The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between India and Pakistan. This conflict became known as the Second Kashmir War fought by India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, the first having been fought in 1947. The war began following the failure of Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against rule by India. The five-week war caused thousands of casualties on both sides. It ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.
Much of the war was fought by the countries' land forces in Kashmir and along the International Border between India and Pakistan. This war saw the largest amassing of troops in Kashmir since the Partition of India in 1947, a number that was overshadowed only during the 2001-2002 military standoff between India and Pakistan. Most of the battles were fought by opposing infantry and armored units, with substantial backing from air forces. Many details of this war, like those of other Indo-Pakistani Wars, remain unclear and many media reports have been riddled with media biases.
Since Partition of India in 1947, Pakistan and India remained in contention over several issues. Although the Kashmir conflict was the predominant issue dividing the nations, other border disputes existed, most notably over the Rann of Kutch, a barren region in the Indian state of Gujarat. When Junagadh, a former princely state, had been integrated into India, its borders, especially in the marshlands to the west, remained ambiguous.
On March 20, 1965, and again in April 1965, fighting broke out between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch. Initially involving border police from both nations, the disputed area soon witnessed intermittent skirmishes between the countries' armed forces. In June 1965, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson successfully persuaded both countries to end hostilities and set up a tribunal to resolve the dispute. The verdict, which came later in 1968, saw Pakistan awarded 350 square miles (900 km²) of the Rann of Kutch, as against its original claim of 3500 square miles.
After its success in the Rann of Kutch, Pakistan, under the leadership of General Ayub Khan, believed the Indian Army would be unable to defend itself against a quick military campaign in the disputed territory of Kashmir as the Indian military had suffered a loss to China in 1962. Pakistan believed that the population of Kashmir was generally discontented with Indian rule and that a resistance movement could be ignited by a few infiltrating saboteurs. Pakistan attempted to ignite the resistance movement by means of a covert infiltration, codenamed Operation Gibraltar. The Pakistani infiltrators were soon discovered, however, their presence reported by local Kashmiris, and the operation ended in a complete failure.
Pakistan claimed to have been concerned by attempts of India to absorb Kashmir - a state internationally recognised as "disputed", into the Indian Union. The basis for this claim was Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution that allow the President of India to declare President's Rule in the disputed state.
On August 15, 1965, Indian forces crossed the ceasefire line and launched an attack on the region referred to by the disputants as either "Azad Kashmir" or "Pakistan-occupied Kashmir". Pakistani reports cite this attack as unprovoked, while Indian reports cite the attack as a response to massive armed infiltrations of Kashmir by Pakistan.
Initially, the Indian Army met with considerable success, capturing three important mountain positions after a prolonged artillery barrage. By the end of August, however, both sides had experienced successes; Pakistan had made progress in areas such as Tithwal, Uri and Punch and India had captured the Haji Pir Pass, eight kilometers inside Pakistani-administered territory.
On September 1, 1965, Pakistan launched a counterattack, called "Operation Grand Slam", with the objective to capture the vital town of Akhnoor in Jammu, which would sever communications and cut off supply routes to Indian troops. Attacking with an overwhelming ratio of troops and technically superior tanks, Pakistan initially progressed against Indian forces, who were caught unprepared and suffered heavy losses. India responded by calling in its air force to blunt the Pakistani attack. The next day, Pakistan retaliated, its air force attacked Indian forces and air bases in both Kashmir and Punjab. Although Operation Grand Slam ultimately failed, as the Pakistan Army was unable to capture Akhnoor, it became one of the turning points in the war when India decided to relieve pressure on its troops in Kashmir by attacking Pakistan further south.
India crossed the International Border on the Western front on September 6, marking an official beginning of the war. On September 6, the 15th Infantry Division of the Indian Army, under World War II veteran Major General Prasad, battled a massive counterattack by Pakistan near the west bank of the Ichogil Canal (BRB Canal), which was a de facto border of India and Pakistan. The General's entourage itself was ambushed and he was forced to flee his vehicle. A second, this time successful, attempt to cross the Ichhogil Canal was made over the bridge in the village of Barki, just east of Lahore. These developments brought the Indian Army within the range of Lahore International Airport. As a result, the United States requested a temporary ceasefire to allow it to evacuate its citizens in Lahore.
