Military & Aerospace

India's Losses and Gains in Post-Independence Wars - I
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When wars end inconclusively, the bargaining power for settling the issues which led to the war hinges on territorial gains, the economic burden of supporting war refugees, and making up losses in men and material among other things. It was with this in view that the Pakistani Army shed its military posture after the ceasefire and swarmed towards the vacant areas in land grab operations. They achieved most of their territorial gains in the Fazilka and Rajasthan sectors after the ceasefire. The Indian Army got wise after the event.

Book_India_wars_sinceTerritorial gains and losses at the time of the ceasefire effective at 0330 hours of 23 September were 740 square miles in Indian hands against 210 square miles with Pakistan. But such statistics had no meaning whatever so long as adverse possession did not affect the loser’s political prestige, hurt its economy and jeopardized its military posture. A detailed examination revealed that India had captured some important Pakistani posts in the Kargil sector overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway and covering an area of 20 square miles. It was not so much the area captured as the tactical advantage gained which placed India in a better bargaining position.


  1. Asian Recorder, Vol VIII, No 33, “Indian Outpost at Galwan. Encircled,” p. 4730.
  2. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No 13, “Pakistani Intrusions into Kutch District,” p. 6365.
  3. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No 29. `Indo-Pakistan Ceasefire Agreement on Kutch,” p. 6555.
  4. Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No 37, “Massive Pakistani Infiltration,” p. 6651.Asian Recorder, Vol XI, No 41, “Ceasefire Comes into Force,” p. 6706.

Similarly, in the Tithwal, Uri and Poonch sectors, the Indian forces had managed to straighten out the existing bulges, and by the capture of important gullies and passes, including Haji Pir Pass, they had blocked the infiltration routes leading to the valley. By capturing an additional 250 square miles India had improved its military posture along the ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir.

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On the debit side it had lost the fertile tract of Chhamb and Jaurian covering an area of 190 square miles. Overall, approximately 140,000 people were displaced in Jammu division alone, and out of them 80,000 belonged to Chhamb. Many millions of rupees have been spent in running refugee camps and on rehabilitation projects for them. In Kashmir Valley, about 120,000 people fled their homes in August 1965 because of the infiltration menace. But they returned after the ceasefire as their lands were under Indian control.

In Kashmir Valley, about 120,000 people fled their homes in August 1965 because of the infiltration menace. But they returned after the ceasefire as their lands were under Indian control.

In the Lahore and Sialkot sectors Pakistan lost about 320 square miles. India controlled a six-mile-deep belt along the border between the Teg and Deg streams in the Sialkot sector, while in the Lahore sector it held about 30 miles of the 45-milelong Ichhogil Canal on the eastern side. The salient in Pakistani territory varied from one mile at the narrowest to ten deep at Burki. In addition, India eliminated the Pakistani-held Dera Baba Nanak enclave and dominated the road and railway bridge there, but Pakistan had taken over the Indian complex of the Kassowal group of enclaves north of the Ravi. The exact magnitude of the economic problem caused by war refuges and other allied factors for Pakistan is not known, but from the state of development of the area it may be said that it would not have hurt the Pakistani economy to an appreciable extent.

On the other hand, Pakistan controlled 20 square miles of fertile tract in the Khemkaran sector, including the town itself, in Punjab. All the towns and villages on either side were razed to the ground. Altogether some 74 villages and three hamlets were fully occupied in Punjab, while 38 villages were partially in Pakistani hands. In Rajasthan and Gujarat, Indian forces occupied a wedge ten to 12 miles deep in the general area of Gadra city while Pakistan took over the railhead of Munabao.

From 23 September till the troop withdrawals carried out under the Tashkent Agreement, the confrontation along the ceasefire line continued. The number of violations Pakistan committed up to 22 December was 21,206 in Jammu and Kashmir, 1,423 in Punjab, 209 in Rajasthan and one in Gujarat against 1,400 reported against India. In Rajasthan, the violations were serious and affected by hordes of Mujahids swarming all over the desert areas and plundering villages and destroying property. Military operations had to extend right up to the end of November to get rid of the menace. As an offshoot of these operations there were about 6,000 refugees in Rajasthan.

