The War of 1965 – India Vs. Pakistan

Indian PM Lal Bahadur Shastri with Indian army

Today is India Vs. Pakistan match at ICC T-20 World Cup. The news channels, at the moment, are showing interviews of cricketers and matches from the past where mighty Indians defeated Pakistan on the ground.

However, today, since it is India Vs. Pakistan, I feel it is fitting to write and share the story of how this could’ve been a Ranji Trophy Match had United Nations known its role and shut its mouth.

The War of 1965 – India Vs. Pakistan

The result of the Sino-India battle of 1962 inspired Pakistan to attack and invade India’s Kashmir: Pakistan had a modernized Army, to which the U.S.A. had contributed substantially. By 1965, Pakistan had acquired an edge over India in artillery, armor, and air-power. This sense of superiority prompted the Pakistanis to plan aggression on Kashmir in 1965. It was a three-phased program. In the first phase, Pak tested the Indian capacity to react in the Rann of Kutch. In the second phase, they attacked Kashmir. In the third phase, Pak tried to the supply line in the Chhamb-Jaurian sector of Jammu.

However, wars are not won by superior weapons. Passionate Indian soldiers routed Pakistanis, and we had our Indian flag over Lahore Police Station before we were forced to sign a ceasefire.

Phase – 1

The Rann of Kutch is an 80 km wide and 515 km long stretch of land bordering Sindh in Pakistan and Gujarat in India.

On 7 April 1965, Pakistan attacked the initial two Indian posts at this border. Later, four more Indian posts were attacked, and Pakistanis took over Vigokot and Biar Bet.The hostilities ended on 1 July 1965, but this excited the Pakistanis, who got ambitious.

Phase – 2

After this assumed achievement in the Rann of Kutch, Pakistan planned to grab the valley of Kashmir by infiltration and sabotage. The conspiracy was code-named ‘Operation Gibraltar.’ 30,000 Raiders (Mujahids) divided into ‘Task Forces’ infiltrated into Kashmir between 1 and 5 August with this intent. The Indian XV Corps took some prompt measures and was able to check the infiltrators within fifteen days. But to obliterate the threat, it was important to seal the entry points of the infiltrators. Indian Army stormed Kargil (in Leh sector), Tangdhar (Tithwal sector), and Haji Pir (in Uri sector) with this intent. To further seal the entry points of the invaders, a link with Punch was effected by 93 Brigade.

In the process, two robust features of Raja and Chand Tekri, held in strength by the enemy, were overcome on 5-6 September 1965. Mirpur area on river Kishanganga was taken care of by 104 Bde. The operation opened in this sector on 24 August and lasted till 21 September. The brigade fought many bloody battles to acquire complete domination in this area. In short, the timely action of the Indian Army (19 Division) turned ‘Gibraltar’ into a total disaster. Pakistan lost TERRIBLY and retreated with almost 30% of its soldiers dead.

Third Phase

Pakistan launched the operation ‘Grand Slam’ to recover the situation. The aim was to reduce Indian forces in the Chhamb area to expedite the capture of Akhnur bridge and Jammu. This, in turn, would have cut the Indian line of communication to Kashmir.

The Pak attack in Division strength came at 0345 hrs on 1 September 1965. Comparative superiority in artillery, armor, and infantry almost guaranteed its success. The Indian 10 Division was still in the making. The 191 Bde responsible for the defense of the region could not stop the Pak three-pronged advance and retreated to Akhnur on 4 September. With Pakistan resuming advance on Akhnur on the 5th, the situation became very risky. India took recourse to diversionary attacks on Pakistan in Lahore, Sialkot, and Rajasthan sectors. This destroyed the Pak dream to bottle up Indian forces in Kashmir.

Lahore

In the Lahore sector, the three Divisions (15, 7, 4) of Indian XI Corps mounted attack on an area extending from Pathankot in the north to Suratgarh in the south. The area was divided into three sectors. The northern sector along the GT Road axis was assigned to 15 Division, the central sector along a the Khalra-Barki axis to 7 Division and the southern sector along the Khem si Karan-Kasur axis to 4 Mountain Division. Necessary armour and artillery Ir support was provided to each division. India took over Lahore Police Station with this attack, and Pakistan was decimated.

Sialkot

To ease pressure on Chhamb, another front was opened by the Indian Army in Sialkot sector by launching 1 Corps on 8 September 1965. 26 Infantry Division carried diversionary move in the north towards Sialkot. 6 Mountain Division attacked the Charwa-Maharajake area and captured it after overcoming Pakistan soldiers. India succeeded in capturing Jassoran and Batur Dograndi on the 16th.

Rajasthan Sector

India opened a third front in the Rajasthan sector to tie down the enemy forces in Sindh. 11 Infantry Division carried operations on the Barmer-Hyderabad axis. Gadra was occupied in the first sweep on 8 September, and Pak Rangers were driven out from many more areas of the desert. Ding dong battle continued in the desert till the end of the war, and Indians made some more gains. In all, India captured 388 sq km of Pak territory in this sector.

We had Lahore (Pakistan’s Punjab), Sindh, and POK under our control when the UN intervened and forced both nations to sign a ceasefire. The Soviet Union, led by Premier Alexei Kosygin, hosted peace negotiations in Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan), where Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Agreement, agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines no later than 25 February 1966. Sadly, our powerful Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri mysteriously passed away after signing the agreement.

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