The year of 1965 marked a significant chapter in the history of South Asia as India and Pakistan engaged in a war that had far-reaching consequences. This conflict, known as the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, holds particular significance for Pakistan, as it gave birth to the nation’s Defense Day, celebrated annually on September 6th. Highlighting the key events of the war and reflects on its impact on both nations, especially within the context of Defense Day. As September emerges as the monsoon season, in Pakistan it brings with it memories of the patriotic spirit of Defense Day. The military sacrifices and spirit of nationalism of Pakistani troops are vividly recalled. When the Indian Army crossed international boundaries onto Pakistan’s Sialkot, Lahore, and Rajasthan, a three-pronged onslaught was launched. The plains of Punjab witnessed a fierce tank combat. The two sides fought a drawn-out conflict that lasted days. The regional escalation of the conflict between India and Pakistan worried the superpowers. Under the auspices of the United Nations, a significant diplomatic effort was put to end the fighting, which resulted in a cease-fire on September 23, 1965.
On September 4th, the Azad Kashmir Forces, backed by the Pakistan Army, crossed the River Tawi in the Chamb sector. However, the most critical moment of the conflict occurred on September 6th, when the Indian Army crossed the international boundary and launched a full-scale attack on Lahore. This date has since been commemorated as Pakistan’s Defense Day, symbolizing the nation’s resilience and determination to defend its sovereignty.
Reflecting on the escalation of tensions in August 1965, the tensions between India and Pakistan escalated rapidly. The root cause of the conflict lay in territorial disputes, notably in the Rann of Kutch and the larger Kashmir region. On August 18th, India unilaterally canceled a scheduled Foreign Ministers meeting on the Rann of Kutch dispute, opting instead to refer the matter to a tribunal. In the days that followed, hostilities intensified. Indian forces shelled the Awan village in Pakistan, leading to significant losses. Pakistan demanded compensation for these losses. On September 4th, the Azad Kashmir Forces, backed by the Pakistan Army, crossed the River Tawi in the Chamb sector. However, the most critical moment of the conflict occurred on September 6th, when the Indian Army crossed the international boundary and launched a full-scale attack on Lahore. This date has since been commemorated as Pakistan’s Defense Day, symbolizing the nation’s resilience and determination to defend its sovereignty. A successful counter attack against the enemy was held by the valorous Pakistan army men, along with the nationalistic fervor and unity of the Pakistani population.
Pakistan would have suffered greatly if our military personnel lacked the drive and devotion required back then. The abilities and knowledge that Pakistani soldiers displayed on that day continue to be a source of pride. The headlines of Defense Day’s heroes include those with names like Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed and PAF pilot Muhammad Mehmood Alam. Defense Day is filled with a strong sense of patriotism thanks to the bravery and skill of these military personnel in the war of 1965
As the war raged on, international diplomatic efforts were initiated. The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. U Thant, who arrived in Rawalpindi to mediate and seek a cease-fire between the two nations. Pakistan proposed a three-point plan, including the withdrawal of troops from Kashmir, the introduction of a UN-supervised force, and a plebiscite within three months in the occupied state of Kashmir. The conflict ultimately led to the Tashkent Declaration in January 1966. In a landmark agreement, President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India signed a nine-point declaration, marking the end of hostilities and the withdrawal of armed personnel to their positions held before August 5th, 1965.
The 1965 war and the subsequent Tashkent Declaration were pivotal moments in the history of India and Pakistan. While the war had resulted in losses and sacrifices on both sides, the eventual ceasefire and diplomatic negotiations highlighted the importance of peaceful resolution of conflicts. Pakistan’s Defense Day, serves as a reminder of the nation’s ability to stand strong and united in the face of adversity. It commemorates the bravery and sacrifices of the Pakistani armed forces and civilians during the conflict, reminding the nation of the importance of defending its sovereignty and promoting peace in the region.
The 1965 war left a lasting impact on the relationship between India and Pakistan, as both nations continue to grapple with territorial disputes and political tensions. However, it also serves as a reminder of the potential for peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy. Hostility came from both sides due to long-standing border issues, communal tensions, and the dispute over Kashmir’s status. Kashmir continues to be a point of contention and bears Narendra Modi’s nationalistic fanaticism’s brunt.
Defense Day raises awareness of ongoing problems that determine the future of the subcontinent while also enhancing our nation’s nationalistic spirit and motivation. In the modern day, India’s stance on the Kashmir conflict and its callous treatment of the Muslim minority in Kashmir are unfathomable. Pakistan avoids using a ferociously aggressive strategy unless absolutely necessary, yet putting the sacrifices and accomplishments of its heroes in the foreground, the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War and the events leading up to it have left a profound mark on the history of both nations. As Pakistan observes Defense Day each year, it reflects not only on the sacrifices made during the conflict but also on the importance of pursuing peace and stability in the region. One can only hope that the causes of the 1965 war, notably the Kashmiri issue, do not escalate into yet another conflict.
Asma Khan Durrani is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defence and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47 Mailed @ firstname.lastname@example.org