Indo Pak wars

I was proposing to write this piece towards the end of this century but changed my mind after the war in Kargil. About 500 infiltrators and the P army had occupied parts of Indian territory within our side of the Line of Control, being provided adequate cover by Pakistani ( called P subsequently ) artillery. Even after a week the Indian army has failed to evict these men. Nearly forty jawans have lost their lives with hundred plus injured.

Now why is P targeting Kargil? Kargil is strategically located on the Srinagar Leh highway. During the summer months the Indian army uses this route to transfer arms, troops and rations to Leh. Attempting to disrupt the movement between Srinagar and Leh, is cutting off Leh from the rest of the country, P has been shelling Kargil continuously. While driving through Kargil I realized that the Pakis were in possession of a mountain that overlooked the highway making it easy for them to aim their targets.

The Kargil attack, coming after the much hyped about Lahore Declaration seemed a trifle suprising but not unexpected. My mind goes back to 1954 when India and China signed the Pancheel Pact (remember the Hind-Chin Bhai bhai bit) only to be humiliated eight years later. When will we learn? We value paper commitments but ignore ground realities. This essay covers:

1. War of 1948.
2. War of 1965.
3. War of 1971.
4. Cost of Low Intensity Conflict.
5. India’s Falling Defence Expenditure.

This essay is based on inputs from Defending India by Jaswant Singh, Anatomy of a Flawed Inheritance by J.N.Dixit, Hindu Muslim Divide by Rafiq Zakaria and Centre for Monitoring of the Indian Economy.

At the outset let me state that I am all for friendly relations with our neighbors, protection of our national interests being paramount, however.

War One 1948
When the division of India was being decided on the basis of Muslim majority and other areas there were four Muslim majority princely states namely Junagarh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Bhopal. Through a smart combination of a carrot and stick approach, Sardar Patel managed to merge all these states except Kashmir with India. The Maharaja of Kashmir was undecided about accession to India or Pakistan.

On 22nd October 1947 the raiders from P crossed into undivided J & K. They met with hardly any resistance. On 22.10.47 the P army hqtrs informed Delhi that 5,000 tribesmen had captured Muzzaffarabad and were moving towards Srinagar. The Maharaja of Kashmir sent an urgent message to Delhi to save Kashmir from the invaders. Since J & K was not a part of India the Cabinet decided against intervening.

The Maharaja subsequently signed the Instrument of Accession on 26.10.1947 by which the entire state became a part of the India. Starting 27.10.47 Indian troops began to be flown into Srinagar. By early November the troops had consolidated their positions. Nehru was meanwhile trying to persuade Pakistan to cease all help to the raiders. Failing to receive any response, Nehru on 1.1.1948, informed the United Nations that due to the operations carried out by P an international conflict was in the offering. Meanwhile P and Indian armies fought small battles through out J & K.

In the meanwhile, U.N. passed resolutions that envisaged –
1. P to withdraw all its troops from Kashmir.
2. After that India were to withdraw the bulk of its security forces but retain sufficient numbers to maintain law and order in the state.
3. A plebiscite was to be held to determine the will of the people.

P never withdrew its troops but the point up to which Indian troops had pushed them back became the Line of Control (border).Therefore the area that India could not recover became Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
If Nehru had listened to Sardar Patel, not gone to the U.N., sought internationalization of the issue, India’s post independence history might well have been different. The country has paid a heavy price for Nehru’s attachment to the land of his forefathers.

For the last fifty years P has been asking for India to comply with the U.N. resolution. What it conveniently forgets that the very same resolution requires it to vacate Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.  Sadly so, India has failed to effectively communicate this to the International Community and Indians at large. At other times P says that Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of Partition. J & K being a Muslim majority state or so it is believed, it had to be part of an Islamic state P. (actually the Muslims are in a majority only in the valley, a tiny part of the state, the rest being occupied by the Hindus of Jammu and the Buddhists of Ladakh).

Inspite of the area being under dispute, P gifted away 4,853 kms of territory to China,   for the construction of the Karakoram highway. 

War Two 1965
The first war had not found a lasting solution to Kashmir. After the debacle of 1962, demise of Nehru, there seemed a vacuum in India. Militarily India was adjusting; its economy was not self sustaining. In Lal Bahadur Shastri the country had a diminutive, homespun sought of person as compared to the larger than life personality of Nehru. To P India came across as a dispirited nation (as we appear today.) The plan was to create a popular uprising in the state; P would then move in to assist it, cut off the valley from the rest of the country. I doubt whether they had expected India to open another front.
Before the big war, a smaller one was contrived in Kutch, in April 1965. Disputes were created where there were none. Once again India repeated the mistake by referring it to international arbitration. P was testing the political leadership, its will and approach. (Sounds similar to what is happening in Kargil today. P never expected the air strikes. )

In July 1965, P started sending a mixture of military personnel and infiltrators who were rounded up by August. On 1.9.65, the P army attacked southern J & K with intent of capturing the road link between Jammu and Rajauri. (Similar to Kargil) Fighting continued for 22 days till Bhutto accepted a UN sponsored cease fire proposal on 22.9.65.

While P attacked I (India) in J & K, I opened another front by crossing over into P thru the Amritsar -–Wagah border to reach the outskirts of an undefended Lahore. I launched a major effort towards Sialkot and the Valley resulting in the capturing of the all imp Haji Pir Pass. The Indians repulsed attacks but lost an opportunity to score a military victory.

The cease fire was followed by the Tashkent Declaration in early 1966. Gains made in J & K were gifted away on the negotiation table. In short this war, like the earlier one, failed to find a solution but probably accentuated P’s resolve to internationalize Kashmir. 

War Three 1972
East P came into existence on the basis of the two nation theory. 25 years later it appeared that unity of religion was not enough, Bengali culture and language was an integral part of that country. (Sheikh Hasina, a Muslim PM continues to wear a saree covering her head very much like Sonia Gandhi.) Political mismanagement alienated the Bangladeshis. (We repeated the same mistake in Kashmir unfortunately, providing P a stick to beat us with.)

In September 1971 the Indian paramilitary forces began action in the border areas of East P. During November there was constant shelling by P troops. In early P air force attacked Indian positions. War broke out in Kashmir and Punjab too. The P army did badly in East P. On the 16th of December a formal surrender took place at Dacca. India took 93,000 prisoners of war.  In order to intimidate the Indians the U.S. moved the Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal. The nuclear weapon equipped aircraft carrier, Enterprise moved in.

Talks were held in Simla between Indira G and Z Bhutto, with no foreign umpires for a change. Here again, no lasting solution was found to the Kasmir problem. The demarcation of the Line of Control was left incomplete resulting in the Siachen conflict.

Bhutto had a tough job of getting the prisoners of war released and Pakistani territory returned. However, he could not appear to have sacrificed Pakistan’s position on Kashmir since it would endanger his survival in power. Bhutto agreed that the Kashmir issue be finally resolved and not be an impediment to improving relations, Line of Control be gradually converted into an international border but requested Mrs Gandhi  to avoid putting it in the Agreement. He needed to manage public opinion back home.

A politician herself, Mrs Gandhi understood Bhutto’s compulsions and agreed to his proposals. And so again were the gains by India’s armed forces bartered away for a promise that was never meant to be honored, (P had gone back on the Tashkent agreement within days of its signing.) by the head of state of a country with whom India had fought three wars. Did Mrs Gandhi have something else in mind or was it compassion alone that made her trust Bhutto. PM Vajpayee, it seems, has not learnt from his predecessors trust in successive Pakistani Premiers.

While the influx of a large number of refugees did create problems for India, was it a good enough reason to invade East Pakistan. India was concerned about the P role in encouraging secessionists groups in the North-East and West Bengal, immigration from East P and its impact on the demographic composition of the North-East. India wanted a friendly govt in Bangladesh. (Subsequent events have proved our failure in meeting these objectives. Immigration continues unabated resulting in the Assam agitation, support to groups in the North-East continues albeit with ISI assistance, there is strong anti-India sentiment in that country.)

China gave material and moral support to P but was not in a position to gain militarily.

Russia was the biggest gainer in the process. As part of its China containment policy in South Asia it was able to develop close relations with India that have withstood the events, that have rocked Russia’s political set up.

Low Intensity Conflict
Having realized the futility of a conventional war with India, egged on by the acquisition of nuclear capability in 1987, P decided that the best way to make India bleed was through a Proxy War. Subsequent events have shown how effective the strategy has been.

Firstly, Punjab. Starting 1972, Bhutto began supporting pro-Khalistani elements. In the early eighties matters started getting hot. With an aim of retaining power in Punjab, Mrs Gandhi, assisted by Giani Zail Singh started supporting people who were opposed to the Akalis, Bhindrawale being one of them. The flow of arms from across the border continued. In fact Bhindrawale was released from jail on Zail Singh’s instructions, if I remember correctly. The Jat peasantry in Punjab supported the cause as they were opposed to the Congress, did not want the waters of the Bhakra Nangal Dam to flow to Haryana through the Sutlej Yamuna Canal. Lack of effective govt action only compounded the problem. In such an environment happened Operation Bluestar, followed by Mrs Gandhi’s murder and the Anti-Sikh riots. The situation continued to worsen and became particularly bad during the rule of V.P.Singh. Thanks to Beant’s Singh’s efforts and the gutsy K P S Gill, both of whom were ably assisted by the Indian army and the Punjab police, normalcy was restored.

What did Pakistan achieve? One, it stalled all development activity in India’s premier state. Secondly it alienated the Punjabi Sikhs from the Indian state. Thirdly, it created a rift between Punjabi Monas (Hindus) and Punjabi Sardars to the extent that the Sikhs believe theirs religion is separate from Hinduism. (How untrue it is would be a topic of a subsequent essay). Fourthly, the cost of fighting insurgency added to the fiscal deficit.

