Saturday, December 06, 2008

1965 - Operation Gibraltar

{preservation of my notes}

The following is excerpted from the Foreword to the book on the 1965 war by Pakistani Air Marshal Asghar Khan. He retired a few months before `Operation Gibraltar' was launched in August of 1965. The foreword is by Altaf Gauhar. The book, titled, `The First Round - Indo-Pakistan war" was published in 1978.
Asghar Khan's version is instructive in two other respects: his description of `Operation Gibraltar' and his evaluation of the role of the Generals and Brigadiers of the Pakistan Army.

`Operation Gibraltar' reflected the outlook and character of the late Major General A.H. Malik who was a bold and imaginative officer. Yet the plan collapsed on the launching pad. We are told that the plan was acclaimed by `top civilian advisors' but their names are not given.

The whole plan was constructed on three assumptions:

(i) widespread support would be available within Occupied Kashmir.
(ii) India would restrict its offensive to the Azad Kashmir territory
(iii) there was no possibility of India crossing the international border

All three assumptions proved wrong.

The operation failed because in its formulation, apart from the element of Foreign Office conspiracy, the fundamental difference between commando raids and `guerrilla ' operations was never clearly recognized. Personnel were selected without taking into account that many of them "knew neither the area nor the language". How could the poor villagers in Occupied Kashmir distinguish between a raider and a partisan ?

It was claimed at the time that `Operation Gibraltar' was foolproof; since everyone involved in it knew only his specific bit the enemy would never discover its full scope and objectives. The truth is that the first four volunteers who were captured by the Indians described the whole plan in a broadcast on All India Radio on the 8th of August 1965, nearly a month before India crossed the international boundary.

I mentioned this broadcast to Brigadier Irshad who was then Director, Military Intelligence. I still remember his sad comment: "The blighters have spilled the beans !"

Asghar Khan attributes the failure of the operation to the fact that the stepping up of the tempo " was not gradual enough to give it the character of an internal uprising, nor was it controlled sufficiently to keep it within the bounds of Indian political and military acceptability"

The escalation was inevitable and the operations were never related to the objective situation inside Kashmir. The Indians would never cross the international border, maintained the Foreign Office and the people of Jammu and Kashmir would rise as a man as soon as our volunteers go into Occupied Kashmir, believed the G.H.Q. These two assumptions provided the basis for an operation which was conceived in an atmosphere of intrigue and conducted with woeful negligence.

Relevance to current affairs is that there is no sign that the Pakistani Army has changed its thinking.