Pakistan had never found itself so weakened in reserves so far as maintaining parity with India in quality and quantity was concerned, and could not fill this void in the time frame of the coming war. The potential of the Pakistani strike force was reduced to the extent that it could not penetrate more than 20 to 30 miles deep at the chosen point of thrust.
The Shakargarh bulge, especially from Samba to Dera Baba Nanak, was rather thinly held by one infantry division and presented the weakest gap in the event of a preemptive Pakistani attack.
Candeth calculated that Pakistan’s military planners would follow the old pattern of stirring up insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Kashmir Valley, followed by the infiltration of guerillas to inflame the whole state with largescale sabotage and disruption, and would then carry the war across the ceasefire line. He went wrong in this assessment, as no enemy, leave aside Pakistan, could afford to repeat its earlier performance.
Candeth had three corps against Pakistan and China. XV Corps looked after Jammu and Kashmir with five divisions and one armoured brigade. One division looked after India’s borders with China and Pakistan, another the valley, a third the hilly sector south of the Pir Panjal range, while two others looked after the approaches to Akhnur, Jammu and Samba. The entire force was committed to static defence along the ceasefire line and to covering the routes of ingress to sensitive areas, particularly in the Jammu sector.
The reserves in each sector were meagre, about one infantry brigade in the valley, and an infantry brigade group and one armoured brigade in the Jammu area. Punjab was held by three divisions or their equivalent, the broad distribution being two divisions between the Ravi and the Beas, and one division plus east of the Sutlej. Between them, they had a reserve of about one independent armoured brigade and one infantry brigade. The Shakargarh bulge, especially from Samba to Dera Baba Nanak, was rather thinly held by one infantry division and presented the weakest gap in the event of a preemptive Pakistani attack.
Pakistan managed to position a balance of reserve armour, artillery and infantry north and south of the Ravi.
I Corps, each comprising two infantry divisions, armoured brigades and independent artillery brigades, was located in the hinterland, and within the time frame of rail and road movement would take three weeks to concentrate. This corps was to take the divisions holding the Shakargarh bulge under its command and assume responsibility for defending the peri-pheral area around the bulge on arrival in the sector. Army Headquarters reserves, consisting of one armoured division and one infantry division, were to be suitably located to afford indirect security to Punjab and the prosperous area of Ganganagar, in Rajasthan, in the defensive phase, and carry out such offensive contingency tasks as considered feasible, depending upon the opportunities offered by the vicissitudes of war.
Pakistan also tied up its formations in a holding role, broadly with a wing of Frontier Scouts in the Ladakh and Kargil sector, one division between the Keran and Poonch rivers and one between the Poonch and the Chenab. Between them, they had about 11 brigades, nine of which were committed to a holding role on the ceasefire line, and one brigade in each sector was available as reserve. In the Shakargarh bulge Pakistan had I Corps, consisting of three infantry divisions, an armoured division, an armoured brigade and an artillery brigade. Two of these divisions were committed in a holding role, with one infantry brigade as reserve between them.
The remainder of the Pakistani Army in the west was to keep the Indian Army in fixed positions all along the western front to disrupt its offensive potential. To enhance the offensive capability of their thrust, the Pakistanis adopted additional measures to induce the Indians to divert their forces
From Ranian to Sulaimanke, Pakistan had IV Corps, consisting of two infantry divisions, mostly employed in a holding role, with one armoured brigade and an infantry brigade held as reserve. There was an infantry brigade group from Sulaimanke to Bahawalpur. Pakistan II Corps, consisting of one armoured division and an infantry division, was located in the general area Montgomery-Okara under Gen Tikka Khan as a strike force for offensive tasks in Indian territory. 7 Infantry Division, which had earlier trained in mountain warfare, could normally have been employed in the Jammu and Kashmir theatre, but in view of the paucity of infantry in the Pakistani strike forces north and south it was imperative that this formation should be available for use wherever the enemy chose to attack.
Since some intelligence reports had indicated the presence of Pakistan 7 Infantry Division in the general area of Abbotabad, some precautionary measures were adopted to meet its potential threat in the Poonch sector, but in the event these fears proved unfounded. Woefully short of infantry, Pakistan could ill afford to employ its only proven reserve division in mountain operations which consumed time and troops. Pakistan’s initial poise had a strike force in the Shakargarh bulge to the north and another force to the south in the general area of Montgomery-Okara. Each force comprised an armoured division and an infantry division, and each force could be boosted with an infantry division wherever required. Thus Pakistan managed to position a balance of reserve armour, artillery and infantry north and south of the Ravi.
Fazal Muqeem tells us that the task of the Pakistan Army in the western wing was to seize the initiative at the start of hostilities and launch an offensive to capture as much Indian territory of strategic, economic and political significance as possible while denying similar Pakistani territory to India. To this end, the Pakistani planners produced “a very good plan indeed,” according to Muqeem.
It appears that the plan revolved around launching a corps of one armoured and two infantry divisions in a counteroffensive initially, and later reinforcing the thrust with additional armour and infantry by regrouping the holding force. The remainder of the Pakistani Army in the west was to keep the Indian Army in fixed positions all along the western front to disrupt its offensive potential. To enhance the offensive capability of their thrust, the Pakistanis adopted additional measures to induce the Indians to divert their forces, particularly the reserves, from the general areas of the selected objectives of their offensive. According to Muqeem, one measure was to execute a number of local attacks in addition to improving the defensive posture of the holding forces all along the front. Another was to practice deception under an overall cover plan designed to give the impression that the strike forces were assembled for a task different from that intended.
The Pakistani planners laid great emphasis on this manoeuvre as they hoped to neutralise the Indian offensive potential in the bulge and tie up the Indian forces there so that they would not be able to divert this force to meet the real Pakistan offensive on the southern flank”¦
There were two schools of thought regarding the timing of the intended offensive. One was for starting an all-out offensive by the strike corps at the very outset, while the other maintained that the holding formations should first carry out preliminary operations to fix the enemy and divert its attention to local engagements in order to facilitate offensive thrusts. The second school, which stood for preliminary operations followed by a counter-offensive, ultimately prevailed. It was felt that if the Indians revealed their hand in the preliminary operations the choice of Pakistani thrust lines, with objectives farther from the Indian reserves, would be facilitated.
The Pakistani military planners therefore broadly allotted the preliminary operational tasks as follows. Pakistan 12 Infantry Division, deployed opposite Kashmir Valley up to the Poonch river, was to capture Poonch town and simulate such a limited offensive in the area as to tie up the Indian reserves in the sector to the extent that they would be prevented from moving south of the Chenab to be effective against the planned offensive there.