Indo-Pak War of
Minister Nehru made the last effort of his life to settle the Kashmir issue
May, 1964. He invited Abdullah to come to Delhi as his personal guest.
This esture made it clear that he wanted to placate Abdullah and made a
new beginning in the spirit of forgive and forget.
has given a graphic account of his meeting with Pt. Nehru after eleven
years of estrangement in his autobiography. He claims to have suggested
to Pt. Nehru to invite President Ayub of Pakistan to Delhi for direct talks
on Kashmir and other related issues. According to him Pt. Nehru accepted
his suggestion and requested him to visit Rawalpindi and invite Ayub on
his behalf. According to Abdullah's version Pt. Nehru was "Prepared to
consider all earlier proposals as also any alternative proposals that may
be brought forward during talks to arrive at just, fair and mutually acceptable
received an invitation from President Ayub to visit Pakistan just at that
time. It appeared to be pre-arranged and not just a coincidence. This cleared
the way for his visit to Pakistan in the third week of May, 1964.
for Rawalpindi Abdullah issued a press statement in which he gave his thinking
about the possible solution of the problem. "The solution" he said, "should
be such as does not create the feeling of defeat in any party, strengthening
the foundations of secularism in India and satisfies the urge for freedom
of the people of Kashmir". It pointed to a compromise solution suiting
his ambition about freedom for Kashmir through some kind of mutual a rangement
between New Delhi and Rawalpindi.
his entourage, which included his son Farooq Abdullah, got red carpet reception
at Rawalpindi. He had detailed talks with President Ayub and other leaders
of Pakistan. He must have conveyed to them his own plan and thinking of
Pt. Nehru. Ayub accepted the invitation of Pt. Nehru and June 15, 1964
was fixed as a tentative date of his visit to New Delhi.
Abdullah went to Muzzaffarabad, the capital of the so-called "Azad Kashmir".
This Pak occupied district was of vital importance for Kashmir Valley because
the roads which linked it with rail-heads of Rawalpindi and Havelian passed
through it. He was therefore keen to woo its non-Kashmiri people to unite
it with independent Kashmir of his dreams.
was still in Muzzaffarabad, Pt. Nehru breathed his last at New Delhi on
May 27, 1964. This marked an end of an era in free-India. It also aborted
the plan of direct talks between him and President of Pakistan for the
settlement of Kashmir problem.
death at that juncture was a great blow to Abdullah. He was confident of
manipulating Nehru to hammer out a solution suiting his ambition and the
plans of Pakistan. He cut short his visit and rushed back to Delhi.
earlier, special relationship between Nehru and Abdullah was a major factor
in the making of the Kashmir problem. There was much in common between
them. Both originally belonged to the Kaul Tribe of Kashmiri Pandits, both
were voluptuous and ambitious and both shared weakness for women and good
things of life. Pt. Nehru banked on Abdullah to retain Kashmir valley in
truncketed India. Apart from his attachment to Kashmir for perochial reasons,
he wanted to disprove the two nations theory on the basis of which he had
accepted partition of British India in 1947. Sh. Abdullah wanted to exploit
Pt. Nehru to put through his three nation theory according to which Kashmir
was to be the third nation in the Indian sub-continent besides India and
Pakistan. He might have succeeded in his game but for the twist of history
mentioned above. Just as transfer of Hyderabad from Nehru's jurisdiction
to Sardar Patel shattered the plan of Nizam Osman Ali about "Sovereign Hyderabad", death of Pt. Nehru destroyed the hope of Abdullah about securing
an independent Kashmir with the concurrence of India and Pakistan.
had paid handsome tribute to Pt. Nehru in "Atish-i-Chinar." But he has
also betrayed his distrust for him in a very subtle way. According to him
"Pt. Nehru's love for Kashmir was more like love for a beaufitul woman
whom he wanted to possess and that he had come to regard him (Abdullah)
as a Rakib or rival in love-for the possession of the beautiful valley."
