The September War and the Tashkent Declaration; The Kashmir Dispute; Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir 1965

The September War and the Tashkent Declaration

Kashmir lies at the heart of the long and bitter conflict between India and Pakistan. Both nations have invested immense stakes in this territory, the last unsolved problem of the partition of India. For Pakistan, the denial of self-determination to Muslims in a Muslim- majority region contiguous to West Punjab cut at the root of the ‘two nation theory.’ The absence of Kashmir in the Pakistan dominions was a constant reminder to Pakistanis that their nation was still incomplete. To accede to the absorption of Kashmir into India would, for Pakistan, cast ‘doubt upon the legitimacy and permanence of the national homeland.’ For India, apart from the enormous strategic and economic value of the province, ‘to concede the validity of the two-nation theory would be a denial of the secular basis of the Congress Movement and a threat to the Muslim minority remaining in India. India has thus asserted the finality of her sovereignty in Kashmir, gained by the accession of a Hindu Maharajah. Despite Nehru’s original commitment to self-determination for Kashmir, India has backed away from a plebiscite which, as Krishna Menon admitted, ‘we would lose . . .’ Pakistani diplomacy has kept the dispute alive before the U.N. and other international forums, so much so that perhaps only India believes the problem is finally settled. In 1962 and 1964 Pakistan mounted major diplomatic offensives in the U.N. Security Council on the Kashmir problem, the latter personally led. by Z.A. Bhutto, but in neither case were any gains made in moving the dispute away from the stalemate. It is difficult to exaggerate the intensity of Pakistan’s sense of grievance on Kashmir, its belief in the justice of its cause, or its frustration at the failure of diplomatic methods to secure self-determination for Kashmir.
Pakistan had, in the past, considered and employed other than diplomatic methods in the Kashmir dispute, but these efforts had either been choked off by India’s effective intelligence network in Kashmir, or fallen afoul of the internal political situation in that province. The idea of supporting an insurrection in the Valley of Kashmir had been urged as early as 1949 by Major-General Akbar Khan, the commander of Pakistani forces in the 1948 hostilities in Kashmir.
In the early 1960s a number of factors began to converge that renewed the attractiveness of promoting an insurrection in and around the city of Srinagar. The first of these factors was the growth of civil unrest there and the resulting perception in Pakistan that the social and political conditions might now be ripe for a violent uprising. This unrest, having found a negative focus in the October 1963 announcement of constitutional moves to integrate Kashmir more fully into the Indian Union, exploded into major rioting when a relic of Prophet Muhammad was reported stolen from the Hazratbal Shrine near Srinagar in late 1963. Demands for a plebiscite and union with Pakistan were openly voiced during these disturbances. The release of Sheikh Abdullah, the ‘Lion of Kashmir’ and his dispatch by Nehru to negotiate a settlement of the Kashmir question with Ayub contained the unrest for a time. But these negotiations were hardly underway when they were cut off by the death of Nehru in May 1964. Kashmir suffered another period of disturbances and police firings in January 1965, after the post-Nehru leadership went ahead with th constitutional change.
The second factor in Pakistani calculations was the blossoming China-Pakistan relationship. During Chou En lai’ s visit to Pakistan in February 1964, China heretofore neutral on Kashmir, openly sided with Pakistan’s  position. We do not know what other, if any, agreements or understandings might have been arrived at on this occasion or later during Ayub Khan’s trip to Peking in May 1965. China, it seems clear, stood to make important strategic gains in Pakistan held Kashmir, particularly in the vital Aksai Chin area where it might be assumed Pakistan would not contest China’s claim. For its part, Pakistan might well have believed that, should it gain physical control of the Valley of Kashmir by some of combination of internal insurrection and military action , China would not permit any future Indian attempt to reverse such a fait accompli.
The third aspect that must have concerned Pakistan’s leaders was the situation in India. Again, from Pakistan’s point of view, the indications were favourable. India, at the death of Nehru, appeared to be on the verge of serious regional and linguistic strains, prompting some to speculate on the future ‘balkanization’ of India. One of the latter was Z.A. Bhutto, who, about this time, asked: ‘How long will the memory of a dead Nehru, inspire his countrymen to keep alive a polyglot India, that vast land of mysterious and frightening contradictions, darned together by the finest threads?’ The post Nehru leadership was seen as weak, divided by party factionalism and facing severe economic problems. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, lacking the immense authority and political acumen of his illustrious predecessor, impressed Ayub as a small, ‘inconsequential fellow who could not be expected to meet the challenge of a crisis.’
Fourthly, in Pakistan the 1965 elections had ‘illuminated many of the mistakes and venalities of Ayub Khan’s government,’ and ‘greatly undermined, if not wholly discredited,’ him as a national leader. Though he won the election-with considerable help from the police and administration-Ayub ‘needed a spectacular success of some sort, and events in Kashmir in 1965 suggested that he might be able to gain it by reopening the issue through a localized military operation.’
Finally there were military considerations. By the early 1960s, having been reorganized, rearmed and retrained along the Korean War models, the Pakistani armed forces stood at the peak of their combat strength. In contrast, the Indian Army was still essentially a World War II force, having yet to complete the extensive reorganization and major build up begun after the debacle of 1962. The fact that Pakistan’s armoured forces were believed quantitatively equal and qualitatively superior to India’s, gave Pakistan’s officers the sense that they possessed the decisive breakthrough punch in a war with India. But, this was a temporary advantage for Pakistan and would disappear as India absorbed her new weaponry and completed training several new mountain divisions, which could be used in Kashmir as well as along the Sino-Indian boundary.
Optimistic Pakistani assessments of the relative military capabilities of India and Pakistan seemed to be confirmed in the Rann of Kutch hostilities in the spring of 1965. Begun in clashes between border police over disputed territory in February, the fighting escalated to brigade-sized actions between regular army units in April. Pakistani forces clearly bested their Indian counterparts in most of the actions and by late April Pakistan’s 8th Division under Major-General Tikka Khan was poised to defeat a comparable Indian force in the northern Rann. At this point, Prime Minister Shastri, under the most intense domestic pressure, told Lok Sahba that India would open hostilities on a battlefield more advantageous to itself, should Pakistan persist in advance in the Rann. At this time also, India’s divisions in the Punjab were gathered into offensive formations and her armoured division was ordered from the peace-time base at Jhansi to Jullundur. In the Rann, much against the urgings of his Foreign Minister, Ayub halted the Pakistani advance and, after a lull, permitted the dispute to go to negotiation and eventually international arbitration.
In the light of the September War, both sides looked back at the Rann hostilities as a probing action to test the other’s military and political reactions, and as a kind of proxy war for Kashmir. Inside the Government of Pakistan, Bhutto led a confrontationist group that pressed for a clear victory in the Rann in the belief that such a defeat would limit india’s military responses in the coming Kashmir conflict. As he later argued:
. . . the restraint exercised in not pressing these military advantages encouraged the Indians to believe that Pakistan would refrain from military action in retaliation to India’s plan to annex Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, realizing that there would come an end to Pakistan’s restraint . . ., India took the precaution of simultaneously attacking Lahore to foreclose the Kashmir issue by the use of force . . . if Pakistan had taken advantage of its military successes in the Rann of Kutch . . .Indian Army would have regained her senses and not participated in another conflict only five months later.
To any neutral observer, however, these were not the lessons of the Rann hostilities. India always made clear its intention of attacking across the Punjab border if Pakistan made any military move against her vulnerable supply line ( the Jammu-Srinagar-Leh Road) into Kashmir. Pakistani planners among whom Bhutto had a pivotal role, evidently discounted such warnings and concluded that India would not risk an attack across a settled international boundary in response to conflict in a disputed region. On 6 September 1965, when India opened the Lahore front in reaction to Pakistan’s armoured thrust toward Chhamb in Jammu, Lahore was virtually undefended and managed to avoid capture largely because the Indian commander fearing a trap, failed to follow up his initial success. The other lesson of the Rann was that the weak Shastri Government was vulnerable to jingoistic public opinion and, even against its better judgment, might be forced to respond with massive force in the event an anticipated defeat in Kashmir or elsewhere. Shastri had expended virtually all of his political capital in trying to keep the Rann conflict limited and localized. When fighting erupted in Kashmir several months later, he had no option military or political, but to seek a wider war.
Bhutto’s comments on the Rann hostilities made when he was in the political wilderness, are shrewdly designed to to bolster his own activist role in the September War and to separate himself, as early as possible in the sequence of events from the overly cautious decisions that ended in Tashkent. There is little question that Z.A. Bhutto had the leading part in planning Pakistan ‘forward policy’ in Kashmir, indeed some have maintained it was he who revived Akbar Khan’s idea for an insurrection in the Valley of Kashmir. The policy envisioned the use of ‘controlled military power to produce political changes in India’s position on Kashmir, since all the diplomatic methods had failed. Central to the forward policy group’s plan was the internal insurrection, to be set off by para-military forces trained and armed by Pakistan and given political direction by radio station purporting to be broadcasting from liberated territory inside Indian-held Kashmir. Azad Kashmir and regular Pakistan forces would stand by to assist the insurrectionists, either by diversionary attacks along the cease- fire line (1948) or by moves against strategic points, and be prepared to exploit any major opportunities that developed. Certainly, the forward policy planners were prepared to accept the risk of a wider war with India because, even then, Pakistan’s minimal objective of getting serious negotiations underway on a plebiscite could still, it was calculated, be forced by international pressure and by Pakistan’s projected battlefield success. For the most part, the forward policy group believed India would confine its military response to Kashmir. In such an event, should all else go well for Pakistan, Kashmir could possibly be physically wrested from India.
In the spring of 1964, reportedly after Chou En-Lai’s visit, the forward policy planning was begun. This was kept within a small group of political (Bhutto), civil and military officials. Decisions were made without the customary practice of war gaming by adversary group of staff officers, a lapse Ayub Khan would later deeply regret. The first para-military units were formed in the fall of that year, with a projected two-year training period for complete readiness. The disturbances in Kashmir of January 1965 encouraged the planners, Bhutto in the main, to advance the operational timetable by a full year, much to the dismay of the general officer in charge of para-military training, who believed his men were yet too few and inadequately prepared. In early August, the first para-military mujahids ( freedom fighters) were sent to Kashmir- often, as it turned out, into the hands of Indian intelligence units. Serious political disturbances were reported from Srinagar in August, and later in October, but these evidently did not ‘take off’ into the Algerian type of sustained insurrection so crucial to the forward policy. Clashes along the cease-fire line increased in numbers and intensity, throughout August as Pakistan and India competed for advantageous positions along the infiltration routes. In September the conflict escalated rapidly. An armoured thurst by Pakistan toward Chhamb and Akhnur threatened the vital supply lines to Punch and Srinagar and was Indian aircraft. On 6 September, India generalized the conflict by attacking towards Lahore and Sialkot. India’s main armoured thrust was broken in the Battle of Chawinda, while Pakkistan’s vaunted armoured, slowed on ground flooded by breached canals, was mauled near Khem Karan by prepared anti-tank defenses. Thereafter, with neither side holding an hope of forcing the other to capitulate, the conflict settled into a war of skirmishing and limited assaults to gain territorial advantage. The generalized hostilities lasted seventeen days and all but exhausted the arsenals of both nations. Both sides made exaggerated claims, but most neutral observers agree the war was a draw.
On the diplomatic front, Pakistan diplomacy all but succeeded in isolating India. Turkey, Iran, and Indonesia provided substantial diplomatic and some logistical aid. Among the major powers, however, it was not the United States, Pakistan’s ally, that came to her aid, but China. On 8 September while the US was declaring its neutrality and cutting off all military supplies to both belligerents, China was obliquely , injecting itself into the dispute by formally protesting ‘successive violations of China’s territory and sovereignty by Indian troops,’ and by linking this ‘aggression’ with that against Pakistan. Bhutto would later tell Pakistan’s National Assembly that China’s veiled threat to take action on the Sikkim border near East Pakistan kept the eastern province free from Indian attack. On 17 September, China turned its protest into a three-day ultimatum, demanding the dismantling of Indian military structures on the Chinese side of th China-Sikkim border. The threat of Chinese military intervention though interpreted as a ploy by India, invigorated US and Soviet efforts to get a standstill cease-fire resolution in the Security Council. This was accomplished on 20 September.
In the diplomatic maneuvering to end the fighting, ‘Pakistan could win nothing from the war . . .unless she could attach the strongest possible political qualifications to a ceasefire.’ In mid-September President Ayub represented that a ‘purposeful ceasefire’ must provide for a self- executing arrangement for the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute which was the ‘root cause’ of the Indo-Pakistani conflict. India on the other hand, had the advantage in the maneuvering in that ‘its minimum requirements was an unconditional, non-political ceasefire which restored the status-quo ante.’ U.N. efforts tended to coincide with India’s requirements and Pakistan was extremely disappointed that none of the U. N. resolutions on the conflict ‘contained any promise that an effort would be made to solve the Kashmir problem in terms of the past resolutions of the United Nations. In the end, much to the surprise of its supporters, Pakistan accepted a standstill ceasefire, based on the resolution of 20 September which gave no promise of any real settlement of the Kashmir question. Bhutto arrived in New York to convey Pakistan’s acceptance on 22 September.

