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Pakistan commentators question country's 1965 war claims

As Pakistan commemorates the 1965 war with India on Sunday, several commentators have rubbished the theory that the country emerged victorious in the conflict triggered by Islamabad’s decision to send infiltrators into Jammu and Kashmir to spark an uprising.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2015 11:46 IST
HT Correspondent
1965 war

The then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and army officers atop a captured Pakistani tank.

As Pakistan commemorates the 1965 war with India on Sunday, several commentators have rubbished the theory that the country emerged victorious in the conflict triggered by Islamabad’s decision to send infiltrators into Jammu and Kashmir to spark an uprising.

Historian S Akbar Zaidi dispelled “the victory myth” during an event in Karachi on Friday, saying there could be no a bigger lie as Pakistan lost terribly, the Dawn newspaper reported.

People were unaware of this because the history taught in Pakistan is from an ideological viewpoint, Zaidi said while speaking on the theme “Questioning Pakistan’s history”.

Referring to the distorted history being taught to students, he said: “With the celebration of the victory in the 1965 war round the corner, there can be no bigger lie (than) that Pakistan won the war. We lost terribly in the 1965 war.”

He asked people to read security analyst Shuja Nawaz’s book “Crossed Swords”, which exposed the reality of the war.

Nawaz is the brother of Gen Asif Nawaz, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1993 while serving as the Pakistan Army chief. Though his death was attributed to a heart attack, reports have suggested he was poisoned. The book “Crossed Swords” gives an inside account of numerous operations the Pakistan Army was involved in.

Zaidi also spoke of the need to question Pakistan’s history, including the reason why the country was formed. “These events and questions have not been settled. They are constantly being reinterpreted, this is because history does not die, it keeps reliving by questioning facts and truths.”

He also referred to East Pakistan, which broke away after the 1971 war with India to become Bangladesh, and said: “East Pakistan has been erased from memory. The Bengalis of East Pakistan have been reduced to traitors. India interfered and East Pakistan decided to separate. But what about Pakistan Army’s role in its separation?”

Prominent commentator Cyril Almeida referred to former ISI chief Lt Gen (retired) Mahmud Ahmed’s book “History of the Indo-Pak War – 1965”, which states Pakistan launched “Operation Gibraltar” by sending infiltrators to Jammu and Kashmir to foment an “armed revolt”.

“The intelligence directorates were unable to provide any worthwhile intelligence to 12 Division for the guerrilla operations... In fact, none came forth (in Jammu and Kashmir) to help the guerrilla forces. Therefore, despite undetected infiltration across the Cease Fire Line, all the Gibraltar Forces...ran into trouble at the very outset of their operations,” Mahmud wrote.

Operation Gibraltar did not lead to any large-scale uprisings and the Indian Army “retaliated violently resulting in the loss of some valuable territory”. The Pakistan Army then launched “Operation Grand Slam” by sending regular troops into Jammu and Kashmir but was surprised when Indian forces attacked on September 6, 1965, Mahmud wrote.

“In the case of Pakistan, if it was solution of Kashmir, then we failed; if it was merely to defreeze the issue, then the means employed and risks taken were grossly disproportionate to the results achieved. In the bargain, we got a war which we perhaps did not want and could have avoided,” Mahmud concluded in his book.

Also read:
Tale of grit and glory: Living legends of 1965 Indo-Pak war

Archival footage captures the 1965 India-Pakistan war