Thursday, September 6, 2012

Indian Insiders' View of 1965 War

 "...a major battle the west of the Beas would end in the destruction of the Indian Army and thereafter allow the enemy (Pakistani) forces to push to the gates of Delhi without much resistance." 1965 WAR-The Inside Story by R.D. Pradhan                                    
As Pakistanis honor the memory of  their 1965 war heroes on Defense of Pakistan Day today, let us review some snippets of how the war looked from the other side. R.D. Pradhan and Harbakhsh Singh were both insiders who participated in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. While Pradhan was a civilian working for Indian Defense Minister Y.B. Chavan, General Harbakhash Singh was commanding Indian troops on the front-lines. Both have written books drawing upon their first-hand knowledge of how the war started, unfolded and ended in September, 1965.


In Chapter 8 titled "Of Cowardice and Panic" of his book "1965 War-The Inside Story", R.D. Pradhan describes the cowardice of Maj. Gen. Niranjan Prasad, the Indian general commanding officer in Lahore sector.  When Pakistan Defense Forces counter-attacked the intruding Indian military and the general was fired upon on Sept 6, 1965, he "ran away".  Here's an excerpt:


"On learning that, Lt. Gen. Harbakash Singh and the corps commander drove in a Jonga (Nissan P60 Jeep) to the battlefront. Army commander found that the enemy (PAF) air attack had created a havoc on G.T. Road. (Indian) Vehicles were burning and several vehicles of 15 Division abandoned on the road, the drivers having run away, leaving some of the engines still running. Maj. Gen. Niranjan Prasad was hiding in a recently irrigated sugar cane field. As described by Harabakash Singh: "He (Prasad) came out to receive us, with his boots covered with wet mud. He had no head cover, nor was he wearing any badges of his rank. He had stubble on his face, not having shaved." Seeing him in such a stage, Harbakhash Singh asked him: "Whether he was the General Officer commanding a division or a coolie? Why had he removed badges of rank and not shaved? Niranjan Prasad had no answer." 

Chapter 12 of Pradhan's book is titled "Retreat to Beas" in which there is detailed discussion of Indian COAS's proposal for the Indian Army to retreat behind Beas in the face of Pakistan's fierce counter-attacks after India's attempted incursion in Lahore. Pradhan argues in this chapter that during the 1965 war with Pakistan, Indian COAS General Chaudhuri feared that "a major battle the west of the Beas would end in the destruction of the Indian Army and thereafter allow the enemy (Pakistani) forces to push to the gates of Delhi without much resistance".



Pradhan's book contains many different entries by Indian Defense Minister Y.B. Chavan. A Sept 9, 1965 entry reads:  

Had a very hard day on all fronts. Very fierce counter-attacks mounted and we are required to withdraw in Kasur area. COAS was somewhat uncertain of himself. I suggested to him that he should go in forward areas so that he will be in touch of realities. He said he would go next day.


In Line of Duty: A Soldier Remembers, according to Shekhar Gupta, the editor of Indian Express, Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh reveals that not only "did Gen Chowdhury play a very small role in the entire campaign, he was so nervous as to be on the verge of losing half of Punjab to Pakistan, including the city of Amritsar. Harbakhsh describes, in clinical detail, how our own offensive in the Lahore sector had come unhinged. The general commanding the division on Ichchogil canal fled in panic, leaving his jeep, its wireless running and the briefcase containing sensitive documents that were then routinely read on Radio Pakistan during the war. Singh wanted to court martial him, Chowdhury let him get away with resignation".

According to Shekhar Gupta, Harbkhash Singh recounts that a bigger disaster struck a bit to the south where the other division cracked up in assault, just as it encountered a bit of resistance. Several infantry battalions, short on battle inoculation, deserted and Singh gives a hair-raising account – and confirmation of a long-debated rumor – that Chowdhury panicked so badly he ordered him to withdraw to a new defensive line behind the Beas, thereby conceding half of Punjab to Pakistan. Singh describes the conversation with Chowdhury at Ambala where he refused to carry out the order, asking his chief to either put it down in writing or visit the front and take charge of the battle.



 Beyond the Indian insiders quoted above,  here is how several non-Pakistani journalists have covered the war:

The London Daily Mirror reported in 1965:

"There is a smell of death in the burning Pakistan sun. For it was here that India's attacking forces came to a dead stop.

"During the night they threw in every reinforcement they could find. But wave after wave of attacks were repulsed by the Pakistanis"

"India", said the London Daily Times, "is being soundly beaten by a nation which is outnumbered by four and a half to one in population and three to one in size of armed forces."


In Times reporter Louis Karrar wrote:

"Who can defeat a nation which knows how to play hide and seek with death".

USA - Aviation week - December 1968 issue:

"For the PAF, the 1965 war was as climatic as the Israeli victory over the Arabs in 1967. A further similarity was that Indian air power had an approximately 5:1 numerical superiority at the start of the conflict. Unlike the Middle East conflict, the Pakistani air victory was achieved to a large degree by air-to-air combat rather than on ground. But it was as absolute as that attained by Israel.

India was the first to accept UN sponsored ceasefire (page 100 of RD Pradhan's book)  followed by Pakistan which brought the 1965 war to an end on Sept 22, 1965. As the ceasefire took effect, Indian Defense Y.B. Chavan wrote in his diary as follows:

"The ball is now in the political court again--where it should be--and not in the military one. I hope we have the vision and courage to (our) political leadership."
  
Alas, the core issue of Kashmir still remains unresolved 47 years since Mr. Chavan wrote his words of wisdom.


Related Link:

 Haq's Musings

Demolishing Indian War Myths 

Kashmiris Remain Defiant

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Assessing Pakistan Army Capabilities

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

20 comments:

Wind said...

"Pakistan has been able to gain complete command of the air by literally knocking the Indian planes out of the skies if they had not already run away.
Indian pilots are inferior to Pakistan's pilots and Indian officer's leadership has been generally deplorable. India is being soundly beaten by a nation which is outnumbered by a four and half to one in population and three to one in size of armed forces".

Peter Preston, The Guardian, London.
September 24, 1965.

"One thing I am convinced of is that Pakistan morally and even physically won the air battle against immense odds.
Although the Air Force gladly gives most credit to the Army, this is perhaps over-generous. India with roughly five times greater air power, expected an easy air superiority. Her total failure to attain it may be seen retrospectively as a vital, possibly the most vital, factor of the whole conflict.
Nur Khan is an alert, incisive man of 41, who seems even less. For six years until July he was on secondment and responsible for running Pakistan civil airline, which in a country, where now means sometime and sometime means never, is a model of efficiency. He talks without the jargon of a press relations officer. He does not quibble about figures, immediately one has confidence in what he says. His estimates proffered diffidently, but with as much photographic evidence as possible, speak for themselves. Indian and Pakistani losses, he thinks are in something like the ratio of ten to one.
"The Indians had no sense of purpose, the Pakistanis were defending their country and willingly taking greater risks. The average bomber crew flew 15 to 20 sorties. My difficulty was restraining them, not pushing them on".
" This is more than nationalistic pride. Talk to the pilots themselves, and you get the same intense story".

Patrick Seale, The Observer, London.
September 12, 1965.

"Pakistan's success in the air means that she had been able to deploy her relatively small army___ professionally among the best in Asia___ with impunity, plugging gaps in the long front in the face of each Indian thrust.
By all accounts the courage displayed by the PAF pilots is reminiscent of the bravery of the few young and dedicated pilots who saved this country from Nazi invaders in the critical Battle of Britain during the last war".

Roy Meloni, Correspondent of ABC,
September 15, 1965.

