An Over­view of 1965 Indo-Pak Con­flict Strate­gic and Op­er­a­tional In­sights

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Lal Ba­hadur Shas­tri wanted to en­sure that the world un­der­stood that the con­flict was started by Pak­istan and wanted a ceasefire with­out con­di­tions


The Pak­istani troika were aware that with mod­ernised armed forces Pak­istan was in a mil­i­tar­ily strong po­si­tion to de­feat In­dia par­tic­u­larly since In­dia was in a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion on the sub­con­ti­nent with a Chi­nese threat to the north and Pak­istani threats from east and west

IN­DIA’S DE­FEAT IN 1962 en­cour­aged the Pak­istani troika com­pris­ing Field Mar­shal Ayub Khan, Pres­i­dent of Pak­istan, Zul­fikar Ali Bhutto, the For­eign Min­is­ter and Gen­eral Muham­mad Musa the Com­man­der in Chief, to per­ceive that In­di­ans were not fight­ers. Field Mar­shal Ayub Khan had stated that one Pak­istani soldier was equal to three In­dian sol­diers. The troika were con­vinced that once the new mil­i­tary hard­ware was re­ceived from the United States as mem­bers of SEATO and CENTO, and was ab­sorbed by its armed forces, Jammu and Kash­mir could be wrested from In­dia. They also ap­pre­ci­ated that in ad­di­tion if an im­por­tant city like Amritsar were cap­tured by the Pak­istani Army, In­dia would have to agree to the ac­ces­sion of Jammu and Kash­mir to Pak­istan. More­over Pak­istan saw China as an ally who could be counted upon for their de­vi­ous plans against In­dia.

From 1954 to 1963, Pak­istan re­ceived a va­ri­ety of ar­ma­ment from the US for its army, navy and air force. The army re­ceived 650 Pat­ton, M 36B2 Tank Busters, Chaf­fee and Walker Bull­dog tanks, 200 M113 Armoured Pro­tected Car­ri­ers (APCs), 105mm and 155mm ar­tillery guns, anti-tank re­coil­less ri­fles (RCLs) and Cobra anti-tank mis­siles and a large quan­tity of small arms and ma­chine guns of var­i­ous types. The air force was equipped with two B-57 bomber squadrons, one F-104 su­per­sonic squadron, nine F-86 Sabre jet squadrons, one C-130 trans­port squadron, six other squadrons of var­i­ous air­craft, 30 he­li­copters, Fal­con Sidewinder mis­siles and many types of bombs and rock­ets. The navy was mod­ernised with one cruiser, five de­stroy­ers, eight minesweep­ers, one wa­ter tanker, one sub­ma­rine and three tugs. All these weapon sys­tems were front line equip­ment of NATO forces and to en­sure in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, the Pak­istani armed forces were suit­ably trained.

