Map of Pakistan during the Second Kashmir War

Above: Map of Pakistan during the Second Kashmir War

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, or Second Kashmir War, was the culmination of a series of hostilities that occurred between April 1965 and September 1965 between India and Pakistan. The war was the second one fought between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the first having been fought in 1947. The war lasted for five weeks, resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides and it ended in a United Nations (UN) ordered ceasefire.

Scene during the Second Kashmir war

Above: Scene during the Second Kashmir War

It is generally accepted that the war began following the failure of Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar’ which was designed to infiltrate and invade Jammu and Kashmir. Land forces along the International Border running in Kashmir between India and Pakistan mainly fought the war. The air forces of both countries also participated. This war saw the largest amassing of troops. This number was overshadowed only during 2001/2002 standoffs. Many details remain unclear and riddles with media biases.

Runn of Kutch - region of mudflats and salt marshes in western India and southern Pakistan

Above: Runn of Kutch - region of mudflats and salt marshes in western India and southern Pakistan (click map to enlarge)

A declassified US Sate department telegram confirms the existence of innumerable ‘infiltrators’ in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This was just before the 1965 war.
Fighting broke out in the barren region of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat province.
Initially border police broke into skirmishes but it soon escalated into a full scale armed operation starting from 20th March and then again from April 1965. In June that year, British Premier Harold Wilson persuaded both countries to cease hostilities and set up a tribunal to resolve disputes. The verdict in 1968 saw Pakistan gaining only 350 square miles/900 square kilometers of the against Pakistan’s original claim of 3500 square miles.

Picture of Field Marshal Ayub Khan

Above: Picture of Field Marshal Ayub Khan

The success in the Rann of Kutch made Pakistan under General Ayub Khan believe that India would not be able to stand up to a quick military campaign in Kashmir following her defeat in the Indo-Chinese war in 1962.Pakistan also thought that the general public of Kashmir were discontented with Indian rule and as such only a few infiltrators could easily spark off a resistance movement. The code name for this was ‘Operation Gibraltar’. Pakistan expressed concerns of Indian attempts to absorb Kashmir (a state under dispute) by articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution by which President’s Rule could be declared. However lack of support from its ally the USA, with whom had been signed an Agreement of Cooperation, took Pakistan by surprise. Refusing to aid Pakistan the USA cut off military supplies to both sides. Indian troops took control of Pakistan’s vital link – the Ichhogil Canal.

Indian Troops occupied and captured Haji Pir pass during Indo-Pakistani War 1965

Above: Indian Troops occupied and captured Haji Pir pass during Operation Gibraltar in Indo-Pakistani War 1965

The war
Crossing the cease-fire line India launched an attack on Pakistan-administered Kashmir marking the official start of the war. Pakistan reported this attack to be an unprovoked one. India said that it was in response to a massive armed infiltration. Initially India met with considerable success in the northern sector of Kashmir. Prolonged artillery barrage led to the capture of three important mountain positions. However by the end of the month both sides were on even footing. Pakistan had made gains in Tithwal, Uri and Punch. India had captured the Haji Pir Pass, eight km inside Pakistan-occupied territory. Following the failure of Operation Gibraltar, Pakistan launched a bold counter attack on 1st September 1965 to reclaim vital posts in Kashmir previously lost to India. This attack, known as ‘Operation Grand Slam’ was intended to capture the strategic town of Akhnoor in Jammu. Vital supply lines of the Indian army would have been cut off. Attacking with much superior troops and tanks Pakistan sprung a surprise and India suffered heavy losses. India now used air attacks on Pakistani southern sector. Pakistan retaliated in the air against both Kashmir and Punjab regions. But Pakistani ground forces were unable to follow up the advantage and capture any town. Operation Grand Slam failed. The tide turned. India kept the heat on and attacked further south.

Bridge accross Ichhogil Canal destroyed by Pakistan Army before retreating

Above: Bridge accross Ichhogil Canal destroyed by Pakistan Army before retreating

On 6th September India crossed the Western International Border (IB). Some claim this to be the official start of the war. Under World War II veteran, Major General Prasad, the 15th infantry of the Indian army battled a massive counter attack by Pakistan near the west bank of Ichhogil Canal (BRB Canal) which was the de facto border. The General’s entourage was ambushed and he was forced to flee. The second attempt to cross the canal over a bridge near Barki village, just east of Lahore, was successful. Lahore International Airport came within range of the Indian arm. Hastily USA requested a temporary cease-fire to allow evacuation of its citizens. A unit of the Jat regiment had crossed the canal and captured Batapore town (Jallo Mur to Pakistan) on the west side of the canal – thus threatening Lahore at the very start of the war.

