Shocked by such a move, the Kashmiri people launched a movement against India which was largely supported by the Kashmiri masses. But an unfortunate incident of the theft of Moo-e-Muqaddis (holy hair of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) from Hazratbal shrine amplified tensions in Kashmir.
Pakistan again moved for settlement through the UNSC in February and May 1964, however, threat of a USSR veto caused unsuccessful actions. To resolve the Kashmir dispute, in 1964 talks were held in Karachi to look for other means to resolve this issue. In April 1965, Indian armed forces engaged Pakistan into border clashes in Rann of Kutch, which ended with a ceasefire but brought global and domestic humiliation to India. Therefore, the efforts of resolving Kashmir dispute diplomatically were in vain and Indian chauvinism was well exposed by the Rann of Kutch skirmish. The global environment at the time was based on Bloc Politics and Pakistan was seen as ally of the Western Bloc whereas the Sino-Indian border dispute in 1962 happened during the Cuban missile crisis and the developing differences between China and the then Soviet Union gave new room to world politics. The USA saw an opportunity to prevent India from falling into Soviet influence and wanted to clinch it into the Western Bloc.
The USA offered Pakistan assistance in the form of entry into SEATO (1954), CENTO (1955) and Bilateral Defence Cooperation Agreement (1959). US helped Pakistan militarily on the conditions that the equipment provided will be not be used against non-communist countries but following Rann of Kutch episode, USA first reduced and later stopped Pakistan’s aid during 1965 war. After Hazratbal incident, US became more indifferent towards Pakistan blaming that it brought the Kashmir issue to the UNSC purely for its internal propaganda. Indian inclinations towards the Soviet Union and the Sino-India conflict brought about a major alteration in US policy in this region. After the Sino-Indian War of 1962, United States became more closely associated with India by providing it military and economic aid. Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar and Grand Slam to free Kashmir militarily but India waged a full-scale military attack on Pakistan in September 1965.
With lesser number of combat forces on ground, water and air, Pakistani soldiers fought valiantly and proved that despite limitations in equipment their determination was not limited. However, Pakistan was not stronger on the political front and it was felt that the Pakistani leadership with little knowledge about operational strategy, launched a perfunctory war. The war with much ups and downs could not bring an outcome to Kashmir other than deadlock. It is interesting to note that at the end of the war, both sides claimed victory. India fabricated its victory with the capture of territory and warranting security of Kashmir, while the Pakistan’s claim centred upon the notion of successful defence against meaningless Indian aggression in spite of limited resources.
Now when both India and Pakistan have become nuclear powers, both cannot afford to go for any kind of war as they risk nuclear catastrophe. Kashmir has remained a bone of contention between the two countries, giving way to many other small debacles. For Kashmir, a dialogue process involving all stakeholders is a must and India should accept peace offers by Pakistan as Kashmiris have suffered enough for many decades. As far as military capability and proficiency of Pakistan is concerned, it should not be undermined like 1965 war, as today Pakistan shines bright in its efforts of curbing an imposed war against terrorism on it regardless of many constraints. Pakistan’s defence today is much stronger and every year 6th of September is marked as Defence Day to pay tribute to the soldiers and heroes who despite limited resources fought courageously to prove to the world they are second to none. Today when Pakistan has proved its struggle in war against terrorism and is successful in eradicating extremism from its soil, it acknowledges every war hero because of which Pakistan’s defence outlooks sturdier. Therefore, 6 September which is commemorated as Defence Day is to pay tribute to all Shuhadas and Ghazis. The brilliancead grandeur of all the three armed forces is remembered and elicited on this day who till date are contributing their best for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of motherland.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.