Fol­low­ing its de­feat in Indo-China con­flict of 1962, In­dia ex­panded its de­fence bud­get from ` 300 crore in 1962 to over ` 800 crore in 1965. Most of this de­fence ex­pen­di­ture went to­wards rais­ing ad­di­tional moun­tain di­vi­sions to face a threat from China. It needs to be re­mem­bered that the de­feat in NEFA in 1962 in­volved only 4 In­fantry Di­vi­sion in the Ka­meng Di­vi­sion of NEFA and one in­fantry brigade fur­ther east at Wa­long in the Lo­hit Di­vi­sion. The In­dian Army had given a good ac­count of it­self in Ladakh and along the Indo-Ti­bet bor­der. The ma­jor weapon sys­tems of In­dia were mainly those that had been em­ployed dur­ing World War II. For the land bat­tle the Pak­istani M 47 and M 48 Pat­ton tanks com­pletely out­classed our main bat­tle tank, the Cen­tu­rion Mk VII, in mo­bil­ity, fire­power and pro­tec­tion, at least in the­ory. Pak­istan Army (GHQ) tak­ing a cal­cu­lated risk by not keep­ing any tanks as war wastage re­serves, raised eight pure Pat­ton reg­i­ments and three mixed reg­i­ments in which there was one squadron out of three of M 36B2 Tank de­stroy­ers. The M 36B2 had the same gun as the Pat­ton tank and clev­erly, the GHQ, had in­stalled the Pat­ton gun on their Sher­man Mk II fleet cre­at­ing four armoured reg­i­ments called Tank De­liv­ery Units that were es­sen­tially ar­mour avail­able to its in­fantry di­vi­sions. Pak­istani Pat­ton tanks, M 36B2 and Sher­man II up­gunned tanks could de­stroy any known In­dian tank whereas In­dia had only four Cen­tu­rion Mk VII reg­i­ments that could com­pete against Pak­istani armoured reg­i­ments. The Pak­istani ar­tillery with its new equip­ment was far su­pe­rior to In­dian ar­tillery both in range and fire­power. The fire­power with Pak­istani in­fantry was also much greater than that in the In­dian in­fantry unit. In the air, the Pak­istani F-104 Starfighter and F-86 Sabre Jet out­classed In­dian com­bat air­craft. Pak­istan by mod­ernising its armed forces had achieved tech­ni­cal and or­gan­i­sa­tional su­pe­ri­or­ity and sur­prise.

Pak­istan knew In­dian mil­i­tary weak­nesses and Bhutto who had vis­ited China as­sured the Pres­i­dent of Pak­istan and its Com­man­der in Chief that in the event of a con­flict in the sub­con­ti­nent, China would en­sure that In­dia would be un­able to move forces from the eastern theatre. How­ever, there was still a need to test the met­tle of In­dian Army and In­dia’s will be­fore mov­ing on to Kash­mir and a wider con­test of arms.

Pak­istan Launches Op­er­a­tion Desert Hawk in Kutch

On April 9, 1965, Pak­istani 51 In­fantry Brigade with 24 Cav­alry (Pat­ton tanks), crossed the in­ter­na­tional bor­der in the Kutch area by ar­ro­gantly claim­ing that In­dia was in oc­cu­pa­tion of Pak­istani ter­ri­tory! To the Pak­istani higher com­mand, the In­dian re­ac­tion by its Kilo Sec­tor to the in­tru­sion in Kutch seemed to prove that In­dia was on the de­fen­sive. Air Chief Mar­shal As­ghar Khan of Pak­istan sur­pris­ingly called his coun­ter­part in In­dia, Air Chief Mar­shal Ar­jan Singh and sug­gested that air forces of the two coun­tries should not con­trib­ute to the es­ca­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Lal Ba­hadur Shas­tri was in­formed about the mes­sage from Pak­istan and on ask­ing Ar­jan Singh his views, was told by the Chief of Air Staff that air forces of both coun­tries should not be em­ployed. Gen­eral J.N. Chaudhuri, Chief of Army Staff, sug­gested that the Kutch area was not suit­able for large scale em­ploy­ment of forces and it would suit In­dia not to es­ca­late the con­flict there. If re­quired, In­dia could es­ca­late war at a place of own choos­ing.

Pak­istan’s Op­er­a­tion Gi­bral­tar – In­fil­tra­tion into Jammu and Kash­mir

The Kutch op­er­a­tion was ac­tu­ally the first phase of Pak­istani strat­egy while the sec­ond phase had al­ready started in tan­dem. Pak­istan be­lieved that there was con­sid­er­able un­rest against In­dia amongst the pop­u­la­tion in Kash­mir and all that was re­quired was a spark to set off a con­fla­gra­tion and Kash­mir would fall to Pak­istan. A ‘Gi­bral­tar Force’ was raised by Pak­istan for in­fil­tra­tion into

Pak­istan by mod­ernising its armed forces had achieved tech­ni­cal and or­gan­i­sa­tional su­pe­ri­or­ity and sur­prise

