The aim of writing this article is to rebut Indians, Pakistani pseudo-intellectuals and liberals who often spew venom against the armed forces of Pakistan. Some people in Pakistan promote false narratives as part of a sustained campaign against armed forces while referring to wars with India. Let us have a look at the wars fought by Pakistan with India.

Kashmiris declared their independence and accession to Pakistan on October 24, 1947. On October 27, India landed its troops in Srinagar which resulted in Kashmiri freedom fighters and tribesmen to take up arms for the purpose of delaying advancing enemy forces. In Gilgit, the Gilgit Scouts and Muslim officers of six Jammu and Kashmir battalions liberated the entire region. In January 1948, five Pakistani brigades halted and fought back an Indian offensive by twelve brigades (4 division) in Azad Kashmir. On December 30, 1948 India went to the UN and a ceasefire was agreed upon January 1, 1949. In April 1965, the Indian army intruded the Pakistani area of Rann of Kutch with a large force. The Pakistan army’s counter attack on April 9 gave a humiliating blow to the Indians as they were thrown out of the Rann of Kutch.

‘Operation Gibraltar’ was launched to relieve pressure in the north failed after which ‘Operation Grand Slam’ was launched on September 1 on the axis Bhimbar-Chamb-Akhnur to avert the threat on Muzaffarabad. By September 5, 1965 the Pakistan army captured all area up to Jurian, 6-8 miles across the ceasefire line, and was poised to capture Akhnur. At the dawn of September 6, 1965, without a formal declaration of war, the Indian army crossed the international border and attacked Lahore and Kasur—an attack repulsed by the Pakistani army.

Subsequently, in September, a Pakistani armoured and mechanised formation overran Khem Karan—eight miles inside the Indian territory. 350 Indians surrendered in Khem Karan. In Sialkot, the Indian main effort was towards the east. Chowinda defences withstood the onslaught and here the greatest battle of tanks, since World War II, was fought. Pakistan destroyed 45 Indian tanks. India opened another front after capturing the Gadra post in the south, and All India Radio announced that the country is making rapid progress towards Hyderabad. The ground reality was such that the Pakistani forces captured Munabao followed by Roheri, Punchla and Shakarbuets. During the seventeen day war, Pakistan captured 1617 square miles of Indian territory and 20 officers, 19 JCOs and 569 soldiers were taken as Prisoners of War (POW). According to Lt General Harbaksh Singh, the Indian Western Army Commander, “Pakistan’s gamble in the Chhamb sector came to within an ace of success”. According to his book, ‘Missed Opportunity’, Pakistan’s offensive plan against Akhnur was both bold and tactically sound.

The Time Magazine’s correspondent, Louis Karran, wrote on September 22, 1965, “Who can defeat a nation which knows to play hide and seek with death? Playing with fire for these men from the Jawan to General Officer Commanding was like playing with marbles on the streets.” Roy Meloni of American Broadcasting Corporation wrote on September 15, 1965, “I have been a journalist now for 20 years and want to go on the record to say that I have never seen a more confident and victorious group of soldiers then those fighting for Pakistan right now”. An Australian newspaper carried the lead story on September 11, 1965, ‘Pakistani Victory. Huge losses on both sides’. The Guardian’s journalist, Peter Preston, wrote on September 24, 1965, “One thing that I am convinced of is that Pakistan, morally and even physically, won the air battle against immense odds.”

The performance of the Pakistan Navy was also exemplary when it destroyed the Indian radar in the coastal city of Dwarka in Gujrat. India’s own official history of the war published in 2013 confirmed how poorly their army and air force performed during the 1965 war. Now, India is rewriting the 1965 war history on the instruction of the BJP. During the 1965 war, India had three times the strength in terms of numbers when it comes to the army, air force and navy.

1971 war was a dark year in our history and there were a number of factors which led to the fall of Dhaka. East Pakistan was surrounded on three sides by Indian territory and in the south by the Bay of Bengal. A battalion of the Pakistan army was dispersed, on average, over 400 square miles. Most of them were reduced to regular platoons and the total strength of the Pakistani forces was a mere 33000. The attack came when Pakistan’s army was still on the move to battle locations. The Indian strength was 4 lac troops with full support of 5 lac Mukti Bahinis, trained and equipped by India. The Indian forces invaded East Pakistan on November 21, 1971 on 20 fronts on the day of Eid-Ul-Fitr. Our Ghazis and Shaheed fought against all odds embodying the spirit of Jihad. However, due to political crisis, insurgency and the Indian invasion, Dhaka fell on December 16, 1971.

According to Indian army Chief General Manekshaw, “The Pakistan army in East Pakistan fought very gallantly but they had no chance, they were thousands of miles away from the base. I had 8 to 9 months of preparation, I had at most a 50:1 advantage, they had no chance but they fought very gallantly”. The legendary pilot Chuck Yeager said, “This air force (PAF) is second to none. Pakistan scored a three to one kill ratio knocking out 102 Russian made jets and losing 34 airplanes of their own”. According to Roeded Khan, former civil servant, the three key players which led to the fall of Dhaka were Yahya Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Sheikh Mujeeb. It was bound to happen as it was not possible to run a country 1000 miles away. Sarmila Bose in her book, Dead Reckning, writes, “Many facts had been embellished, fictionalised, distorted and cloaked”. To counter Indian offensive attacks in East Pakistan, a plan to capture Chhamb was launched in West Pakistan under the leadership of Major General Eftikhar. General Eftikhar, in a bold move, captured Chhamb and Chak Pandit on December 7, 1971 and his move surprised Indians when his forces crossed the eastern side of River Tawi. His sudden death brought a sudden end to all operations east of River Tawi. Chhamb, now under Pakistan’s control, was named as Eftikharabad after General Eftikhar.

In 1984, through ‘Operation Meghdoot’, India landed its troops on three passes of the Saltoro ridge west of Siachen glacier in a large airborne operation. Pakistan reacted fast and deployed its forces to the three passes along the Saltoro Range. Pakistan also succeeded in establishing one of the highest post Conway Saddle (6032 meter) at the junction of the Karakoram and Saltoro Range. Pakistan also controls Sia Kangri located adjacent to Conway Saddle, close to Gasherbrums. Sia Kangri overlooks the Baltoro Glacier to the west and Chinese territory to the north and Indra Col, Sia la, Siachen Glacier to its east and south east respectively. In exercise ‘Trident’ during 1987, India had planned a three division attack on Skardu on February 8, 1987 and then Gilgit. Pakistan got the intelligence and moved its troops in the region because of which India cancelled the operation. During the Kargil war, Pakistan caught the Indians by their throat. The Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway was only 2 to 3 kilometres and Drass, 5 kilometres away. The Indian army failed to capture most of the important heights from the Pakistan army as their gains amounted to just ten percent.

Pakistan’s army still enjoys strategic supremacy in the Kargil sector where it still dominates India’s main supply route to Ladakh and Siachen. In response to Balakot tree strikes on February 26, 2019, the very next day, the Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian jets and captured the pilot wing commander Abhinandan. I have written this article to expose the falsehood of narratives supported by those speaking ill of Pakistan’s armed forces based on misplaced perception. We are proud of the valour and sacrifices of the men of armed forces for the defence of the country.

Masud Ahmad Khan

The writer is a retired brigadier and freelance columnist.