India couldn’t beat us in 1965, can’t beat the stronger Pakistan of today either

Published: September 6, 2017

No 19 Squadron pilots who struck Pathankot on 6 September 1965, with squadron commander 'Nosey' Haider standing third from right. PHOTO: CAP/PAF

In the early hours of September 6, 1965, India initiated an unannounced military offensive against Pakistan. General Jayanto Nath Chaudhry’s self-confidence had gone a “peg” too far. His famous dream of “drinking at Lahore Gymkhana” that evening was soon shattered by brave Pakistani troops. India did gain some territory, but ended up losing a lot more.

Pakistan’s unexpected response and India’s heavy losses of men, material and territory brought the Indian confidence-plus-ambition down several notches and suddenly, negotiations became an option. The Tashkent Agreement ended hostilities and the (mis)adventure came to an end. It wasn’t the first misadventure and it certainly wasn’t to be the last.

Hard as it may be to admit, India did learn a valuable lesson from the 1965 blunder. National and military ego may have forced it into a state of denial and delusion, but India did learn of Pakistan’s military valour and might. Sometimes, a person smaller in size may have a heart much bigger and mightier than a person that is larger.

Owing to several factors including a hugely flawed Partition plan, Pakistan and India have been in a seemingly perpetual hate-hate relationship ever since independence. This mutual aversion has borne nothing but rotten fruits of poverty, arms race, instability and suffering for the people on both sides.

The real lesson to be learnt from 1965, or from any war for that matter, is that wars are not the solution to any problem. Wars may only satiate egos and never bring any relief for the masses. The idiotic urge to have a drink at Gymkhana or to add Lahore to its territory brought nothing but death and displacement for soldiers and civilians. Lives were lost in vain, especially since General Chaudhry eventually had to have that peg far away from Lahore with fear and regret replacing confidence and ambition in his heart.

As today marks Pakistan’s 52nd Defence Day, it is about time India comes to terms with the harsh truth – India does have a problem and Pakistan is not it. The problem is India’s inability to accept Pakistan as a reality. It’s the trouble India has with bringing itself to the negotiating table on all issues that are hampering peace, stability and progress on both sides of the border. They blame Pakistan for aiding the Kashmir insurgency and simultaneously boast about their own role in destabilising Pakistan. They openly announce their desire of “isolating” Pakistan globally, yet India continues to sponsor terrorism within and against Pakistan.

The anti-Pakistan rhetoric is far more popular in India than the anti-India rhetoric is in Pakistan. The Indian media seems obsessed with Pakistan, inciting more and more hate against its own neighbour. India has followed this path for better part of the past 70 years and it now needs to ask itself if it worked. Fifty-two years after discovering that it could not intimidate its neighbour, not this one at least, India may have changed its strategy but not its approach. War-mongering is still a permanent feature of its political discourse, several Indian channels love to present imaginary scenarios where Pakistan may be defeated. That is exactly where India can actually defeat Pakistan – in an imaginary war.

Had it been a super power like the US, India’s obsession with controlling and harassing other countries may have made sense. The US only started to wreak havoc with other territories after it had reasonably addressed local problems. India wants to behave like an adult while it still needs a diaper (pun intended), due to the absence of adequate toilet facilities. Across the border, Pakistan too has a lot of domestic issues it needs to address before it can find time or money to spend on a pointless war of egos.

So let us deal with our mess while you deal with yours, and I assure you that both Pakistan and India will be better off. The billions that you spend on military and the billions that we spend are being snatched from the hungry, uneducated, sick and the poor. For what? No matter how strong your tanks or how advanced your weapons, all they can do is bring death and devastation – not just to your enemies, but also to your own people.

The 1965 war should have made India see peaceful co-existence as the only option, but it didn’t. Polluted by populism or powers that benefit from a perpetual conflict in this region, India is still far from a productive dialogue with Pakistan. The days of threats are over, there are no pegs waiting for your generals in Gymkhana or elsewhere in Pakistan. India couldn’t do it in 1965 and it cannot now either against a much stronger and better equipped Pakistan defence. Peace is the only way forward, the sooner India sees that the better.