Kash­mir and Ma­jor Gen­eral Akhtar Hus­sain Ma­lik, Gen­eral Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing 12 In­fantry Di­vi­sion, a fol­lower of the Ah­madiya Mus­lim sect, was named com­man­der of this force. On May 26, 1965, four cen­tres were opened in Pak­istan oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (PoK) to train the force in guer­rilla oper­a­tions. The en­tire force of 30,000 was or­gan­ised into eight sub-forces with five com­pa­nies each that had 110 men in a com­pany. Pak­istani Army bri­gadiers com­manded each sub-force while its of­fi­cers com­manded com­pa­nies and Ju­nior Com­mis­sioned Of­fi­cers and Non Com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers pro­vided the stiff­en­ing in lower com­mands. On Au­gust 1, 1965, Ma­jor Gen­eral Ma­lik re­ceived the ‘go-ahead’ from the GHQ and on Au­gust 5, armed in­fil­tra­tors crossed the ceasefire line (CFL) be­tween Jammu and Kargil into Jammu and Kash­mir.

Counter Of­fen­sives Planned by the In­dian Army

At the start of the con­flict in Kutch, the In­dian Army had moved to the western bor­der against Pak­istan un­der Op­er­a­tion Ablaze. The army re­mained in place even af­ter the Indo-Pak agree­ment of Kutch and plans were made for the dif­fer­ent con­tin­gen­cies that might arise if there were a con­flict with Pak­istan. In April 1965 the In­dian Army cre­ated a new for­ma­tion, I Corps, that was to be a strike corps to op­er­ate in the plains, a con­cept new to the sub­con­ti­nent. I Corps was to carry out swift, flex­i­ble and dev­as­tat­ing oper­a­tions into Pak­istan how­ever the means to do so were lim­ited. 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion was the only for­ma­tion ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing out mo­bile oper­a­tions whereas In­dia’s in­fantry di­vi­sions that were to be part of this Corps did not have match­ing mo­bil­ity. At this stage there were no higher di­rec­tions of war is­sued by the gov­ern­ment to its armed forces. Thus army and theatre plans emerged as the war ob­jec­tives were de­fined by the gov­ern­ment. It is only on May 15, 1965, that Gen­eral J.N. Chaudhuri stated the ob­jec­tives of XI Corps. These were: to pro­tect In­dian ter­ri­tory from Pak­istani ag­gres­sion and oc­cu­pa­tion, to pose a threat to La­hore by se­cur­ing the Ichogil Canal and de­struc­tion of en­emy forces, par­tic­u­larly his newly ac­quired ar­mour. No part of these ob­jec­tives called for the cap­ture of La­hore how­ever the de­struc­tion of en­emy forces was an im­per­a­tive. The ob­jec­tives of the new I Corps in­volved cross­ing the In­ter­na­tional Bor­der be­tween the Road Jammu-Sialkot and Bas­an­tar River and se­cure a bridge­head in Area Pagowal (Bhagowal)-Phillora-Cross Roads with a view to ad­vanc­ing to­wards Mar­ala Ravi Link Canal and even­tu­ally to the line of Dhale­wali-Wuhilam-Daska-Mand­hali. How­ever the de­struc­tion of en­emy forces re­mained a con­stant. The Western Army Com­man­der’s plan for a launch of the I Corps across Ravi River into Pak­istan was not ac­cepted and nei­ther was he called for a con­fer­ence to Army Head­quar­ters when the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) de­cided the ob­jec­tives for I Corps. This cre­ated a breach be­tween the COAS and the Western Army Com­man­der. This wound con­tin­ued to fes­ter to the disad­van­tage of I Corps through­out the war.

Pak­istan’s Op­er­a­tion Grand Slam and In­dian Re­ac­tions

On launch­ing Op­er­a­tion Gi­bral­tar on Au­gust 5, Pak­istan had hoped for the ben­e­fit of sur­prise but a shep­herd in Gul­marg re­ported strange peo­ple in the area and very soon an In­dian Army re­sponse was set in mo­tion. To the as­ton­ish­ment of Pak­istan the peo­ples of Kash­mir did not welcome the in­fil­tra­tors and rather gave them up to the In­dian Army.

