Directorate General Public Relations (Air Force) released a series of seven short documentaries from 1st September to 7th September 2022 to commemorate the vital role of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in the 1965 war, which proved decisive for the victory of Pakistan on many fronts. The documentaries, spanning a little over twenty minutes in total, tell the tale of the valor and professionalism of PAF that it displayed during the 1965 war with India, briefly explaining the significant events of the seven days.
The first documentary, released on 1st September, acknowledges the role of PAF in shielding the country’s airspace from Indian intrusions. It pays tribute to Air Marshall Nur Khan, who led PAF during the war. The documentary acknowledges his extraordinary leadership skills that enabled PAF to dominate the aerial battleground. It goes on to praise Squadron Leader Sarfraz Rafiqui, who downed two Indian jets intruding Pakistan’s airspace in the Chhamb sector on 1st September 1965. “This aerial domination of PAF boosted the morale of Pakistan’s forces,” the documentary says.
In the second short documentary, the narrator explains that on 2nd September 1965, PAF stayed on high alert, deterring any further violation of Pakistan’s airspace. Realizing the inability of Ouragon and Vampire aircraft against Pakistan’s Sabre, the Indian Air Force (IAF) decided to ground the Ouragons and Vampires that made up 35 percent of the Indian air fleet. Meanwhile, PAF, taking up offensive on 2nd September 1965, targeted the defensive positions of Indian forces at the Chhamb and Jourian sectors, incurring heavy losses on the ground troops of the Indian military.
Read more: 1965 War: The Air and Naval Battle
The third documentary commemorates 3rd September 1965 as the busiest and most successful day in the history of PAF. It was the day when PAF accomplished the most missions in a single day. From providing air support to the ground troops to countering the offensive of IAF, on 3rd September, PAF conducted 24 successful missions. “The aim of Pakistan’s military at the time was to expand its sphere of operations to Akhnoor, which serves as a gateway to Srinagar from Jourian,” the documentary explains.
For this sensitive and strategically important maneuver, PAF was tasked with protecting the 7th division of the Pakistan Army so that the movement of troops across the Tawi river could be completed successfully. During the aerial battle on that day, PAF inflicted irreparable losses on the Indian military, forcing them to temporarily halt the offensive. Due to the heavy losses, IAF was incapacitated to challenge PAF in the following days.
Calm before the storm
On 4th September, there was no noteworthy confrontation between the two warring countries; hence PAF, on the day, remained busy in reconnaissance missions, collecting information regarding the movement of Indian troops. Despite Indian designs to target Pakistan Army’s formation in the Jourian sector, the heavy presence of PAF aircraft in the air deterred any action. On 5th September, although the tensions were relatively low, PAF remained on high alert for an all-out war, realizing that it was just the calm before the storm.
6th September was the peak of the 1965 war. Indian military committed itself to an all-out invasion of Lahore, “however, the invasion was marred by incoordination between Indian ground troops and IAF,” the sixth short documentary explains. PAF played a vital role on that day in supporting the Pakistan Army and confronting the intruding IAF. PAF effectively targeted the Indian battle tanks marching on Lahore, halting the invasion. PAF not only defended the country against Indian invasion but also targeted and incapacitated numerous airbases of IAF. On this day, several pilots of PAF, including Squadron Leader Shabbir Alam Siddiqui and Squadron Leader Aslam Qureshi, embraced martyrdom while defending the motherland.
After suffering defeat at the hands of Pakistan’s military on 6th September, IAF continued its retaliatory operations against Pakistan until 23rd September. However, PAF successfully thwarted these operations. On 7th September, when an intrusion of 6 Hunter aircraft of IAF was detected, the renowned veteran pilot Squadron Leader M. M. Alam took them on and downed 5 Hunter aircraft in less than a minute, creating a world record. On that day, PAF destroyed 11 aircraft of IAF while defending Pakistan’s airspace; hence the day is celebrated as Air Force Day in Pakistan.
The Directorate General PR (Air Force) has released a short documentary highlighting the feats of PAF on 7th September in 1965 war.https://t.co/VcO4Ec6qqD
— DGPR (AIR FORCE) (@DGPR_PAF) September 7, 2022
Note: A slightly different version of this article appears in the 2022 September Magazine.