"I have been a journalist now for 20 years and want to go on record that i have never seen a more confident and victorious groups of soldiers than those fighting for Pakistan right now.
"India is claiming all out victory, i have not been able to find any trace of it. All i can see are troops, tanks and other war material rolling in a steady stream towards the front.
If the Indian Air Force is so victorious, why has it not tried to halt this flow?
The answer is that it has been knocked from the skies by Pakistani planes. These Muslims of Pakistan are natural fighters and they ask for no quarter and they give none.
In any war, such as the one going on between India and Pakistan right now, the propaganda claims on either side are likely to be startling, but if i have to take bet today, my money would be on Pakistan side.
Pakistan claims to have destroyed something like one third of the Indian Air Force, and foreign observers, who are in a position to know say that the actual kills may be even higher, but the PAF authorities are being scrupulously honest in evaluating these claims. They are crediting PAF only those killing that can be checked and verified from other sources.

Historian said...

Pakistan's soft belly in Panjab and Sindh is difficult to defend against 7-10 times larger army.

So in 1965, if an Indian general was talking about retreating to Beas, things had clearly gone wrong, very wrong for the Indian army.

The credit for this goes to the superior Pak Air force, and high morale of the troops.


Riaz Haq said...

Who attacked first and started 1965 war? Here's a BBC report on Sept 6, 1965:

1965: Indian Army invades W Pakistan

Indian troops have invaded West Pakistan, crossing the border at three points in an attack which appears to be aimed mainly at the city of Lahore.

Authorities in Delhi say their action was intended to prevent a direct attack by Pakistani forces against India.

On 25 August, Pakistani soldiers launched a covert operation across the ceasefire line, established in 1949 after the first Indo-Pakistani war, into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Since then there have been a number of clashes along the ceasefire line, but this is the first time Indian troops have crossed into West Pakistan in what is being seen as an act of war.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/6/newsid_3632000/3632092.stm

Anonymous said...

^^
1.Operation Gibralter

2.Indian counterattack pointed at Lahore and Sialkot.

3.Pakistani counter offensive


Result:

1.Kashmir is still with India.
2.Begining of the end of PAkistani economic boom.

So who won the war?

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight.

The purpose of this post is to prove (if at all it can be called as proof) that Pak army is superior to Indian army. Fine let us assume that it is true. Now the big question is, why a country with a superior army can not get Kashmir for 65 years despite claiming that to be central point of their agenda in any talks with India. India never claims that any talks with Pakistan must include POK in the agenda because we don't need it. So, why Pak can not get one inch of Kashmir.

This is no different from Israel surrounded by 6 enemy countries and still holding on to it and also being one of the most developed country of that area.

What do you think the reason is?




rajesh said...

BBC reported that the war served game changer in Pakistani politics,[84]
The defeat in the 1965 war led to the army's invincibility being challenged by an increasingly vocal opposition. This became a surge after his protege, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, deserted him and established the Pakistan People's Party.

"A region in turmoil: South Asian conflicts since 1947" by Robert Johnson mentions[11] –
India's strategic aims were modest – it aimed to deny Pakistani Army victory, although it ended up in possession of 720 square miles (1,900 km2) of Pakistani territory for the loss of just 220 square miles (570 km2) of its own.

An excerpt from William M. Carpenter and David G. Wiencek's "Asian security handbook: terrorism and the new security environment"[85] –
A brief but furious 1965 war with India began with a covert Pakistani thrust across the Kashmiri cease-fire line and ended up with the city of Lahore threatened with encirclement by Indian Army. Another UN-sponsored cease-fire left borders unchanged, but Pakistan's vulnerability had again been exposed.

English historian John Keay's "India: A History" provides a summary of the 1965 war[86] –
The 1965 Indo-Pak war lasted barely a month. Pakistan made gains in the Rajasthan desert but its main push against India's Jammu-Srinagar road link was repulsed and Indian tanks advanced to within a sight of Lahore. Both sides claimed victory but India had most to celebrate.

Uk Heo and Shale Asher Horowitz write in their book "Conflict in Asia: Korea, China-Taiwan, and India-Pakistan"[87] –
Again India appeared, logistically at least, to be in a superior position but neither side was able to mobilize enough strength to gain a decisive victory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistani_War_of_1965

Anonymous said...

sigh - something clearly changed in 1971 huh Riaz? :P

HopeWins Junior said...