To stem the in­flux of in­fil­tra­tors the In­dian Army felt free to also step over the CFL and plug the routes of in­fil­tra­tion. With the cap­ture of the Haji Pir pass on Au­gust 29, a link up was ef­fected be­tween Uri and Poonch. It was ev­i­dent to Pak­istan that Op­er­a­tion Gi­bral­tar was a fail­ure and a large num­ber of troops of Gi­bral­tar Force were trapped in Kash­mir. Pak­istani high com­mand felt the only ex­pe­di­ent avail­able was to launch an im­me­di­ate at­tack into the Ch­hamb Sec­tor with the ob­ject of cap­tur­ing Akhnoor and then Jammu and hop­ing that since the at­tack was in Jammu and Kash­mir, In­dia would re­act only in that state and not across the In­ter­na­tional Bound­ary (IB) else­where. Should In­dia re­act across the IB, Pak­istan GHQ had plans for at­tacks by 6 Armoured Di­vi­sion and 15 In­fantry Di­vi­sion to­wards Jammu, Samba and Sialkot; and 11 In­fantry Di­vi­sion and 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion to en­cir­cle the city of Amritsar through Khem Karan by cap­tur­ing Harike and the Beas River Bridge. This was named Op­er­a­tion Grand Slam.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Akhtar Hus­sain Ma­lik of 12 In­fantry Di­vi­sion was given the task of at­tack in Ch­hamb Sec­tor in ad­di­tion to the ac­tions of Gi­bral­tar Force. With troops hastily given to him from 6 Armoured Di­vi­sion and 7 In­fantry Di­vi­sion and some from his own di­vi­sion, he at­tacked across the CFL and parts of the In­ter­na­tional Bound­ary, into the Ch­hamb Sec­tor, on the morn­ing of Septem­ber 1, 1965. The ini­tia­tive hav­ing been seized by Pak­istan, In­dia could only re­act. The COAS was in Sri­na­gar when the at­tack was re­ported to him and he im­me­di­ately in­formed the Prime Min­is­ter. On land­ing at Delhi the same af­ter­noon, the COAS went to meet the Prime Min­is­ter and re­quested for the air force to in­ter­vene in Ch­hamb and by 1719 hours the air force went into ac­tion there. On Septem­ber 2, the Prime Min­is­ter met the COAS and it was de­cided that in or­der to de­fend Kash­mir it was es­sen­tial to make a di­ver­sion­ary at­tack on West Pak­istan which would force the Pak­ista­nis to give up their ven­ture in Kash­mir and de­fend their own ter­ri­to­ries. The same evening a con­fer­ence was held at Army Head­quar­ters chaired by the COAS and at­tended by Lt Gen­eral Har­baksh Singh, VrC, the Western Army Com­man­der, Lt Gen­eral P.O. Dunn, Gen­eral Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing I Corps, Ma­jor Gen­eral Ra­jin­dar Singh ‘Spar­row,’ MVC and staff of­fi­cers and a pro­vi­sional date for the of­fen­sive was set for Septem­ber 4/5, 1965.

On Septem­ber 3, 1965, the Prime Min­is­ter called a meet­ing with Y.B. Cha­van, the Min­is­ter of De­fence, Gen­eral J.N. Chaudhuri and Air Chief Mar­shal Ar­jan Singh and the fol­low­ing war ob­jec­tives for­mu­lated: to de­fend against Pak­istan’s at­tempts to grab Kash­mir by force and to make it abun­dantly clear that Pak­istan would never be al­lowed to wrest Kash­mir from In­dia; to de­stroy the of­fen­sive power of Pak­istan’s armed forces and to oc­cupy only min­i­mum Pak­istani ter­ri­tory, nec­es­sary to achieve these pur­poses which would be va­cated af­ter a sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion of the war. The In­dian Navy was not to take part in the con­flict and keep within the 200 mile limit from the In­dian coast. The war ob­jec­tives were a re­ac­tion to Pak­istani of­fen­sive in Ch­hamb Sec­tor, and were de­signed to force the Pak­istan Army to pull out forces from that sec­tor to meet In­dian threats else­where. The Pak­istani of­fen­sive in Ch­hamb Sec­tor was halted along Fat­wal Ridge on Septem­ber 5, both by nar­row­ing of ter­rain be­tween the hills and Chenab River; and the dogged de­fence by 28 In­fantry brigade.

