Sunday, September 16, 2012

Indo-Pak War of 1965 (Courtesy: Maj (R) AH Amin & Col (R) SG Mehdi)

Agha Humayun Amin Major (r) Tank Corps: 13 Years service in Pakistan Army (PAVO 11 Cavalry,29 Cavalry,58 Cavalry,15 Lancers,5 Independent Tank Squadron,14 Lancers,15 SP) and 31 years research . Ex Editor Globe , Ex Assistant Editor Defence Journal , Ex Editor Journal of Afghanistan Studies. Publications: More than 200 articles in News, Nation , PRAVDA,Pakistan Army Journal , Citadel Magazine of Command and Staff College,Journal of Afghanistan Studies,Indian Strategic Review,Dawn ,Friday Times,Outlook Afghanistan ,Afghanistan Times,Frontier Post,Globe,Defence Journal,Media Monitors Network,Pakistan Army till 1965 held at US Army War College Library,US Army Command and Staff College Library,Indo Pak Wars a Strategic and Operational Analysis,Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59 Reinterpreted, The Essential Clausewitz,Man's Role in History: Education/Credentials : Masters (History). Past/Present Clients: Various Think Tanks , Afghanistan Research Associates,Centre for Study of Non State Militant Actors in Afghanistan and Pakistan. REFERENCE: Military History/Expert Profile http://www.allexperts.com/ep/669-79767/Military-History/Agha-Humayun-Amin-Major.htm A.H Amin-Books and Publications http://low-intensity-conflict-review.blogspot.com/


2005: Nur Khan reminisces ’65 war: ISLAMABAD, Sept 5: Air Marshal (retired) Nur Khan, the man who led the airforce achieve complete superiority over the three times bigger Indian airforce on the very first day of the 1965 war, had all but resigned the post the very day that he took command of Pakistan Air Force on July 23, 1965. “Rumours about an impending operation were rife but the army had not shared the plans with other forces,” Air Marshal Nur Khan said. Sharing his memoirs with Dawn on the 40th anniversary of 1965 war, Air Marshal Khan said that he was the most disturbed man on the day, instead of feeling proud. Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan while handing over the command to Nur Khan had not briefed him about any impending war because he was not aware of it himself. So, in order to double check, Nur Khan called on the then Commander-in-Chief, General Musa Khan. Under his searching questions Gen Musa wilted and with a sheepish smile admitted that something was afoot. Nur Khan’s immediate reaction was that this would mean war. But, Gen Musa said you need not to worry as according to him Indians would not retaliate. Then he directed a still highly skeptical Nur Khan to Lt-Gen Akhtar Hasan Malik, GOC Kashmir, the man in-charge of “Operation Gibraltar” for further details. The long and short of his discussion with Gen Malik was, “don’t worry, because the plan to send in some 800,000 infiltrators inside the occupied territory to throw out the Indian troops with the help of the local population”, was so designed that the Indians would not be able retaliate and therefore the airforce need not get into war-time mode. A still incredulous Nur Khan was shocked when on further inquiry he found that except for a small coterie of top generals, very few in the armed forces knew about “Operation Gibraltar”. He asked himself how good, intelligent and professional people like Musa and Malik could be so naive, so irresponsible. For the air marshal, it was unbelievable. Even the then Lahore garrison commander had not been taken into confidence. And Governor of West Pakistan, Malik Amir Mohammad Khan of Kalabagh did not know what was afoot and had gone to Murree for vacations. It was at this point that he felt like resigning and going home. But then he thought such a rash move would further undermine the country’s interests and, therefore, kept his cool and went about counting his chickens — the entire airforce was too young and too inexperienced to be called anything else then — and gearing up his service for the D-day. The miracle that the PAF achieved on September 6, to a large extent, is attributed to Nur Khan’s leadership. He led his force from up front and set personal example by going on some highly risky sorties himself. But then no commander, no matter how daring and how professional, can win a battle if his troops are not fully geared to face such challenges and that too within 43 days of change in command. The full credit for turning the PAF into a highly professional and dedicated fighting machine goes to Air Marshal Asghar Khan who was given charge of the service in 1957. Thank God, unlike the other service no darbari or sifarishi was given the job. And by the time he left on July 23, 1965, Asghar Khan had turned the PAF into a well-oiled, highly professional and dedicated fighting machine and had trained them on the then best US made fighters, bombers and transport planes. Those who flew those machines and those who maintained them on ground worked like a team, and each one of the PAF member performed beyond the call of duty to make a miracle. The PAF performance had crucially allowed the Army to operate without interference from the Indian airforce. “The performance of the Army did not match that of the PAF mainly because the leadership was not as professional. They had planned the ‘Operation Gibraltar’ for self-glory rather than in the national interest. It was a wrong war. And they misled the nation with a big lie that India rather than Pakistan had provoked the war and that we were the victims of Indian aggression”, Air Marshal Khan said. When on the second day of war President Gen Ayub wanted to know how we were faring, Musa informed him that the Army had run out of even ammunition. That was the extent of preparation in the Army. And the information had shocked Gen Ayub so much that it could have triggered his heart ailment, which overtook him a couple of years later. This in short is Nur Khan’s version of 1965 war, which he calls an unnecessary war and says that President Ayub for whom he has the greatest regard should have held his senior generals accountable for the debacle and himself resigned. This would have held the hands of the adventurers who followed Gen Ayub. Since the 1965 war was based on a big lie and was presented to the nation a great victory, the Army came to believe its own fiction and has used since, Ayub as its role model and therefore has continued to fight unwanted wars — the 1971 war and the Kargil fiasco in 1999, he said. In each of the subsequent wars we have committed the same mistakes that we committed in 1965. Air Marshal Khan demanded that a truth commission formed to find out why we failed in all our military adventures. It is not punishment of the failed leadership that should be the aim of the commission but sifting of facts from fiction and laying bare the follies and foibles of the irresponsible leaders in matters with grave implications for the nation. It should also point out the irregularities committed in training and promotions in the defence forces in the past so that it is not repeated in future. Mr Khan believes that our soldiers when called upon have fought with their lives but because of bad leadership their supreme sacrifices went waste. And after every war that we began we ended up taking dictation from the enemy — at Tashkant, at Simla and lastly at Washington. He said at present Pakistan is engaged in another war, this time in Waziristan. This war can also end up in a fiasco and politically disastrous for the federation if it is fought with the same nonchalance and unprofessionally as we did the last three wars. He, therefore, called for an immediate change of command at the GHQ insisting that President Gen Pervez Musharraf should appoint a full-time Chief of Army Staff and restore full democracy in the country. He suggested appointment of an independent chief election commissioner in consultation with all the political parties. “Look at India. There a religious party comes in power and nobody cries foul and it goes out of power and nobody alleges rigging. We can also do this,” he added. And we must make unified efforts to restore the country in the vision of the Quaid-i-Azam. Turn it into a non-theocratic and truly democratic state. And all the three forces should model themselves on the lines set by Asghar Khan when he was commanding the PAF, he suggested. REFERENCE: Nur Khan reminisces ’65 war By Our Special Correspondent September 6, 2005 Tuesday Shaban 01, 1426 http://archives.dawn.com/2005/09/06/nat2.htm 

