Written by Md Tamim Chowdhury
After independence in 1947, India went through many ups and downs. During those years it achieved many successes as well as passed through sufferings and bad times.
The very first wound it received was partition of the country. In 1947, the British Indian Army was distributed between India and Pakistan as a part of the partition plan. Officers and soldiers from both the sides did not only receive their training under a single flag only but also fought several battles together. Now, they became foes to each other, such a high price both the countries paid for their independence. Of course the British were gone but they left behind a fanatical hostility between India and Pakistan... ...
In October 1962, China launched a massive attack in India. India was defeated badly in this one month long war. The Indian prime minister of that period Jawaharlal Nehru was shocked by this treachery by China and in May 27th 1964, he died. After Nehru’s death Lal Bahadur Shastri was made the prime minister of India. When he came to power, economic condition of India was bad then. India was battling with its starvation and famine. On the other hand after being defeated by China, India was supposed to be a weak country. These ongoing situations in India was encouraging Pakistan’s aspiration to occupy Kashmir (India controlled).
The foreign minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a very ambitious person. He thought, this is a golden chance to fight India, win over them and capture Kashimir from India. He talked to Pakistan army chief of that period General Muhammad Musa Khan Hazara to initiate a war with India but General Musa opposed him. The conversation took place between General Musa and Bhutto is mentioned in the book My Version written by the General. In his book General Musa claims that neither President Ayub Khan nor he was interested to launch any attack in Kashmir.
After being prime minister of India LalBahadurShastri wanted to develop a good relationship with its neighboring countries. He also talked to Pakistani president Ayub Khan about that. In October 1964, Shastri met Ayub Khan in Karachi after attending NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) Summit held in Cairo. Both the leaders expressed their intention to develop a strong bilateral relationship and cooperation between them in this meeting. During their discussion LalBahadurShastri maintained a strict attitude over Kashmir issue. After this meeting Ayub Khan returned to Rawalpindi.
Solicitous for a war Bhutto somehow managed to persuade Ayub Khan to initiate a war with India. General Musa was ordered to design two attack plans to capture Kashmir. According to their first plan Pakistan would launch a massive attack in the western frontiers of India so, India would reduce the number of troops deployed in Kashmir giving them an easy opportunity to capture Kashmir. According to their second plan they would launch small attacks in the western frontiers of India to get an idea of Indian firepower. By the winter of 1964, Pakistan approved their plan to occupy Kashmir. Under solicitude of the Mastermind of the Indo-Pak war in 1965, Bhutto, Pakistan decided to carry out their attacks in four stages:
Between January and April 1965, skirmishes were taking place in the Rann of Kutch. Gears of war were clanging in the western frontiers of India. Located between India and Pakistan the Rann of Kutch is a barren region of Gujrat. Defining a border in this region below sea level was pretty tough because of its brackish flattened fields, marshy areas and flooded lands. Pakistan began claiming Rann of Kutch. But according to the declaration by the Western Indian States Agency in 1947, the entire Rann of Kutch was Indian territory. Shastri tried to make Pakistan understand that issues arisen in the borders should be resolved by discussions not by force. But Pakistani government did not respond to his call for discussion. His effort to make peace between the countries concluded to a failure. Both the countries had different views defining borders here and their different views became an excuse for a war.
Pakistan launched operation Desert Hawk in the Rann of Kutch in April 6th 1965. The objectives of this operation was to get an idea of the strength of the Indian troops, occupy the Rann of Kutch and above all shift India’s focus from Kashmir to Rann of Kutch. General Jayan to Nath Choudhuri the Indian army chief of that period was able to understand Pakistani intention so, he did not reduce troops in Kashmir. After fighting for twenty days, Pakistani infantries were able to capture an important military outpost. Situation in the western border of India was getting worse. Discussions were being held regarding the issue in the parliament in Delhi. Shastri made a discussion with the Indian army chief General JN Chaudhuri on border issues. Later the situation in Rann of Kutch was told to the Congress Parliamentary Party. Before India could take any tough decision in the parliament, by the intervention of United States and Britain, India and Pakistan prepared for a ceasefire. In June 30th 1965, Pakistan signed Kutch Sindh Agreement. According to the agreement, Pakistani troops left the Rann of Kutch. But it was just the beginning! The hostility started in the Rann of Kutch in the west would spread up to Kashmir in the north and after fighting terrible battles in Punjab it would come to an end.
(To be contined…)