In­dian Army’s 11 Corps Coun­terof­fen­sive in Punjab

The strat­egy in XI Corps Zone was to ad­vance af­ter last light from Am­bala, Ferozepur and Amritsar, on axes Amritsar-Do­grai-La­hore with 15 In­fantry Di­vi­sion, Bhikki­wind-Bark­iLa­hore with 7 In­fantry Di­vi­sion and Khem Karan-Ka­sur-La­hore with 4 Moun­tain Di­vi­sion, se­cure the line of Ich­hogil Canal by last light on Septem­ber 6. 4 Moun­tain Di­vi­sion was to move the long­est dis­tance, into sec­tor pre­dicted to be the sec­tor of the launch of Pak­istani of­fen­sive but had only six bat­tal­ions and a moun­tain ar­tillery brigade that did not have the punch of ar­tillery in other sec­tors. 7 In­fantry Di­vi­sion ad­vanced steadily on the cen­tral axis and by 2030 hours on Septem­ber 10, cap­tured Barki on the Ich­hogil Canal. 15 In­fantry Di­vi­sion ad­vanced on the north­ern axis and af­ter an ini­tial suc­cess of reach­ing the Ich­hogil Canal with some troops across it on Septem­ber 6, had to fall back and it was only on Septem­ber 22 that Do­grai was cap­tured and the east bank of the Ich­hogil se­cured. On the south­ern axis, there was some suc­cess to­wards Ka­sur on the Rohi Nal­lah short of the Ich­hogil Canal and at Theh Pan­nuan how­ever a coun­ter­at­tack by 11 In­fantry Di­vi­sion of Pak­istan forced the di­vi­sion back to the Chima-As­sal Ut­tar area where it went into de­fence.

Pak­istan 11 In­fantry Di­vi­sion and parts of 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion launched a se­ries of at­tacks on 4 Di­vi­sion and 9 Horse at Chima-As­sal Ut­tar be­tween Septem­ber 8 and 10. In­dian 2 In­de­pen­dent Armoured Brigade ar­rived in sec­tor by the evening of Septem­ber 8 and 3 Cav­alry equipped with Cen­tu­rion Mk VII tanks changed the bal­ance of forces in favour of In­dia. In a bril­liant of­fen­sive-de­fen­sive bat­tle by 2 In­de­pen­dent Armoured Brigade, 9 Horse and the pivot of 4 Moun­tain Di­vi­sion de­fences at Chima-As­sal Ut­tar, all at­tacks by Paki- stani forces were de­feated with a loss of 97 tanks of which most were Pat­ton tanks. With a ma­jor vic­tory by In­dian 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion at Phillora on Septem­ber 11 in the Sialkot Sec­tor, Pak­istan pulled out 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion from Khem Karan and sent it to Sialkot Sec­tor. Hence­forth there was no ar­mour threat to the XI Corps Zone.