Nehru's death Sh. Abdullah went abroad ostensibly for pilgrimage to holy
places of Islam. He awaited this opportunity to establish contacts with
heads of many Islamic states and also had a long meeting with Premier Chou-en-Lai
of China at Algiers, capital of Algeria. The reports of his parleys as
published in the foreign and Indian press and intelligence reports received
by Government of India from its own sources created grave doubts about
him. He was reported to be thinking of an Algeria like liberation movement
to secure freedom for Kashmir. He was therefore ordered to return to India.
On arrival at New Delhi he was arrested and put under detention. This pointed
to more realistic thinking on the part of the new Govemment led by Lal
Shastri had little in common with Pt. Nehru. He was short in size, rustic
in looks and unassuming to a fault. He had a mind of his own. Like Sardar
Patel he was a man of the masses who had risen from ranks by dint of hard
work. He was a nationalist and realist. He had gained first hand experience
of the tricky mind of Kashmiri Muslims during the planned disappearance
and reappearance of the reputed hair of prophet Mohammed kept in Hazrat
Bal Shrine at Srinagar, in winter of 1963 and the anti-India frenzy that
it had created. He had no misconception about Abdullah. By his decision
to arrest and detain him he made it clear to all concerned that he was
not prepared to treat Kashmir as anybody's fief. This step sent right signal
to Pakistan also. It made President Ayub realize that he could not expect
a soft line on Kashmir from the new government of India. President Ayub
had his own assessment of the new leadership at New Delhi and State of
military preparedness of India. According to his assessment Indian military
machine had been badly mauled by the Chinese and it would take India sometime
to regain its strength and self-confidence. Like many other Muslim leaders,
he too had been nursing the fond notion about superiolity of Muslim soldiers.
He had an exaggerated estimate of the strength of Pak army and capability
of Patton tanks that he had acquired from USA. He therefore, wanted to
take advantage of what he considered to be Pak military superiority for
achieving his objective of grabbing Kashmir by other means.
rulers also banked on cooling off of the relations between India and Soviet
Union in the wake of Indo-China war, Anglo-US support to India and improvement
in relations between Pakistan and USSR. He had visited Moscow and developed
personal relation with Soviet leaders. At the same time he had continued
to enjoy the confidence of USA and was getting massive military aid from
her to modernize the Pak army.
taking resort to arms he wanted to probe two things. He wanted to know
the American reaction if he used American supplied armament against India.
India had been assured by USA that arms supplied to Pakistan will not to
be used against her. Secondly, he wanted to have a neasure of the mettle
of the new Indian leadership. This was the main motivation of Pak incursion
into Kutch region of Gujarat in early 1965.
Rann of Kutch
was part of the princely state of Kutch which acceded to India in 1947.
It is a marshy and sparsely populated region. Some island like uplands
called 'Bets" serve as pasture lands. There were unconfirmed reports about
reserves of oil and gas in this region. But no exploration had been done
until then. India didn't expect any trouble from Pakistan in this sector.
Therefore, it was virtually undefended. There were only a few police posts
on some of the "Bets".
no valid claim on this area. Maps of the state of Kutch and India as a
whole prepared by the government of undivided India had clearly denoted
it as a part of Kutch State.
of Pakistan backed by Patton tanks made a surprise attack on Kutch, captured
some of the Indian posts and laid claims on the whole of Rann of Kutch.
Before India could take a defensive action and make a counter attack, UK
and USA began to put pressure on India to accept ceasefire which left a
big chunk of Indian territory in Pak occupation. Soon after Prime Minister
Lal Bahadur Shastri and General Ayub met in London where they had gone
for Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference. There an agreement was signed
through the mediation of British Prime Minister. The issue was referred
to an International tribunal one of whose members was to be nominated by
India and the other by Pakistan.
