The Indo-Pak War of 1965 started from August 1965 and carried on for 17 weeks after following Pakistan’s military operation code named Operation Gibraltar. The aim of this operation was to provoke the Kashmiri youth to precipitate an insurgency against the Indian rule. To achieve this, a sizable number of Pakistan Army personnel, disguised as locals, infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir. The resulting war witnessed fierce battles and aerial combat between Indian and Pakistani forces. This led to significant loss of life, displacement of civilians, and destruction of infrastructure. Despite the official end with the Tashkent Declaration, the aftermath of the war continues to shape relations between India and Pakistan, particularly concerning the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indo-Pak War of 1965 serves as a constant reminder of the intricate challenges both nations face when striving to resolve their disputes.
Brief History of Indo-Pak War of 1965
The departure of Britishers from India came with a bloody partition. The Indian Independence Act 1947 provided the diverse regions of Jammu and Kashmir the opportunity to choose which country to accede to. The local maharaja (Kashmir’s monarch) initially sought independence, seeing as Kashmir had been neglected for centuries by the empires that subjugated it. However, he ultimately agreed to join India in exchange for help against invading Pakistani herdsman. India then took over the defense of the region, launching the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48.
In 1949, the Karachi Agreement established a cease-fire line overseen by UN military observers and recommended a referendum in the territory, though one never materialized. Tension simmered until a skirmish between border controls escalated to a full-blown war in 1965.
What was the Reason for Indo-Pak War 1965?
In January 1965, the Pakistani soldiers began patrolling in the territory controlled by India. It was followed by attacks from both the countries on each other’s posts on 8th April 1965. It initially involved border police from both the nations but soon the disputed area witnessed intermittent skirmishes between the countries’ armed forces. Pakistan launched Operation Desert Hawk and captured a few Indian posts near the Kanjarkot Fort border area. In June 1965, both countries signed an agreement to settle the disputed border issue through arbitration by the International Court of Justice on the 30th of June 1965, but by then Pakistan, under the leadership of Muhammad Ayub Khan, had started believing that the Indian Army won’t be able to defend itself against a quick military campaign.
Pakistani leaders both military and political leadership of the time believed that the population of Kashmir was not happy with the Indian rule, and so decided that a resistance movement could be ignited by a few infiltrating saboteurs. Operation Gibraltar, was attempted to ignite the resistance movement which employed a covert infiltration. But, soon the presence of the Pakistani infiltrators was discovered and was reported by the local Kashmiris, and the operation ended unsuccessfully.
The Response From Indian Side
In response to infiltration attempts by Pakistan, India initiated Operation Ablaze. This counter-offensive aimed to eliminate militants and secure its borders. On August 5, 1965, Indian forces crossed the Line of Control (LOC) and launched an attack on Pakistani positions at the Haji Pir Pass. This strategic mountain pass held great importance as it connected Pakistan administered Kashmir with the rest of Pakistan.
On September 1, 1965, Pakistan retaliated by initiating the Operation Grand Slam. This major offensive aimed to capture the strategic town of Akhnoor in Indian Administered Kashmir and sever India’s supply lines to the region. Crossing the international border, Pakistani forces invaded Punjab state in India.
This escalation triggered a full-scale war between the two countries, with both sides mobilizing their air force and navy as well. The war lasted for 17 days, during which both sides engaged in fierce battles on land, air, and sea.
Battleground Glory: India’s Remarkable Achievements
The Indian Army demonstrated strategic prowess and tactical brilliance during the war, achieving several notable victories in defending its territory and launching counterattacks.
Some of the major accomplishments of Indian Army included –
- Capture of the Haji Pir Pass: It was a vital route in Kashmir, and was captured by the Indian Army on August 28, 1965. The intense battle for its control involved close combat and heavy artillery fire. This strategic capture granted India authority over an important supply route used by Pakistan to provision their forces in the region.