War Area of Indo-Pak War of 1965 Courtesy Major Retd. Agha Humayun Amin

Revisiting 1965 Part 1 (Courtesy: Dawn News)

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXB-iVcCvhQ


2001:  1965 analysed Columnist A H AMIN analyses the 1965 war dispassionately .1965 was a watershed in Indo-Pak history! The war instead of being dispassionately analysed became a ground to attack and condemn political opponents! Complete books were written out of sheer motivation based on pure and unadulterated venom! To date the trend continues at the cost of serious research and history writing! Most of these books were written by beneficiaries of the usurper Ayub or Bhutto haters! Men with a naive knowledge of military history made worse by a desire to settle personal scores! Jaundiced history of the worst kind! This article is an overall analysis of the 1965 war based on military facts rather than any motivation to settle political scores based on matters of ego rather than any serious objective considerations! It is hoped that after 36 years readers would be more interested in hard facts rather than pure and unadulterated polemics by men who did not know the division of battle “more than a spinster”!


Timing of 1965 War


This has been the subject of many controversies and myths! In 1965 India was recovering from the effects of the China War. Indian Army was engaged in a process of massive expansion with units and divisions half trained half novice! Something like the Austrian Army of 1809! Outwardly expanding and larger but lacking the military virtue and military spirit identified by Carl Von Clausewitz as the key elements in an military machines effectiveness! There was no overwhelming Indian numerical superiority unlike 1971 and many parts of the Indo-Pak border like the vast bulk of Shakargarh bulge were unmanned on the Indian side! Qualitatively Pakistan had a tangible superiority by virtue of possession of relatively superior tanks and artillery! The Centurion tank which was the backbone of Indian army was concentrated in the Indian Armoured division while the vast bulk of Indian infantry divisions were equipped with the obsolete Shermans! Even in quality of command there were serious drawbacks! The Indian 1 Corps had been just raised and the GOC of the Indian 1st Armoured Division was about to retire! Indian Mountain Divisions brought into the plains lacked sufficient antitank resources and were not in the ideal fighting condition. Some 38 plus Indian Infantry Battalions were absorbed by the blotting paper of Indian Army i.e a tract known as Kashmir! All these battalions were deployed north of Chenab River. Indian Army was in the process of expansion and the Indian Army had no strategic reserves in the Ravi-Sutlej Corridor against the Pakistani 1st Armoured Division. Setting aside the ethical dilemma whether war is the best instrument of policy to settle political disputes militarily 1965 was the ideal time for Pakistan to settle its political problems with India. This point was realized by some mid- ranking senior officers in the Pakistan Army which included the Pakistani DMO Gul Hassan, Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik and by some civilians like Foreign Minister Z.A Bhutto and Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmad. On the other hand Musa the Pakistani C-in-C was opposed to war! This was not because Musa was a pacifist but because Musa lacked military competence and was enjoying his second four-year-term as C-in-C of the Pakistan Army! Ayub the military ruler was initially against any military adventure but revised his ideas after Pakistani military successes in Rann of Katch. In Clausewitzian terms 1965 was the ideal time for Pakistan to start a war. The following quotation illustrates the rationale; ‘Let us suppose a small state is involved in a contest with a very superior power, and foresees that with each year its position will become worse: should it not; if war is inevitable, make use of the time when its situation is furthest from worst? Then it must attack, not because the attack in itself ensures any advantages but it will rather increase the disparity of forces — but because this state is under the necessity of either bringing the matter completely to an issue before the worst time arrives or of gaining at least in the meantime some advantages which it may hereafter turn to account’.1