It was by no means a satisfied Bhutto who reached the U.N. As he later wrote, ‘Serious differences arose between me and the President during and after the 1965 war and subsequently at Tashkent.’ The forward policy group, along with a younger group of young army officers, had opposed the ceasefire and sought to continue the war with the Chinese material aid proffered during Ayub’s secret wartime trip to Peking. China’s renewal of the ultimatum to India on 19 September appears designed to bolster the Bhutto group within the counsels of the Pakistan Government. Ayub, however, still very much the master of the internal situation ( though there were rumours of a possible coup attempt), was under intense Anglo-American pressure to agree to the ceasefire. He was also well aware that the resolution of 20 September could be ‘read as a joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. warning to China not to widen the war by joining Pakistan.’ Moreover, the Ayub Regime, with its narrow political base, could not afford a drawn-out war and the mass politicization it would inevitably bring. For the Bhutto group, these considerations were not crucial. They viewed mass politicization not only as inevitable, but as a future political opportunity. They were particular angered by Ayub’s decision to accept a cease-fire without preconditions on Kashmir, believing that thereby Pakistan had thrown away its strongest card. They argued against accepting the offer of Soviet mediation and were bitterly critical of the Tashkent Declaration, which effectively restored the status-quo ante and meant that Pakistan had gained nothing from the war. With this result the forward policy was in shambles and a discouraged Bhutto ‘offered my resignation three times, once before the signing of the Declaration and twice after it, but was told that my leaving office would amounts desertion at a time when Pakistan was in the throes of a serious crisis and foreign troops were on our soil, and that solidarity was essential in the hour of crisis.’
The events of 1965 effectively ended the bond of trust between Ayub Khan and his Foreign Minister. Ayub believed he had been ‘greatly misled’ by the forward policy group and the Foreign Ministry came under severe criticism for its ‘grand miscalculation.’ Bhutto and Aziz Ahmad, then foreign secretary, and later Foreign Minister in the Bhutto Regime, it was felt would have to be removed once the situation stabilized. Bhutto’s removal was supported by the CSP moguls, Ayub’s ‘in- house’ intellectuals and his circle in the army. Prominent in this grouping was Altaf Gauhar, CSP, who would replace Bhutto in Ayub’s inner circle and who was thought to have ambitions to be Ayub’s successor. According to one account, Ayub conveyed this decision to his Foreign Minister at Larkana in February 1966, after which Bhutto supported by sections in the Army, made several unsuccessful attempts to have Ayub change his mind. For his part, a disillusioned Bhutto felt there had been no ‘grand miscalculation’ but an excessive ‘timidity’ on the part of Ayub in not pressing the conflict over Kashmir to a point of clear advantage for Pakistan. At Tashkent, moreover, Ayub had ‘unnecessarily capitulated’ national interests to international pressure. The President, as Bhutto observed to this writer,

