The saga of 1965 war

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Reema Shaukat
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.
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 the Prophet (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 Block whereas, the Sino-Indian border dispute in 1962 happened during the Cuban missile crisis and the developing differences between China and the then USSR 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 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 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.
Time and again, Indian involvement in sabotaging peace in Pakistan brings a bad name to India and the present situation in Kashmir has shown Indian brutality and stubbornness to the world now. National leadership must think and understand the stages on the escalation ladder as both countries now cannot afford any mishaps under the nuclear umbrella. National and foreign policy goals matter the most in winning any situation and Pakistan needs to have a focused foreign policy objectives in order to deal with its adversaries. War being an extremely expensive undertaking should be chosen as an extension of policy and a very last option available. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. can be well related here: “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows”.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.
Email:reema.asim81@gmail.com

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