Indo-Pak War of
of Soviet Union at Tashkent which forced India to withdraw from Haji Pir
and Kargil Heights and accept the status quo ante in Janmmu and Kashmir
state was the outcome of a number of developments in international field
after Sino-Indian war of 1962 which had impelled its leadership to re-assess
and re-order its global strategy. The most important of these developments
was the rift between Soviet Union and Communist China because of conflict
of national interests and personality clash between the leadership of the
two communist giants.
had been growing under the shadow of Soviet Union since 1949. But as it
found it's feet and established its position in political and economical
fields both internally and externally, it began to assert itself against
hegemonic approach of Soviet Union. The border between them in Central
Asia which passed through territories acquired by both of them during their
imperialist expansion was undemarcated. China now began to claim certain
territories which Soviet Union controlled. It also began to question earlier
Sino-Russian treaties as unequal treaties and asserted its independent
position in the international forums. This was not to the liking of Soviet
Union, which had come to consider itself as the big brother. The age old
European hunch about "Yellow peril" coming from China also began to haunt
Tie up between
China and Pakistan was another discordant factor. Muslim dominated Central
Asian Soviet Republic had beeh feeling the pull of Pakistan on their population.
Pakistan getting closer to China, therefore, did not suit the Soviet Union.
It wanted to draw Pakistan away from China. That was the basic reason of
the Soviet stance of neutrality between India and Pakistan at Tashkent.
began to re-assess the situation, particularly after the Russian built
tunnel through the Hindukush mountain in 1964. Russian tanks could now
roll down to Kabul in a few hours and Peshawar was only 200 miles away
from there. I happened to be in Kabul on the day Tashkent-Kabul highway
passing through this tunnel was officially opened. I had written an article
on that day in which I had stated that no government of Pakistan can now
afford to remain on the wrong side of Soviet Union. The winding up of the
American Airbase near Peshawar from which spy flights into Soviet Union
had been undertaken was the result. It paved the way for improvement of
relations between Soviet Union and Pakistan. President Ayub was too practical
a man not to take advantage of this changed situation. He candidly wrote
in his autobiography, "if we could not establish normal relations with
all our big neighbors, the best thing was to have an understanding with
two of them (Soviet Union and China). They might have internal differences
but we need not get involved in that. This was a vital element in our thinking.
It was on this basis that I have set out to normalize our relations with
the peoples of Republic of China and Soviet Union."
which induced re-thinking in Soviet Union about Kashmir was failure of
Indian leadership to heed the advice given by the Soviet leaders from time
to time about changing the complexion of population of Kashmir valley and
integrating it with the rest of India. This created a feeling in them that
perhaps India itself was not serious about holding on to Kashmir.
The shift in
the stand of Soviet leadership which first became evident when Tashkent
began to be reflected in the utterances of Indian communist leaders inside
and outside the Parliament. I got confirmation of the shift and the reasons
for it from a Soviet diplomat stationed at New Delhi. He explained "Soviet
Union had been at the beck and call of India in regard to Kashmir for 10
years. What have you done to solve the Kashmir problem during this period?
You have neither fully integrated it by extending the constitution of India
to it nor you have done anything to change complexion of its population.
How long you expect Soviet Union to take India's chest nuts out of the
same explanations were given to Dr. Sanjiva Reddy, the Speaker of the Indian
Lok Sabha, when he led an Indian Parliamentarian Delegation to Moscow in
1968 by more authoritative quarters. He told this to a joint meeting of
the two Houses of Parliament after he returned to New Delhi.
The lack of
clear and firm policy in regard to Kashmir on the part of government of
India had an adverse effect on the mind and conduct of a large section
of Kashmiri Muslims. They became more amenable to Pak propaganda and began
to adopt an openly hostile attitude toward India and its security forces
in Kashmir. I noted this when I visited Kashmir in 1968 as Vice-Chairman
of Indian study Team on Defense. I heard the slogans "Indian dogs go back"
being hurled on Indian soldiers by a Kashmiri mob. I also learned from
some sector commanders stationed in Kashmir that their real worry was growing
hostility of Kashmiri Muslims who they feared might stab India in the back
in the event of another Pak agrression.
