1965 saw strategy and military operations panning out in all domains and forms. The conceptualisation of plans, to even think about a possibility of war being restricted to limited territory (limited warfare). The belief and the calculations of control of the escalatory continuum. The application of hybrid warfare localised as per geopolitical readings. Realising the absolute necessity of surprise and deception and the information and intelligence game play of the ever-suspicious politico-military leadership of Pakistan.
Operation Gibraltar was launched with a concept of garnering absolute cohesion with sympathetic Kashmiri elements, which would assist in the larger aim of a local uprising and struggle for freedom, through civilian means. This was founded on the belief that troop concentrations and trained militia and military in the garb of local population would be the catalyst to flame the revolt. The localisation would be ensured through deception of the need of the Kashmiri people for independence.
What gave them up is the very corner stone of the foundations of the operations. The Kashmiri people. The counter by India led to the greatest battle ever won in the Western front, the Hajpir, by an Infantry Brigade. Never ever had a tactical victory of this kind with strategic reach been displayed until the severing of East Pakistan, which I would put in the framework of a victory that had the national focus.
Operation Grand Slam in the Akhnoor sector followed and then the Indian counter offensive to Lahore that changed the very dynamics of war. Ensuring flexibility and fluidity of proportions that strategists can only be proud of. There were victories and losses, but today what I want to highlight are the derivatives of 1965 and how we have up to date underplayed what could have been a win-win situation in Kashmir.
For far too long now after the creation of Bangladesh, the Pakistani army who actually not only run Pakistani governance but also own the country, have relied on the same stale story line of independence for Kashmir. The means and measures they have put in place of bleeding through a thousand cuts is well known to all. They have invested in Kashmir because of the emotional and religious quotient involved. Kashmir brings them, the funds, the visibility internationally and the relevance to exist. For an army who has not won a single war to date, the means of justification of capability is heavily concentrated on casting the dye in Kashmir.
A normal incident of stone pelting or an accident by a military vehicle ends up being showcased in Paki media as atrocities by India and then the beg and cry to a largely fogged and blotched up UN (who also need to stay relevant), they hardly see beyond their camps, and depend on information that is fed by stooges.
What India missed out on was inclusivity. We failed and we need to accept that, to give the Kashmiri their due. We failed to project them as the main facilitator of victory. We failed to build up a story line of pride and honour around them. We did not gainfully employ them in the after math as a strategic game changer. We negated their contribution in the search for military victories and glory. The 1965 war and the military operations would not have cascaded into victory if not for the decisive role of Kashmiri’s.
The people of Kashmir have suffered immensely through the years. The internal security situation has been at the mercy of both the terrorists from Pakistan and the Indian military. There are bound to be grievances. No restoration or military operations can be devoid of collateral damage. The Indian military however has shown a great humane side and empathy towards the needs of the people. However, this is not enough. Operation Sadbhavna was well conceptualised, but in this information, age is a stone age concept. The Kashmiri somewhere between the devil and what was being constantly fed to him as the deep sea, lost out on his identity and therefore his pride.
The Indian army recognises the need of the people in tomorrow’s dimension of grey zone conflicts. We need to build our foundation afresh from scratch, by restoring confidence and pride. It is a huge task, but it can be done. First is increased visibility of our esteemed intelligentsia, prominent people of society speaking in schools and colleges in Kashmir, reaching out even into the remote areas. Bollywood actors and actresses, cricket players, preferably Muslims or married to them interacting with them.
We need to make the Kashmiri feel the pulse of the rest of India. We need to make them feel proud of their contributions to India as a nation. Every prominent Kashmiri personality should be projected, screened, idolised. We need to highlight the victory of 1965 and the incredibility and integrity of the people of Kashmir. We should play it on every billboard, on every banner, in every opening in a movie theatre. Across tv channels, written media, on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, make YouTube shorts videos.
Include the population that has for so long a feeling of estrangement, give them credibility to feel proud again. Promote their culture, their art and talent, their music. Project their gallantry and independent choice towards an economically stable and prosperous India. Play 1965 and the Kashmiri people as the game changers. Showcase them internationally as the people that made the choice. They deserve the accolades and the medals of honour. Let us at least give them the ownership of loyalty in crisis.
Even initial steps of providing vacancies in government establishments and that being projected as a payback for their role in 1965. For their role, of their men in facilitating logistics in remote locations, porters, and ponies. Develop relevant infrastructure in the form of food processing units, meat industry and propagate Sufi Islam. It will work.
Abrogation of article 370 has provided so many possibilities of a resurrection of Kashmiriyat, are we even up to the challenges? Do we have a course of action to incorporate measures that can be harnessed during criticalities? Can we get the Kashmiri people back into the main fold with confidence? Ensure that the outreach program reaches the masses and not the accumulators of wealth. Make the administration more responsive. Let the people feel the surge of our positive influences. We have El Dorado right here in Kashmir. We just need the skills and the mindsets to explore the dimension of perceptions.
About the Author
The author is a military analyst and commentator on national security issues. Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Mission Victory India