Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Impeaching General Musharraf [1999-2008] - 4

Faiz wrote:

Dear Aamir Sahib,

You remember who was it in 1970 who said "idhar tum, idhar ham" and "whosoever goes to East Pakistan, we will break his legs"? India was still licking her wounds suffered in the 1965 war. This was a unique opportunity afforded to her (because of our own political blunders) to deal the deadly blow to Pakistan—and she did.


Dear Irfan Sahab,

Recheck your facts about Udhar tum and Idhar Hum.

Bhutto never said those words. If anyone is guilty of what Bhutto’s enemies have called his saying goodbye to East Pakistan, it is Abbas Athar [Now a Columnist rather Editor News in Express News Paper and Express News Channel], who as the enterprising and inventive news editor of daily Azad, Lahore, slapped this colourful headline on a news report of Bhutto’s speech at Nishtar Park, Karachi.

Dear Irfan Sahab,

Regarding 1965 War I would quote a Magazine of Armed Forces Personnel and will resort to rhetorics.

Noted historian, K. K. Aziz, in his “Murder of History: A Critique of History Textbooks Used in Pakistan” (1998) notes that:

“In Pakistani schools and colleges what is being taught as history is really national mythology, and the subjects of Social Studies and Pakistan Studies are nothing but vehicles of political indoctrination. Our children don’t learn history. They are ordered to read a carefully selected collection of falsehoods, fairy tales and plain lies.”

The myth and mystery around the 1965 War is no exception. One would not be surprised that a normal–perhaps even average college educated–Pakistani believes–or is led to believe–that on Sept 6th 1965, India invaded Pakistan (specifically Lahore) and that once thrust into this battle, Pakistan came out to be victorious over its archrival. Both of these facts, on close examination, are quite far from reality. True, India did attack Lahore on September 6th 1965, but it was not the one to force a war on Pakistan in the first place. It was Pakistan’s provocation in the form of Operation Gibralter that led India towards opening the Western front in Pakistan.

It is also true that by the end of the 3rd week of war, both countries had found themselves in a virtual military stalemate. While Pakistan’s armed forces had successfully defended Lahore–thanks, primarily to men like Raja Aziz Bhatti who, despite the failure of leadership at the top-most levels, gave up their lives but not inch of the country’s territory, but also due to the strategic position of the BRB Canal that formed a natural defense for Lahore–all of Pakistan’s offensive maneuvers had come to a naught.

The Operation Gibralter that began in May-June of 1965 to take Indian territory in Kashmir and create an insurgency and popular uprising in the region was frustrated. This launched Operation Grand Slam that was aimed at cutting the Jammu-Rajouri road at Akhnur and to ultimately capture the latter. This operation was unnecessary delayed because of a change in top-military commander–a change widely perceived as unwarranted at that time. Despite these delays, however, as Pakistani troops gained some territory, India launched a full-scale offensive aimed at Lahore (0530 hrs on the 6th) and Sialkot (night between 7th and 8th). The rest as they say is history.

In the ground war itself, there was a military stalemate on virtually all, northern (Kashmir), central ( Lahore), and southern, axes. At the time of the ceasefire, India held 450 square miles of Pakistan’s territory and Pakistan held 1600 square miles of Indian territory. General K. M. Arif, in his book Khaki Shadows, though, highlights that the Indian land gains were mainly in the fertile Sialkot and Kashmir sectors while Pakistani land gains were primarily in deserts opposite Sindh. While Pakistan came out with better numbers in terms of casualties (dead, injured, and missing) and equipment losses, it hardly was victorious as is often claimed by the establishment. Unless you define victory as being able to defend oneself during an offensive operation — hardly a definition indeed.

Apart from the unfortunate myth about who actually started the war itself, another factor that has received much less attention, and for obvious reasons, is why it was started in the first place. At the time of the 1965 War, Pakistan did not really have a full-time Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. General Ayub Khan was, at best, a part-time military commander, as he was too engaged in political affairs of the country. He had chosen General Musa Khan as his full-time Chief of Army Staff but only on the basis of his loyalty to the former rather than merit, competency or professionalism. This lack of leadership and competency at the highest levels of Pakistan’s military during the 1965 became legendary and is well-documented.

Martial Mind Pakistan Officer Corps thought-process about Defence
Columnist Hamid Hussain explores the Pakistan military mind-set.

In 1965, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) led by Brigadier Riaz Hussain had a very poor performance. In less than 48 hours after the launching of Operation Gibraltar, ISI lost all its contacts. Instead of any accountability, Brigadier Riaz was promoted to the rank of Major General. Similarly, Director of Military Intelligence, Brigadier Irshad had very little information about the whole exercise let alone a comprehensive strategy. He admitted to then information minister when asked about the nature and purpose of operation so that ministry could project it. He innocently admitted that the beauty of the operation is that ‘even I know very little about the operation’. He rose up the ranks to become Lt. General and lead a Corps. A senior retired Lt. General while commenting about 1965 war is of the view that ‘the reputation of many senior commanders was tarnished and many others would have come to the limelight but intense personal lobbying prevented any meaningful change’.

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