Comparative Level of Planning-Strategic


At the strategic level the Pakistani plan was superior. Its initial thrust launched with an infantry division-tank brigade size force against Akhnur was enough to cause a crisis of strategic level in the Indian Army. The situation with Akhnur in Pakistani hands would have been disastrous for India. All the Indian plans to launch the 1 Corps against the MRL would have been thrown to winds and Indians would have spent the entire war redressing the imbalance caused due to loss of Akhnur! On the other hand the Pakistani thrust in Khem Karan would have bottled up three Indian Infantry divisions in the Beas-Ravi corridor and three Indian divisions would have been forced to surrender. 1965 could have then been a Pakistani strategic success rather than a tactical draw as it turned out to be. On the other hand the Pakistani 6 Armoured Division was well poised to deal with any Indian armoured thrust launched in the Ravi-Chenab corridor.

Pakistani failure lay in poor execution and understanding at the strategic level rather than planning


It was in implementation rather than planning that the Pakistani GHQ and Ayub failed miserably at the strategic level. The reason was simple. Both Ayub and Musa lacked strategic insight! They lacked the resolution and strategic coup d oeil to conduct decisive warfare. Both were extremely defensive in their approach and saw war as reacting to enemy countermoves rather than making the enemy react to their moves. Thus Musa as late as 1983 naively claimed in his book “My Version” that the aim of Grand Slam was not to capture Akhnur but to merely threaten it. In other words Musa saw a move which had the potential to cause a severe strategic imbalance in the Indian High Command as a tactical move to relieve pressure on Muzaffarabad! Allah be praised! Even a foreigner saw the immense importance of capturing Akhnur. Thus the remarks of Marshall Chen Yi the Foreign Minister of China who was visiting Pakistan at the time of Grand Slam. Chen Yi thus “made a sharp cutting movement at the little finger; ‘knock them out at Akhnoor’.That will help the freedom fighters and also guarantee the security of East and West Pakistan. With the little finger gone, the whole hand becomes useless”!2 So thought a veteran of a many decade long civil war! This was Greek for a man who was elevated to the rank of Army Chief because of political considerations! This was Greek for a man accused of tactical timidity in Burma!

Inability to develop a doctrine of decisive warfare


The principal reason of failure of both the armies was “failure or inability to develop a doctrine of decisive warfare”. This was a colonial legacy. The Indian Army of pre-1947 was an internal security machine designed for defence while the main forces of the empires allies came into action on other decisive fronts. The concentration on both sides was to have tactical concepts while no doctrine integrating tactics with operational strategy and national strategy existed to give coherence to the whole business of warfare.

Lack of Resolution in the Ayub-Musa duo to energetically conduct the war


1965 was a failure in resolution at the highest level. Both the president and his handpicked chief lacked the resolution to provide strategic direction to a well oiled machine which had the potential to inflict a severe strategic defeat on the enemy.

Failure of Pakistani GHQ to effectively supervise execution of plans or to create alternative organization or command arrangements to supervise the conduct of war


The job of an army HQ is not just to formulate plans but to effectively supervise the execution of plans. Ayub in words of a British contemporary was devoid of “operational experience” “organizational understanding” and “lacked tactical flair”.3 Thus Ayub and Musa saw no need to have intermediate corps headquarters to over insure the success of the army’s main attack involving a force of an infantry division and an armoured division. This was a case of extreme naivette rather than a minor error of judgement. Probably the supreme commander was too busy with Five Year Plans and big business and had lost sight of the business of soldiering! His handpicked proxy chief wanted a peaceful tenure in which he would not be forced to exercise any strategic judgement! The 12 Divisional organizational failure, one of the main reasons of Grand Slam’s failure, was another glaring case of lack of organizational insight on part of Ayub and Musa. While the Indians had bifurcated their forces in Kashmir based on north and south of Pir Panjal range right from 1948 and early 1950s Pakistan’s military supremos naively thought that one divisional headquarter was sufficient to manage a front of 400 miles in a mountainous territory spanning the Himalayas, Karakorams and the Pir Panjal!

