Pakistan celebrates September 6th as Defence Day to mark “victory” over India in the 1965 War. In recent years, retired PAF chief, Air Marshal Noor Khan and veteran journalist Najam Sethi, among others, have said that it was Pakistan that had started all four wars with India with clear objectives. And since those objectives were not met, Pakistan lost all four times. It is clear from the event’s observation and the media writings that this annual fair will continue to be used to glorify the army, promote the government of the day and damn those the army does not like….writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
Fifty-three years on, Pakistan continues to believe, and keeps telling its people, that it had handed “a crushing defeat” to India in the 1965 conflict, an occasion it celebrates annually as “Defence Day.”
Of late, the occasion has been re-named as “Defence and Martyrs’ Day” to give it a contemporary and sentimental touch. These days, just everyone dying on the border with India or Afghanistan, in the smallest of skirmishes, is hailed as a ‘martyr’. The day is observed with military parades and eulogizing of the armed forces, especially the army that has its stranglehold on the country’s polity.
Every year, the leadership of the day swears by its peaceful intentions, while celebrating a ‘victory’ that never was. And while doing so, Indian leadership is criticised.
This year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accused of running a campaign against Pakistan and having ‘warlike’ intentions.
Dawn.com, web site of the respected and generally moderate newspaper, carried on September 6, 2018, re-print of an obviously old article that imagines that India is busy celebrating the 1965 war as “a great victory”. This is when no such celebrations took place.
The article further said: “In India, there is now a clear and coordinated attempt to paint the 1965 war as a great victory. Encouraged by the Modi government, which seeks to reverse historical humiliations by rewriting history, the Indian armed forces, top media outlets like the Indian Express and India Today, along with even renowned writers like Kuldip Nayyar are going all out to ‘prove’ that India came out on top in the ’65 war. This is an uphill task, given that even histories recorded by renowned Indian scholars say the opposite.”
The newspaper and writer of the article, a certain Retired Air Commodore Sajjad Haider, are oblivious of the fact that Mr Nayar passed away last month.
Mr Nayar’s name and writings are misused even though, born in what is today Pakistan, he loved the people there and was one of the foremost advocates of good relations between India and Pakistan.
The people of Pakistan are fed the annual diet of their country being always for peace.
This year, too, Prime Minister Imran Khan was quoted by Radio Pakistan as saying: ‘Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence.’
Prime Minister Khan in his message said “Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence and wants to promote mutual cooperation with other countries, including its neighbours, on the basis of equality.”
At the same time, in keeping with the rhetoric of the Day’s celebrations, his message said: “The people of Pakistan will leave no stone unturned in defending their motherland, while standing side by side with [the] valiant armed forces of the country.”
The outgoing President Mamnoon Husain and the prime minister “reiterated that the resolution of the Kashmir issue in light of United Nations resolutions is imperative for peace in the region.”
Pakistanis are not told that these resolutions to which nobody pays heed in the world community, had become infructuous after Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement in 1972.
But then, armed forces are the heroes in Pakistan and Z A Bhutto, who signed that agreement along with late Indira Gandhi, and brought back territory lost and 93,000 surrendered soldiers, is the villain in Air Commodore Haider’s article.
Talking of 1971, significantly, Pakistan governments and the media over the years go through the rituals of September 5 as the Defence Day, do not observe any such celebrations about that war when, thanks to the crackdown on civilians in the then East Pakistan, and the military defeat of the armed forces at the hands of the joint India-Bangladesh Command, Bangladesh was born.
Back to the 1965 conflict that Pakistan celebrates even though it was at best “a drawn match” as per analysts across the world, the principal Pakistani thrust was, and remains, a ‘rebellion’ in Jammu and Kashmir under India’s control that was supposed to have been caused by the local populace. Pakistani media called them ‘patriots.’