Zafar Zulqurnain Sahi

A Lawyer by profession. A Gold Medalist in LLB from Punjab University and has a LLM degree from University of Warwick, UK. He is also a former Member Provincial Assembly of Punjab (2008-2013). He tweets @ZafarSahi (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    hmmm then who was surrendering in 1971? I always thought it was Niyazi surrendering to General Arora.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    This blog is the evidence of what is wrong with Pakistani education system. Apparently 1971 never happened in Pakistani history books. 1965 war was started by Pakistan so India was merely defending itself. Not only India defended itself very well, it also captured more than 700 sq miles of Pakistani territory. Pakistan on the other hand, was humiliated by a defeat as well as lost the face in world community. No wonder no one came to Pakistan’s rescue in 1971. Kargill was another such shameful event for Pakistan.But then, the kind of bravado shown in the blog, it appears Pakistanis have not learn a lesson. With such rotten educational system, how would they?Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    Really?! Is that the best you can do in this day and age? There’s the internet you know. “Facts” are easily verifiable.Recommend

  • wb

    This reads like the result of an elementary school assignment for little girls, titled “Write an essay on My father is my hero.” And even the poor daughter of a drunken, broken, abusive father will write, “My father is a superhero, he can beat up Iron Man. He can beat up Superman. My father is the greatest!!!”

    By the way, elementary arithmetic would have taught you that between 1965 and 2017, there was another year called 1971 and another year called 1999. Basic arithmetic, dear.

    Another thing dear, apart from military we can always beat you with scathing comment and comebacks. Because, some of us are Brahmins and you’re a Muslim.Recommend

  • addo

    “So let us deal with our mess while you deal with yours, and I assure you that both Pakistan and India will be better off.”

    Agrees. But then tell your govt to SHUT UP ABOUT KASHMIR, because it is and will forever be part of INDIA. The more you talk about “solidarity with the kashmiri people” the more we think you are trying to break our motherland and therefore we have to destabilize Balochistan to counter. The only way is to accept LOC as international border.Recommend

  • G. Din

    Even if we assume your interpretation of 1965, there is this nagging year 1971 we must talk about. If you had been as strong as you contend in 1965, how did you lose half the country so soon after 1965?
    self-serving history that Pakistanis continuously invent. Recommend

  • rajesh thacker

    Bunch of baloney!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Note that author carefully ignores Pakistani “peacefull coexistence” Good Taliban terrorist proxies that have been tasked with destabilizing neighboring countries the past decades!Recommend

  • Rahul

    Why don’t you guys celebrate the 1971 war. That was another decisive victory.Recommend

  • silversurfer

    Kashmir runs in our blood! We will FIGHT you till end of time! From Khalistan to Manipur – from kerala to odisha we will shake your country up! Kashmir is ours and always will be only a matter of time before it becomes one with us!Recommend

  • silversurfer

    We cut you out from central asia forever in 48 and defended against a 3 times larger force in 65! So what if had 71 which was already on the cards since 1955. Ask General Kishan Pal what he says about Kargil. We had you by the throat in Kargil!Recommend

  • SuperNeo™

    You were Dumb in 1965 and You are DUMBER Today.
    you were living in Fools paradise then You are fools paradise today.

    Nothing has changed from 1965 to 2017 .Recommend

  • Proud Pakistani

    Please get well soon from this sickness. Don’t delude innocent Pakistanis.Recommend

  • sridhar
  • Parvez

    That was written as a feel good piece ……. in ’65 the media was completely Government dominated, today its the Internet Age …… so ?Recommend

  • Muhammad Siddiqui

    I am not trying to take sides here, but the historical fact as observed by neutral observers is that Pakistan lost the war in 1965. Of course, Pakistan army which was also ruling the country at the time will say that Pakistan won the war, but most if not all outside observers of the events in 1965 will say that Pakistan didn’t achieve the objectives and India outsmarted Pakistan.Recommend