Indian and Pakistani armour failures compared


At the strategic level both India and Pakistan got an opportunity to knock out the other side. Pakistan got it twice, first at Akhnur and then at Khem Karan. India got it once at Gadgor on 8th September. Both the sides failed. On the Pakistani side the failure had more to do with lack of strategic insight at Akhnur, ordering a change of horses in the middle of a crucial operation. Then at Khem Karan the Pakistani failure was at divisional level i.e failure to pump in all five armoured regiments on the 8th or 9th September thus achieving a decisive breakthrough.The situation was made worse by absence of Corps Headquarter. The Indian failure at Gadgor had more to do with failure at brigade and divisional level in actual execution despite the fact that the Indians had the mains “available” as well as “physically available” to achieve a breakthrough. The failure was Brigadier K.K Singh Commander Indian 1st Armoured Division who saw a threat to his flanks which in reality was a tank squadron of 62 Cavalry which had lost its way and blundered into the Indian artillery echelons opposite Rangre. The Indians had the means to achieve a breakthrough but failed primarily because lack of coup d oeil and resolution at brigade level. This was a command and execution failure. In Khem Karan on the other hand Pakistan had the resources but failed to bring them into the battle area because of poor staff work and planning at divisional level. Thus on the decisive 8th September Pakistan did not have the means to achieve a breakthrough and this had more to do with poor initial planning and staff work at div and brigade level rather than at the command or execution level. Thus the Pakistani failure was a staff and planning failure in which all from brigade till GHQ were included while the Indian failure was a command failure in which the prime culprits were the armoured brigade and divisional commander. On the Pakistani side the success at Gadgor had more to do with outstanding leadership at squadron and unit level rather than any operational brilliance at brigade or divisional level. In the Indian success at Khem Karan, however, an important role was played by Indian higher headquarters at divisional corps and army command level.

Triumph of Defence and Failure of Offence as a Form of War


1965 was a failure of offence and triumph of defence. Except in Grand Slam where initial overwhelming superiority enabled Pakistan to achieve a breakthrough, on both sides defence triumphed as a way of war. Both the armies were more used to defence because of British colonial military experience and comparative relative lack of difference in weaponry also ensured that defence triumphed over attack. Thus the attackers failed at Gadgor, Chawinda, Assal, Uttar and Valtoha regardless of religion of the defender! Both the armies lacked the dynamism to conduct attack a far more complicated form of war and totally outside the pre-1947 experience of fighting divisional and brigade level defensive battles till overwhelming superiority enabled the Britisher to resume the offensive as at Alalamein and that too with non-Indian formations like the purely British armoured divisions or in Burma where the British-Indians had overwhelming superiority against the Japanese in tanks and air.

Ignored aspects of the war

There are certain points which are conveniently forgotten or not understood at all. Although the paratroopers failed in Pathankot area their dropping delayed the move forward of 14 Indian Infantry Division to support Indian 1st Armoured Division operations opposite Chawinda. The latter fact was acknowledged by a man no less eminent than the Indian GOC Western Command Harbaksh Singh.4

Conclusion

While Indian GOC Western Command Harbaksh Singh admitted that the Pakistani attack opposite Khem Karan could have been decisive we in Pakistan have twisted 1965 war into a case of blaming the civilians for intriguing against the army and leading it into an aimless military adventure. Even today India’s top military thinker Ravi Rikhye admits that Khem Karan had the potential to be India’s Fourth Battle of Panipat. Pakistan failed because its military leaders lacked the strategic insight which was necessary to transform its tangible qualitative superiority in equipment and manpower at the tactical level into a victory! 1965 was an undoubted strategic failure on part of Pakistani higher command. Pakistan paid the price six years later. Success would have meant unity. Defeat led to civil war and secession. The fault lay in lack of strategic insight at the military level. REFERENCE: OPINION: 1965 analysed Columnist A H AMIN analyses the 1965 war dispassionately. Defence Journal Monthly September 2001 http://www.defencejournal.com/2001/september/1965.htm

Revisiting 1965 Part 2 (Courtesy: Dawn News)