While we celebrate our brave Army and our world's best Air force, I think we should also take a moment to recognize the dedication and hard work of the brilliant people at our Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Example:

1) Bangladesh's Government has been running fiscal (budgetary) deficits from 1990-2012.
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/bangladesh/government-budget

2) India's Government has also been running fiscal (budgetary) deficits from 1990-2012.
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/india/government-budget

3) Our Government, however, has been running huge fiscal (budgetary) SURPLUSES for much of the period from 1990 to 2012.
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/pakistan/government-budget

The whole world is impressed with our outstanding performance.

Raj said...

To quote British media on India vs Pakistan is pretty much the same as to quote Pakistani newspapers!

You must remember that Britain lives to justify its imperial past and hence to insult and jeer India is the most core part of their national identity.

As yet another Indian rocket blasted into space today, with French and Japanese payloads on board, Britain and Pakistan can only bite their nails and shake their fists. Well...at least you two sister states: Britain and Pakistan have each others shoulders to cry on.

Anonymous said...

Not really Britain is US's poodle

In 65 the west was pro islam as they were allies against 'da evil communists'

Today the west is anti islam so cartoonishly pro India.

Quoting British newspapers is the same as us quoting Pravda!

But facts on the ground wise I don't see why Pakistanis celebrate this,it was sort of like Kargil on a bigger scale a 'liberation invasion' propelled by delusions of grandeur a swift repulsion and then a stalemate.The facts:

1.Objective of gaining Kashmir FAILED.

2. Economy stalled soon afterwards

3. Radicalization of society started soon afterwards.

4.Bhutto gained power which would prove to be weepingly expensive in 1971.

5. Convinced a certain Mrs. G (then a newcomer) that Pakistan needs to be 'sorted out' which she did in 1971.

HopeWins Junior said...

Dr. Haq,

The Difa Pakistan Council often insists that we should not trade with India because of its evil intentions towards our country.

They observe that we have China, Afghanistan and Iran as neighbours besides India and we should preferentially deal with them and
not with India.

Even beyond the DPC, there is a general feeling in our country that we should focus our local trade toward these three friendly countries (i.e. China, Iran & Afghanistan) rather than focus on India.

But are China, Iran & Afghanistan really neighboring countries?

1) The Political Maps, which is what most people are familiar with, say "YES":

http://www.mapsofindia.com/neighbouring-countries-maps/maps/india-pakistan-map.jpg

2) However, the satelitte images taken at night, which most people have not seen, say "NO":

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-K1AVQzMVntQ/UE54gCku3OI/AAAAAAAAAYI/Nxc9-fd3qDI/s1600/ScreenHunter_117+Sep.+10+19.20.jpg

What do you think, Dr. Haq?

Is China really our neighboring country or is it more an East-Asian country neighboring Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Vietnam et cetera?

Is Iran really our neighboring country or is it more an West-Asian country neighboring Iraq, Syria, Turkey et cetera?

Is Afghanistan really our neighboring country or is it more a figment of somebody's imagination since it barely shows up on the satellite image linked above?

What is your opinion on all this?

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "What is your opinion on all this?"

There's a Pew Survey out today that says 64% of Indians and 64% of Pakistanis want to trade with each other...and I agree with them with a few caveats I expressed in my blog post on the subject.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/03/should-pakistan-ignore-washington.html

http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/09/10/chapter-2-india-and-pakistan/

ajmal said...

It is strange that Gen Harbakhsh is criticizing both his junior and his Chief of Army Staff. What is he trying to prove?
Gen Niranjan Parsad led his Division from the front. He risking his life was at BRBL home bank while Harbkhsh was sitting at Amritsar. Gen Niranjan rightly assessed the impregnability of BRBL and advised his Corps Commander to not reinforce failed attack along G T Road but Harbakhsh Singh wanted to please his Chief Of Army Staff who wanted to dine at LAHORE GYMKHANA. Perhaps it was Harbakhsh and not Niranjan Parsad who lacked guts a moral courage to give true battle assessment to his seniors.

Shahzad B. said...