Pakistan had sent in civilians from POK to foment trouble in J& K and ‘participate’ along with those ‘patriots’. The Pakistani armed forces were not in the “Operation Gibraltar” till India “crossed the border”. That stance is maintained before the Pakistani public.
Hence, according to DawnNewsTV sources, the current Army chief General Bajwa “visited the Police Lines Headquarters in Islamabad and met the family of martyred sub-inspector Mian Abbas’ family.”
Pakistan maintains that hoax and Air Commodore (Retd) S. Sajad Haider says:
“As we honour the men who fought against all odds in 1965, we must also acknowledge the miscalculations of the army’s high command.”
He seeks to sets the record straight.
“Come September, Pakistanis are told how the gallant Pakistan Armed forces fought and thwarted the Indian Juggernaut which invaded Pakistan in a surprise move on September 6 ‘without any provocation’. For 49 years, the nation has been regaled by the stories of valor and ‘victory over the evil enemy’.
It should have been 53 years.
He does not explain how, after the ‘patriots’ had been active for weeks, the action of the “Indian juggernaut” surprised Pakistan on September 6 that year.
He avers: “These stories are true, but the whole truth has not been told.”
And then he selectively dwells on the conspiracy that Bhutto hatched with some of the Corps Commanders, keeping the President, Ayub Khan, in the dark.
Bhutto’s gambit was to score a military victory and if it did not come, damn Ayub Khan. It succeeded when Bhutto led a campaign against Ayub Khan, also damning him for signing the Tashkent Agreement with Indian prime Minister Lal Bahdur Shastri, calling the agreement ‘surrender.’
Haider calls the Operation Gibraltar “a one way mission to capture Kashmir.” Contingerncy of a possible failure had not been worked in.
“This may come as a surprise to many because the secret of those martyrs sent on Operation: Gibraltar, a one way mission to capture Kashmir, does not find mention during the celebration ceremonies.
“Who was it who thought that an operation to capture Kashmir would not invite ferocious Indian action? It was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who, with Aziz Ahmed in tow, propounded “The plan to create an Algerian type revolution in the vale”, a plan that field marshal-turned-president Ayub Khan and his selected Commander in Chief (C-in-C) Musa Khan swallowed hook, line and sinker.”
Records say that Gen. Musa, not one of the conspirators along with Bhutto, was opposed to the entire operation.
There is admission of Pakistan Government’s complicity in fomenting trouble in J&K.
“Thus, 8,000 or so men (mostly non-soldiers) were thrown into the fray without a thought as to the consequences of this action. These men were recruited largely from the Muzaffarabad area with the guidance of a single regular Azad Kashmir battalion and were interspersed with a smattering of highly trained commandoes. It was a folly reminiscent of Field Marshall Raglan’s ordering the light brigade to charge into the Russian guns during the Crimean War.”
The plan was put into practice within weeks of the Bhutto-inspired conspiracy. He was a man who had no patience.
“The C-in-C at the time writes in his memoirs that the Azad Kashmiri irregulars were trained for six to eight weeks at Rawalpindi in the art of guerilla warfare. Let that sink in for a moment: six to eight weeks only. Ho-chi Minh, Chou en Li, Ben Bella and Che Guevara must have turned in their graves at this.
“And so it was that, without a modicum of strategic vision or proper contingency planning or preparation; without any known networking with local elements or even their sympathy, Op Gibraltar was launched,” Haider declares.
In recent years, retired PAF chief, Air Marshal Noor Khan and veteran journalist Najam Sethi, among others, have said that it was Pakistan that had started all four wars with India with clear objectives. And since those objectives were not met, Pakistan lost all four times.
It is clear from the event’s observation and the media writings that this annual fair will continue to be used to glorify the army, promote the government of the day and damn those the army does not like.
And amidst all war-like recalls of 1965, as some kind of opium for the masses, the leadership of the day will continue to mouth words, like Imran khan did this year, of the desire for “peaceful co-existence with everyone, including the neighbours.”