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djhkiqttu24



1998: 1965 War Operation Gibraltar Role of SSG Para Commandos Col SG MEHDI:  Mian Arshad Hussain, a former Foreign Minister of Pakistan had demanded a judicial probe in the events leading to the 1965 war. On Oct. 23, 1977, Mian Sahib addressed the nation through a statement released to the Pakistan Times, Lahore. I quote; Following Col. Mehdi's articles on the 1965 war, there has been an expression of interest in this momentous event as can be seen from the letters which appeared in this columns. In my opinion, the 1965 war bred the 1971 war and is thus an important contributory cause of the latter and the tragic events that have followed the conflict. Is it not time that a full-fledged inquiry was held into the causes, the conduct and the consequences of 1965 war? Mian Arshad Hussain had excellent reasons to demand a probe into the concept, conduct and consequences of 1965 war' as he was Pakistan's High Commissioner at Delhi during that fateful period. He sent a warning on 4th September 1965 to the foreign office of Pakistan through Turkish Embassy that the Indians were planning to attack Pakistan, on 6th September. Mr. Aziz Ahmed, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary through a press statement acknowledged that such a warning was indeed received by the Foreign Office. But the debate on this warning issue' remained inconclusive, in that Aziz Ahmed maintained that the warning was received two days after war had already started! Only probe by a high powered judicial commission can separate shadows from the substance.

1965 war :'Without deliberate intent' : In 1965, the Pakistan Army found itself at war with India without deliberate intent which achieved a measure of surprise....'This is the opening sentence of the foreword by General Zia-ul-Haq, written for The Pakistan Army, War 1965' compiled by Major General Shauket Riza from hundreds of interviews and documents. General Mohammed Musa who commanded the Army in the 65 War, gives a graphic account of how the Indians surprised the GHQ, the C-in-C and the Supreme Commander Field Marshal Ayub Khan on September 6, 1965. Narrates Musa Khan on page 48 of his book My Version'. India launched her ignominious, undeclared and blatant aggression on our homeland at about 0330 hours on 6 September. The Supreme Commander was informed about the invasion by Air Commander Akhtar of the Pakistan Air Force, who was on duty at the Air Defence Headquarters at Rawalpindi on night of 5/6 September. Indian troop movements across the frontier had been reported to him by the border posts of the PAF Wireless Observer wing. The President then rang me up to ascertain whether or not GHQ had received any information about the Indian attack and the whereabouts of the field army that morning'.

How did the GHQ allow Indians to Achieve Surprise?: Let General Musa describe the genesis of the surprise' Indian attack on 6th September in his own words. The then Foreign Minister Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and the Foreign Secretary, Aziz Ahmed spurred on by Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, who was commander of our troops in Azad Kashmir, pressed the Government to take advantage of the disturbed situation in the valley and direct the Army to send raiders into Indian held Kashmir for conducting guerrilla activities there and to help, on a long term basis, the locals in organising a movement with a view to eventually starting an uprising against the occupying power. Continues the former C-in-C on page 6 of his book, the sponsors and supporters of the raids had at last succeeded in persuading the President to take the plunge that led to an all-out armed conflict with India' ....... To the extent that the concept of sending infiltrators in the Indian held Kashmir, code named Gibraltar' was the brain-child of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the simple truth and nothing but the truth. But General Musa, the C-in-C, assumed full responsibility for the development of the concept, its planning and coordination of the entire operation. This is graphically stated by him on page 35 of his book: After the Government finally decided that deep raids should be launched in Indian-held Kashmir, I directed Commander 12 Division, Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, to prepare a draft plan for the operation, code-named Gibraltar' in consultation with GHQ and within the broad concept we had specified. GHQ approved it after making certain changes in it. With the help of sand model, he went over the final plan in Murree before it was put into effect on 7 August, 1965 under our overall control. The Supreme Commander and his Military Secretary were present. He also agreed with it. I was accompanied by the CGS (Major General Sher Bahadur) and the Directors of Military Operations and Intelligence (Brigadiers Gul Hasan and Irshad Ahmed Khan respectively). No civil official attended this briefing. Broadly the plan envisaged, on a short-term basis, sabotage of military targets, disruptions of communications, etc. and, as a long-term measure, distribution of arms to the people of occupied Kashmir and initiation of a guerrilla movement there with a view to starting an uprising in the valley eventually. The push towards Akhnur was not part of it. However, it was considered as one of the likely operations that we might have to undertake, as we felt our activities would have an escalating effect.


When Akhtar Malik was pointing out on the sand model the various targets of the raiding parties of Gibraltar, the President did say why don't you go for Akhnur also? Akhtar Malik replied that, too, could be considered, but it was not raided because no Gibraltar force had been organised for that purpose.

Nevertheless, when the Indians started attacking and capturing Azad Kashmir territory in Tithwal and Haji Pir Pass areas, we decided to hold them in these places and retaliate by threatening Akhnur through the Chamb valley in order to release the pressure in the north. The simple truth emerging from the preceeding statement of General Musa is clear cut, in that, while the concept of Gibraltar' did originate from the ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Musa, whatever he might say after the event, went along with it in a half heartedly and non serious manner.

