Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

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The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, also known as the Second Kashmir War, was the culmination of a series of skirmishes that occurred between April 1965 and September 1965 between India and Pakistan. The war was the second fought between India and Pakistan over the region of Kashmir, the first having been fought in 1947. The war lasted five weeks, resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides and ended in a United Nations (UN) mandated ceasefire. It is generally accepted that the war began following the failure of Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar which was designed to infiltrate and invade Jammu and Kashmir.


  • India fought a second war with Pakistan over Kashmir in 1965, little more than a year after Nehru's death. Pakistan's ruler at the time, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, personally planned Operation Grand Slam, which he hoped would totally cut Kashmir off at its narrow southern neck from India's Punjab. Ayub was a giant of a man, as tall and sturdy as India's Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was small and physically frail. But India's army was four times larger than Pakistan's, and quickly dispelled the popular Pakistani myth that one Muslim soldier was “worth ten Hindus.” Operation Grand Slam ground to a halt as soon as India's tanks rolled west across the Punjab border to the environs of Lahore. 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.
  • Both sides claimed victory in the conflict, with the Indians demonstrating greater tactifcal skill in the use of armour due to superior crew training. It must be realized that the Indian Armoured Corps had been seduced by Pakistani propaganda and entered the conflict in considerable trepidation, believing the Patton (i.e. M-47s and M-48s) to be vastly superior in terms of firepower, protection and mobility to any tank possessed by the Indians. This concern was reflected in many of the official citations for heroism following the war, one of which commended an NCO for an action against "several of the supposedly invulnerable Pattons...".
    Indeed, it appears the Pakistanis were victims of their own propaganda and believed the Patton to be virtually indestructible. This led to their rash tactics in assaulting Indian positions frontally and suffering proportionately higher losses among the Pattons, which invariably led their attacks. In the swirling dust of the Sialkot battles, Centurion fought Patton at ranges seldom exceeding 1,000 yards. The robust Centruion with its simple fire control system proved superior to the M-47 and M-48 Pattons equipped with stereoscopic range-finders and sophisticated ballistic computers, which proved too complex for the ordinary Pakistani "sowar".
    • Peter Sarson, Tony Bryan and David E. Smith, Centrurion Tank in Battle (Osprey - Vanguard 22).
  • Hostilities with Pakistan were to flare up again in 1965 after the Indian government unilaterally announced that Kashmir and Jammu were henceforth to be regarded as similar in status to the other Indian states. This resulted in some fierce, entirely orthodox fighting for local objectives. Apart from skirmishing in the Rann of Kutch (April-May), Pakistan began infiltration backed by artillery across the Kashmir cease-fire line which showed the effectiveness of guerrilla tactic in such terrain, some 10,000 irregulars keeping 50,000 Indian regulars backed by over 200 guns and mortars fully occupied. Hoping that the Indians were sufficiently distracted in this way, on 1 September 1965 the Pakistanis attacked in the lightly-held Chamb sector north of Jammu where there was good tank country, in great armoured strength and with massive artillery support, and were checked by the Indians only after hard fighting. The Indians in turn mounted a limited offensive astride the axis Amritsar-Lahore on 6 September with the aim of drawing the Pakistani tanks away from Chamb and, as it got under way, the larger mission of inflicting decisive casualties on the Pakistani army. Offensive and counter offensive followed for another fortnight and the fighting died down with little territorial advantage, but the score in terms of tanks clearly favouring the Indians who, the Pakistanis began to perceive, were no push-over.
    • Brigadier Shelford Bidwell, The Encyclopedia of Land Warfare in the 20th Century (Salamander Books Ltd 1977), Part 5, Asian Wars of Imperial Succession, p. 164-173.
  • The struggle between India and Pakistan was another postcolonial rivalry that tested détente. The core source of antagonism was the region of Kashmir, whose division in 1948 was (and still is) contested by Pakistan. Initially, India had sought a neutral Cold War stance, but after the Sino-Indian War in 1962 it had gravitated toward the Soviet Union. Pakistan, a formerly staunch member of the Western bloc, after its 1965 war with India moved closer to China. In both instances, the United States, immersed in Vietnam, had stayed aloof, but the Soviet Union in 1966 had gained the gratitude of both parties for its positive role as a mediator.
    • Carole C. Fink, The Cold War: An International History (2017)
  • “The most superficial scanning of the statements produced in connection with the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 provides abundant evidence of the continuing power of the jihad concept in its original drastic and military intent. Fighting the unbeliever is a religious duty of the collectivity and secures religious merit; however ‘secular’ the issues, the simple fact of their involving a confrontation between Muslim and non-Muslim suffices for popular sentiment, and hence for governmental direction, to identify the armed dispute as religious warfare. Denials of this fact by the authorities when they address themselves to a Western audience have no meaning beyond constituting an attempt, inevitable in the present international situation, at making their point in a manner likely to be acceptable to a forum averse to the spirit of the religious crusade and altogether disposed to take for granted the separation between religious sentiment and political action.…
  • Pakistani textbooks are particularly prone to historical narratives manipulated by omission, according to Avril Powell, professor of history at the University of London. History by erasure can have its long-term negative repercussions. An example of this is the manner in which the Indo-Pak War of 1965 is discussed in Pakistani textbooks. In standard narrations of the 65 War manufactured for students and the general public, there is no mention of Operation Gibraltar, even after four decades. In fact, several university level history professors whom I interviewed claimed never to have heard of Operation Gibraltar and the repercussions of that ill-planned military adventurism which resulted in India's attack on Lahore.... Because they were not fully informed about the adventurism of their military leaders, they can only feel betrayed that somehow Pakistani politicians once again "grabbed diplomatic defeat from the jaws of military victory”.
    • Y. Rosser, Islamization of Pakistani Social Studies Textbooks, 2003
  • In 1965, when he was thirteen, Salman became aware of another kind of Islam. This was at the time of the short, inconclusive war with India. “There were songs exhorting mujahids to go to war and promising them paradise, heaven. Mobs of people from the city of Lahore, armed only with clubs, set out to fight the holy war against the infidel Hindu. They had to be turned back. They had been charged up by the mullah. The interesting thing was that the mullah was not leading those people. He was sitting safe in his mosque.”
    • Naipaul, V.S. - Beyond Belief (Vintage, 1999)
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