Homeland Security

The First Kashmir War and Lessons for India
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Issue Book Excerpts: The Crimson Chinar | Date : 03 Apr , 2015

Lessons for Pakistan

The Pakistan military analyst Major AH Amin (Retd) has commented adversely on Pakistan’s failure to wrest victory in Kashmir, especially when the fortune of Kashmir as poignantly paraphrased by Bogey Sen was hanging by a ‘slender thread.’ Despite the brilliance of Op Gulmarg and the shaping of the battle space, the tribals simply could not exploit the opportunity of a lifetime. Lessons from Pakistan’s perspective are analysed.

…lack of troops, petrol, and help being rendered to the locals etc., this was a cardinal mistake and went against the principle of ‘Maintenance of Momentum,’ which is paramount in pursuit.

Choice of Foot Soldiers. The crux of the Op Gulmarg plan lay in gaining control of the valley before the Indians could react militarily. However, due to internal politicking and their lust for plunder, the marauders lost the plot at Baramulla. The bottom line was that the tribals did not live up to expectations and negated Pakistan’s only chance of success.

Dissipation of Effort. While tactically it may be correct to have your flanks covered, yet the lascars advancing on either side of the main force on the Uri-Baramulla-Srinagar road did not contribute to the end state as there were no Indian forces available to threaten the flanks. If space and transport management had been a constraint, it may have been prudent to employ four lascars to home on to Srinagar Airfield and Banihal Pass from the south. This would have created major criticality for India by creating a concurrent threat to the airfield and had the potential to cut off the retrograde operations of 1 SIKH. It would also have put caution on the Indian pursuit undertaken after the Battle at Shalateng. Notwithstanding, while the Lascars in the north did not contribute to the immediate battle, they were successful in whittling down the force made available for the pursuit.

The Liberation of the Valley and the Missed Opportunity

The immediate Indian pursuit was swift and by 1930 hours, the same day, Pattan had been recaptured. However, the move to Baramulla got delayed since there was a scarcity of petrol and the advance had to be undertaken by foot. Consequently, it was only by 1730 hours, the next day that Baramulla was again in Indian hands and it was here that the Indians faltered. The advance from Baramulla could only resume on 10 November, gifting two vital days to the tribals to re-organise. Despite the reasons i.e. lack of troops, petrol, and help being rendered to the locals etc., this was a cardinal mistake and went against the principle of ‘Maintenance of Momentum,’ which is paramount in pursuit.

Losing two days by staying in Baramulla cost the Indians dearly…

Under orders of HQ JAK Force, 6 RAJ RIF and 4 KUMAON along with a troop of armoured cars had been left behind at Srinagar under Colonel Harbaksh Singh for the close defence of the city, while the newly inducted Battalion, 2 DOGRA was tasked to firm in at Baramulla. In the meanwhile 1/2 PUNJAB was also pulled back for re-joining its parent formation in Jammu, depleting the force under Sen.

Losing two days by staying in Baramulla cost the Indians dearly as the gates to Domel-Muzaffarabad closed fast. It was only by 13 November, that Uri was recaptured, and with this the securing of the valley was complete. Notwithstanding, the move to Uri which should have been completed in two/three days, in execution, took six and made the subsequent tasks difficult.

On 14 November, Sen was ordered to suspend his advance to Muzzaffarabad, and relieve the besieged garrison of Punch. The date for the operation was given as 19 November, but was subsequently postponed to 20 November. Much has been written on this change of orders: Nehru had been alarmed by the advice to evacuate Punch, which he forbade, but this entailed the immediate relief of Punch, which he was constrained to undertake from the only direction that was possible.


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Nevertheless, this change in focus from pursuit to the relief of Punch cost India dearly as she was unable to recover what had been lost beyond Uri as can be made out by the actions as annotated in Map above. It is pertinent to mention that, during its move to Punch, the formation did not come across any major enemy activity and the ‘played up’ threat was to prevent the Indians from pressing home the advantage gained after Shalateng.


[1]      Kalkat OS, Major General (Retd), The Far Flung Frontiers, Allied Publishers, Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 1983, p. 29.

[2]      Mr Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Pakistan scholar and visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) and at the South Asia Studies programme at the National University at Singapore. He is also Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Stockholm University. Cited from http://www.dailytimes.com.plz/default.asp?page=2010|03\16 story_16-3-2010_pq3_2

[3]      Bajwa Kuldip Singh, Major General (Retd), p. 85, Jammu and Kashmir War (1947-48) Political and Military Perspective, Military Affairs Series, Har-Anand Publications Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 2003.

[4]      Lieutenant General LP Sen in his book, Slender was the thread has written that he was reprimanded for the dispatch of the fifty volunteers of 2 DOGRA under Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Prithi Chand across the Zoji La to reinforce Ladakh on what seemed an impossible task.

[5]      Command of the Indian Forces passed hands five times in this short time. Lieutenant Colonel Ranjit Rai had led the Indian Forces into the valley. By 29 Nov, Brigadier J C Katoch had flown in as the Commander of the Brigade being built up. Unfortunately, he was wounded and had to be flown out the very next day. Command of the Brigade then devolved to Lieutenant Colonel Harbaksh Singh, who concurrently commanded 1 SIKH. It was only on 2 November that Brigadier L P Sen was flown in and he then took over command of 161 Brigade. By 5 November, Major General Kalwant Singh had also arrived in the valley and he took over overall command of forces under the hastily organized JAK Division.

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