One unit of the Jat Regiment, 3 Jat, had also crossed the Ichogil canal and captured the town of Batapore (Jallo Mur to Pakistan) on the west side of the canal. The same day, a counter offensive consisting of an armored division and infantry division supported by Pakistan Air Force Sabres forced the Indian 15th Division to withdraw to its starting point. Although 3 Jat suffered minimal casualties, the bulk of the damage being taken by ammunition and stores vehicles, the higher commanders had no information of 3 Jat's capture of Batapore and misleading information led to the command to withdraw from Batapore and Dograi to Ghosal-Dial. This move brought extreme disappointment to Lt-Col Desmond Hayde, CO of 3 Jat. Dograi was eventually recaptured by 3 Jat on 21 September, for the second time but after a much harder battle due to Pakistani reinforcements.
On the days following September 9, both nations' premiere formations were routed in unequal battles. India's 1st Armored Division, labelled the "pride of the Indian Army", launched an offensive towards Sialkot. The Division divided itself into two prongs, came under heavy Pakistani tank fire at Taroah and was forced to withdraw. Similarly, Pakistan's pride, the 1st Armored Division, pushed an offensive towards Khemkaran, with the intent to capture Amritsar (a major city in Punjab, India) and the bridge on River Beas to Jalandhar. The Pakistani 1st Armored Division never made it past Khem Karan, however, and by the end of September 10 lay disintegrated by the defences of the Indian 4th Mountain Division at what is now known as the Battle of Asal Uttar (lit. meaning - "Real Answer", or more appropriate English equivalent - "Fitting Response"). The area became known as 'Patton Nagar' (Patton Town) as Pakistan lost or abandoned nearly 100 mostly US-made Patton tanks.
The war was heading for a stalemate, with both nations holding territory of the other. The Indian army suffered 3,000 battlefield deaths, while Pakistan suffered no less than 3,800. The Indian army was in possession of 710 mile² (1,840 km²) of Pakistani territory and the Pakistan army held 210 mile² (545 km²) of Indian territory. The territory occupied by India was mainly in the fertile Sialkot, Lahore and Kashmir sectors, while Pakistani land gains were primarily in deserts opposite Sindh and in Chumb, in the northern sector.
The war saw the Indian Air Force and the Pakistani Air Force engaged in full scale combat for the first time since independence. Though the two forces had previously faced off in the First Kashmir War during the late 1940s, that engagement was limited in scale compared to the 1965 conflict.
The two countries have made contradictory claims of combat losses during the war and hardly any neutral sources have verified the claims of either country. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) claimed it shot down 104 IAF planes, losing only 19 in the process. The Indian Air Force (IAF) claimed it shot down 73 PAF planes, losing only 35 itself. According to Indian figures, the overall attrition rate was 2.16% for Pakistan Air Force and 1.49% for IAF. India also pointed out that, despite PAF claims of losing only a squadron of combat craft, Pakistan sought to acquire additional aircraft from Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and China within 10 days of the beginning war.
Pakistan's main strike force comprised the U.S. made F-86 Sabre jets, which claimed a fair share of Indian planes, though remaining vulnerable to the diminutive Folland Gnat, nicknamed "Sabre Slayer". The F-104 Starfighter of the PAF was by far the fastest fighter plane operating in the subcontinent at that time. Unlike the PAF, whose planes largely consisted of American craft, the IAF flew an assortment of planes, from Vampires to Hawker Hunters, many of which were outdated in comparison to PAF planes. This gave an edge to the PAF to achieve some of the historic dog fight records.
The 1965 war witnessed some of the largest tank battles since World War II. At the beginning of the war, the Pakistani Army had both a numerical advantage in tanks, as well as better equipment overall. Pakistani armour was largely American-made; it consisted mainly of Patton M-47 and M-48 tanks, but also included many M4 Sherman tanks, some M24 Chaffee light tanks and M36 Jackson tank destroyers, equipped with 90 mm guns. The bulk of India's tank fleet were older M4 Sherman tanks; some were up-gunned with the French high velocity CN 75 50 guns and could hold their own, whilst some older models were still equipped with the inferior 75 mm M3 L/40 gun. Besides the M4 tanks, India fielded the British-made Centurion Tank Mk 7, with the 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 gun, and the AMX-13, PT-76, and M3 Stuart light tanks. Pakistan fielded a greater number and more modern artillery; its guns out-ranged those of the Indian artillery, according to Pakistan's Major General T.H. Malik.
Despite the qualitative and numerical superiority of Pakistani armour, Pakistan was outfought on the battlefield by India, which made progress into the Lahore-Sialkot sector, whilst halting Pakistan's counteroffensive on Amritsar. By the end of the war, Pakistan's newer and more potent Patton tanks proved to be too sophisticated in Pakistani hands; they were sometimes employed in a faulty manner, such as charging prepared defenses during the defeat of Pakistan's 1st Armored Division at Assal Uttar.