In­dian Army’s 1 Corps Coun­terof­fen­sive in Sialkot Sec­tor

I Corps be­gan its ad­vance into the Rachna Doab—the area be­tween the Ravi and Chenab Rivers—on Septem­ber 8 by when un­known to our for­ma­tions, the Pak­istani 6 Armoured Di­vi­sion had moved into the sec­tor and placed a strong com­bat com­mand of two Pat­ton reg­i­ments and one mo­torised bat­tal­ion 45 min­utes away from Phillora, the main ob­jec­tive of 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion. 26 In­fantry Di­vi­sion of the corps that had been tasked to con­tain Sialkot suc­cess­fully es­tab­lished bridge­heads on two axes to Sialkot by the morn­ing of Septem­ber 8. Two brigades of 6 Moun­tain Di­vi­sion es­tab­lished bridge­heads for 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion that broke out from one of them at Charwa at first light on Septem­ber 8. Post mon­soon the area was thick with su­gar­cane, paddy and maize fields and the soil was soft mak­ing the ‘go­ing’ for tanks tricky. 16 Cav­alry ad­vanced too rapidly and came to a meet­ing en­gage­ment with two Pat­ton squadrons and suf­fered ca­su­al­ties. 17 (Poona) Horse also con­tacted a squadron of Pat­ton tanks. The brigade com­man­der de­cided not to con­tinue frontal at­tacks that day and the di­vi­sion com­man­der, tak­ing over the bat­tle, felt re­con­nais­sance was es­sen­tial to make a plan to get to the flank of the en­emy and de­stroy him. Hav­ing made a plan, the di­vi­sion com­man­der de­cided to keep no re­serves and at­tack with three Cen­tu­rion reg­i­ments si­mul­ta­ne­ously from a flank on Septem­ber 11, to de­stroy the en­emy and cap­ture Phillora. Although there were two Sher­man tank reg­i­ments also in the di­vi­sion, they could not be em­ployed in an of­fen­sive against Pat­ton tanks. The at­tack on Phillora was launched on Septem­ber 11. By 1130 hours 11 Cav­alry Pat­ton tanks were dec­i­mated; there fol­lowed a counter at­tack by 10 Cav­alry (Guides) Pat­ton tanks and this was se­verely mauled. By 1530 hours Phillora was cap­tured and 51 Pat­ton and M 36B2 tanks had been de­stroyed. The myth of the su­pe­ri­or­ity of Pat­ton tanks had been shat­tered by the courage and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of tank crews of 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion. Pak­istan now re­alised that the strate­gic cen­tre of grav­ity had shifted to the north­ern plains of Pak­istan with the threat to Sialkot. At this stage there was no cred­i­ble threat to XI Corps Zone and re­peated re­quests by GOC 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion and GOC 1 Corps for move of ad­di­tional ar­mour to Sialkot Sec­tor failed to elicit a re­sponse by Western Com­mand. By Septem­ber 23, 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion had de­stroyed 162 en­emy tanks and I Corps had cap­tured 200 square miles of Pak­istani ter­ri­tory. Had the Western Com­mand agreed to the move of 2 In­de­pen­dent Armoured Brigade to Sialkot Sec­tor, the progress of In­dian of­fen­sive could have brought Pak­istan to its knees.

Build­ing World Opin­ion

While the bat­tles were go­ing on the Prime Min­is­ter was en­gaged in build­ing world opin­ion in the favour of In­dia and ac­cept­ing a ceasefire only if it suited the war ob­jec­tives of In­dia. He sent a gov­ern­men­tal team headed by M.C. Chagla to the United Na­tions in New York. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously he hosted the visit of U. Thant, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the United Na­tions, on Septem­ber 7. The Prime Min­is­ter wanted to en­sure that the world un­der­stood that the con­flict was started by Pak­istan by launch­ing first Op­er­a­tion Gi­bral­tar and then Op­er­a­tion Grand Slam. He also wanted a ceasefire with­out con­di­tions that Pak­istan wanted by in­clud­ing a res­o­lu­tion of the Kash­mir is­sue. It was through his pa­tience, in­tel­li­gence and per­se­ver­ance that dates to ceasefire kept shift­ing from Septem­ber 14 to Septem­ber 16 and then fi­nally, with­out pre-con­di­tions, to 2200 hours GMT on Septem­ber 22 cor­re­spond­ing to 0300 hours on Septem­ber 23 in In­dia and 0330 hours in Pak­istan.