  • Lalit

    Hahahaha….author should go and Google terms like ops Gibraltar and Grand slam before he even starts talking about 1965 war…and lesson we indeed learned in 1965 so much so that by 1971 Pakistan had lost half her territory.Recommend

  • Rohan

    We did destroy the 2 nation theory in 1971 that’s for sureRecommend

  • wb

    Another JOKE, although tragically real is that MUSLIMS and especially Pakistanis still think that modern warfare is all bout camels, swords, spears, ramparts, looting and plundering!!!! Is it any wonder that the entire Muslim world is a massive massive failure?Recommend

  • Ramesh Kumar

    You want India to remember 1965, but forget to tell about 1971, and more recent Kargil. Selective memory loss.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Did you learn that at the Raj Gopalacharia University?Recommend

  • rama

    “The anti-Pakistan rhetoric is far more popular in India than the anti-India rhetoric is in Pakistan”
    In Indian print and electronic media many days will never be mentioned . But on any given India occupies more than 10% of the news items with mostly -ve impression and rhetoric.

    Indians are least bothered about PakistanRecommend

  • Lalit

    He needs to study Geography as well.Recommend

  • Lalit

    Dear.. India has never initiated a war and has no incentive to do that as it’s a status quo country but has time and again repulsed Pakistani misadventures and in this process Pakistan lost half her territory and some wonderful people.yes territory wise we gained nothing in Ķargil as our forces were restrained from crossing LoC from the very first day.However our aim of flushing out Pakistani intruders by inflicting heavy casualty was succesful and India regained all her territory in the end.Along with it Indian stand on Kashmir issue was vindicated and Pakistan lost whatever sympathy they had till than even in Isalmic countries.
    The point to ponder is what has Pakistan gained from all her misadventure?Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    1971 war was the logical extension of 1965. Indians did in Bangladesh successfully in 1971 what Pakistan tried and failed to do in Kashmir in 1965 (Operation Gibralter)Recommend

  • Tony Singh
  • Gratgy

    Until they ban cousin marriages, inbreeding will keep taking its tollRecommend

  • Gratgy

    That is once you get past your habit of surrendering at the first sound of gunshotsRecommend

  • Pakistan’s father

    U can only make fool of ur people by distorting historyRecommend

  • Abdul moiz

    In the words of Beardfish .. “Me is my own worst enemy” ,

    Pakistan and India don’t need each other to be defeated, they have enough termites of their own .. they are worse off in most ways compared to the 60s

    Religious Fanaticism is on the Rise in Both Nations
    Both nations are hyper superstitious
    Both are exhibiting hyper nationalism
    Both Still don’t know why exactly they hate each other (but hate each other more than before)
    India excelled in Technology , while Pakistan is still Dud
    Infrastructure is ok in south India only, and nowhere (maybe some sq kms of lahore) in PakistanRecommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    What was Operation Gibraltar ?Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Silence please, Lets listen what Mr Ashgar Khan is saying

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    India never wanted to beat you , nor will want. You came to Kashmir (operation Gibraltar) we said “This is not good, please go away”. You came to Kargil (vacant posts), we came back after lunch and said. “This is not good, please go away”. in 71 Pakistan’s Majority holder Sheikh Muzib asked us to defend and save him, we came and said “This is not good, please go away”.Recommend

  • wb

    Patwari, it’s okay. We get it and we forgive you. Recommend

  • Gratgy

    It looks like inbreeding causes incoherence too.
    Gender Equality score- India= 0.683, Pakistan= 0.556, source: Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by World Economic forum.

    Haha it looks like Pakistan is even worse than India.

    Last Sati case happened more than 30 years back. Now lets see, women being set on fire seems to be quite common in Pakistan too, add to that the tradition of bachcha baazi and Vaani and honor killings. Recommend

  • Memona

    that explains india losing war to china and surrendering in their own backyard unlike pakistan over 2,000 miles away in bangaldesh. Did china cut off supplies of indian army in 1962 like india did to pakistan in 1971?? then how india lost Sino-indo war? same would have happened to india in doklam too if india hadn’t learn from 1962 and withdrew.

