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Indo-Pak War of 1965 and Superpowers

‘Force enters when diplomacy is exhausted’, says Z.A Bhutto in The Myth of Independence. The reality of this quotation is evident from the 1965 War between India and Pakistan when the issues and apprehensions got out of diplomatic premise. The event had far-reaching impacts on South Asia and one can scrutinize the shifts in balance of power, as well as political and geo-political maneuverings and interference of the great powers in the region.


In September 1965, India attacked Pakistan owing to the latter’s provocation by undertaking the operation Gibraltar in Indian held Kashmir. As a result, Pakistan put all its resources and potentials to counter the attack of a far more powerful enemy. The war continued for sixteen days and was followed by a summit of the leadership that was held in Tashkent in 1966. According to the declaration a mutual agreement was signed between India and Pakistan saying that the forces would take their prewar positions.


The 1965 War did not happen abruptly. There was a whole scheme of significant events that led to the extreme tensions of 1965 resulting in conflict and war. There were many dimensions of the event but we are intended to scrutinize the diplomatic orientation only. After the Second World War, the comity of nations got divided into two groups i.e. the Capitalist bloc led by USA and the Communist bloc led by USSR. Struggle for power and hegemony over the entire world between these blocs caused so many conflicts in different parts of the world and at different times. Korean War (1950-53) followed by the Vietnam War (1955-75) were the episodes of long lasting conflict between the Capitalists and the Communists. Both were striving to spread and spawn their influence and authority as far as they could. South Asia was also one of the most important regions they contested for.


To understand the real dynamics of diplomatic relations before the War of 1965, it is very necessary to understand and comprehend the relations between USSR and USA, China and USA, China and USSR, India and USSR and Pakistan and India.


Starting from USSR and USA, an alliance between both the powers ended in a long-lasting enmity and hatred for each other. Both fought proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. USA aimed at containing the escalating popularity of Communism throughout the world and to resist the Russian government from setting up the Communist regimes over the continents. On the other hand, USSR intended to intercept the containment of USA and establish revolutionary regimes based on Communism all over the globe. As China was the first and the most formidable ally of the USSR, it was not on good terms with USA. In Korean War, USSR was not directly involved, rather it was China which was countering the Americans on behalf of the Russians. China had to pay a huge price in terms of economy and manpower during that war. It was in 1952 (during the Korean War) that Stalin died. Mao Tse-tung came forward to lead the communist world as its lawful leader after Stalin on the basis of his seniority but he was not accepted. Russians were not ready to let go the leadership of the Communist world. Another thing which infuriated Chinese was their huge loss in the Korean War and less acknowledgement from USSR. Henceforth, China began to devise its independent foreign policy.


Now, we come to the relations between the great powers and the South Asian powers. India won freedom in 1947 from its Imperial Masters. Right from the beginning, Premier Nehru had been crying for the economic equality as one of the major objectives of the Indian government. He was clear in his views about the socialist economy and automatically had a propensity towards the Russians. He was warmly welcomed by the Russians. But, Nehru never got into alliance of any of the two Systems. He kept on taking advantages from both the blocs but never accepted their suzerainty. India maintained amicable relations with China as well. Pakistan, on the other hand, joined the Western alliance and became a party to the Capitalism which led to the hostile relations between USSR and Pakistan. With China also, Pakistan was not on good terms owing to the American decision of not accepting the Socialist government, which Pakistan had to accept.


In 1962, relations between India and China deteriorated on the issue of border demarcation. As both the USA and the USSR had their grievances with China, they supported India against China and poured in a lot of military and economic aid. India was much confident owing to its military strength and great powers’ support and jumped into a border conflict with China where she had to confront humiliation. India, before that defeat, was exploiting the hatred and fears of the USA and the USSR to materialize her excessive demands. As soon she was defeated, she could see nothing but a dark future. She raised the standards of her demands and asked for more. Meanwhile, she kept on exaggerating the Chinese threat. Consequently, she was provided with more resources. Pakistan was observing the whole scenario. It put its apprehensions on record saying that the military and economic aid would be used against Pakistan rather than China but all in vain. USA and UK were neither ceasing India’s aid nor treating Pakistan with the same generosity. When Pakistan put stress on her ‘allies’, she was refused straight forwardly of any help.


Pakistan, in spite of being a member of SEATO and CENTO, was left all alone at the mercy of a much powerful enemy with huge reservoirs of military and economic resources poured in by her own ‘allies’. Anyhow, Pakistan managed to pull through such a tough conditions without any assistance or help. The war was fought for sixteen days only but it had enormous impacts on the South Asian diplomatic relations. Almost five states changed their policies i.e. Pakistan and China established amicable relations with each other, India and China fail to reconcile with each other, etc.


Pakistan due to USA’s indifference started to look forward to other alliances and established good relations with the Muslim countries within the next ten years and ceased to be a member of Commonwealth and other defense pacts.


The 1965 War has been exploited by the army ever since to serve its own purpose. It manipulated the nation and filled them with hatred and enmity for their neighbors. This hatred has become the greatest hurdle in the establishment of good relations with India.

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