In­dia Ad­min­is­ters a De­feat

His­tor­i­cally the Indo-Pak War of 1965 was started by Pak­istan on April 9, 1965, Pak­istan launched the at­tack in Kutch to test the met­tle of In­dian forces. Even while Kutch agree­ment talks were in process, Pak­istan was train­ing 30,000 in­fil­tra­tors led by per­son­nel from the Pak­istani Army to in­fil­trate into Jammu and Kash­mir. On the fail­ure of Op­er­a­tion Gi­bral­tar, Pak­istan launched Op­er­a­tion Grand Slam to cap­ture Akhnoor and Jammu. The Prime Min­is­ter took an enor­mous de­ci­sion fraught by risk, to open a sec­ond front in West Pak­istan that Lt Gen­eral Har­baksh Singh later termed, “the big­gest de­ci­sion by the small­est man!” The plan of XI Corps to se­cure the line of Ich­hogil Canal re­ly­ing only on sur­prise and with­out es­tab­lish­ing ad­e­quate firm bases was faulty, as was the stag­gered launch of I Corps later on Septem­ber 8 af­ter strate­gic sur­prise was lost. With 4 Moun­tain Di­vi­sion dig­ging in its heels at Chima-As­sal Ut­tar and 2 In­de­pen­dent Armoured Brigade with 3 Cav­alry and 9 Horse ex­e­cut­ing an ar­mour of­fen­sive-de­fen­sive bat­tle, 97 tanks of Pak­istani 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion were de­stroyed. The very next day, on Septem­ber 11, 1 Armoured Di­vi­sion won a clas­sic ar­mour bat­tle of ma­noeu­vre at Phillora that changed the cen­tre of grav­ity of the whole cam­paign. With no cred­i­ble ar­mour threat to XI Corps Zone, the Western Com­mand should have shifted max­i­mum of ar­mour into the Sialkot Sec­tor to se­cure a strate­gic vic­tory there.

Con­sid­er­ing the war ob­jec­tives given by the Prime Min­is­ter and de­spite lack of mod­ern weaponry as com­pared to Pak­istan, Jammu and Kash­mir re­mained se­cure and many sen­si­tive ar­eas cap­tured across the CFL, Pak­istani of­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­ity was crushed, and min­i­mum ter­ri­tory was cap­tured. Thus all war ob­jec­tives were met. In­dia and its armed forces had risen to un­pro­voked ag­gres­sion by Pak­istan and ad­min­is­tered a de­feat to Pak­istani arms.

The au­thor took part in 1965 war as a troop leader of 9 Horse (The Dec­can Horse) in the Khem Karan Sec­tor. He with Amarinder Singh, the for­mer Chief Min­is­ter of Punjab, have writ­ten a book on 1965 war which is to be re­leased on Septem­ber 20, 2015.

The Western Army Com­man­der’s plan for a launch of the I Corps across Ravi River into Pak­istan was not ac­cepted and nei­ther was he called for a con­fer­ence to Army Head­quar­ters when the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) de­cided the ob­jec­tives for I Corps. This cre­ated a breach be­tween the COAS and the Western Army Com­man­der.

(Clock­wise from Top Left) De­stroyed Pat­ton tank in bat­tle of Phillora, In­dian troops on Ichogil Canal, Lt Gen­eral Har­baksh Singh, GOC-in-C Western Com­mand in 1965 War, INS Vikrant


(Clock­wise from Top Left) De­fence Min­is­ter Y.B. Cha­van with jawans, Lt Col A.B. Tarapore, PVC, cap­tured weapons in La­hore Sec­tor, Pat­ton tanks de­stroyed in bat­tle of Asal Ut­tar



In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Lal Ba­hadur Shas­tri flanked by Lt Gen­eral Dunn and Ma­jor Gen­eral Spar­row on a tank in the Sialkot sec­tor


Army Chief J.N. Chaudhuri with Lt Col Desmond Hayde, MVC at Ich­hogil Canal af­ter its cap­ture

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