    As for kashmir region, It is much more difficult for Indians to occupy this territory which poses more geographically & culturally in favor for Pakistan, just like eastern india is to china. i mean india has been trying for past 7 decades.Recommend

  • wb

    Memona, elementary arithmetic will tell you that after 1962 comes 1971. So, what happened in 1971? India entered a foreign territory called Bhutan, made china stop their construction work and made them compromise on our terms. And also in the same year, we made China virtually declare Pakistan a terror state!!!

  • Anupam Pandey

    feel like laughing at your thought process. Ordinary Indians have no time , yet they have to read such Pakistani stuff. You have been given territory, live peacefully there. You want Kashmir, then tomorrow you want Punjab. Better we take away whatever land we gave you in 1947. Disappear Pakistan. You are an unwanted child. All you do for India is create problem. Everywhere. What do you want from us? Leave us because Indians want to live peacefully. You lost something in 1971, this time you may lost your dignity..Recommend

  • Anupam Pandey

    Yet you failed. What fails is Pakistan! A land that will be known to the history full of failures.Recommend

  • kulbhushan Yadav

    Awww….as soon as India started to play the game, Pakistanis were playing all their lives, they started to cry foul. It is a start. We will make sure you Pakistanis are declared the curse on the world so that when we cleanse you, world actually thank us. Well Afghans are already doing it. US is pretty much on the board. Russian would not mind. China would hesitate a bit but I am sure they would be OK to play small cost for the greater good for humanity :).Recommend

  • kulbhushan Yadav

    IN 1965, a man jumped into a cage where a Lion was basking into sun. The man thought it could take on the lion. Of course the man was high on some “heavenly” stuff. Well as soon as Lions started to maul the man, the man realized he chewed more than he could bite and started to scream for help. The trainer of Lion came to rescue and the man was saved , although with much injuries. Till date, the man celebrates the day as “defense” day.Recommend

  • Memona

    In 1971 India back stabbed Pakistan, would you say the same for china in 1962 sino-indo war??
    India withdrew from doklam to attend BRICS summit in china to cry about Pakistan. China halted construction along side border due to bad weather as I read.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Dead wrong, Banarsi Brahmini, the 1962 Hindustani defeat at the
    hands of China was very shameful. China was considered a
    very backward country at that time. With their Cultural Revolution,
    ongoing and an aging duo, Mao Zedong and Chou en Lai in charge.
    Bhutan and China had signed an understanding on Doklam. Modi
    Sarkar just inserted himself to distract from his failing policies.
    The 1971 skirmish, that Hindu Desh glorifies into a full fledged war
    was nowhere near it. Just something for hindu school books and
    a fairy tale hindus tell their children.
    Rann of Kutch Affair in April/May of 1965, in Rajasthan, was a resounding
    defeat for the Bharati army. And a pre cursor for the Hindustani Rout
    in Sept. 1965. Would you like to know how many hindu army officers
    were found hiding in Amritsar? Plus list of how many court martialed?
    Make sure you have the janeo thread, the 7 fold dhoti and the bindi
    swath on the forehead,….or you “ain’t gonna pass for a Brahmini”Recommend

  • Lalit

    Please take your medication..Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Still making up those “24 Hindustani Consulates”!!
    You appear to be unable to locate those “24 Hindustani Consulalates” on a map for us, possibly because they only exist in your mind!!!
    Another fantasy of denial!Recommend

  • wb

    Actually Patwari, we have 100 consulates in Afghanistan and 1000 within Pakistan. Recommend

  • Lalit

    It was in fact a thief who barged into neighbours house in order to steal .But the neighbour not only caught hold of him but also thrashed him black and blue.The thief ran to his house, was chased by his neighbour and was once again beaten badly inside his own house.Content with thrashing the culprit neighbour returned to his house.Thief still celebrates the day since his belongings were not taken away .Recommend