This was a
clear victory for Pakistan. She had succeeded in creating a dispute by
unprovoked aggression, tested its newly acquired arms, known the American
reaction and internationalized the dispute with the assurance that Pakistan
would get something in the bargain. It did get a chunk of about 1000 sq.
miles of indisputable Indian territory in Kutch through the award of the
The Kutch adventure
and its outcome gave new hope and confidence to Pakistan. It was evident
from Ayub's address to Pakistani students in London in the course of which
he bragged that Pakistan's tanks could have a stroll upto Delhi if he had
so wished. The way Lal Bahadur Shastri, new as he was to the ways of international
politics and diplomacy, acted during this Pak aggression and the negotiations
that followed made Ayub think that he could brow beat him and India with
impunity. He therefore, decided to go ahead with the main plank of his
program to capture Kashmir.
plan was to launch a sudden attack on Kashmir Valley after sending thousands
of armed infiltrations into the state to prepare the ground for proper
reception and quick success of the invading army. The infiltration began
in May, 1965. The plan was to take the city of Srinagar by surprise on
August 9, 1965 when hundreds of thousands of villagers were to come there
to celebrate the Martyrs Day call which had been given by pro- Pak leadership
of Kashmir Valley. At the same time Pak saboteurs were to become active
all along Pathankot- Jammu-Srinagar highway. A major attack was to be made
on Chhamb sector to get control of the bridge on the Chenab, at Akhnoor
and cut off the north western part of the state from supply bases at Jammu
and Pathenkot. The bridge on the Chenab at Ram Ban on the highway to Srinagar
from Jammu was also to be captured.
Jammu region began according to plan. But timely information by a Muslim
Gujar of Uri about massive infiltration and timely action by the authorities
made the part of the operation in the valley a flop.
As a defensive
action, the Indian defense forces made an assault on 9000 feet high Haji
Peer Pass the only pass leading into the valley from the North West which
was under control of Pakistan, and occupied it. An equally daring action
led to the re-capture of Kargil Heights which command Srinagar-Leh road.
These Heights had been captured by Indian forces in April at the time of
Kutch war but had been returned to Pakistan in June. These two actions
sealed off Kashmir valley and ensured the safty of Laddakh.
plan of capturing Kashmir through armed infiltrators with the help of local
people thus thwarted, Pakistan launched a full scale invasion of the state
in Chhamb Jammu sector on September 1, 1965. The object as stated above
was to capture Akhnoor bridge and cut off Rajouri and Poonch from the rest
of the state and clear the way for capturing the Ram Ban bridge on the
Chenab to enable Pakistan to isolate troops in the encircled valley.
in Chhamb had no tanks to support them because the one span Akhnoor bridge
could not take the load of heavy tanks. Therefore, the capture of the bridge
and advance of the Pak forces on Jammu appeared to be a certainty. Indian
air force went into action when Pakistani tanks were hardly 10 miles away
from Akhnoor. It destroyed a number of them and slowed down their advance.
Pak advance toward Akhnoor and Jammu was slowed down by air action, it
was obvious that it could not be halted unless there was counter attack
on Lahore and Salkot sectors by India. Pakistan had planned its strategy
on the assumption that as in 1947 India would not extend the theatre of
war beyond the boundary of Jammu and Kashmir state and that with the logistic
advantage that Pakistan had in Chhamb sector, it would be able to capture
Kashmir and that India would acquiesce in the loss of the valley after
fretting and fuming for some time. The experience of first Indo-Pak war
when Pt. Nehru did not allow Indian army to make a counter attack on Sialkot,
which would have forced Pakistan to come to terms on India's conditions
lay at the root of this assumption. Ayub had thought that Prime Minister
Shastri would not have the courage to order an all out war with Pakistan.
He was also confident that in case of such a war his armored divisions
equipped with Patton tanks would be able to go right up to Delhi.
to be at Srinagar when Pakistan launched its attack on Chhamb. I had earlier
visited Indo-Pak border from Pathankot to Akhnoor and seen with my own
eyes the deserted villages, burned vehicles and streams of refugees moving
D. P. Dhar,
then Home Minister of State met me on September 2, and apprised me of the
imminent threat to Kashmir Valley. He requested me to rush to Delhi to
press upon the Prime Minister Shastri to launch counter attack on Sialkot
to relieve pressure on Jammu and Kashmir.
