On June 30th 1965, a ceasefire was agreed between India and Pakistan under UN auspices who signed a treaty to stop the war at the Rann of Kutch.
The war between India and Pakistan in 1965 was a climax of small scale and irregular fighting from April 1965 to September 1965 between both countries. This war is also known as the Second Kashmir War. The first such war was fought in October 1947, shortly after the independence of both nations. It was over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, a sore point between both countries ever since Partition.
Most of the war of 1965 was fought on land in Kashmir and along the international border between both countries and saw the largest gathering of troops in Kashmir since partition in 1947. Since 1947, there were several disagreements between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir.
Other than Kashmir, there was another border dispute between both countries, this being the Rann of Kutch. The Rann of Kutch is endowed with unique geographical features which ensure that there is no other feature on the globe bearing any similarity to it. During a part of every year, the Rann is a dry, salt desert and for the remaining part it is flooded with water, the depth of which varies from a few feet to a few yards. How and where this water comes from has not been determined yet. It is this strange geographical nature of the Rann which had become a controversial issue between India and Pakistan. India maintained that the Rann is land and claimed it as Indian territory; while Pakistan stated that it was a marine feature and laid claim to the northern half of the Rann.
The origin of this territorial dispute goes back a century, but it became all the more intense after the creation of India and Pakistan as separate independent states in 1947. The first concern happened in 1956, which eventually ended with Indians retrieving control of the disputed area. In January 1965, Pakistani guards began patrolling areas which were controlled by India, which eventually led to attacks by both countries on each other on April 8th 1965. This disputed area soon saw sporadic skirmishes between both countries and in June 1965, Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister of Britain successfully persuaded both countries to end this dispute and set up a tribunal for the same. The verdict of the tribunal saw Pakistan get 330 square miles of the Rann of Kutch against the 3500 square miles they had originally claimed.
After successfully attaining territory in the Rann, Pakistan was confident that India will be unable to defend itself against a quick military campaign in the disputed area of Kashmir, since India had experienced a loss to China in the 1962 war against the Chinese. Pakistan was of the opinion that Kashmiris were unhappy with Indian rule and it would be easy to kindle a resistance movement among the Kashmiris by sending Pakistani infiltrators across the border. Pakistan aimed to do this through undercover infiltration, which was codenamed Operation Gibraltar. The Pakistani infiltrators were soon discovered by Kashmiri locals who informed the authorities about it and the operation was a complete failure.
On August 5th 1965, around 26,000 to 33,000 Pakistani soldiers dressed as Kashmiri locals crossed the Line of Control (LOC) and headed towards various parts of Kashmir. When Indian forces learnt about this, they crossed the ceasefire line on August 15th, marking the beginning of the war which would continue for the next five weeks. On September 22nd 1965, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that called for a ceasefire from both nations. With a declining stockpile of ammunition, Pakistan was concerned that the war may tilt in the favour of India and hence lost no time in signing the ceasefire. India, on the other hand, relented and accepted the ceasefire even thought there was strong opposition from Indian military leaders.
The war ended the next day.
On January 4th 1966, the Soviet Union called for a peace agreement between India and Pakistan after the 1965 war. Indian prime Minister, Lal Bhadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines no later then February 25th 1966. The Tashkent conference compelled India and Pakistan to restore their natural boundary and the 1949 ceasefire line in Kashmir. The agreement also required both countries to not interfere with each others internal affairs and restore economic and diplomatic relations. Further, the agreement also required leaders of both countries to work towards building good relations between both countries. The Tashkent Declaration was signed by Lal Bahadur Shastri and Ayub Khan on January 19th 1966.
The signing of the Tashkent Agreement led to a massive outcry against Ayub Khan’s leadership in Pakistan and student riots broke out. In India, the agreement was criticized because it did not contain a “no-war pact” nor any refrainment from guerilla warfare in Kashmir. A day after the signing of the Tashkent Agreement, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri died after a fatal heart attack. There are many conspiracy theories regarding his death, many claiming that he did not die of a heart attack, but was poisoned. The public unrest in India following the Tashkent Agreement cooled down following the death of the Prime Minister and instead generated a sympathy wave towards the ruling Congress Party.
Despite a ceasefire being signed, India was declared the victor in the war as it was successful in stopping Pakistan supported insurgency in Kashmir. Even though the Indian armed forces were praised for their performance in the war, individual military leaders were criticized for failing to deploy India’s superior armed forces to achieve a definite victory over Pakistan. By the end of the war, India was being called an emerging Asian power and Lal Bahadur Shastri was considered a national hero.
However, the war of 1965 cost India the lives of 3,000 men, while 3,800 men were killed in Pakistan. Pakistan claimed that India had taken 8,200 Pakistanis as prisoners of war, while India claimed that Pakistan had taken 5,259 prisoners of war.
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