India's tank formations experienced mixed results. India's attack at the Battle of Chawinda, led by its 1st Armored Division and supporting units, was turned back. One true winner to emerge was India's Centurion battle tank, with its 105 mm gun and heavy armor, which proved superior to the overly complex Pattons and their exaggerated reputations.
The navies of India and Pakistan did not play a prominent role in the war of 1965, although Pakistani accounts dispute this. On September 7, a flotilla of the Pakistani Navy carried out a small scale bombardment of the Indian coastal town and radar station of Dwarka, which was 200 miles (300 km) south of the Pakistani port of Karachi. Codenamed Operation Dwarka, it did not fulfill its primary objective of disabling the radar station and there was no immediate retaliatory response from India. Later, some of the Indian fleet sailed from Bombay to Dwarka to patrol the area and deter further bombardment. Foreign authors have noted that the "insignificant bombardment of the town was a "limited engagement, with no strategic value."
According to some Pakistani sources, one submarine, PNS Ghazi, kept the Indian Navy's aircraft carrier INS Vikrant besieged in Bombay throughout the war. Indian sources claim that it was not their intention to get into a naval conflict with Pakistan, and wished to restrict the war to a land-based conflict. Moreover, they note that the Vikrant was in dry dock in the process of refitting. Some Pakistani defence writers have also discounted claims that the Indian Navy was bottled up in Bombay by a single submarine, instead stating that 75% of the Indian Navy was under maintenance in harbour. There were, however, unconfirmed reports of underwater attacks near Bombay by the Indian Navy against what they suspected were American-supplied Pakistani submarines.
The Pakistan Army launched a number of covert operations to infiltrate and sabotage Indian airbases. On September 7, 1965, the Special Services Group (SSG) commandos were parachuted into enemy territory. According to Chief of Army Staff General Musa Khan, about 135 commandos were airdropped at three Indian airfields(Halwara, Pathankot and Adampur). The daring attempt proved to be an "unmitigated disaster". Only 22 commandos returned to Pakistan as planned, 93 were taken prisoner (including one of the Commanders of the operations, Major Khalid Butt), and 20 were killed in encounters with the army, police or civilians The reason for the failure of the commando mission is attributed to the failure to provided maps, proper briefings and adequate planning or preparation
Despite failing to sabotage the airfields, Pakistan sources claim that the commando mission affected some planned Indian operations. As the Indian 14th Division was diverted to hunt for paratroopers, the Pakistan Air Force found the road filled with transport, and destroyed many vehicles.
India responded to the covert activity by announcing rewards for captured Pakistani spies or paratroopers. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, rumors spread that India had retaliated with its own covert operations, sending commandos deep into Pakistan territory, but these rumors were later determined to be unfounded.
India and Pakistan make widely divergent claims about the damage they inflicted on each other and the amount of damage suffered by them. The following summarizes each nation's claims.
|Indian claims||Pakistani claims||Independent Sources|
|Casualties||-||-||2,763 Indian soldiers, 3,800 Pakistani soldiers|
|Combat flying effort||4,073+ combat sorties||2,279 combat sorties|
|Aircraft lost||35 IAF (official), 73 PAF.Other sources based on the Official Indian Armed Forces History put actual IAF losses at 71 including 19 accidents (non combat sortie rate is not known) and PAF's combat losses alone at 43.||19 PAF, 104 IAF||20 PAF, Pakistan claims India rejected neutral arbitration. ()|
|Aerial victories||17 + 3 (post war)||30||-|
|Tanks destroyed||128 Indian tanks, 152 Pakistani tanks captured, 150 Pakistani tanks destroyed. Officially 471 Pakistani tanks destroyed and 38 captured||165 Pakistan tanks||200 Pakistani tanks|
|Land area won||1,500 mi2 (3,885 km2) of Pakistani territory||2,000 mi² (5,180 km²) of Indian territory||India held 710 mi² (1,840 km²) of Pakistani territory and Pakistan held 210 mi² (545 km²) of Indian territory|
There have been few neutral assessments of the damages of the war; some of the neutral assessments are mentioned below:-
The war was militarily inconclusive; each side held prisoners and some territory belonging to the other. Losses were relatively heavy--on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan's army had been able to withstand Indian 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 India" 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.
Cut off from U.S. and British arms supplies, denied Russian aid, and severely mauled by the larger Indian armed forces, Pakistan could continue the fight only by teaming up with Red China and turning its back on the U.N. ... India, by contrast, is still the big gainer in the war. Shastri had united the nation as never before.