was a master of half measures. He didn’t follow through on policies. He would start something at breakfast, and change his mind at dinner. In internal affairs this was all right, but it’s consequences were too severe in our foreign affairs.

Bhutto’s political position after Tashkent became extremely delicate, particularly after his opposition to the Declaration became public knowledge. Supremely conscious of the fact that he stood out as a politician in cabinet of technocrats, Bhutto was determined not to lose politically from the war. As early as in the spring of 1965, he had intimidated to a political confidant of the events shaping up in Kashmir and seemed to feel he could not lose from the situation:

If my policy wins in Kashmir, I will be respected more than Ayub Khan, if we lose, Ayub Khan and the army will be disgraced and I will emerge as the next man.’

Things did not turn out in exactly this fashion. The prestige of the armed forces was greatly enhanced by the war, which the public believed Pakistan had won. The war was the beginning of the end for Ayub Khan, though it would take several years for the political and economic consequences of the conflict, and the loss of the army’s confidence, to build up into his overthrow. For Bhutto, if the war did not bring him to power as the ‘next man’ it did give him an important base of support in the army, as well as the issue of Tashkent, which he would use to build a credible opposition.
During the month after Tashkent, Bhutto entered a period of political maneuver, both within and without the Government. He understood the depth of public shock and disillusionment with the diplomatic outcome of the war. Disbelief and riots had greeted both the cease-fire and the Tashkent Declaration in Lahore an Karachi. Unlike most of his colleagues, Bhutto had always maintained some friendly contacts with opposition leaders and appears to have had a hand from behind the scenes, in encouraging them to form an anti-Tashkent front of opposition parties. According to Malik Ghulam Jilani Khan, then President of the West Pakistan Awami League, Bhutto contacted him, and told him the cease-fire had been unnecessary-the army had been advancing and help was coming from China, – and that Tashkent had been a sell out to India. At this time, also, ‘he confided that there were secret clauses signed at Tashkent, and we believed him.’ Jilani is also adamant that he had Bhutto’s promise to join a front of opposition parties: ‘You arrange it and I’ll tender my resignation and join you.’ Jilani was a key figure in organizing a national conference of opposition parties, which met in Lahore on 5 and 6 of February 1966 in an effort to organize an anti-Tashkent front. Along with the Council Muslim League, the West Pakistan Awami League proposed the launching of a civil disobedience campaign to gain the abrogation of the Tashkent Declaration, but these proposals were rejected by the more conservative Islamic parties. After a feeble resolution on Tashkent, the conference broke up over the ‘Six Points’ demand of the East Pakistan Awami League, put, for the first time in a national forum, by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Not surprisingly, Bhutto made no appearance.
On the question of his leaving the cabinet, Bhutto appears to have been somewhat ambivalent. Few politicians in Pakistan have willingly given up political position, for, to do so puts one outside the system of privilege and protection, results in pressure to join opposition forces, and usually thereby brings one into an antagonistic relationship with the state organs. Bhutto had not always agreed with the President’s decisions in the past-on his handling of the 1962 student demonstrations and on the concentration of industrial wealth in a few families. On these issues, out of ‘good faith’ and as a ‘responsible cabinet member,’ he put his views to Ayub Khan. Of his service in the Ayub’s Government, Bhutto noted:

At this time there was no political process outside the government system . . . Under the Basic Democracies system there were no other productive political avenues to which one could turn. I though I could do better by being in th Government.I was successful to some extent.

