A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books.
Every week, we shall take a leaf from one such book and treat you to a little taste of history.
BOOK NAME: My Version: India-Pakistan War 1965
AUTHOR: General (r) Mohammad Musa
PUBLISHER: Wajidalis Ltd - Lahore
The following excerpt has been taken from Pages: 35 - 38
“Ishtiaq Ahmed writes in the book ‘Pakistan — The Garrison State’ in the Chapter ‘The 1965 War’ on Page No.145: ‘Large bands of tribesmen from NWFP were invited by GHQ to proceed toward the Lahore border to provide support to the men on the front. The tribesmen looted whatever shops came their way along the route to the front but the administration treated these incidents as part of the customary exuberance of tribesmen in pursuit of their foe. The tribesmen were to become a serious nuisance to General Hamid because he could not find them any hilly terrain along the Punjab border where they could hide and display their traditional skills. They refused to expose themselves to air attacks in an area where clouds of dust were their only cover. General Hamid had to forcibly repatriate them to their tribal sanctuaries.”
“After the Government finally decided that deep raids should be launched in Indian-held Kashmir, I directed Commander 12 Division, Major-General Akhtar Husain Malik, to prepare a draft plan for the operation, code-named ‘GIBRALTAR’, in consultation with GHQ and within the broad concept we had specified. GHQ approved it after making certain changes in it. With the help of a sand model, he went over the final plan in Murree before it was put into effect on 7 August, 1965 under our overall control. The Supreme Commander and his Military Secretary were present. He also agreed with it. I was accompanied by the CGS (Major-General Sher Bahadur) and the Directors of Military Operations and Intelligence (Brigadiers Gul Hasan and Irshad Ahmed Khan respectively). No civil official attended this briefing.
“Broadly, the plan envisaged, on a short-term basis, sabotage of military targets, disruption of communications, etc and, as a long-term measure, distribution of arms to the people of occupied Kashmir and initiation of a guerilla movement there with a view to starting an uprising in the valley eventually. The push towards Akhnur was not part of it. However, it was considered as one of the likely operations that we might have to undertake, as we felt our activities would have an escalating effect. When Akhtar Malik was pointing out on the sand model the various targets of the raiding parties of Gibraltar, the President did say ‘why don’t you go for Akhnur also?’ Akhtar Malik replied that that, too, could be considered, but it was not raided because no Gibraltar force had been organized for that purpose. Nevertheless, when the Indians started attacking and capturing Azad Kashmir territory in Tithwal and Haji Pir Pass areas, we decided to hold them in these places and retaliate by threatening Akhnur through the Chhamb valley in order to release the pressure in the north.
“The Gibraltar force consisted of approximately 7,000 Mujahidin from Azad Kashmir. Most of it was given some guerilla training within the short time available before it was launched. It was armed with light machine guns and mortars, besides personal weapons, and was equipped with wireless sets. Light and very mobile, it successfully penetrated into the valley on a very wide front and raided means of communication, airfields, dumps etc, in some part of the occupied territory. Generally, although their performance was not altogether disappointing, the main aims for which the hazardous missions were entrusted to them were not accomplished. The freedom fighters returned to Azad Kashmir, mostly, after the cease-fire came into effect.
“It was not due to lack of valour or determination on the part of all those who took part in the operation, or their capacity to sustain great physical hardships nor to faulty planning and ineffective leadership at the various levels of command that the raids eventually petered out. Primarily, the reason was lack of necessary preparations in the valley for the extremely difficult tasks before they were undertaken. GHQ had clearly and repeatedly highlighted this vital aspect of it and their opposition to the Foreign Office proposal was based, mainly, on it.
“We hadn’t even consulted the public leaders across the cease-fire line about our aims and intention, let alone associating them with our planning for the clandestine war. They had to have a proper underground organization in the valley, which should have jointly planned the operation with us and should have remained in touch with us after it was started, so as to coordinate their activities with ours and arrange for the kind of assistance, such as provision of necessary information, guides, food, water, medical help, porters etc, the freedom fighters joining them from Azad Kashmir would have needed. As GHQ had assessed, and the operation proved, the Muslim population there, although, by and large, willing to help were unable to cooperate with us fully. Firstly, because they were not mentally prepared for it and, secondly, due to the presence of nearly five Indian infantry divisions and strong civil armed forces in occupied Kashmir they could not embark on such missions. In the circumstances in which we went in, it was pure wishful thinking on anyone’s part to expect them to risk their lives by trying to give us more than very limited support for a vague purpose in which they had practically no say.
“Because of the haste with which the operation was launched, even Azad Kashmir leaders were not taken into confidence by the advocates of guerilla raids. Helplessly, they remained in the background. Their co-operation was also very necessary and would have been very helpful. They could have assisted the Mujahidin in various ways by themselves and in conjunction with the Kashmiris of the valley.
“Supply of weapons, ammunition, rations, medicines etc, to the far flung areas presented difficult administrative problems. In the few areas where the raiders had penetrated deep into the occupied territory, we resorted to replenishing them by air from West Pakistan. Air drops of these stores and commodities entailed extremely dangerous flights, mostly, at night and in bad weather, in a highly mountainous area. Under such adverse conditions, the freedom fighters could not be properly maintained, although all concerned with this responsibility worked extremely hard and our dedicated and brave pilots took great risks. The raiding parties were thus constrained to make the best of an almost untenable situation and of whatever help they could get from the locals.
“In his book, ‘The Untold Story’, Lieutenant-General B.M. Kaul has described their infiltration and achievements in these words: ‘In fact, they committed many acts of sabotage though they did not have as much success as they expected in blowing up bridges, assassinations, disrupting economic; political and the social order as also cutting our lines of communication. Nor did they succeed in causing rebellion among the Kashmiris. But it was also not true that they were a complete failure. It was surprising that such a large number of men had managed to slip across our borders supposed to be so vigilantly guarded and our ignorance in advance of their plans to do so. In some areas, such as Budil, in the Riasi Tehsil, in the Jammu sector, it took us considerable effort to get rid of the administration which the infiltrators had set up there.’
“The Indian Army of occupation, nearly five times stronger than the force we had in Azad Kashmir, was very vigilant due to the agitation in the valley, and reacted strongly, as we had envisaged. Besides taking on the freedom fighters directly wherever it was possible, they attacked, in certain sectors, our troops on the cease-fire line. In a few places, they even crossed it to a limited extent with the avowed object of capturing ‘bases’ from which ‘raiders’ were launched. Their immediate aim might have been the seizure of these places, but, in order to achieve it, they would have had to try and capture a large part of Azad Kashmir where these launching areas were scattered, even if strategically they might not have liked to get involved in large scale fighting on our side of the cease-fire line. Thus, in our opinion, the Indian moves posed a serious threat to Azad Kashmir, which would have gravely imperiled the security of Pakistan as well. As an immediate measure, therefore, it was decided that elements of Azad Kashmir Regular Force and the local army units that could be spared should be used in support of the Mujahidin on, and across, the cease-fire line.salimansar52@gmail.com