In three weeks the second IndoPak War ended in what appeared to be a draw when the embargo placed by Washington on U.S. ammunition and replacements for both armies forced cessation of conflict before either side won a clear victory. India, however, was in a position to inflict grave damage to, if not capture, Pakistan's capital of the Punjab when the cease-fire was called, and controlled Kashmir's strategic Uri-Poonch bulge, much to Ayub's chagrin.
Although both sides lost heavily in men and materiel, and neither gained a decisive military advantage, India had the better of the war. New 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.
The Soviet Union, led by Premier Alexey Kosygin, hosted ceasefire negotiations in Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan), where Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Agreement, agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines no later than February 25,1966. The ceasefire was criticized by many Pakistanis who, relying on official reports and the controlled Pakistani press, believed that the leadership had surrendered military gains. The protests led to student riots. Pakistan State's reports had suggested that their military was performing admirably in the war - which they blamed as being initiated by India - and thus the Tashkent Declaration was seen as having forfeited the gains. Some recent books written by Pakistani authors, including one by ex-ISI chief titled "The Myth of 1965 Victory", allegedly exposed Pakistani fabrications about the war, but all copies of the book were bought by Pakistan Army to prevent publication because the topic was "too sensitive".
India and Pakistan accused each other of ceasefire violations; India charged Pakistan with 585 violations in 34 days, while Pakistan countered with accusations of 450 incidents by India. In addition to the expected exchange of small arms and artillery fire, India reported that Pakistan utilized the ceasefire to capture the Indian village of Chananwalla in the Fazilka sector. This village was recaptured by Indian troops on 25 December. On October 10, a B-57 Canberra on loan to the PAF was damaged by 3 SA-2 missiles fired from the IAF base at Ambala A Pakistani Army Auster was shot down on 16 December, killing one Pakistani army captain and on 2 February 1967, an AOP was shot down by IAF Hunters.
The ceasefire remained in effect until the start of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
Indian military intelligence gave no warning of the impending Pakistan invasion. The Indian Army failed to recognize the presence of heavy Pakistani artillery and armaments in Chumb and suffered significant losses as a result.
The " Official History of the 1965 War", drafted by the Ministry of Defence of India in 1992, was a long suppressed document that revealed other miscalculations. According to the document, on September 22 when the Security Council was pressing for a ceasefire, the Indian Prime Minister asked commanding Gen. Chaudhuri if India could possibly win the war, were he to delay accepting the ceasefire. The general replied that most of India's frontline ammunition had been used up and the Indian Army had suffered considerable tank losses. It was determined later that only 14% of India's frontline ammunition had been fired and India held twice the number of tanks as Pakistan. By this time, the Pakistani Army had used close to 80% of its ammunition.
Air Chief Marshal (retd) P.C. Lal, who was the Vice Chief of Air Staff during the conflict, points to the lack of coordination between the IAF and the Indian army. Neither side revealed its battle plans to the other. The battle plans drafted by the Ministry of Defence and General Chaudhari, did not specify a role for the Indian Air Force in the order of battle. This attitude of Gen. Chaudhari was referred to by ACM Lal as the "Supremo Syndrome", a patronizing attitude sometimes attributed to the Indian army towards the other branches of the Indian Military.
The Pakistani Army also failed to recognize that the Indian policy makers would order an attack on the southern sector in order to open a second theater of conflict. Pakistan was forced to dedicate troops to the southern sector to protect Sialkot and Lahore instead using them to support penetrating into Kashmir.
"Operation Grand Slam", which was launched by Pakistan to capture Akhnoor, a town north-east of Jammu and a key region for communications between Kashmir and the rest of India, was also a failure. Many Pakistani commentators criticized the Ayub Khan administration for being indecisive during Operation Grand Slam. These critics claim that the operation failed because Ayub Khan knew the importance of Akhnur to India (having called it India's "jugular vein") and did not want to capture it and drive the two nations into an all-out war. Despite progress being made in Akhnur, General Ayub Khan relieved the commanding Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik and replaced him with Gen. Yahya Khan. A 24-hour lull ensued the replacement, which allowed the Indian army to regroup in Akhnur and successfully oppose a lackluster attack headed by General Yahya Khan. "The enemy came to our rescue", asserted the Indian Chief of Staff of the Western Command. Later, Akhtar Hussain Malik criticized Ayub Khan for planning Operation Gibraltar, which was doomed to fail, and for relieving him of his command at a crucial moment in the war. Malik threatened to expose the truth about the war and the army's failure, but later dropped the idea for fear of being banned.