- Battle for Dograi: This was one of the most heroic battles fought by the Indian Army during the war. On September 22, 1965, a battalion of Indian soldiers attacked and captured Dograi, a sector near Lahore that was heavily defended by Pakistani forces. The battle lasted for six hours and involved close-quarter fighting and bayonet charges. The Indian soldiers fought with exceptional bravery and overcame overwhelming odds to secure Dograi.
- Defence of Chawinda: It is renowned as one of history’s largest tank battles. It took place between India and Pakistan, with the Indian tanks boldly confronting their well-equipped Pakistani counterparts. This significant clash occurred from September 8th to 16th, 1965 in Chawinda, near Sialkot—a strategically crucial sector for Pakistan’s defence. Despite facing numerical and technological disadvantages, the Indian tanks tenaciously held their position and inflicted heavy losses upon the Pakistani tank forces.
But the Army wasn’t alone, the Indian Air Force too played a crucial role in establishing aerial dominance. The Indian Air Force conducted successful air operations that greatly contributed to this achievement. Some of these were –
- Pinpoint airstrikes on Pakistan’s critical facilities: Precision strikes were carried out by the Indian Air Force on multiple Pakistani targets including airfields, radar stations, bridges, dams, and other strategic locations. These calculated operations resulted in significant destruction and damage to Pakistani aircraft and infrastructure, ultimately hampering Pakistan’s air power and mobility.
- Air-to-air combat: Air-to-air combat ensued as the Indian Air Force encountered Pakistani fighter jets across different sectors. Demonstrating exceptional skill and bravery, the Indian pilots successfully brought down several Pakistani jets, including advanced models like F-86 Sabres and F-104 Starfighters.
- Close air support: The Indian Air Force played a crucial role in supporting their ground forces by conducting close air support operations. This included strategic bombings and strafing of Pakistani positions and troops. The assistance provided by the Air Force significantly bolstered the morale and effectiveness of Indian soldiers, enabling them to either advance or successfully repel enemy attacks.
War’s Finale: The Conclusion
The war concluded on September 23, 1965 when the United Nations facilitated a ceasefire agreement. This agreement demanded the withdrawal of forces and the maintenance of the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir. Afterwards, Indian and Pakistani leaders formally established peace by signing the Tashkent Declaration on January 10, 1966.
The war did not lead to any significant changes in territories. Both sides returned to the status quo ante bellum. However, it had important consequences for India’s security and international standing. Some of the outcomes include:
- After the war, a considerable change was observed in Indian diplomatic relations. Despite adopting a non-alignment stance, India had to reconsider its position in the aftermath of the war. In fact, it caused a distancing from the western countries and a tendency to lean towards the Soviet Union. As a result of China’s backing for Pakistan, it had an impact on diplomatic ties with that country in Asia and made India more skeptical of China. But with its victory on the battlefield, India made a statement to the rest of the globe. The aspirations of India were also made clear, and it emphasized the necessity of finding a solution to the Kashmir problem.
- The new circumstances demanded a reengineering of the communication and intelligence systems. India understood the value of the information in managing border tensions and the war. In order to closely monitor the situation and deliver timely information, India was forced to build new intelligence-focused wings for the system. The country began to understand the need of soft power in addition to hard power. It altered public perception of the defence and fostered a culture in which the military forces cooperate both on and off the battlefield.
- The national defence became a key area for investment due to the significance of the armed services. The Indian populace recognised the true need for investment and accounts for a large portion of the budgetary allocations. India also recognized the necessity of researching the need for nuclear weapons and building new military hardware. The funds are also allocated in line with the new requirements of research and development.
- Additionally, the Indian Army received increased attention and concern. After the independence warriors, armed forces were adored of as the defenders of freedom. Furthermore, the defence sector started receiving more welfare measures. It made people to recognise that they need armed forces in day-to-day life like teachers, doctors, and engineers. Additionally, people began to think that those guarding India’s borders are awake on one side while the country is asleep.
The Indo-Pak War of 1965 held immense significance in shaping India’s future security and foreign policies. It was a pivotal event that showcased India’s unwavering determination to safeguard its sovereignty and integrity from any form of aggression. Moreover, this conflict served as a catalyst for the nation’s development, propelling progress and advancement on multiple fronts.