"You know every
inch of Kashmir and can understand the situation better than any other
Indian leader. Once Jammu-Srinagar Highway is cut, Kashmir cannot be saved"
was his pathetic plea.
an Indian Airlines plane was stranded in Srinagar at that time because
Jammu airport had been closed. It flew me and some officials and visiting
members of Parliament direct to Delhi the same evening.
I was happy
to learn on reaching Delhi that on the advice of the Defense Chief Shri
Shastri had already taken the right decision. He had learned his lesson
from the Kutch fiasco and was prepared to call the Pakistani bluff at all
on Lahore and Sialkot had the desired result. Pressure on Chhamb sector
was relieved. Pak forces fell back to defend Lahore and Sialkot. When cease
fire was ordered on September 21, in response to resolution of U. N. Security
Council, Pakistan was nowhere near Kashmir Valley while Lahore and Sialcot
were within the range of Indian guns. Lahore had been evacuated and could
have fallen into Indian hands if the Indian government had so decided.
Thus the Pak
plan to secure by force of arms what it had not been able to get by diplomacy
and negotiations failed miserably. Not only Kashmir eluded it once again
but it also got a bloody nose. Capture of Haji Pir, Kargil Heights and
part of Pak territory up to Sialkot and Lahore retrieved the prestige of
Indian armed forces which had suffered badly during the Sino-Indian war
But India was
once again worsted at the diplomatic table. Attitude of UK and USA during
and after the war, as expected, was anything but friendly. Their sympathy
for Pakistan was open. But to the great chagrin and dismay of India even
USSR maintained a neutral stance. It gave no indication of sympathy and
support for India.
After the war
Soviet Premier, Kosygin, decided to play the role of a peace maker. He
invited both Prime Minister Shastari and President Ayub to meet at Tashkant
for peace settlement. Both accepted his invitation. Indian delegation including
Foreign Minister Swaran Singh, Defense Minister Y. B. Chawan and Indian
Ambassador at Moscow, T. N. Kaul. Pakistan delegation included its Foreign
Minister, Z. A. Bhutto. The meeting began on January 4th, with an opening
address by Kosygin in the course of which he said "India and Pakistan are
our southern neighbors. We always came out not only for the strengthening
of friendly relations between Soviet Union and India and Pakistan but also
for the reign of peace and friendship between these countries themselves."
He did not utter a word which could be considered as sympathetic to India
which had been subjected to unprovoked aggression. Deliberations continued
till January 10, when Tashkent Declaration was adopted and initiated by
Lal Bahadur Shastri and Ayub Khan on behalf of India and Pakistan.
was a collection of platitudes. Its only concrete and operative part was
clause-II which said "The Prime Minister of India and President of Pakistan
have agreed that all armed personnel of the two countries shall be withdrawn
not later than 15 February, 1966 to the positions they held prior to August
5th and both sides will observe the ceasefire terms on the ceasefire line."
This was a
clear rebuff to India. It not only put the aggressor and the aggressed
on par but also committed India to withdraw from Haji Pir and Kargil Heights
which belonged to India, had been illegally occupied by Pakistan and had
been liberated by Indian armed forces at a heavy cost. It virtually gave
legal validity to Pak occupation of the territory it had occupied in 1947-48
without prejudice to its claim on the rest of the state which was still
had assured the people and armed forces before his departure for Tashkent
that he would not accept any suggestion for the return to Pakistan of Haji
Pir pass and Kargil Heights. He stood firm on his word to the nation till
the last day. But his aides, Swaran Singh, Y. B. Chawan and T. N. Kaul,
pressurred him to accept the Pak demand for withdrawal of troops from there
for fear of alienation of USSR. It implied that it was the presure of the
Soviet Union which forced India to accept a patently unjust settlement.
