Athar Osama September 6th, 2007
By: Athar Osama
The origins of the 1965 War between Pakistan and India, its conduct over the course of several weeks, and its consequences are quite complex for one to be able to do justice with it. Add on top of that the fact that countries engage in one-upmanship to try to make exaggerated accusations of who started the war and claims of victory after it ends, primarily in order to manage “public opinion” at home, and it really gets very difficult and tricky. One additional unfortunate factor in lack of quality reporting on the 1965 War was the attempt by Pakistani leadership—both military and civilian—to attempt to destroy the evidence of the circumstances that actually led to this war. General K. M. Arif, in his biography “Khaki Shadows: Pakistan 1947-97” for instance writes that in the immediate aftermath of the 1965 War:
“Pakistan suffered a loss of a different kind…Soon after the War the GHQ ordered all the formations and units of the Pakistan Army to destroy their respective war diaries and submit completed reports to this effect by a given date. This was done…Their [the war diaries’] destruction, a self-inflicted injury and an irreparable national loss, was intellectual suicide.”
— General Khalid Mehmood Arif, Vice Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan Army
While unofficial accounts of the 1965 War by several Pakistani figures that participated in that war, including Ayub’s biographer Altaf Gauhar, Major General Shaukat Riza, Lt. General Gul Hassan, and General Mohammad Musa have since come to the fore, the “official” version of Pakistan’s military plans and objectives from that and how the performance of our commanders and troops differed from these have not surfaced.
Additionally, no effort has been made to systematically evaluate Pakistan’s strategic and operational plans and attempt to learn some lessons from the preparation and conduct of the war. Much of this remains an official secret protected by the Official Secrets Act that does not allow anyone to compromise such information due to a perceived “national interest”. Even General K. M. Arif’s book, for instance, carries only a copy of a map depicting an Indian military plan but none from Pakistan which could have been easily accessible to a person of his stature and position. This then sets the backdrop of this analysis of the preparation and conduct of the 1965 War between India and Pakistan.
Rationale and Preparation for the War
Several events such as the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the frustrations over lack of progress in the Kashmir dispute, and Pakistan’s own victory in the limited Runn of Kutch Affair, contributed to the events that led towards the 1965 War between India and Pakistan.