A 20-day-long celebration has begun on Friday, August 28, to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1965 war. A war that began as a conflict with Pakistan pushing 30,000 soldiers in civilian disguise into Jammu and Kashmir. An infuriated Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri exposed Pakistan’s treachery in the United Nations (UN) and confronted the United States for providing modern weapons to Pak forces which were being used against India. Shastri’s 1965 letter to U Thant, the then UN Secretary General, provides exclusive insight of the neighbour’s nefarious designs and Shastri’s outright refusal to Thant’s appeal that India should cease the fire.
Prime Minister Shastri on September 4, 1965, wrote an explosive letter to UN Secretary General U Thant saying that India and Pakistan on June 30, 1965, signed an agreement for peaceful settlement of the border issue but within a month on August 5, Pakistan betrayed and infiltrated Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is now clear, however, that even when Pakistan was putting its signature to that agreement, it was planning and organising the massive armed infiltrations across the ceasefire line in J&K and even before the ink was dry on that agreement, Pakistan launched thousands of its armed infiltrators across the ceasefire line,” Shastri wrote to Thant.
An angry Shastri, not mincing words, told the UN chief that India cannot be expected to wait for Pakistan to violate the ceasefire line and attack at will. He refused Thant’s appeal for ceasefire, reminding him that India cannot go from one ceasefire to another without being satisfied that Pakistan will not repeat its acts of violation and aggression in the future. Shastri said as early as in April 1965, Pakistan had launched military attack in Rann of Kutch (Sardar Post) and it cannot be trusted again.
SHASTRI EXPOSED PAK DESIGNS
PM Shastri in his four-page letter, accessed by The Sunday Standard, gave detailed intelligence collected by Indian agencies on Pakistan’s covert operations in Jammu & Kashmir. He told Thant that since August 5, 1965, several thousands of infiltrators from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir crossed the ceasefire line and they were camouflaged as civilians and fully armed with modern weapons, signal equipment, large quantities of ammunition and supplies and explosives.
“From the interrogation of the prisoners captured by us from among the infiltrators, many of whom are regular officers of the Pakistan army, it is now known that a military headquarter was set up in Murree, in West Pakistan, in May 1965, under General Akhtar Hussain Malik, General Officer Commanding, 12th Division of the Pakistan Army. This organisation is known as Military Headquarters “Gibraltor Force”. Their instructions were to destroy bridges and vital roads, attack police stations, supply dumps, army headquarters and important installations, inflict casualties on Indian forces, and attack VIPs in Jammu and Kashmir. The statements of the captured prisoners and the nature and type of weapons, which the infiltrators carried, large quantities of which have been captured by us, bearing the markings of Pakistan ordnance factories, prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the infiltrators were armed and equipped by the Pakistani government and have operated under their instructions.”
Shastri said the Pakistani attack is accompanied by the usual tactics—indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population. He said on September 2, the Pakistan Air Force killed 50 civilians and injured an equal number in addition to the bombing of a mosque.
Thant, in his letter to Shastri dated September 2, 1965, had requested for ceasefire but the latter reminded the UN chief that aggression was thrown on India by Pakistan by launching military attack on Indian soil and as a sovereign state, responsibilities for defence is India’s right and duty to discharge.
“Pakistan has, however, by sending armed infiltrators in large numbers across the ceasefire line, brought about a situation in which we have no choice but to defend ourselves and take such preventive action we have, in certain sectors, had to cross the ceasefire line for the purpose of effectively preventing further infiltrations. This is a matter of great importance to us.”
UN CHIEF PULLED UP
Shastri, known as one of the finest PMs of India, also objected to the UN chief’s attempt of putting the equal blame on India and reminded him that the root cause of the present dangerous situation is the undertaking of massive infiltrations of armed personnel from the Pakistan side, well-organised and trained in sabotage and subversive warfare, the whole operation being conceived, planned and executed by Pakistan.
“Your message is such as this might leave the impression that we are responsible equally with Pakistan for the dangerous developments that have taken place. Unless your message is read in the context of the realities of the situations as they have developed, it tends to introduce a certain equation between India and Pakistan, which the facts of the situation do not bear out.”
While appreciating Thant’s effort for peace, Shastri said India needs to be satisfied that there will be no recurrence of such a situation.
“In the first instance, you will ascertain from Pakistan if it will accept the responsibility for withdrawing not only its armed forces but also the infiltrators and for preventing further infiltrations.”
Interestingly, the day Shastri wrote to Thant, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling upon the government of India and Pakistan to take all steps for an immediate ceasefire. This move did not go down well with the Indian government which criticised the UN resolution, saying it was adopted without taking into consideration the letter of PM Shastri.
Minister for External Affairs Swaran Singh, in his letter dated September 10, 1965, firmly told the UN that an immediate ceasefire can be brought about only when Pakistan takes effective steps to stop further crossing of the Ceasefire line from its side by armed and unarmed personnel—civil and military.
UN TOLD ABOUT PAK BARBARIC ACT
Though the Ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan came into effect on September 23, the Shastri government told the UN about barbarous conduct of Pakistan despite ceasefire. The letter dated September 28, 1965, from the Permanent Representative of India to Thant listed several such acts.