Pakistan President Field Marshal Ayub Khan wasn’t keen on launching the 1965 offensive in Jammu and Kashmir, but some “political decisions” by India, Sheikh Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan to promote self-determination, death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and unrest at home prompted him to change his mind.
This was stated by a former top ranking officer of the Indian Army at the ‘Military Literature Festival’ in Chandigarh, according to the ‘Hindustan Times’ (HT) online.
Lt Gen Jagbir Singh Cheema (retd), dwelling on the reasons that led to the war, said, “It was in early 1964 that then Pakistan foreign ministerZulfikar Ali Bhutto set up a Kashmir cell to prevent the integration of the hill state into India.”
Ayub, he said, was disinclined to wage a war against India for Kashmir as the US had threatened to stop the supply of weapons in case of any such offensive.
Lt Gen JS Cheema, who retired as the Army’s Deputy Chief on November 30 this year, cited developments in India and Pakistan as plausible reasons for the war and described these as “turning points”, according to ‘The Tribune’.
“Within Jammu and Kashmir, fissures were there for the adversary to exploit,” he said, citing the theft of the holy relic from the Hazratbal Shrine in 1963 and the release of Sheikh Abdullah from prison in 1964 and his subsequent speeches seeking self-determination for J&K.
In India, he said, Article 356 of the Constitution was extended to Jammu and Kashmir on December 1, 1964. Article 356 gives the Centre the power to dismiss a state government. The Government of India then changed the names of Sadar-e-Riyasat and Prime Minister to Governor and Chief Minister, respectively. In 1960, the jurisdiction of the Indian Supreme Court was extended to the state of J&K. On the military front, India was raising new units in 1963 and those could not be launched into war.
The panelists mulled the course of the war and concluded they could have fared better.
Lt Gen TS Shergill (retd) said, “Pakistan was much more flexible than India at a strategic and operational level because of its unitary command right up to the president. India, on the other hand, had quite a few last-minute change of plans that impacted its effectiveness.”
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said the war was a draw.
“As far as 1965 war is concerned, we made little territorial gains. Pakistan occupied some area in Kutch and we made some gains in north Punjab. It was a draw. We didn’t have ammunition to last beyond a week. After that we would have been throwing stones at each other. It was even,” he was quoted as saying by newspaper.
He was replying to a question in a session at the festival on whether India won the 1965 war with Pakistan. Both the countries claim victory in the conflict.
However, Lt Gen TS Shergill, who was also part of the session, said the Indian military did not allow Pakistan to achieve its war objectives. “India secured Kashmir and destroyed their war machines, which they acquired from the US. India didn’t allow them to acquire any territory. They wanted to reach up to the Beas,” he said and described the war as victory for India. On not making the Henderson-Brooks report on the Indo-China 1962 war public, Capt Amarinder said: “The Henderson-Brooks report is being hidden to save political skin. It is a bad decision.”
Commenting on India’s forward policy that led to war with China, he added: “We provoked Chinese. Forward policy was wrong. What was the system? Then defence minister Krishna Menon was shifting battalions. Corps Commander was just obeying orders… 4 Div was building houses in Ambala before going for the war. They didn’t have training. It was unfortunate.”
(Featured photo: Ayub Khan)