  • Memona

    The question here was why India back stabbed Pakistan in 1971? It wasn’t your war it was civil war between West and East.Recommend

  • Lalit

    Frankly speaking there is no solution to Kashmir issue as we know it.Specially after nuclearisation of South Asia status quo is the only option.India can’t afford to be seen as losing it or gifting it to Pakistan ,that too when a Hindu nationalist with unprecedented popularity is ruling India.
    More importantly whole structure of Indian federation is based on the issue of Indestructible union and destructible it’s an issue of survival of Indian federation which India will defend at all costs.
    And i doubt unless some drastic changes are seen India is interested in wresting POK ,the 1994 parliamentary resolutions notwithstanding.
    I really pity Kashmiri separatists .They are fighting a lost war just like Tibetans and Uighurs.Pakistan is not capable of helping them militarily and is least bothered about their woes.They just want to fish in India’s troubled waters.But are paying a very heavy price for that.
    So converting LOC into IB and making peace with one’s own is the correct way.Recommend

  • Memona

    India back stabbed Pakistan in 1971 over 2,000 miles away in Bangladesh in middle of a civil war 😁. India has always been a loser it is different you refuse to see it that way.Recommend

  • wb

    Patwari, don’t have to be so defensive. What ET did was, which is not a newspaper, to remove STUPIDITY from your comment, which is about 99%. So, it’s okay, we won’t mind. We’ll forgive your immaturity.Recommend

  • peter pan

    War is not a cricket match! it is easy to say that we should have another round but this involves death and destruction on both sides. it is irrelevant as to whether there is more on one side or the other. War should be avoided at all costs. I am sick of macho sounding comments by people who would be first to hide when the bombs start falling and who will be far from the front!!!Recommend

  • Lalit

    Pakistan can unilaterally do an ops Gibraltar and Grand slam in Indian Kashmir in 65 and expects India not to pay back in the same coin.Infact Pakistani misadventures of 1965 were precursor of the 1971 bifurcation of Pakistan.Recommend

  • gp65

    IT is not a question of ‘celebrating’ bad dates. IT is a question of pretending that because India (which never attacked Pakistan to begin with in 1965) did not defeat Pakistan in 1965 ( but succeeded in defending itself which was its only goal), then it cannot defeat it now. In that context pretending that events of 1971, 1982 (siachen) and 1999 (Kargill) did not happen is irresponsible.
    Also claiming that Pakistan is stronger now (which it is ), is irrelevant because so is India. The relevant question is whether the differential has increased or reduced. Consider military differential, economic differential and soft power differential..Recommend

  • gp65

    And rape and forced conversion of Hindu women. Apart from the gender equality score (which addresses other empowerment aspects such as gender gap in literacy, economic empowerment etc., they should also look at ratio of men to women in Pakistan as per their most recent census and that in India. They will be surprised that ratio is worse in Pakistan.Recommend

  • gp65

    And 1982 when they lost control over Siachen. Unlike 1999 when India wrested control of Kargill, they never could over Siachen.Recommend

  • gp65

    And geography – apparently they are part of central Asia.Recommend

  • gp65

    The problem is not with their soldiers who are I am sure as courageous and patriotic as any there are but with their generals. Imagine an army of 90,000 surrendering to 3,000 in 1971 and abandoning dead soldiers and pretending they did not belong to the countryRecommend

  • gp65

    The hypothesis is that since we won in 1965 (incorrect facts) and are stronger now, we cannot be defeated now. Problem with the logic is that differential between Pakistan and India has grown not reduced since 1965. Hence India has bested Pakistan whenever they faced off be it 1971, 1982 or 1999.Recommend

  • gp65

    Did the person say he was a Muslim? Can a Hindu not be a Pakistani? Can a Muslim not be an Indian? Please learn to differentiate between nationality and religion.Recommend

