Victory Day of the 1965 War
By Sajjad Shaukat
September 20 is being celebrated by every Pakistani as the victory day, as on this very day; Pakistan won the 1965 war which India imposed on the latter on September 6, 1965. The day has come at a time when BJP-led government of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already planned to celebrate the golden jubilee of that war, which New Delhi had never celebrated in the past. In order to propagate that the 1965 war was won by them, they had decided to celebrate September as a victory month. They started preparing campaigns for print and electronic media besides other social events, depicting the war to have been a “one sided” affair. On the other side, Pakistan is quite justified in relation to its golden jubilee celebrations of the Indo-Pak war of 1965, because it defeated India.
It is notable that in his book, titled “The Duels of the Himalayan Eagle: The First Indo-Pak Air War”, recently released, Ex-Indian Air Marshal Bharat Kumar admitted Indian defeat in the war of 1965, as disclosed by The Times of India.
However, on the 6th of September in 1965, India crossed the international border, on the western front marking an official beginning of the war. An attempt to cross the BRB canal was made over the bridge in the village of Barki, Lahore. Besides the Kashmir and other sectors, similarly, Indian forces launched an offensive towards Sialkot.
Pakistan’s Armed Forces rose to the occasion in wake of Indian sudden attack, and in Lahore, they held the bridges over the canal or blew up those it could not hold. Indian Regiment had also crossed the BRB canal and captured the town of Batapore (Jallo Mur). The same day, a counter offensive, consisting of an armoured division and infantry division forced the Indian 15th Division to withdraw to its starting point. In this regard, the huge credit goes to the all men of Pak Army, who were deployed in the Lahore areas of Wahgah, Burki etc. Among them, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti played a huge role in the outcome of the Lahore battles and was martyred (Shaheed).
As regards Sialkot, the 1965 war witnessed some of the largest tank battles since World War II, and was fought at Chawinda in Sialkot sector—The Battle of Chawinda resulted into victory of Pakistan whose armoured forces destroyed 120 tanks of India.
Regarding aerial warfare between Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF), the latter emerged as victorious in Indo-Pak war of I965. Pakistan Air Force gained a lot of credibility among Pakistan military and international war writers for successful defence of Lahore and other important areas of Pakistan and heavy retaliation to India. During that war, PAF had destroyed 100 Indian aircraft on ground and in the air, while damaged more than 10—not counting the undermined losses inflicted by PAF’s night bombing.
It is notable that the then Squadron Leader M. M. Alam rewrote the history of air warfare on 7th September by setting new records, while defending Pakistan’s Airspace against the aggressors, and shot down five Indian aircraft in less than sixty seconds at Sargodha. He can genuinely be branded as a “hunter of the hunters”.
The role of Pakistan Navy in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 is also appreciable. Securing Pakistan’s coasts, it played a vital role in defeating India. The Operation Dawarka marked was launched by Pakistan on September 7, 196. Indian town of Dwarka was chosen to be a target of the attack. The Pakistani operation was successful and its warships harboured in Bombay, making the Indian Navy unable to sortie. In this context, Ghazi, the only submarine was deployed to attack heavy ships of the Indian Navy, aiding Operation Dwarka.
Besides, Pakistan Army launched a number of successful covert operations to infiltrate and sabotage Indian airbases and military installations. On September 7, 1965, the Special Services Group (SSG) commandos were parachuted into enemy territory. According to Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Musa, about 135 commandos were airdropped at three Indian airfields. The commando mission affected some planned Indian operations.
Nevertheless, despite Indian surprise invasion in 1965, while showing courage, and by sacrificing their lives, the Pakistani forces’ counterattack not only recaptured the territories from India, but also took Khem Karan from Indian forces including various regions of Rajastan, Sindh, and Chumb sector in Kashmir.
Notably, during the war, the whole nation showed solidarity with Pakistan’s Armed Forces and the air of the country was full of anthems and patriotic songs, especially in Noor jehan’s voice which prompted every soldier to fight harder. There were a lot of national heroes like Brigadier Ahsan Rashid, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti, SQN LDR M. M. Alam, SQN LDR Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui etc., most recognized, many unsung, we remember them always and particularly on September 20, marking the victory day.
It is noteworthy that unlike Indian false claim of victory, Pakistan won that war. In fact, when Indians were at the edge of loss, some of their officials went to the USA and requested for ceasefire, because they did not want further loss.
India’s Prime Minister Shastri suffered a fatal heart attack soon after the declaration of the ceasefire through Tashkent Declaration.
It is worth-mentioning that the “Official History of the 1965 War”, drafted by the Ministry of Defence of India 1992 realised Indian miscalculations. According to it, on 22 September when the Security Council Security was pressing for a ceasefire, the Indian Prime Minister asked commanding Gen. Chaudhuri, if India could possibly win the war, were he to delay accepting the ceasefire. The general replied that most of India’s frontline ammunition had been used up and the Indian Army had suffered considerable tank losses.
Air Chief Marshal (R) P.C. Lal who was the Vice Chief of Air Staff during the conflict, points to the lack of coordination between the IAF and the Indian army.
These statements and ground realities prove that there is no doubt that Pakistan won the war of 1965 by defeating India.
Undoubtedly, despite the qualitative and numerical superiority of India, it was due to the spirit of sacrificing their own lives, motivated by Pak Army’s Motto–Iman, Taqwa, Jihad and Fi Sabilillah that Pakistan’s Armed Forces fought bravely and courageously. In this context, in his historical address, the then President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan gave reference of Kalama-e-Tayyaba.
Nonetheless, while celebrating the victory day, and the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war, Pakistanis pay tribute to every Shaheed and Ghazi whom they salute to symbolize country’s love for those men in uniform, as they would live alive due to their deeds.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations