The saying goes “better late than never”. Nowadays, India’s aggression is a well-known fact. However, in the first two decades after gaining independence, this was not the case. The world is well aware of the harm that China has inflicted upon us. If Pakistan had not made the mistake of overconfidence, India would have faced a far worse defeat in 1965 than it did in 1962. But what caused Pakistan to be so overconfident? It was due to the foolishness of Lal Bahadur Shastri. This article will delve into the Kutch controversy, which nearly led Shastri to repeat the same mistakes as Nehru.
Political crisis due to Nehru’s death
After Nehru’s death in 1964, political instability once again plagued India. Morarji Desai was eager to become the Prime Minister, but his proposal was rejected by the Congress Committee led by Kamaraj. Indira Gandhi was also not interested in the position, so Kamaraj chose Lal Bahadur Shastri.
However, many doubted Shastri’s willpower and leadership abilities. Even many Congress leaders did not consider him to be a strong Prime Minister. Lal Bahadur Shastri aimed to resolve India’s numerous problems, but no one had confidence in him. Taking on the role of Prime Minister was a daunting task for him.
Indirectly, the foundation of Pakistan’s strategy “Bleed India with a thousand cuts” was laid in 1964, when Pakistan handed over a part of Kashmir under its control to China without any opposition from India. Emboldened by this, Pakistan became confident that India would not take any action against its further policies.
The Pakistani army then devised a strategy called the Ghaznavid strategy, which aimed to encircle India on multiple fronts. In 1965, they launched an attack from the Kutch front, but this time, the Indian army was alert and fought back with bravery.
However, when the matter reached the United Nations, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri made a specific compromise, resulting in India having to cede a significant area claimed by Pakistan. This compromise almost led to a repeat of Nehru’s mistakes and weakened India’s position against Pakistan’s future aggressive policies.
After signing the Tashkent Agreement, Lal Bahadur Shastri faced severe criticism for his actions. Despite his efforts to avoid war, his decision-making was heavily scrutinized. However, a real leader is often identified during times of adversity, and such an opportunity presented itself soon.
The Pakistani army, emboldened by India’s compromise, devised a new plan to take control of India through Kashmir. Drawing inspiration from the Arab invasion of Spain in the 8th century, the Pakistani military laid the foundation of “Operation Gibraltar” under the leadership of Chief of Army Staff Muhammad Musa Khan.
The plan of “Operation Gibraltar” was to incite unrest in Kashmir and occupy various areas in North India, including one in Kashmir and another in Punjab. Pakistani leaders were confident that India would not retaliate, as the Intelligence Bureau at that time was not taking the threat seriously. The operation was being led by some Pakistani military officers, including former Major Malik Munawar Khan Awan of the Indian National Army.
However, the Indian Army’s military intelligence was not sitting idle. With limited resources, they discovered the conspiracy, and when General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri informed PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, he realized that India could not avoid the war.
What he did was briefly mention in a rally that “Sadar Ayub says [Pakistan’s head of government] that Delhi is far away and we will reach it by walking. We thought that the big man shouldn’t take the trouble of coming here. We welcome him after reaching Lahore”.
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