Riaz sahib, I believe him that he will end corruption in 90 days... I think it can be done sooner if the person on the top is not corrupt...On the Malals thing he said that he condemned the attack on Malala, visited her in the hospital etc... He was making a general point afterwards that if he comes out too strongly against the Taliban after every act of violence by them and starts a confrontation with them, he will put his workers in jeopardy who will then be targeted by the Taliban... If the numbers he presented are correct about the militants being less than 20,000 out of 1 million people, then I think the solution he presented might work... I also agree with him that this cannot be solved militarily... If along with 1 terrorist 10 civilians are killed, the relatives of those civilians would try to find a way to avenge the deaths and the cycle would never end...

Riaz Haq said...

Shahzad: "I believe him that he will end corruption in 90 days... I think it can be done sooner if the person on the top is not corrupt.."

Indian PM Manmohan Singh is widely believed to be Mr. Clean. And Yet, Indian politicians and bureaucrats are among the most corrupt in the world. If the person on top really mattered so much, India would be free of corruption.

Riaz Haq said...

Shahzad: "He was making a general point afterwards that if he comes out too strongly against the Taliban after every act of violence by them and starts a confrontation with them, he will put his workers in jeopardy who will then be targeted by the Taliban."

It takes a lot of courage to deal with the killers when you have to risk your own life to do so.

If political courage to stand up to to the Taliban killers is an important standard by which to judge politicians, then Imran does not look very good when compared with ANP, PPP and MQM leaders. As Imran himself pointed out, the ANP members have paid a huge price with their lives for standing up to the Talibs...something Imran is unwilling to do.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece titled "Confessions of a War Reporter" by Barkha Dutt published in Himal Magazine:

I had to look three times to make sure I was seeing right. Balanced on one knee, in a tiny alley behind the army’s administrative offices, I was peering through a hole in a corrugated tin sheet. At first glance, all I could see were some leaves. I looked harder and amidst all the green, there was a hint of black – it looked like a moustache. “Look again,” said the army colonel, in a tone that betrayed suppressed excitement. This time, I finally saw.

It was a head, the disembodied face of a slain soldier nailed onto a tree. “The boys got it as a gift for the brigade,” said the colonel, softly, but proudly. Before I could react, the show was over. A faded gunny bag appeared from nowhere, shrouded the soldier’s face, the brown of the bag now merging indistinguishably with the green of the leaves. Minutes later, we walked past the same tree where the three soldiers who had earlier unveiled the victory trophy were standing. From the corner of his eye, the colonel exchanged a look of shard achievement, and we moved on. We were firmly in the war zone.

It’s been two years since Kargil, but even as some of the other details become fuzzy, this episode refuses to fade from either memory or conscience. A few months ago, I sat across a table with journalists from Pakistan and elsewhere in the region, and confessed I hadn’t reported that story, at least not while the war was still on. It had been no easy decision, but at that stage the outcome of the war was still uncertain. The country seemed gripped by a collective sense of tension and dread, and let's face it – most of us were covering a war for the first time in our careers. Many of the decisions we would take over the next few weeks were tormented and uncertain. I asked my friend from Pakistan, listening to my anguish with empathy, what he would have done in my place? He replied, “Honestly, I don’t know.”

This then, is the truth of reporting conflict and wars. Often we just don’t know. And even more often, whether we like ourselves for it or not, our emotional perceptions of these conflicts are shaped by how our histories have been handed down to us. Whatever textbook journalism may preach, I think the time has come to accept that every story we do is shaped by our own set of perceptions, and thus prejudices as well. National identity is one of the many factors that add up to make the sum total of who we are and what we write or report. It sneaks up on us and weaves its way into our subconscious, often mangled and confused, but still there, determining what we see and how we see it. And, when I speak of national identity I do not mean chest-thumping, flag-waving nationalism. I mean years of accumulated baggage, what we read in school, the villains and heroes in our popular cinema – in fact the entire process of socialization.

