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PAF, Navy didn't know of Ayub plan

An ex-Air Force chief disclosed Army hadn't told them about the operation.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Islamabad
PUBLISHED ON AUG 03, 2005 12:59 AM IST

Without taking Pakistan's Air Force and Navy into confidence, former military ruler Ayub Khan launched a secret operation in 1965 to send infiltrators into Jammu and Kashmir on the "mistaken notion" that India would not go to war on all fronts, according to an ex-Air Force chief.

The top decision-makers of Pakistan government in 1965 were "mistakenly self-assured" that the theatre of operations would be restricted only to Kashmir, former chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Nur Khan, said.

"The army too was not prepared that there could be a war. 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," Khan, 82 who was head of the PAF at that time, said in an interview to Dawn.

"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," he said.

Khan said the PAF and Navy were not taken into confidence by the top army command as they secretly started to send infiltrators into Kashmir, an operation which finally led to Pakistan-India war in 1965.

He 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.

Asked who gave the orders for launching infiltrators into Kashmir, he 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."

To a question whether the PAF was taken into confidence when the Kargil operation was launched in late 1990s, 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 another question if all the martial laws in the country were imposed with the consensus of the three armed forces, he 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 Navy) important enough. The Air Force and Navy just go along. The values have eroded. Even during Ayub's martial law, (Air Marshall) Asghar Khan and the naval chief had no active participation."

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.

Asked if President Pervez Musharraf had offered him to become caretaker Prime Minister, he 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," Khan said.

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