Nonetheless, after the September War, his differences with the President ‘assumed a different complexion’ and he began to ‘actively oppose’ Ayub’s foreign policy decisions inside the Government. As early as the 22 September 1965 Security Council meeting, he was aware that this opposition, and the expected public reaction to the cease-fire might require him to leave the cabinet. In the first weeks after the Tashkent Declaration of 10 January 1966, Bhutto was close to forcing his resignation, but Ayub, who was not about to give the students the leader who could impart momentum to the anti-Tashkent disturbances, was adamant that Bhutto stay on. It is unlikely that the President was aware, through the domestic intelligence services, of Bhutto’s contacts at this time with the opposition. It was in late January that the shooting incident occurred outside the home of Malik Ghulam Jilani Khan in Gulberg (Lahore), in which a prominent journalist, Zamir Qureshi was killed while standing in the dust beside two vocal opponents of the Regime, Mir Baqi Baloch and the aforementioned Jilani. Though this murder was never ‘solved,’ it was carried out much in the Kalabagh style and was interpreted b Jilani, among others, as the kind of message Bhutto would understand.

Insofar as his public behavior was concerned, Bhutto retired to Larkana immediately after Tashkent. Here, he issued two press statements which ostensibly supported the Tashkent Declaration, but which contained enough ambiguous language to be seen as a form of subtle criticism of Ayub’s policies. The second of this statement coming after the suppression of the disturbances and the failure of the opposition conference, was critical of the opposition leaders and stressed the need for a non-partisan foreign policy. Some have seen this as an indication that Bhutto now saw the wisdom of remaining in the cabinet and of working to reinsure himself with Ayub Khan. Even if this is the case, Bhutto was still not happy with Tashkent. On 16 March 1966, when he spoke in support of Tashkent in the National Assembly, he began by pointedly noting the Declaration was ‘a declaration of intent’ to settle outstanding Indo-Pakistan disputes, including Kashmir, not ‘a contractual obligation’ to do these things.
Whether or not Bhutto made efforts to keep his post, Ayub Khan, still very much in charge of his government, was determined upon his eventual removal. The. first public sign that Bhutto had fallen from favour came in April when he was removed as Secretary-General of the Convention Muslim League. This occurred after Bhutto had advocated-policy of debate and negotiations with the Six Points Movement in East Pakistan in direct opposition to Ayub’s hard line approach. This clash, which took place at the CVML meetings in Dhaka, further strained relation between th two men. Ayub’s policy had wider ramifications. His threat to ‘use the language of weapons’ in East Pakistan was widely interpreted as an attempt to distract West Pakistan from Tashkent. Another element in Bhutto’s removal as Secretary-General was the re-organization of the CVML, just getting started under a new party constitution. Many of those around the President had no desire to see Bhutto retained in a position from which he could turn the government party into his own power base.
Some dispute had arisen in Pakistani political circles over the circumstances of Bhutto’s departure from the Ayub’s cabinet. His detractors have stressed that he was dropped even as he sought to cling to power; his supporters assert that he left the government on an issue of principle. This is a conflict of emphasis, rather than of fact, as there is truth in both views. According to Bhutto’s version of events, he and Ayub had their last meeting on 16 June. After declining the blandishments of an ambassadorship and an industrial permit, Bhutto claims he was told to keep out of politics and warned by Ayub ‘that if I incurred his enmity, he would ‘follow me to the grave.’ On his refusal to be intimidated-‘my decision to take part in politics would be influenced by national interest and not by threats’-Bhutto maintains the meeting ended almost amicably and Ayub suggested a further discussion when Bhutto returned from his forthcoming private trip to Mecca and Europe. We do not have Ayub’s version of this meeting, though he did later deny ever having threatened Bhutto. On 18 June 1966, the public was informed that the Foreign Minister had been granted a two months leave ‘for reasons of health’ and that the President was assuming the Foreign Affairs portfolio. With this announcement, which came after several weeks of rumours about Bhutto’s impending resignation, few had any doubts that Bhutto and Ayub had come to a final parting of the ways.

Motivations in political disputes can often be complex. There is little question that Ayub and Bhutto had come to hold fundamentally opposite views on the course of Pakistan’s foreign policy and that in the normal course of things Bhutto should have resigned, perhaps earlier than he did. It is possible that more than foreign policy matters were involved, that Bhutto had come to doubt the fulfillment of his ultimate political ambitions if he stayed in the Regime. For some years he had been regarded as the most obvious successor to Ayub Khan, but in the aftermath of the war and Tashkent, his influence in the Cabinet and at the President’s House had ebbed rapidly. Speaking at Khairpur (Sindh) on 19 May 1970, Bhutto is reported to have said that he resigned when he learned that President Ayub had decided to bring his own son in as the next President of Pakistan. This report which does not seem to have been publicly denied by Bhutto, puts another angle on Bhutto’s resignation. It suggests that the Foreign Minister left the Regime when he saw his own inside track to the presidency being blocked. This does not really surprise one, nor does it necessarily conflict with other reasons, such as the conflict over policy. What it does do is to weaken the claims of Bhutto partisans that the Foreign Minister resigned purely on matters of principle, but then, in politics, one always had to be skeptical of claims to purity.