Had India not put all her eggs in Soviet basket and had it maintained dialogue
with USA also before and after going to Tashkent, it might have been saved
from the predicament in which Shastri had to sign the Tashkent Declaration
against his better judgement.
Shastri was found dead in his room at Tashkent on the morning of January
11, 1966. It was given out that he died of heart failure. But suspicion
that he was poisoned to death lingers on. No detailed inquiry into his
death was made. Indian physician Dr. Chugh, who had accompanied him to
Tashkent was mysteriously liquidated sometime later.
Death of Shri
Shastri Shastri was the greater loss suffered by India at Tashkent. Had
he returned to India alive, he might have given new orientation to India's
foreign policy and ended her total dependence on Soviet Union which had
proved not only undependable but also dubious.
were more concerned with global interests and global strategy of Soviet
Union than with national interests of India. Independence of character
and commitment to national interest above everything else that Lal Bahadur
Shastri had displayed during his short tenure was not to the liking of
Soviet Union and its supporters in India. They wanted a more pliable person
committed to Nehruvian foreign policy to toeing the Soviet line even at
the cost of vital national interest of India. That explained the interest
Kosygin, who overstayed in Delhi for 4 days after the funeral of Lal Bahadur
Shastri, showed in the election of Mrs. Gandhi as Leader of Congress Parliamentary
Party to fill the place of Lal Bahadur Shastri.
not sincere about Tashkent Declaration. This became clear from the statement
made by Altaf Gauhar, Press Secretary of President Ayub, soon after the
signing of this Declaration. He was reported to have said that nothing
but withdrawal of troops to August 5, position which suited Pakistan had
been agreed upon and that Pakistan reserved the right to continue its efforts
to secure Kashmir by force. President Ayub confirmed this in his statement
made at Hamburg in November, 1966. He said, "It (Tashkent Declaration)
settled nothing. All it did was to enable the two countries to disengage
their armies from each other."
From the Indian
point of view, the futile Pak attempt to grab Kashmir by force had some
positive results. In the first place even those parties in India like the
Swatantra Party which had been advocating settlement with Pakistan about
Kashmir in terms of UN resolutions conceded that Pakistan had forfeited
its claim on Kashmir by taking resort to arms.
Gandhi, the new Prirne Minister, also declared at New York on March 31,
1966, "It is now too late to talk of plebiscite. The second invasion of
Kashmir by Pakistan last autumn has destroyed whatever marginal or academic
value the old UN resolutions might have had. Kashmir is now also vital
to defense of Laddakh against China. Any plebiscite today would by definition
amount to questioning the integrity of India. It will rouse the demand
for accessation against which is fought a civil war. We cannot and will
not tolerate a second partition of India on religious ground. It will destroy
the very basis of the Indian states." l.
had a salutary effect on the minds of those Kashmiris who had been wistfully
looking to Pakistan.
Had the government
of India taken advantage of this situation to fully integrate Kashmir with
the rest of India and had it extended Indian Constitution to that State
and enabled Indians from other parts of the country to settle there, the
Pak design on Kashmir might have been effectively scotched for ever.
But that was
not to be. Mrs. Gandhi had the same weakness for Sh. Abdullah and his concept
of Kashmiri nationalism which had prevented her father to adopt a realistic
and nationalistic approach to Kashmir issue. Her policies soon destroyed
the wholesome effect of 1965 war on Kashmiri mind.
The net result
of Second Indo-Pak war on Kashmir went in favor of Pakistan, as in the
case of First War of 1947- 48. Pakistan had gained 30,000 sq. miles of
Indian territory by the war of 1947-4B. It regained some of this territory
which had been taken back by Indian army in the war of 1965. It also established
its right on the territory illegally occupied by it since the ceasefire
of 1949. It was also able to push out lakhs of Hindus from both wings of
Pakistan as refugees into India. Furthermore, it confiscated Indian properties
and assets in Pakistan worth hundred of crores of rupees. Thus, in spite
of its failure to grab Kashmir by force it was able to strengthen its position
against India both internally and externally.
Times, New Delhi, April 2, l966.