Secondly, Kashmir. Again, the desire of having the Congress in power saw Mrs Gandhi take some unwise decisions. First she encouraged the fall of Farooq Abdullah’s govt in 1983 if I remember correctly and got his Congress friendly brother in law as CM. Rajiv Gandhi compounded the problem by helping Farooq A come back as CM in 1987, in what is believed to be a rigged election. This alienated the valleys Muslims and provided Pakistan with a launching pad for Operation Topac. The kidnapping and release by militants of Mufti Mohammad Sayed’s daughter in 1990 (Home Minister in V.P.Singh’s cabinet) is believed to have given a fillip to the P supported movement.

Infiltration continued unabated. Hazratbal, Chasme-shareef are campaigns that the Indian armed forces would like to forget. Corruption, non-governance, P propaganda, inadequate military actions amongst others ensured that the Kashmir was a boiling pot. Whether by design or default the situation improved with the advent of the BJP led govt.

So what have P achieved. One is they have successfully internationalized the issue. Two they have ensured that a substantial part of the army’s time, resources are used in fighting the proxy war. A soldier is trained to fight the enemy and not his countrymen. It can also alienate the army from the local population whose support is imp in the case of a conflict with P. Three it has costs the country thousands of crores to save theValley, for what is a? you might like to ponder over.

Three, as part of its strategy to trouble India it has projected Pakistan as the protector of Indian Muslims. Its role in encouraging communal disturbances, the Mumbai and Coimbatore Bomb Blasts are well known. When things got hot in Dubai for Mumbai’s underworld, Dawood Ibrahim and Abu Salem moved to Karachi. Ace shooter Feroz Konkani, amongst Mumbai’s dreaded gangsters, is believed to have fled to Karachi. By doing so, P have increased the divide between the Hindus and Muslims.

Basically, P does not want to see a strong and stable India. As Najam Sethi, well known P journalists pointed out, it would mean accepting the failure of the Pakistani state. More about that later.

Cost of ISI Terror 1988-1998
According to a White Paper prepared by the Home Ministry, the numbers are –
Expenditure on Internal Security          -       Rs 64,500 crs.
Civilians killed                                      -       29,151.
Security men killed                               -         5,101.
Rendered Homeless     -      2,78,000.
Property Damaged     -      Rs 2,000 crs.
Weapons smuggled in     -         61,900.
Indians hired by ISI     -         19,000.
Pak/ foreign militants sent in    -           7,125.

The money spent on combating the proxy war could have been spent on education, health, power plants and what not.

I blame none but ourselves for the present situation. We have allowed ourselves to become a soft state. Do what you want but India will never respond. We are worried about what the West thinks about us rather than our national interests. We are a non-violent nation. My mind goes back to the eighties when the Centenary Match between England and India was being played at Mumbai with Vishwanath as captain. One of the English players was wrongly given out by the Umpire. Realizing that it was error, Vishwanath called the batsmen back. The batsmen went on to win the match for England. I am sure that no other country would have behaved that way. Good boys do not win matches. We are afraid of taking tough decisions.

Rajiv Gandhi made the cardinal error of reducing India’s defence expenditure at a time when our neighbors were increasing theirs.
India’s Falling Defence Expenditure


Actual Defence Expenditure crs

Inflation Rate %





( note 1 )




16986 crs ( 15400 * 10.3% )




18553 crs ( 16300 * 13.7 % )




19360 crs ( 17600 * 10.0% )




23631 crs




25729 crs




28971 crs (note 2)




31388 crs




36994 crs (note 2 )



44043 crs

1. Starting 1990-91 India’s defence expenditure has not kept pace with inflation. However, during this period, the defence budget began to include expenditure on counter-insurgency operations in the North-East, Punjab, Kashmir and Internal Security duty in riot affected areas. So the actual amount available for purchase of new weaponry systems was just not available.
2. Yes, there is an increase wef 1998-99. The budgeted figure includes the cost of the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission. I reckon the number was in the region of Rs 5,000 crs. The increase is, therefore illusory.
3. As a percentage of GDP, India’s defence expenditure is under 2.5%, compare to Pakistan and China whose % is plus 5.5.

Over the last fifteen years, the needs of the Defence Forces have been ignored.

Politicization of the forces has increased as is borne out by the recent Admiral Vishnu Bhagat controversy. The number of defense personnel approaching the Courts for readdressal of their problems is on the rise.
By using the army continuously to fight the enemy within instead of the ones across, we have subconsciously reduced the Army’s status in their own eyes and of the Indian people.

It is a Pity that the political leadership of this country fails to realize that the world respects countries with military / economic power and not those who talk big with their backs exposed. Our country cannot afford another Chacha Nehru.

Also read:
1. Why Pakistan will never allow India to live in peace by Sanjeev Nayyar in same section.
2. Yoga Ahimsa and recent terrorist attacks in the same section by David Frawley.

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