The 1965 Pak-Indo war was the first direct and limited war between India and Pakistan militarily, on the question of Kashmir, but India raised the ante higher by widening the ambit of the conflict to the legitimate and undisputed border of Pakistan. For India, the aim was to militarily cripple Pakistan; the abdandonment of its efforts, and the stifling of voices raising the slogans of freedom for the Kashmiri cause. For Pakistan, the driving objective was the freedom of Kashmir from Indian occupation that didn’t yield any significant dividends, due to lack of a well-coordinated offense, but Pakistan successfully combated the enemy soldiers and its tanks, artillery and air force in a defensive mode.

There are numerous myths about this war, created because of uncontrolled exaggeration, as propaganda and counter-propaganda are the tools of defense and national support. The revisionist historians have criticised Pakistan for taking the credit of the stalemated war that was stopped on the UN signal of ceasefire on 22 September.

Why we celebrate this day as ‘National Defense Day’, is because Pakistan military defended its internationally recognized border that Indian Army crossed without formal declaration of war at midnight of 6 September 1965, with the intention of celebrating its victory in Lahore.

It is the victory of defending the legitimate borders, and the Indian strategy of coercing Pakistan to forget about Kashmir cause, by the adoption of tactics that violated the internationally recognized borders, apart from the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan had to defend not only Sialkot and Lahore, but also the Line of Control.

When it comes to the comparison of military power of both the countries, it is obvious that quantitively the Indian strength is more than Pakistan, due to its population, but if qualitative aspect is analysed based on the attrition of conventional assets and personnel, the 1965 war is witness to Pakistan’s military capability, particularly in the foremost task of defending the teritorial borders from the invasion of Indians.

Pakistan and India have been hostile since their inceptions. Initially, the problem got momentum at both public and government level. People migrating from across the border witnessed blood and immense hardships. Communal violence in the historically largest migration of 110 million people fosted enmity between the citizens of two neighboring countries. The malice at top political level also matters a lot, and that is rooted in the unfair boundary commission of Cyril Radcliffe.

Thus, Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the Indian and Pakistani governments, and animosity on political issues in public can be observed. India also considers insurgency in Kashmir as a rudimentary concern, which actually is based on the legitimate aspirations of the people of occupied Kashmir.

There are two broader ways of defense, offensive and defensive, and both are of vital significance for any country, based on the prevalent geostrategic variables. A social contract between the citizens and state through its laws is formulated as the constitution of a country, and for that, such institutions provide security to lives and the properties of people, in return of which the citizens devote their precious services for their country. Hence, the foremost duty of state’s institutions is to defend the country against agressors and build peace for stable social, political and economic activities.

The Tashkent Declaration in January 1966 was criticized both in Pakistan and India. In India, their leadership had concerns emanating from the non prevention of Pakistan’s military support to the insurgent groups in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. On the other hand, the Pakistanis were not satisfied by the undermining of the resolution of disputed Kashmir.

What Tashkent Agreement clearly manifested, was to return to previous military positions before August 5th and not to interfere in internal affairs of the other country. Some critics from within Pakistan posited that the 1965 war lead to 1971 war and the separation of Pakistan, but no one has pointed out the violation of East Pakistan’s sovereignty by India in support of the Mukti Bahini movement. It can be accounted as an interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan according to the precepts of the Tashkent Agreement. Hence, not only India violated that declaration, but also was not held accountable on international forums by any powerful states nor in the United Nations.

Sun Tzu, an ancient strategist said, ‘To win a war, it is pre-requisite to know your enemy, know yourself and know the ground’. A well planned strategy that comes as the result of great coordination of various frontline institutions, and its well execution under brilliant leadership bear expected outcome of war. Pakistan has always lacked this capability to thoroughly vanquish its enemy, due to the vested institutional interests.

What was the strategic culture in the last century is not the same in this century, and today to be economically stable, and taking lead in outstanding field of information technology bestow any country a status that Sun Tzu quoted, “Subduing enemy without fighting it”. Unparallel conventional military can be made parallel by achieving nuclear strategy that Pakistan has attained with sufficient build-up of nuclear deterrence.


About Author

Saddam Shah is studying Defence and Strategic Studies at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He takes interests in studying about the insurgencies, terrorism, and politics of the South Asian region. On twitter, he can be reached through the handle @Saddam_Shah98

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