Revisiting 1965 Part 3 (Courtesy: Dawn News)

video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yotJV7AyBsw

Operation Gibraltar and the SSG Involvement : This writer is a personal witness to the unfolding of this tragedy as I had the honour to command our Army's Corps de elite, the Special Service Group (SSG) at this critical juncture. In late May 1965, I was directed by the Vice Chief of General Staff, (late Major General Abid Bilgrami) to go to Murree and see GOC 12 Division, Akhtar Hussian Malik. The GOC's briefing of the outline plan of Gibraltar operation left me stunned. The plan was so childish, so bizarre as to be unacceptable to logical, competent, professionally sound military persons anywhere in the world. I frankly told General Akhtar Malik that the Operation was a non starter and that I would render the same advice to the Chief and Vice Chief of General Staff. At GHQ, the same day I briefed the CGS and VCGS, who listened to me patiently. The result of my presentation however was barren of the result. Major General Malik Sher Bahadur (The CGS), posed only one question. You (Mehdi) say that operation Gibraltar as planned stands no chance of succeeding, but Akhtar Malik (COG 12 Division) feels confident of its success. My reply to the Chief of the General Staff was that, the conflicting view point of Mehdi and Akhtar Malik not withstanding, as Chief of General Staff of Pakistan Army, he should also have an opinion on this important matter as we were not playing a peace time war game, but with the destiny of Pakistan itself. To this date I remember the reaction of the CGS. He went red right up to his ears, and after a painful pause got up, extended his hand to shake and brought the interview to an end with the remarks that it is always interesting to listen to you!! 


Undaunted by the rebuff at Murree and later at the GHQ, I decided to reduce my arguments in writing, as to the reasons why Gibraltar shall fail. These, in brief, were:


1. No ground had been prepared before launching of the operation, in concert with people of the valley.

2. The raids were to be launched in total logistical vacuum relying exclusively of what the troops would carry in their packs or living off the countryside. Without any covert support across the Ceasefire Line, this living off the land proved fatal to the security of the guerrillas. Most of them were betrayed.

3. GHQ had mixed up classic guerrilla operations with Commandos raids.

4. All SSG and other officers, responsible for training and later leading groups across the ceasefire line were critical of the soundness of the plan, unsure of the means and uncertain of the end.

SSG records at Cherat shall substantiate the points made above: The simple truth emerging from the narrative is, that neither the C-in-C Army nor General Staff had the guts to stand up to the President, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, and tell him that his advisers in the ministry of Foreign Affairs supported by GOC 12 Division, Akhtar Malik were taking him on a long ride commencing with Gibraltar, leading to his downfall via Tashkent, as it eventually proved! The loser in the final analysis was Pakistan, described so feelingly by General K.M. Arif in an analysis carried by daily Dawn', 6th September 1990. How and why Pakistan blundered into war .......... At that time, the policy making in the country was highly personalised. The institutions were weak and by-passed. Pakistan's Foreign Office with Mr. Aziz Ahmed as the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Z.A. Bhutto as the Foreign Minister called the martial tunes. It had miscalculated that despite operation Gibraltar, the fighting was likely to remain confined inside the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Foreign Office is on record to have assessed that India was not in a position to risk a general war with Pakistan......for inexplicable reasons the General Headquarters based its operational plan in Kashmir on a wishful logic. The misplaced ego, the high ambition and the naive approach of a selected few plunged the country into an armed conflict. The outcome of the war, or the lack of it, eclipsed Ayub's position.

S.S.G. COMMANDO PARA DROPS : The 1965 War cannot be worthy of study unless the story of Pakistani commando drops on Adampur, Helwara and Pathankot air bases are briefly recounted. John Fricker calls this operation as an unmitigated disaster'. This operation conceived initially by PAF Chief who obtained the nod' of Ayub Khan in May/June 1965 while planning for operational contingencies in the event of an Indian aggression. Such advance operational planning is normal to all service HQ in peace time. GHQ passed the buck on to the commander of SSG- this writer. On being told by Vice Chief of General Staff Brigadier Bilgrami who had these instructions conveyed to him from Musa and Sher Bahadur the Chief of General Staff, I emphatically pointed out that the concept of operation was faulty as no raids of this nature, after the breakout of war, could have even a remote chance of success against fully alerted targets.

On my persistent refusal, GHQ told me that I should give my reasons for not undertaking the envisaged operation direct to the HQ, PAF. At a briefing arranged at SSG Parachute Training School at Peshawar in the presence of two senior officers of my command, Lt. Col. Abdul Matin, the Commander of No. 1 Commando Battalion, now retired and the brilliant Operations Staff Officer Maj. E. H. Dar, (Late Major General E. H. Dar) Air Force Chief were told that only a pre-emptive operation like the Israeli crippling raids against the front line Arab State's air bases as in 1956 Arab Israel War, could have probability of success. To this, the Air Chief observed that a decision to carry out pre-emptive operation as suggested could only be taken by the Government-meaning the President. Technically the observation made was correct but in that case the operation should have been based on the hypothesis of pre-emptive' alone. I had also objected to the para-commandos after being dropped, just left there in the void, in the heart of 100% hostile population with no equivalent of French Maquis to hide, feed and organise the escape of commandos.