Indian troops in Dograi village on the Ichhogil Canal, Lahore

Above: Indian troops in Dograi village on the Ichhogil Canal, Lahore

On the same day a counter offensive both on land and air (Air Force Sabers) was launched against the Indian 15th division forcing it to fall back on its starting point. 3 Jat suffered minor causalities but the bulk of the damage was borne by ammunition and stores vehicles. The higher commanders however did not know about the capture of the Jats of Batapore. Misleading information led to the withdrawal from Batapore and Dograi to Ghosal-Dial. Lt. Col Desmond Hayde, CO of 3 Jat was extremely disappointed. After a more severe struggle because of Pakistani reinforcements, 3 Jat eventually recaptured Dograi on 21st September for the second time.

Destroyed Pakistani Tanks parked in Patton Nagar

Above: Destroyed Pakistani Tanks parked in Patton Nagar

On the days following 9th September the premiere formations of both nations were routed in unequal battles. India’s 1st Armored Division known as the ‘Pride of the Indian Army’ launched an offensive towards Sialkot by dividing into two prongs. Coming under heavy Pakistani fire at Taroah it had to withdraw. Similarly Pakistan’s pride, the 1st Armored Division took up an offensive towards Khemkaran with the aim of capturing Amritsar and the bridge on the River Beas en route to Jalandhar. They could not get past Khem Karan and by 10th September lay disintegrated under the India’s 4th Mountain Division at the Battle of Asal Uttar (Real Answer). The area came to be Patton Nagar (Patton Town) as Pakistan abandoned nearly 100 tanks named Patton.

Indian Soldier corpse

Above: more casualties during the war

The war was heading for a stalemate with both nations holding territory of the other. India suffered the loss of 3000 on the field while Pakistan suffered no less than 3,800. India came to occupy 710 miles (1,840 square miles) of Pakistani territory while the latter held 210 miles (545 square miles) of Indian territory, mostly in Chumb in the north sector.

Map for Dwarka’s location

Above: Map for Dwarka’s location (click map to enlarge)

Neither the Indian nor Pakistani navy had a prominent role to play in the 1965 war. Under the name of Operation Dwarka, on 7th September a Pakistani flotilla bombarded the coastal town of Dwarka, (200 miles (300 km) of Pakistan’s Karachi) and its radar station. India did not immediately retaliate but sent a fleet to patrol the region to deter further aggression.

Picture of Pakistan Army in 1965

Above: Picture of Pakistan army in 1965

Some Pakistan sources claim that one submarine, PNS Ghazi, kept an aircraft of the Indian naval aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, under siege off Bombay throughout the war. Indian sources say that the latter did not want any naval conflict but to keep it restricted to land battles. Moreover the ship was being refitted on dry dock and was not deployed. Even Pakistan defense writers have dismissed the idea as a myth that the India Navy was kept bottled up by a single submarine! They say that 75% of the naval ships were undergoing maintenance in the harbor. There were unconfirmed reports that further south, towards Bombay, the Indian Navy attacked American-supplied submarines that were being used by Pakistan.

Picture of Indian prisoners playing three legged race inside prison camp

Above: Picture of Indian prisoners playing three-legged race inside prison camp

Pakistan launched some secret operations to infiltrate and sabotage Indian air bases. According to Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Musa Khan, about 135 commandos of the Special Services (SSG) parachuted into three airfields. The targets were Halwara, Pathankot and Adampur – all deep inside India. As such only 22 commandos made it back alive. Thus the operation failed. 93 were taken prisoners and 20 were killed by either the military, police or civilians. Even by Pakistani accounts the attempt was an ‘unmitigated disaster’ especially when one of the commanders, Major Khalid Khan, was taken captive. But Pakistan claim that it did have an impact on Indian plans. 14 divisions were diverted to hunt for the paratroopers. When the PAF found the road filled with transport they destroyed many vehicles. They attributed the failure to lack of proper maps, briefing, planning and preparation. Apprehending an Indian retaliation on Pakistani air bases, the SSG commandos fired innumerable rounds of small arms ammunition at imaginary Indian commandos!

Destroyed Pakistani M4A1 Sherman Tank

Above: Picture of a Destroyed Pakistani M4A1 Sherman Tank


International Assessment:
The 1965 war witnessed the largest tank battles since World War II. In its Patton tank Pakistan was numerically and technically at a better advantage than India. India’s M4 Sherman tanks were not quite up to the mark in comparison to the Patton. The Pakistani Sherman tank with 90 mm guns was superior to the India Sherman tank with 75 mm guns. But the performance of Indian tank crews far outclassed their Pakistani counterparts.