In the meantime,
Sino-Soviet rift began to take the form of an open confrontation. China's
pull on communist parties of Asian countries also began to grow. This upset
Soviet leadership. It began to devise a new strategy for containing Chinese
influence and maintaining dominant position of Soviet Union in Asia. To
that end it put forth a "Collective Security Plan" and invited India to
join it. Non-com munist opposition parties of India saw in this plan a
move to further strengthen Soviet strangle hold on India. Indian Prime
Minister Mrs. Gandhi also did not favor it because she felt it might weaken
India's position in Non-Aligned Movement.
General Ayub by General Yahya Khan and growing demand in East Pakistan
for separation from Pakistan created a new situation. Pakistan let loose
a reign of terror in East Pakistan resulting in influx of millions of Hindu
refugees into India. This created new tens ions between India and Pakistan
besides putting a huge economic burden on India. People of India in general
were sympathetic to the aspirations of the people of East Pakistan and
favored extension of active support to the liberation movement there which
was being led by Sheikh Mujibur-Rehman.
China and USA
which had come closer to each other were expected to back Pakistan in case
of a show down on the issue of East Pakistan. India therefore felt the
need of ensuring soviet support in such an eventuality. Thus the interest
of both India and Soviet Union began to point to the need of a more definite
understanding between the two. The Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty signed
in mid 1971 was the result.
to move quickly after signing of this treaty, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's Awami
Party secured a clear majority in the general elections of Pakistan held
in 1971. But he was deprived of Prime Ministership of Pakistan because
of the opposition of the leaders of West Pakistan led by Z. A. Bhutto.
East Pakistan thereafter, declared its independence from Pakistan. This
resulted in a bloody confrontation between Pak army and people of East
Pakistan who were supported by the Bengali speaking section of armed forces
of Pakistan and local bureaucracy. India at that time decided to extend
its support to the freedom fighters of the East Pakistan, now called Bangladesh,
on humanitarian grounds.
As a soldier,
General Yahya Khan realized quite early that Pakistan could not hold East
Pakistan by force for long. He had mentally reconciled himself to separation
of East Pakistan from Pakistan. He wanted to compensate this loss by securing
Kashmir for West Pakistan. He had therefore withdrawn most of the Pak air
force from East Pakistan and wanted to withdraw the bulk of Pakistan army
also from there. But he could not do so because of naval blockade by lndia.
Indo-Pak war began preemptive attack by Pakistan on Indian air bases on
December 3, 1971. The main objective of Pakistan was to secure Kashmir
and some other territory in the West, in lieu of East Pakistan. This became
clearer from the evidence he gave before the War Commission appointed by
the Government of Pakistan after his fall frorn power. He was reported
to have told the commission, which was presided over by the Chief Justice
of Pakistan, that he wanted to withdraw bulk of Pak troops from East Pakistan
before the start of the war. He did withdraw all but one squadron of Pak
air force from there but he could not withdraw the army because of the
Indian blockade. He later tried to get the Pak army out of Bangladesh on
December 9, with the consent of Gavernment of India. India, according to
him, had promised safe passage of Pakistan army from Bangladesh ports to
Karachi. But Bhutto dissuaded him from executing this plan by assuring
him that China and USA were going to intervene militarily in favor of Pakistan.
figures released by the government of India after the war made it clear
that Pakistan was interested primarily in the war on the West and its objective
was to get Kashmir somehow. While only 1,300 Indian Jawans and officers
died in the operation in Bangladesh, Indian casualties on the western front
exceeded 4,000. Indian armed forces not only foiled determined and persistent
Pak attempts to push into Jammu and Kashmir state and capture tlle valley,
but also inflicted a crushing defeat on Pakistan in Sindh and Lahore sectors.
Pak navy and Karachi port were put out of action. Lahore was besieged and
5,000 sq. miles of Pak territory in Lahore sector was occupied. Pakistan
army could capture only 60 sq. miles of Indian territory in the Chhamb
sector in Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir state. In the Eastern sector
more than 90,000 Pak troops surrendered and were made prisoners of war.
Indian victory in the war of 1971 resulted in liberation af Bangladesh,
dismemberment of Pakistan, surrender of over 90,000 Pak troops and occupation
of valuable Pak territory in Punjab bigger in size than Kashmir valley.
Indian defense forces established their superiority on land and sea as
also in the air. This made India the dominant power in South Asia. It was
then a position to clinch the Kashmir issue once for all.
leadership failed India once again. It could not take advantage of the
magnificent military victory even to settle the Kashmir issue. Shimla agreement
signed in July, 1972, converted India's military victory into a political
and diplomatic defeat once again. The country, the nation and its gallant
armed forces were betrayed.