About 500 families were Hindus who fled to India from Pakistan to escape the atrocities committed by Pakistani troops. Most of them belonged to the Soda clan of Rajputs who owned agricultural land in the Chacharo-Umarkot area. The others were of the Bania community and conducted business in the border region. Although no conflict took place in East Pakistan, about 4,400 Hindu refugees trickled into West Bengal.

Military operations had to extend right up to the end of November to get rid of the menace. As an offshoot of these operations there were about 6,000 refugees in Rajasthan.

The Indian casualties ware 2,226 killed, including 161 officers,7,870 wounded, including 412 officers, and 189 confirmed prisoners of war, while 1,500 personnel were declared missing. The exact figures of Pakistani casualties are not known, but they were probably as heavy. According to the military correspondent of the London Times, India had captured 197 Pakistani tanks, and a similar number might have been damaged. Although Pakistan originally claimed some 500 Indian tanks casualties this was obviously a gross exaggeration as India did not employ so many tanks in the entire war. India might have suffered about 100 tanks casualties, far less than Pakistan, as our armour was mostly on the defensive. India lost 28 of its war planes. Overall, it was estimated that the fighting cost India and Pakistan about 250 million dollars each. As early as 18 September, Shastri received a note from Kosygin1 proposing a meeting in Tashkent between Ayub Khan and him.

On his acceptance, an invitation was conveyed to Ayub Khan, who, after expressing preference for a settlement through the Security Council, eventually accepted. They met with Kosygin as mediator. After six days of hard bargaining on each side, the Tashkent Declaration was signed on 10 January 1966.2 After the usual pledges of not resorting to force to settle their disputes and non-interference with each other’s affairs, military both sides agreed to withdraw their armed forces not later than 25 February 1966 to the positions they held before 5 August 1965. Till then both countries should observe the terms of the ceasefire scrupulously. Prisoners of war would be repatriated without delay.

Politically, both countries agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, halt hostile propaganda and consider measures to restore economic and trade relations. On the whole the declaration achieved nothing, and relations between the two countries reverted to what they were before. Although neither side was allowed to enjoy the gains of war the aggressor was not penalized. In fact, Pakistan was not even mentioned as the aggressor, nor did it admit having engineered the infiltration.

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Some Indian political parties declared this was a “betrayal of the nation’s interest.” Instead of recovering the entire territory of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, they argued that the Shastri Government was incapable of even retaining the territories captured in Kargil, Tithwal and the Haji Pir areas. The armed forces had made considerable sacrifices in 11,000 men killed, wounded and missing, and it was felt that these sacrifices had gone in vain: The burden of running a war at the rate of Rs 250 million a day hurt India’s economy without adequate recompense and was therefore termed a waste. Shastri did not live to face public criticism, and as a result of his untimely death the attitude of opposition softened somewhat. Internationally, having vacated the territories it claimed as part of Kashmir, India emerged as a weak negotiator who could be pressured to agree to terms detrimental to the national interest. The Kashmir issue, which triggered the conflict, remained unresolved, and the agreement did not prevent Pakistan’s going to war again.

Defeat in battle had forced the resignation of the military dictatorship Yahya Khan headed. He handed over to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who immediately set about consolidating his hold on Pakistans shattered economy and political system”¦

In fact, it started an arms race between the two countries. With the arms pipeline from the US and Britain choked, Pakistan leant heavily on China as its main supplier while keeping its old weaponry in good condition with a trickle of spare parts supplied by third countries or getting sanctions from Washington on and off. Some equipment also came from the CENTO countries. The oil-rich sheikhs of the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries provided large quantities of foreign exchange to Pakistan to shop in the world arms market and thus helped Islamabad to keep its options open. India’s options were on the other hand closed, and for the next few decades the Soviet Union and the East European bloc became our main source of arms. Thus a process of polarization started towards the two camps in the subcontinent. Apart from troop withdrawals and return of prisoners Pakistan stalled on normalizing diplomatic and economic relations by insisting on solving the Kashmir dispute as a precondition.

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