Some authors have noted that Pakistan might have been emboldened by a war game - conducted in March 1965, at the Institute of Defence Analysis, USA. The exercise concluded that, in the event of a war with India, Pakistan would win. Other authors like Stephen Philip Cohen, have consistently commented that the Pakistan Army had "acquired an exaggerated view of the weakness of both India and the Indian military... the 1965 war was a shock".
Pakistani Air Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of PAF during the war, Nur Khan, later said that the Pakistan Army, and not India, should be blamed for starting the war. However propaganda in Pakistan about the war continued; the war was not rationally analyzed in Pakistan, with most of the blame being heaped on the leadership and little importance given to intelligence failures that persisted until the debacle of the 1971 war, when Pakistan was comprehensively defeated and dismembered by India, leading to the creation of Bangladesh.
Following imposition of the American embargo, other NATO allies (including the UK) discontinued providing military equipment to the nations.
Both before and during the war, China had been a major military associate of Pakistan and had invariably admonished India, with whom it had fought a war in 1962. There were also reports of Chinese troop movements on the Indian border to support Pakistan. As such, India agreed to the UN mandate in order to avoid a war on both borders.
India's participation in the Non-Aligned Movement yielded little support from its members. Pakistan, however, gained assistance from countries of Asia with large Islamic populations, including Turkey, Iran and Indonesia. The USSR was more neutral than most other nations during the war and even invited both nations to talks that it would host in Tashkent.
India continued to increase its defense spending after the war. The Indian Military, which was already undergoing rapid expansions, made improvements in command and control to address some shortcomings. Partly as a result of the inefficient information gathering preceding the war, India established the Research and Analysis Wing for external espionage and intelligence.
India viewed the American policy during the war as biased, since Pakistan had started the war but the US did little to restrain Pakistan. After the war, India slowly started aligning with the Soviet Union, both politically and militarily. This would be cemented formally years later before the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
In light of the failures of the previous war against the Chinese, the performance in this war was viewed as a "politico-strategic" victory in India. The Indian premier, Shastri was hailed as a hero in India.
At the conclusion of the war, many Pakistanis considered the performance of their military to be positive. September 6 is celebrated as 'Defence Day' in Pakistan, in commemoration of the successful defence of Lahore against the Indian army. The performance of the Pakistani Air Force, in particular, was praised.
The myth of a mobile, hard hitting Pakistan Army, however, was badly dented in the war, as critical breakthroughs were not made. Several Pakistani writers criticized the military's ill-founded belief that their "Martial Race" of soldiers could defeat India in the war. Moreover, Pakistan had lost more ground than it had gained during the war and, more importantly, failed to achieve its goal of occupying Kashmir; this result has been viewed by many impartial observers as a defeat for Pakistan.
Many high ranking Pakistani officials and military experts later criticized the faulty planning of Operation Gibraltar that ultimately led to the war. The Tashkent declaration was also criticized in Pakistan, though few citizens realised the gravity of the situation that existed at the end of the war.
Political leaders were also criticized. Following the advice of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's foreign minister, Ayub Khan had raised very high expectations among the people of Pakistan about the superiority - if not invincibility - of its armed forces, but Pakistan's inability to attain its military aims during the war, created a political liability for Ayub. The defeat of its Kashmiri ambitions in the war led to the army's invincibility being challenged by an increasingly vocal opposition. And with the war creating a huge financial burden, Pakistan's economy, which had witnessed rapid progress in the early 60s, took a severe beating.
Pakistan was surprised by the lack of support by the United States, an ally with whom the country had signed an Agreement of Cooperation. USA declared its neutrality in the war by cutting off military supplies to both sides, leading Islamabad to believe that they were "betrayed" by the United States. After the war, Pakistan would increasingly look towards China as a major source of military hardware and political support.
Another negative consequence of the war was the growing resentment against the Pakistani government in East Pakistan(present day Bangladesh), particularly for West Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir. Bengali leaders accused the central government of not providing adequate security for East Pakistan during the conflict, even though large sums of money were taken from the east to finance the war for Kashmir. In fact, despite some Pakistan Air Force attacks being launched from bases in East Pakistan during the war, India did not retaliate in that sector, although East Pakistan was defended only by an understrenghted infantry division (14 Division), sixteen planes and no tanks. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was critical of the disparity in military resources deployed in East and West Pakistan, calling for greater autonomy for East Pakistan, which ultimately led to the Bangladesh Liberation war and another war between India and Pakistan in 1971.