Conclusion: We have delved into Pakistan’s foreign affairs during the Ayub period because foreign and domestic affairs have never been far apart in the perceptions of most Pakistanis, including Bhutto. Indeed, the degree to which educated Pakistanis begin with international power politics in order to explain domestic policies takes the foreign observer by some surprise. Though this kind of approach is more prevalent on the left, it does indicate how much developing nations feel the pressures of international politics and the dominance of the super powers. What prior tendencies in this direction may have existed were enormously enhanced by the September War and its diplomatic outcome, in which, most Pakistanis fervently believe, great power intervention deprived them of the diplomatic fruits of their legitimate military victory. Among the educated and the common man, the prestige of both the Soviet Union and the United States sank out of sight, while that of China, the only major power to aid Pakistan in any way, rose to dizzying heights. The Soviet Union was able to recoup some of its influence- it had never been great in Pakistan- through limited arms aid in 1967 and 1968. Relations between the United States and Pakistan, improved during the last two years of Ayub’s administration and, at the official level, warmed considerably after President Yahya Khan served as an intermediary between the United States and China to help set up Kissinger’s breakthrough trip to Peking on 9 June 1971. But for more than a decade after the September War, the United States was the particular villain of the post-Tashkent generation in Pakistan.

Writers an spokesmen on the left skillfully used the Vietnam War and the impact of US aid policies on Pakistan’s domestic social and political structures to interweave anti-American themes almost indelibly into the consciousness of the newly politicized generation and the Pakistan People’s Party would be its first political home.

It is important to note that Bhutto came to domestic politics by way of foreign affairs. His experiences in the international arena deeply affected his perceptions of Pakistan’s domestic politics. It is certainly of interest that both the Chairman and the first Secretary-General of the Pakistan People’ Party (Z.A. Bhutto and J.A. Rahim) were men whose careers thus far had been spent in foreign affairs. Bhutto’s concept of limited or partial sovereignty was not confined only to the sphere of power politics, but included the area of international trade and aid relationships. Here, Bhutto early defined himself as an economic nationalist and proponent of ‘third world’ perspectives. He was sceptical of the value of foreign aid, particularly on the terms given by the western powers, asking the National Assembly in late 1962: ‘What is he good of economic or any other aid if Pakistan’s sovereignty is to be bartered away in the bargain?’ Once he was out of the Government, Bhutto’s criticism of foreign aid became more radical and he began to insist that the Aid- to-Pakistan Consortium be dismantled and the Government negotiate bilateral aid and trade agreements. He also began to note the domestic impact of aid- it was a tool to build up a indigenous capitalist class in Pakistan that would be subservient to outside interests and it burdened- indeed, enslaved- the nation with huge debts.
These perspectives linked Bhutto with important domestic constituencies and social groups, including elements of the bureaucracy, that had begun to question the whole system of aid at a time when aid inputs had begun to decline and the problem of debt servicing assume major proportions. One project tha aroused major criticism on the left was that of the huge Mangla Dam Project, a multi- purpose facility ( flood control, irrigation, and hydro- electricity) built between 1962 and 1967 at a cost of about Rs 400 cores on the Jhelum River in Punjab. It was largely financed through foreign loans and built by foreign contractors, who employed hundreds of foreign technicians and engineers. This required the creation of a small, temporary foreign enclave at Mangla with the overflow o foreign residents from this and other projects being absorbed by major cities like Rawalpindi and Lahore. Foreign residents became a significant and highly visible element in Lahore. Their numbers put pressure on the availability of housing and, more importantly, their demands were said to have had a distinct impact on food prices. It is not difficult to see how resentment would build up over these issues, particularly when many in the university and media communities pointed out that Pakistanis were really paying for the high salaries and expensive life styles of foreign experts. The critics of this project asked why Pakistan could no follow labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive planning models. Mangla Dam, he insisted, could have been built for a quarter of the cost by using the Chinese method of mass labour, rather than expensive earth-moving machinery, and by employing more Pakistani engineers, among whom there was a serious problem of unemployment. At the very least, this would have put wages into the pockets of many Pakistanis, rather than a few foreigners. They also insisted that the benefits of the Dam had been oversold to the Pakistani public, that the promised industrial development has not occurred and that Pakistan would be repaying the Mangla Dam loans for the next forty years, rather than the ten years originally estimated.

Certainly Bhutto agreed with most of these suppositions. It is interesting that engineers would organize as an interest group in the anti-Ayub Movement of November 1968 to March 1969, and that they would be an early entrant group in the Pakistan People’s Party. One of the most important founder members of the PPP would be Mubashar Hasan, a civil engineer with a Ph.D from Iowa State University. He was a strong voice for third world perspectives in the party and later in the PPP Government, where he served a Central Finance Minster. He supported Bhutto’s efforts to make Pakistan a leading nation in the Group of 77 and, at one point, delivered a widely acclaimed speech at the United Nations which demanded a total restructuring of world trade and aid relationships.

