Role of Pakistan Navy in the 1965 war
Sajjad Shaukat


Although every year September 6 is celebrated as the defence day to pay tribute to the Pakistani soldiers who defeated India in the 1965 war, yet this very day has come at a time when BJP-led government of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has planned to celebrate the golden jubilee of that Indo-Pak war, which New Delhi had never celebrated in the past. In order to propagate that war of 1965 was won by them, they have decided to celebrate September as a victory month. They have started preparing campaigns for print and electronic media besides other social events, depicting the war to have been a “one sided” affair.

While, in his book, titled “The Duels of the Himalayan Eagle: The First Indo-Pak Air War”, which is being released on September 1, this year, ex-Indian Air Marshal Bharat Kumar admitted the Indian defeat in the war of 1965, as disclosed by The Times of India.
However, on the 6th of September in 1965, India crossed the international border, on the western front marking an official beginning of the war. An attempt to cross the BRB canal was made over the bridge in the village of Barki, Lahore. Besides the Kashmir and other sectors, similarly, Indian forces launched an offensive towards Sialkot. Pakistan found itself with an extremely challenging situation, as India suddenly attacked, while Pakistan’s Armed Forces were not exactly expecting.
But, Pakistan’s Armed Forces rose to the occasion, and in Lahore, they held the bridges over the canal or blew up those it could not hold, effectively stalling any further advance by the Indians. One unit of the Indian Regiment had also crossed the BRB canal and captured the town of Batapore (Jallo Mur) on the west side of the canal. The same day, a counter offensive consisting of an armoured division and infantry division supported by Pakistan Air Force forced the Indian 15th Division to withdraw to its starting point. In this regard, the huge credit goes to the all men of Pak Army, who were deployed in the Lahore areas of Wahgah, Burki etc. Among them, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti played a huge role in the outcome of the Lahore battles and was martyred (Shaheed).
As regards Sialkot, the aim of the Indian attack was to seize the key Grand Trunk Road around Waziristan and the capture of Jassoran which would enable domination of Sialkot-Pasrur railway, thus completely cutting off Pakistani supply line. The 1965 war witnessed some of the largest tank battles since World War II, and was fought at Chawinda in Sialkot sector—The Battle of Chawinda resulted into victory of Pakistan whose armoured forces destroyed 120 tanks of India.
Regarding aerial warfare between Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), the latter emerged as victorious in the I965 war. Pakistan Air Force gained a lot of credibility and reliability among Pakistan military and international war writers for successful defence of Lahore and other important areas of Pakistan and heavy retaliation to India.
During that war, PAF had destroyed 100 Indian aircraft on ground and in the air, while damaged more than 10—not counting the undermined losses inflicted by PAF’s night bombing.
It is notable that the then Squadron Leader M. M. Alam rewrote the history of air warfare on 7th September by setting new records, while defending Pakistan’s Airspace against the aggressors, and shot down five Indian aircraft in less than sixty seconds at Sargodha. He can genuinely be branded as a “hunter of the hunters”.
The role of Pakistan Navy in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 is also appreciable. Securing Pakistan’s coasts, it played a vital role in defeating India. In 1965, the Operation Dawarka marked the first use of the Pakistan Navy in the war. The naval attack was launched by Pakistan on September 7, 1965 on Western Indian shores. The town of Dwarka was chosen to be a target of the attack, because it has historical relevance for Pakistan. The Pakistani operation was successful and its warships harboured in Bombay, making the Indian Navy unable to sortie. In this context, Ghazi, the only submarine in the conflict arena was deployed to attack heavy ships of the Indian Navy, and the ships, aiding Operation Dwarka. It won 10 awards including two decorations of Sitara-e-Juratand the President’s citations. The commanding officer Commander Karamat Rahman Niazi operated the submarine in the enemy territorial waters with strong determination.
Besides, Pakistan Army launched a number of successful covert operations to infiltrate and sabotage Indian airbases and military installations. On September 7, 1965, the Special Services Group (SSG) commandos were parachuted into enemy territory. According to Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Musa, about 135 commandos were airdropped at three Indian airfields. The commando mission affected some planned Indian operations.
Nevertheless, despite Indian surprise invasion in 1965, while showing courage, and by sacrificing their lives, the Pakistani forces’ counterattack not only recaptured the territories from India, but also took Khem Karan from Indian forces including various regions of Rajastan, Sindh, and Chumb sector in Kashmir.
It is mentionable that during the war, the whole nation showed solidarity with Pakistan’s Armed Forces and the air of the country was full of radio waves, carrying national anthems and patriotic songs, especially in Noor jehan’s voice which prompted every soldier to fight harder. There were a lot of national heroes like Brigadier Ahsan Rashid, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti, SQN LDR M. M. Alam, SQN LDR Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui etc., most recognized, many unsung, we remember them always and particularly in this September, marking the defense day.
Now-a-days, it is a convention for military fans in India and Pakistan to talk about the war of 1965. According to many sources, Pakistan won that war, while Indians claim that they won the war. But, besides the already mentioned admission by Indian Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, there is other evidence of Pakistan’s victory.
In fact, when Indians were at the edge of loss, some of their officials went to the USA and requested for ceasefire. It is quite clear that India first thought about ceasefire because they did not want further loss. However, the war between the two countries ended after a ceasefire was declared following diplomatic intervention by the Soviet Union and USA and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.
India’s Prime Minister Shastri suffered a fatal heart attack soon after the declaration of the ceasefire because he was not able to bear Indian further losses.
It is noteworthy that The “Official History of the 1965 War, “drafted by the Ministry of Defence of India 1992 was a long suppressed document which revealed Indian miscalculations. According to it, on 22 September when the Security Council Security was pressing for a ceasefire, the Indian Prime Minister asked commanding Gen. Chaudhuri, if India could possibly win the war, were he to delay accepting the ceasefire. The general replied that most of India's frontline ammunition had been used up and the Indian Army had suffered considerable tank losses.
And Indian top military officials realized that Indian military intelligence gave no warning of the impending Pakistan invasion. The Indian Army failed to recognize the presence of heavy Pakistani artillery and armaments in Chumb and suffered significant losses as a result.
Air Chief Marshal (R) P.C. Lal who was the Vice Chief of Air Staff during the conflict, points to the lack of coordination between the IAF and the Indian army.
These statements and ground realities prove that there is no doubt that Pakistan won the war of 1965 by defeating India.
Undoubtedly, despite the qualitative and numerical superiority of India, it was due to the spirit of sacrificing their own lives, motivated by Pak Army’s Motto–Iman, Taqwa, Jihad and Fi Sabilillah that Pakistan’s Armed Forces fought bravely and courageously. In this context, in his historical address, the then President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan gave reference of Kalama-e-Tayyaba.
Nonetheless, on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war, Pakistanis pay tribute to every Shaheed and Ghazi whom they salute to symbolize country’s love for those men in uniform, as they would live alive due to their deeds.