That this was an unmitigated disaster from beginning to end is correct but for no fault of the brave band of commandos or their officers. I have already rendered a full account of this in my testimony to Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission, besides submission of a report to the Chief of General Staff and C-in-C in 1967.

Tribute: No objective study of this war would be complete without paying tribute to the great fighting spirit and unparalleled heroism of all ranks of the Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force and notably of the SSG. The war of 1965 into which the country stumbled, with GHQ Surprised' and the army, its 25% of its strength still on leave, thus became a series of stray and isolated battles without any strategic concept and perspective. The Ghazis of the army, janbaz of the SSG, Shaheens of our Air force and Barbaroosas' of Pak Navy fought against the betrayal within and India's regimented hordes to an honourable draw. They also fought against international conspiracy of Anglo Saxon powers.

Conclusion: Had our Government initiated a probe into concept, conduct and consequences of 1965 War', and raised the curtain from the acts of gross omission or that of the criminal commission, the ignominy of 1971 could have been avoided. REFERENCE: 1965 War Operation Gibraltar Role of SSG Para Commandos Col SG MEHDI, MC who commanded the SSG till just before the 1965 war, gives a fascinating account of SSG operations during the conflict Defence Journal Monthly July 1998 http://www.defencejournal.com/july98/1965war.htm 

Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan: Pak Started 1965 War with India (Express News)

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Lessons of the 1965 war Wednesday, September 07, 2005 : Reminiscing about the 1965 war with India in which the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) emerged victorious, Pakistan’s ex-air chief, Air Marshal (Retd) Nur Khan, makes the shocking revelation that he almost resigned from the job the day he took over from Air Marshal Asghar Khan. “Rumours about an impending operation were rife but the army had not shared the plans with the other forces,” he said. Air Marshal Asghar Khan, he says, also did not brief him of what lay ahead while handing over charge. To double-check, Nur Khan spoke to the then Commander-in-Chief, General Musa Khan, who reluctantly parted with the information that Pakistan was about to launch an operation inside Held Kashmir. Nur Khan then spoke to Lt-Gen Akhtar Malik, GOC Kashmir, and was told that Pakistan was launching “Operation Gibraltar” with 800,000 infiltrators “to throw out the Indian troops with the help of the local population”. Since the air force would not be needed, Nur Khan was told, it was not informed. Nur Khan says he went on to discover that even the Lahore garrison commander did not know; and that the powerful governor of West Pakistan, Malik Amir Mohammad Khan of Kalabagh, did not know either, having departed for Murree for vacations.

One can’t blame Nur Khan for wanting to resign. In the event, nothing went as Generals Ayub and Musa had calculated. The Indians opened up on Lahore and everybody had to scramble into action at the last moment, letting the Indians come pretty close to the city. No one will doubt that our air force bailed us out in 1965. It gave us almost complete mastery in the air over an enemy many times larger. Within 43 days of the change in command, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fought like a lion under Nur Khan. He had good officers under him, none tainted by the greed of power and property as happened in later years. Isolated from the take-over blight that had befallen the army, the PAF had reared itself as a professional institution under two consecutively competent leaders. Nur Khan goes on to say, “The performance of the Army did not match that of the PAF mainly because the army leadership was not as professional. They had planned ‘Operation Gibraltar’ for self-glory rather than in the national interest. It was a wrong war. And they misled the nation with a big lie that India rather than Pakistan had provoked the war and that we were the victims of Indian aggression.”

There was lack of imagination behind the strategy that led to the 1965 war. That’s why on the second day General Musa told Ayub that his army had run out of ammunition. The war didn’t last long and Pakistan was forced to sign a ceasefire at Tashkent that finally brought General Ayub down. Nur Khan says it was an “unnecessary war” and he compares it to the equally unnecessary 1999 Kargil Operation where the Pakistan Navy was kept out of the loop and prime minister Nawaz Sharif had to run off to Washington to sue for peace because India was said to have moved its fleet and was preparing to threaten Karachi. The first big lesson is that Pakistan as a state should not think in military terms. It should not credit the Pakistani generals’ belief that only military victories will ensure Pakistan’s future. The Argentine general who fought the Falklands war to present “the gift of the Malvinas” (Argentina’s Kashmir) to the Argentine nation was drummed out of power by the very people who had egged him on. The victory General Ayub had dreamed about did not materialise because it was based on the erroneous belief that India was too cowardly to attack. This was based on another theory — which dismembered Pakistan in 1971 — that the defence of West Pakistan contained a level of deterrence that India would not challenge. East Pakistan discovered that its defence was non-existent because it depended only on the defence of West Pakistan.

