Who was Pakistan kidding all this time??

Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, who served Bangladesh Air Force from 1971-2003, is a reputed defense strategist and is currently Registrar, BRAC University had an interesting narrative in his Facebook status yesterday. The piece is worth a read. He nailed it; Bang! Here is what he wrote:

Yesterday all over Pakistan, people celebrated Defence of Pakistan Day. Well, it was back in 1965, I remember, we all gathered in the MC College Common Room in Sylhet to hear Pres. Ayub's speech. I was17 then. Charged up with patriotic zeal, I joined the 'Muhjahid Force' that was raised and took a week's rifle training. Later in 1966, I joined PAF, all the time thinking of becoming another Alam or Alauddin. I also remember the 1st Defence Day in Risalpur on 6 Sept 1966. We went to offer wreath in the grave of Flt Lt Khaled, an East Pakistani pilot whose B-57 blew up on the runway during take-off.

However, in retrospect, as I look back to those days, I feel very sad, almost cheated because so many of us sacrificed so much for all in vain. Think of the War itself. Ayub, Bhutto and few cronies in GHQ started this misadventure. They thought that they would inject few SSG Commandos into Kashmir, carry out few terrorist activities and that would start a mass uprising. None of them read Marx, Lenin, what to speak of Mao. That the revolution cannot be exported was unknown to them. Then they miscalculated the resolve of the little man, Indian PM Shastri and also grossly underestimated the Indian armed forces. When Pakistan launched the open incursion into Akhnur sector and crossed the Tawi river on 01 Sept, Indian PM gave a clear warning on 02 Sept 65 in the floor of the Parliament that unless Pakistan withdraw its forces across the Cease Fire Line immediately, India will respond "at a time and place of its own choosing". Ayub and Bhutto took no notice of it. The answer came on 5-6 Sept night when India launched attack across Sialkot and Lahore. Now when I hear Ayub's speech on YouTube, saying India carried out a naked aggression against Pakistan, it sounds so hollow. The Indian response was full one months after Pakistani incursion into Indian held Kashmir.

We also know now how perilously close India was to capturing, or at least closing in, on the two major cities of Pakistan - Lahore and Sialkot. Kashmir offensive was quickly forgotten and forces were withdrawn from Akhnur sector to defend the heartland. We also know how badly forces were dispersed leaving vital grounds virtually undefended. Had it not been the supreme efforts made by the PAF, the scene on the ground would have been more chaotic. A war is won or lost not on the number of planes , tanks, ships or troops killed or even the areas occupied, it is decided on whether the strategic objectives were won or lost. The aim of Pakistani high command was to seize a portion of Kashmir to force India to the negotiating table, on the other hand India's aim was to stop any Pakistani incursion and not to internationalize the issue. You tell me who won. Pakistan ended up losing vital grounds in Kashmir, Sialkot and also in Lahore sector. Pakistan's western allies did not come in support, in fact, US arms embargo hurt Pakistan for years. In the end, all the sacrifices were made on a false premise of defending Pakistan, whereas India never threatened Pakistan in the first place. For years, we were taken on a ride by Ayub-Bhutto and the thickheaded generals. Throughout the war, the National Assembly of Pakistan, even the Cabinet, remained inactive. Although Ayub was trying to show a facade of democracy to the outside world, in these issues of vital interest, such as the incursion or war, he never consulted anyone beyond GHQ and few cronies, even Air HQ was a step child.

Now when we study 1965 war, we know it was defeat for Pakistan on many fronts - tactically (lost vital grounds in Kashmir and Punjab), strategically (failed to achieve its objective of capturing Kashmir or to internationalize it), politically (Opposition to Ayub's rule intensified), economically (3rd Five year Plan was doomed), domestically (East Pakistan became more distant) and internationally (Failed to get western allies' support). The only beneficiary out of this misadventure was the Pakistan military, especially the Army, who made a myth of invincibility against an enemy that never existed and exacted the last pound of flesh from the poor, deprived and disenfranchised Pakistanis.


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