Thus the basis of Indian planning was broadly to await in a defensive posture the start of war by Pakistan. On the commen-cement of hostilities, an all-out effort was to be made by the holding force to improve its defensive posture by capturing objectives which would further strengthen the initial posture, and also to release the troops containing the Pakistani enclaves on the Indian side of the river and the canal obstacles. The tactical balance in relation to the Pakistani strike force was to be maintained by the correct positioning of our reserves to ensure that they would not be allowed to get embroiled in the defensive battle. After Pakistan had launched its offensive with one or both of its strike forces and thus revealed its hand, a multipronged Indian offensive would be launched in the Shakargarh bulge and, depending on the Pakistani reaction on the northern and southern flanks, launch its offensive across the Sutlej at a suitable opportunity.
A limited offensive in the Rajasthan Desert was also planned by the Southern Command to tie up Pakistan 18 Infantry Division. In the process, as part of the defensive and also offensive battles, an effort was to be made to capture as much Pakistani territory as possible, especially what was of political and economic value to Pakistan. The Indian planners however failed to visualise how, when and where their commanders were to launch an offensive if the Pakistanis failed to launch theirs. In the context of a short war time was at a premium and could not be wasted in fruitless waiting. As it happened, Yahya Khan and his Chief of Army Staff, Gen Abdul Hamid, failed to launch their II Corps offensive under Tikka Khan up to the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire because of some vacillation in decisionmaking.
The plan was conceived, studied in depth and brought to its final shape by Maj Gen K.K. Singh, Director of Military Operations, under the direction and guidance of the Chief. The plan was subjected to detailed scrutiny in war games at various levels by the executors and its shortcomings, if any, were removed before the conflict began. The plan was by no means original, bold or ambitious, but it was certainly workable provided the resources for its execution were not dissipated earlier or some unforeseen factors did not intrude. Candeth had no worthwhile experience of serious warfare and was known to be rather “cautious.” This plan, once set in motion, left very little room for him to influence the tide of battle.
To be continued…