General Ayub’s 1965 war ruined the good economic indicators his era had achieved. The military leaders who followed him kept interfering in politics and feeding the nation more lies. The 1965 war was well fought because of superior US equipment which was not meant to be used against India. The war proved that Pakistan had joined the US pacts under false pretences. Later the army turned anti-American and made the textbooks say that America had let Pakistan down in 1965 and 1971. Declassified papers relating to the Nixon era inform us that Nixon had indeed prevented India from attacking West Pakistan in 1971. The lesson from 1965 is the same as drawn by Nur Khan: that the military should stay away from political power, that Pakistan should demilitarise its mind and think of options other than war to ensure its survival, that the economy should be given the primacy it deserves; and that, last but not least, Pakistan should consolidate itself internally, re-establish the social contract with the people that it has lost because of its coercive ideology, and focus on the internal threats that confront it. * REFERENCE: VIEW: Lessons of the 1965 war Wednesday, September 07, 2005 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_7-9-2005_pg3_1

Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan:  Pak Started All Wars with India (ARY NEWS)

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2005: Pakistan sent infiltrators to Kashmir in ’65: Nur Khan  ISLAMABAD, Aug 1: Pakistan Air Force and Navy were not taken into confidence by the top army command as they started a secret operation to launch infiltrators into Kashmir — an operation which finally led to Pakistan-India war in 1965, said former chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Nur Khan, here on Monday. The 82-year-old retired former Air chief revealed this to Dawn as he shared his memories of leading PAF from the front during the 1965 war, a fact also acknowledged in a recently published article by Air Marshal S. Raghavendran of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Air Marshal Khan said the decision to launch the infiltrators in Kashmir in 1965 was taken by the then President, Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Gen Muhammad Musa Khan and the divisional commander with some in cabinet and the foreign ministry also being on board. “It was a very secretive operation. Only the president, the divisional commander, who was directly involved in that operation in sending people, and the commander-in-chief knew about it,” he said.

Asked who gave the orders for launching infiltrators into Kashmir, Air Marshal Khan said, “Gen Musa. Naturally with president’s approval and knowledge of some in cabinet and the foreign office. But, again, a clique within the government rather than the whole government.” He said the top decision makers at that time were mistakenly self-assured that the theatre of operations would be restricted only to Kashmir. “The army too was not prepared that there could be a war,” he said. “They had not taken the Air Force into confidence at all that they needed their help or the PAF should be ready. Navy was not told about it, “ he said. Air Marshal Khan said, “the earliest when the infiltrators started going into Kashmir was by August 6. When the Indians came to know about it in mid-August they were surprised and thought something big was coming up. Kashmir was under pressure and in trying to defend that area it escalated into a war.”

Asked if the PAF was taken into confidence when the Kargil operation was launched in late 90s, Air Marshal Nur Khan said, “I think there was a little more openness in Kargil and they (Army) thought they would need the air force.” In reply to a question if all the martial laws in the country were imposed with the consensus of the three armed forces, Air Marshal Nur Khan said, “No. Not at all.” He said imposition of martial laws had always been on army’s decision. “I don’t think they (army) consider them (PAF and PN) important enough. The air force and navy just go along. The values have eroded. Even during the Ayub’s martial law, Asghar Khan and the naval chief had no active participation.” Asked if President Gen Musharraf had offered him to become caretaker prime minister, Air Marshal Nur Khan said, “Rubbish. We never talked. I think only once I talked to him, at the beginning, trying to put things in perspective.”

“I have been with all the three martial laws and seen them closely. I opposed the martial law of Gen Yahya”. Air Marshal Khan dismissed as absurd a theory that there was a tacit understanding between the top commanders of PAF and IAF in 1965 not to attack each other’s air force in the bases as alluded to by Air Marshal Raghavendran in a recent article available on Bharat-Rakshak website in which he says that PAF attacked only targets of “opportunity,” enabling the IAF to be up and fighting the next day. Giving an account of the Pathankot strike, Air Marshal Raghavendran said, “fortunately for us, the Pakistani attackers committed the same mistake that the Japanese did at Pearl Harbour. They attacked and certainly caused loss of aircraft, but the infrastructure such as refuelling capabilities and armament stores were left intact. So were the runway and the taxi tracks. So, we were operationally ready immediately afterwards - and were on Combat Air Patrol from the next morning, throughout the day.” REFERENCE: Pakistan sent infiltrators to Kashmir in ’65: Nur Khan By Arshad Sharif August 2, 2005 Tuesday Jumadi-us-Sani 25, 1426 http://archives.dawn.com/2005/08/02/nat4.htm

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