By courtesy: The Pakistan People’s Party by Philip E. Jones, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 2003


 The Kashmir Dispute


The Kashmir dispute has bedevilled Pakistan-India relations for over five decades and no end appears in sight. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan once, in 1948, said that he will not give up our struggle for Kashmir even if it takes ten to fifteen years. It has now taken us fifty-six years, and the dispute has not been settled. It would be well to examine its causes and mistakes that we have made, and to make a realistic appraisal of the situation as it exists today.

It is on record that Vallabhbhai Patel, the powerful minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s government had offered to Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan in 1947 that Pakistan should keep Kashmir and let India have Hyderabad. This offer was rejected. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, and presumably Mr Jinnah, felt that we could have both-Kashmir, because it had a Muslim majority and Hyderabad, because it had a Muslim ruler. It is also known that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the chief minister of Kashmir, asked to see Jinnah in 1947, but was not given an interview. It is also known that the Maharaja of Kashmir was indecisive about acceding to India or to Pakistan. Without making any efforts to make contact with him, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, the chief minister of NWFP, was allowed to unleash a tribal invasion of the state.

With the approval of the Pakistan government, regular Pakistan army officers and men were allowed to join the government sponsored tribal attack on the valley. When the tribesmen reached the valley, they began to loot and plunder, and after filling their vehicles, returned to the tribal area of the North West Frontier, leaving the small number of regular Pakistan army officers and men and a few tribesmen to mount an attack on Srinagar. Since the attack was delayed for about a week, and because of the return of a large number of tribesmen to their homes, the Indian army got the opportunity to rush troops to Srinagar and save the city from the tribal hordes. The Maharaja fled the city and acceded to India. The fifty-six years that followed have been spent in futile political debates and equally futile diplomatic efforts to convince the world that India should be forced to honour its commitment to hold a free and impartial plebiscite in the state, according to the UN Security Council’s resolution. By now, we should have been convinced that no plebiscite will ever be held.

General Ziaul Haq annexed the northern areas of the state into Pakistan and declared that these no longer formed a part of Jammu and Kashmir. By separating a hundred per cent Muslim area from Jammu and Kashmir, we in fact acknowledged that there was no possibility of the United Nations-controlled plebiscite in the state.

Fifty-six years after Partition, the position is that at least 80,000 people have lost their lives in Indian-occupied Kashmir, no meaningful progress has been made in solving this dispute, and the positions of the two countries have become harder. Pakistan’s official position remains that the Security Council resolution of holding a plebiscite should be implemented, and although India claims ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ to be a part of Indian territory, it appears to be willing to recognize the cease-fire line as an international border. The various possibilities that have been talked about do not offer any real solution to the problem. The suggestion that the cease-fire line be converted to an international border is no solution, and no government in Pakistan could consider such a suggestion.

Another alternative is that the River Chenab be converted into an international border, and the territory of Leh on its right bank with the adjoining non-Muslim areas, as well as all the territory on its left bank should be part of India. This suggestion, talked about by some well meaning on both sides does not offer any real solution to the problem. Even by making the River Chenab the dividing line, some Muslim majority areas will still remain on the left bank of the river, and these will be a source of potential instability.  The struggle for their ‘liberation’ is, therefore likely to continue and this will bedevil relations between the two nuclear powers. Infiltration of the so-called Mujahideen will continue, and the river separating the two, although a less porous border, will not be able to solve the problem.

A third, and in my view, the only solution to the problem, is to recognize the state of Jammu & Kashmir as an independent country. The borders are contiguous with China, India and Pakistan. China’s border is virtually impassable, and China now has no claim to any part Jammu &Kashmir. India and Pakistan can jointly guarantee the inviolability of the borders of the new state, and Jammu and Kashmir would not then be required to have any armed forces of its own. Its internal security problems could be served by police force. This would save it the back-breaking expenditure of maintaining its own defence forces, giving it an opportunity to use its considerable resources for the welfare of the people and for the promotion of tourism- for which I has unrivaled potential.

India can argue that if Kashmir is granted freedom, it will open up a Pandora’s box for India and the demand of other people who are seeking separation from India will be strengthened. There is, however, no parallel between Jammu & Kashmir and other territories such as Nagaland or Mizoram. None of these involve any other country, and India has no dispute with its neighboring countries, such as China or Myanmar (Burma), regarding these territories. The narrow parochial interests of politicians and political parties, which exploit human weaknesses to gather electoral support, is likely, however, to come in the way of this entirely workable solution, indeed, it will be a test of leadership p both countries. If they can rise above their narrow interests, their place in history will be assured, and they will have given hope to over a billion people in the subcontinent.