  • gp65

    Some facts:
    1) India has exactly 4 consulates in Afghanistan apart from one embassy.
    2) Pakistan has consulates in those exact same cities.
    3) Indian consulates have existed since 1949
    4) Only 2 of the 4 are close to Pakistani border
    5) As a sovereign nation, it is upto Afghanistan if it wants India to reduce its footprints there – not Pakistan
    6) No one outside Pakistan buys your theory that groups like TTP (which all your politicians wanted to negotiate with in 2013-14) and called stakeholders are Indian agents.Recommend

  • Patwari

    With all due respect, your learned opinion,.in this particular
    case, only means, that we…. “agree to disagree”
    [at least to this beleagured fan of yours]
    Considered this for a moment, Pakistan started a military
    engagement to free Hindustani Occupied Kashmir.
    It was a war of liberation for the Kashmiri people.. Along
    the Line of Control. Chamb Sector. Aiding and abetting the
    IOC Kashmiris. Simple as that. Nothing more. Restricted
    to the Disputed Kashmiri Region Only. Local conflict.
    It would have been sheer lunacy for Paks to start a war along 3352 Km long border ! Even the village idiot would tell you that. Now that is more than 2,200 miles long!
    When Bharat started to loose, they attacked and invaded in Punjab and other areas, to divert Pak forces and equipment.
    They were soundly beaten back. [read about how many
    Bharati officers were found in Amritsar…and court martialed]
    Remember the famous quote of of the Hindustani general in
    command…’we will have a Chota Peg at the Lahore Gymkhana”….now that means we will attack, defeat and celebrate victory in Lahore.That does not sound like defense. No sirree bob, no Defensive Posture here!!!
    So sorry.Recommend

  • Memona

    You can call it whatever you like there is no such thing as Indian Kashmir. Pakistan & Kashmiris do not recognize IOK as Indian Kashmir. That place you called “Indian Kashmir” is actually called hell created by hard work of Bharati army for past 7 decades. India shares absolutely nothing geographically and culturally with Kashmir.

    well India didn’t pay back china in the same coin after losing in 1962?? The big question should be can India even think of backstabbing china if such situation is to be created??Recommend

  • Gratgy

    The poor gender ratio is not a problem in PakistanRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Historically, the region that is now Pakistan has never stood up to an invader. Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Well, it is a hypothesis, who would win, one way or another. It is not always the biggest and mightiest that necessarily win a war. Personally, I am not interested in finding out because it does not matter which generals won the war. The ordinary people would lose, on both sides.Recommend

  • Patwari

    90,000 soldiers out of ammunition, fuel, water, supplies,
    starving for days, surrendering to 3,000 Hindu Deshis?
    Did they not tell you? Huh? Wha? Seriously? Praise Sita!
    Well, it was done by mail. They mailed in the surrender.
    To Andrea Gandhi. Wicked Witch of the East. It’s in your
    history books. Surrender was mailed in by Hindustani Dak
    or was it Howra Mail? Chittagong Express?Recommend

  • Chetan Naik

    India doesn’t have to beat you, why take the trouble when Pakistan is capable of doing it by itself?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Gosh darn!…’I think…’ you are capable of thinking!
    Rama be praised! May Lord Ganesha bless you!
    Had no idea Bharati Janata has a stream of consciousness.
    Thought Koko had you all beat, with her 500 word sign language vocabulary.Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    India was not even the aggressor in 1965. You came and you were chased out. The only thing India did not do was take the easy route to Lahore. I don’t understand the logic of this piece at all.Recommend

  • india

    He is poor muslims who lives in some Arab fantasy.Recommend

  • Hasan

    Don’t care about the past as much as the present and future. Yes India can dream of bullying its neighbors as much as it likes. The whole World can seeRecommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    It is not self-serving History is the ultimate mind set of Pakistani Resident taking credit of others and do nothing in fact today pakistan have Terrorism issue in which current prime minister is visiting in USA IS started from where Recommend

  • Gratgy

    He said “search engines” not “steam engines” lol!Recommend

  • Gratgy

    too late for thatRecommend