India and Pakistan hold widely divergent claims on the damage inflicted on each other. The following summarizes each nation’s claims.

Indian claims[18]

Pakistani claims[19]

Independent Sources[5][20]




2763 Indian soldiers, 3800 Pakistani soldiers

Combat flying effort

4073+ combat sorties

2279 combat sorties

Aircraft lost

35 IAF (official), 73 PAF.Other sources[21] based on the Official Indian Armed Forces History[22] put actual IAF losses at 71 including 19 accidents (non combat sortie rate is not known) and PAF’s combat losses alone at 43.

19 PAF, 104 IAF

20 PAF, Pakistan claims India rejected neutral arbitration,[23] India retorts that the neutral arbitration by John Fricker was nothing but a commissioned work. (Singh, Pushpindar (1991). Fiza ya, Psyche of the Pakistan Air Force. Himalayan Books. ISBN 8170020387. )

Aerial victories

17 + 3 (post war)



Tanks destroyed

128 Indian tanks,[24] 152 Pakistani tanks captured, 150 Pakistani tanks destroyed.[24] Officially 471 Pakistani tanks destroyed and 38 captured[25]

165 Pakistan tank, ?? Indian tanks

200 Pakistani tanks

Land area won

1,500 mi2 (2,400 km2) of Pakistani territory

2,000 mi² (3,000 km²) of Indian territory

India held 710 mi² (1,840 km²) of Pakistani territory and Pakistan held 210 mi² (545 km²) of Indian territory

Neutral assessments:
The war was at the point of stalemate when the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on September 20 that called for a cease-fire. New Delhi accepted the cease-fire resolution on September 21 and Islamabad on September 22, and the war ended on September 23. The Indian side lost 3,000 while the Pakistani side suffered 3,800 battlefield deaths.”
• “In three weeks the second IndoPak War ended in what appeared to be a draw when the embargo placed by Washington on U.S. ammunition and replacements for both armies forced cessation of conflict before either side won a clear victory. India, however, was in a position to inflict grave damage to, if not capture, Pakistan’s capital of the Punjab when the cease-fire was called, and controlled Kashmir’s strategic Uri-Poonch bulge, much to Ayub’s chagrin.”

Picture of the Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Sashtri

Above: Picture of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri


On 22nd September United Nation’s Security Council asked of both nations to an uncontrolled cease-fire. The war ended on the 23rd. Kosygin of the Soviet Union brokered it at Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan) in the presence of India’s Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan’s Ayub Khan. Both countries were to withdraw to Pre-August lines not later than 25th February 1966. The criticism leveled against the agreement by hardliners in Pakistan was that the leaders had surrendered military gains. It was mainly the media in Pakistan, which highlighted this point. One of the recent books authored by an exISI chief of Pakistan titled ‘the Myth of 1965 Victory’ allegedly exposed Pakistani fabrications about the war. But being a ‘too sensitive’ issue its sale was blocked.

Fighter Planes lined up in Ambala Air Base at India

Above: Fighter Planes lined up in Ambala Air Base at India

India reported a number of ceasefire violations and alleged that Pakistan took advantage of it to capture the Indian village of Chananwalla in the Fazilka sector. It was recaptured on 25th December. On 10th October a B-57 Canberra of Pakistan was hit by 3 SA2 missile fired from Ambala air base of India. Pakistan claims that the pilot, Rashid Meer somehow flew it back but the nature of the damage was such that the plane was written off. On 16th December A Pakistani Armu Auster was shot down killing an army Captain. Again on 2nd February 1967 an AOP was shot down by the IAF.

The cease-fire was maintained for six years with relative peace reigning between the two neighbors. But in 1971 war broke out again.

General J.N. Chaudhuri presents silver replica of a Patton tank to Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh

Above: Picture of General J.N. Chaudhuri presenting silver replica of a Patton tank to Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh

The stalemate continued due to miscalculations by both nations. India failing to apprehend the presence of heavy Pakistani concentrations in Chumb, suffered losses. The ‘Official History of the 1965 War’ by the India’s Ministry of Defense had been kept suppressed mainly because it outlined the intelligence and strategic blunders of India. On 22nd September, when the Security Council, was talking of cease-fire the Indian Prime Minister was asking General Chaudhuri that by delaying acceptance of the offer could the war be won? The reply was that most of frontline ammunitions had been exhausted and many tanks had been lost. But later it was found that only 14% of the frontline ammunition had been fired and India still had double the number of tanks compared to Pakistan. On the other hand at that point Pakistan had exhausted nearly 80% of its ammunition. P.C.Lal the then Air Chief Marshal referred to the lack of coordination between the Indian army and air force. The war plans chalked out by the Defense Ministry and General Chaudhuri did not assign a specific role to the Air Force. Lal caustically termed Chaudhuri’s attitude as ‘Supremo Syndrome’. The Indian army seemed to have a patronizing attitude towards the other divisions of the armed forces.