The media may not be reduced to being a crude tool of the nation state, but it will always have to fight with itself to find a space that is honest. And sometimes we will make mistakes. At other times, we may never know whether we made a mistake or chose right. But so long as we hide behind the theoretical notion of objective journalism, as long as we believe that journalists are innately more enlightened than others of the human species, the search for that truthful professional space will be a dishonest one. The war taught me that – just how complex and ridden with contradictions this search can be.


http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/5140-confessions-of-a-war-reporter.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the BBC story from Sept 1965 on Indian military invasion of Pakistan:

1965: Indian Army invades W Pakistan
Indian troops have invaded West Pakistan, crossing the border at three points in an attack which appears to be aimed mainly at the city of Lahore.
Authorities in Delhi say their action was intended to prevent a direct attack by Pakistani forces against India.

On 25 August, Pakistani soldiers launched a covert operation across the ceasefire line, established in 1949 after the first Indo-Pakistani war, into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Since then there have been a number of clashes along the ceasefire line, but this is the first time Indian troops have crossed into West Pakistan in what is being seen as an act of war.

Air attacks

Since the first Indo-Pakistan war, both countries have continued to lay claim to the entire state of Kashmir. Currently Pakistan controls the smaller, northern sector of Azad Kashmir and the remaining area of Jammu and Kashmir, known commonly as Kashmir, is held by India.

Details of today's invasion are sketchy. There have been reports of the Indian Air Force in action, striking against military targets, including an oil tanker train, a group of military vehicles, a goods train carrying supplies, an army camp and some gun positions.

A spokesman for the Indian government said: "Our policy is that when Pakistan has bases from which it is mounting attacks on our territory we have to destroy those bases."

The Defence Minister Yashwantrao Chavan blamed recent attacks by Pakistani forces for the invasion.

Although there have been a number of air attacks against Indian installations in Punjab, these seem to have been mostly by single aircraft.

But Mr Chavan said: "It was quite apparent Pakistan's next move was to attack Punjab across the international frontier."

Reports from the Pakistani city of Karachi say forces have beaten back the Indian Army from Lahore.

They said advances at the border towns of Jasar, Wagah and Bedian had all been "fully stopped".

Pakistani officials say the number of Indian dead in the Lahore sector is 800, their own casualties are reported to be "very light".

The Pakistani President Ayub Khan has made an emergency broadcast to the nation saying, "We are at war".

He said the Indian attack was proof of the evil intentions which India had always harboured against Pakistan.

Reports from Delhi say Pakistani paratroopers have landed in the Punjab. Small groups have dropped in three places, Pathankot, Patiala and Ambala in an apparent attempt to damage military installations.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/6/newsid_3632000/3632092.stm

Samlee said...

Of Course Pakistan Won The War in 1965.Why Else Would Soviet Union Intervene.They Were Friends of India Not Pakistan and Besides Indians We Lost Because We Failed To Capture Kashmir Then The Same Question Can Be Asked To Them.They Claim The Entire Disputed Territory,If They Were So Comprehensively Winning The War Then Why Didn't They Capture It??

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Hindustan Times on Indian Army lies about the Battle of Logewala in 1971 in Rajhastan:

One of the most glorious moments of the Indian Army, the victory in the Battle of Longewala in the 1971 war with Pakistan, is based on blatant falsehood, claims an upcoming book by a general decorated in the same operations.


The battle was immortalised by the 1997 Bollywood blockbuster "Border", starring Sunny Deol as victorious army hero major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri. In a tell-all account of one of the first engagements in the western sector during the 14-day war, major general Atma Singh (retd) has alleged that the army's version of the battle is built on "exaggerated claims" when it had little to do with crushing Pakistani forces.

Atma Singh, then a major, has credited the Indian Air Force for saving the day for the country. He was commanding the No. 12 Air Observation Post (AOP) flight, tasked with directing close air support firepower toward enemy targets. AOP units were under the IAF. "If our own troops had vacated the post (Longewala) at first light on December 5, then when and where was the big battle of Longewala fought?" he questions in his book, "Battle of Longewala: The Real Story", which will hit the stands on December 3, the day the war began 42 years ago....


http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/chandigarh/new-book-claims-to-nail-longewala-lies/article1-1156480.aspx