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Looking back at India’s failed strategy in 1965 War

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between Pakistan and India. The conflict began following Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against Indian rule, It became the immediate cause of the war.

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A year after the death of India’s founding Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and less than three years after a humiliating military defeat at the hands of China, India was at war once again. In 1965, Pakistan launched an attack to seize control of Kashmir, the disputed territory shared by India and Pakistan but India failed to achieve its war objectives.

When states cannot rely on the commitments of their former adversaries or the credible guarantees of third parties, deterrence is a critical component of stable and durable post-war settlements. According to the bargaining model of war, settlements are most likely to fail, resulting in a recurrence of conflict, if a belligerent believes it can refight the war under more favorable conditions—especially if its relative power increases. Effective deterrence prevents this by shaping the potential aggressor’s cost-benefit calculus.

Deterrence can take two forms: deterrence by denial convinces the adversary that the prospective action is impossible or prohibitively expensive. Deterrence by punishment convinces the adversary that the prospective aggressive action will result in prohibitively expensive retaliation.

Read more: The saga of Operation Gibraltar and Grand Slam in 1965

The 1965 case: Defence without deterrence 

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was the culmination of skirmishes between Pakistan and India between April and September 1965. The Second Kashmir War was fought between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, following the First Kashmir War in 1947. The war began in response to Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar, which was intended to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir in order to spark an insurgency against Indian rule.

According to Shastri’s war objectives, India would use both denial and punishment to achieve long-term general deterrence. The first goal of India’s war was to harden Kashmir, to send a message to Pakistan that it would “never be allowed” to seize control. permanent, by providing India with a more secure border. India’s second and third war goals were to punish Pakistan for its transgressions in 1965 and, in Chavan’s words, “teach a good lesson” for the relationship’s future.

Indian intelligence failures 

There was no warning from Indian military intelligence of the impending Pakistani invasion. The Indian Army suffered significant losses as a result of failing to recognize the presence of heavy Pakistani artillery and armaments in Chubb.

The “Official History of the 1965 War,” inscribed by India’s Ministry of Defence in 1992, was a long-suppressed document that revealed additional errors. According to the document, on September 22, when the UNSC was pressuring India for a ceasefire, the Indian Prime Minister asked commanding Gen. Chaudhuri, if India could possibly win the war if he delayed accepting the ceasefire.

Read more: Takeaways from the 1965 war at sea

Air Chief Marshal (retd) P.C. Lal, the Vice Chief of Air Staff during the conflict, points to a lack of coordination between the IAF and the Indian army. Neither side disclosed their battle plans to the other.

Pakistan undeterred 

The denial and punishment components of India’s coercive strategy both failed. At the end of the war, New Delhi’s war goals remained unfulfilled: Kashmir was not more secure, and Pakistan was not deterred.

The war had no effect on Kashmir’s security; the CFL remained unchanged, with the same vulnerabilities to Indian lines of communication and Pakistani infiltration staging areas as before the war. The Indian operational commander bemoans the fact that enemy armor was only mauled rather than crippled. Pakistan was not deterred from its revisionist agenda.

President Ayub suggested to the nation on the day of the ceasefire that, Pakistan’s struggle was only temporarily suspended. The same day, Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto delivered a combative speech at the United Nations, declaring his willingness to continue fighting for Kashmir.

Read more: 1965 War: The Air and Naval Battle

The people of Jammu and Kashmir are part of the people of Pakistan in blood, in flesh, in life – kith and kin of ours, in culture, in geography, in history and in every way and in every form. They are a part of the people of Pakistan. We will wage a war for 1,000 years, a war of defense. Irrespective of our size and of our resources, we shall fight to the end

Bhutto, an anti-India hardliner and future Pakistani president, opposed making a deal in Tashkent and attempted unsuccessfully to weaken Pakistan’s commitment to avoid revisionism. The majority of Pakistan and the army were also left thirsty for retribution.

Two months after the end of hostilities, Indian diplomatic reporting noted:

The younger elements in the Armed Forces are in the mood to have a second round. There was even resentment among them when President Ayub issued his call for a cease-fire. They felt that they were being held back and were deprived of winning honorable victories which were within easy reach.

Long-term, military aggression against India, particularly in Kashmir, would remain the focal point of Pakistan’s security policy until today.

 

 

The writer has done graduation in Strategic & Nuclear Studies from National Defence University, Isd and Post-Grad in International Relations from Istanbul University, Turkey. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.