The alternative is grim: continuous strife between the two countries and a rising tide of killings and massacres, with both countries in an unending arms race, and both spending billions in purchasing aircraft, ships, missiles and expensive arms from the United States and other Western powers, thus enriching these already rich countries and impoverishing themselves. The majority of the people of South Asia, whose population is likely to double in twenty five years, are already short of the bare minimum for survival, and at the present galloping rate of poverty, they will soon face starvation like millions in Africa. The chances are that if we persist in our folly, we, the people of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, will before long destroy ourselves, either by self-inflicted misery and hunger, and if not by these, then by the use of nuclear weapons, accidentally or intentionally, in which we appear to take so much pride.

By kind courtesy: We’ve learnt nothing from History by M. Asghar Khan, Oxford University Press Pakistan 2005


Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir 1965


While Pakistan sought to broaden the international debate over Kashmir, it also undertook an internal review of military options based on the assumption that India would shortly have an enhanced domestic ordnance capacity with new production facilities and new Western equipment and mountain troops that would give it greater forces to thwart any military moves by Pakistan in the future. Key players in the review of options were Bhutto (Foreign Minister), Aziz Ahmed (Foreign Secretary), Brigadier Riaz Husain (Director ISI), and Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik  (GOC of 12 Division and responsible for much of the Kashmir sector). Others who were involved in the thinking about Kashmir were Brigadier Irshad Ahmed Khan (Director Military Intelligence) and Brigadier Gul Hassan Khan (Director Military Operations).

A Kashmir cell had been established after Sheikh Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan in 1964 involving the secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Aziz Ahmed, the secretary of defence, director of Intelligence Bureau (a civilian body), the CGS, and the DMO of the Pakistan Army. Its remit was to “defreeze the Kashmir issue,” in terms of fomenting popular uprising and providing support for those activities from Pakistan, including the infiltration of irregulars. The commander of 12 Division, Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik was designated to prepare plans to this effect and train personnel to be infiltrated into Indian-held Kashmir.  A second plan named “Grand Slam” was to follow up on the success of Gibraltar, when Pakistani forces would cross the cease fire line and head towards Akhnur in the south with a view to cutting off Indian forces in Kashmir from overland contact with India.

Gibraltar was based on the infiltration of trained guerrillas under Pakistan Army officers into Indian-held Kashmir to help foment local dissent and uprising. The operation began around July 24 with the forces making their way to, and then across, the cease fire line over a four day period.

Pakistan’s underlying assumptions were based on the action in Kashmir staying within the boundaries of the disputed state. It had made all efforts not to provoke India to retaliate across the international border. Behind the very subjective reasoning on the part of the Pakistan policy- makers was their contention that there three types of boundaries that lay between Kashmir and parts of West Pakistan:

  •  the cease fire line,
  • a working boundary starting at a place called Abial Dogran (under dispute, because of the original partition of India that lay between  parts of Sialkot and Kashmir in the south-western tip of Kashmir),
  • the international boundary between India and Pakistan which ran south from Abial Dogran (that had a designated Boundary Post number 1) near Sialkot to the Arabian Sea.

Bhutto assured Ayub that India was not in a position “to risk a general war of unlimited duration.” Pakistan did not wish to cross the international boundary but they wrongly assumed that India agreed with their definition of the working boundary not being an international border.

It was clear that the army high command would not oppose any plan that Ayub had approved. However, the army did not take it upon itself to ensure that Gibraltar and then Grand Slam would have all the support it needed. “The Chief (Musa) and the CGS, General Sher Bahadur, had from its inception viewed Gibraltar as a bastard child, born of a liaison between the Foreign Minister (Bhutto) and General Malik.”–Gul Hassan

No wonder then that the ground was not prepared adequately for the “uprising” within Kashmir. An ill-conceived propaganda war against India and its “puppet government” in Kashmir was launched over the air waves, through Azad Kashmir Radio (that shared offices with Radio Pakistan), and through Sadaa-e-Kashmir, the so called Voice of Kashmir, a pirate radio station ostensibly operating out of Indian-held Kashmir, but in fact located in Race Course Ground, Rawalpindi. In the interest of secrecy there was no contact with Kashmiri leaders even in the part that was under Pakistan control. They were not alone in their ignorance. Even senior officers at the army headquarters were kept in the dark, as were formation commanders. No prior ground work had been done in Kashmir–leaders and ordinary people–would all rise up spontaneously.

Gibraltar had some serious flaws. Most of the commanders of the infiltrators, if not all, did not speak Kashmiri. Their local contacts had not been established, the assumption being that anyone whom they approached would be anti-India and pro-Pakistan. Even minor details such as the conversion of weights and measures had escaped them, so they would stand out when they approached anyone to make purchases with the Indian currency they carried for their operations. Many Kashmir peasants fearful of Indian reactions, turned in the infiltrators. Other guerrillas found themselves on the run from day one. Officers were captured and “spilt the beans”–in the words of Brigadier Irshad,  Director Military Intelligence.

By courtesy: Crossed Swords by Shuja Nawaz Oxford University Press  London 2008








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