Location of Sialkot and Lahore - Punjab Province Map

Above: Location of Sialkot and Lahore (Punjab Province Map)

Pakistan’s failure started from the very beginning with the basic assumption that the Kashmiri people were so dissatisfied that they would spontaneously rise and revolt against India. All that was required was a spark. But on the contrary they leaked the information to the Indian Army about Operation Gibraltar who came to know that they were fighting not insurgents but the regular Pakistani army. Then again Pakistan failed to apprehend the possibility of India attacking the southern sector and opening up another front. So instead of penetrating further into Kashmir they had to rush to protect Sialkot and Lahore. Thirdly Operation Grand Slam intended to capture the strategic town of Akhnur lying to north east of Jammu to cause communication disruptions also failed. Many have blamed Ayub Khan for this wavering attitude. He knew very well that Akhnur was a jugular vein to India but he did not want a full-scale war on his hands. For some unexplained reason at a crucial moment he replaced the commanding Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik by General Yahya Khan. During the 24-hour lull India got enough time to recoup in Akhnur and successfully oppose an attack by Yahya Khan. “The enemy came to our rescue” said the Western Command Chief of Staff of India. Some are of the opinion that Pakistan might have been lured into the battlefield by war games conducted in March 1965 at the Institute of Defense Analysis, USA from which they concluded that in the event of a war Pakistan would come out victorious. Authors like Stephen Philip Cohen opine that Pakistan had an exaggerated idea of India’s military weakness. The 1965 War was a tremendous shock. Nur Khan, the then Pakistani Air Marshal and Commander-in-Chief that Pakistan and not India was to be blamed for starting the war. However propaganda continued in Pakistan against the leadership and not against intelligence failures. Till the debacle of 1971 this state continued when Pakistan was humbled and Bangladesh was carved out of it.

More human lives lost in the war

Above: More Innocent lives lost in Indo-Pak War

Tension persisted after the indecisive war. Pakistan however had suffered more in terms of material and human loss. Many historians opine that if the war had continued Pakistan would have been finally humbled. Indians were unhappy with India’s decision to accede to the cease-fire at a crucial point when victory was within its grasp. Another consequence was that both sides considerably increased their defense spending. Cold War spread its tentacles across the subcontinent. Rapid changes took place within the army in India – expansions were initiated in various commands and control departments to rectify shortcomings. The Research and Analysis wing for external espionage and information network was established. The political and military tilt in Indian was towards the Soviet Union. Prior to the Bangladesh Liberation War this bond was officially cemented. Against the background of the war against China this war was a political and strategic victory for India and her premier, Shastri, came to be hailed by his countrymen as a hero.

Cam Shots of PAF craft being shot down by an IAF Gnat

Above: Cam Shots of PAF craft being shot down by an IAF Gnat

In Pakistan however there were many who looked positively at their country’s military performance, with 6th September being observed as ‘Defense day’ – marking the successful defense of Sialkot against invaders. The air force was given greater praise than the ground forces. The myth of a hard-hitting Pakistani army blew up in smoke. However the final results were disappointing to all – Pakistan had failed in its primary objective of occupying the whole of Kashmir. Many officials began to criticize the failure of Operation Gibraltar – the direct cause for the outbreak of war. The Tashkent deal was thought of to be unkind towards Pakistan. Few cared to read the consequences of what would have happened if the agreement had fallen through. Advised by the Foreign Minister, Bhutto, Ayub Khan had raised the expectations of the people about the invincibility of Pakistan’s armed might. But the failure proved to be a liability for Ayub Khan. Opposition became more vocal. Pakistan’s economy, which had been rapidly progressing during the early 60′s, got a severe beating with the escalation of military expenses. Then Pakistan, disgruntled with the USA for having failed to give support began to slowly gravitate towards China for military aid and political support. Another fall out was the growing anger against the Pakistani government in East Pakistan. Bengali leaders blamed the government for not giving necessary security for the East although huge funds were withdrawn from this region to fund the battle. Some PAF attacks were launched from East Pakistan but India did not react to it in this area, although here there were only two infantry brigade divisions minus tank support. This had caused Mujibur Rahman to be apprehensive of the situation. He began to feel the need that the east should be more autonomous to be able to protect its own interests. This bend of thinking began to take roots and ultimately led to another war between the two neighbors in 1971.

Below: Graph for Defense Spendings and others from year 1960 and upwards

Graph for Defense Spendings and others from year 1960 upwards

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