The Immortal Defenders of Pakistan

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The key to immortality is to live a life worth remembering, they surely did that, the nation will always be in debt to those who participated or laid down their lives defending this country, born rightfully to this fine land and defied the foreign hordes on the twilight of a September sun during the summer of 65. The young officers and jawans of armed forces of Pakistan, outnumbered and outmatched in equipment, still managed to fight tooth to nail to deny India her objectives on land, air and seas. It was an act of extreme self-sacrifice which gave birth to such a harmonious lyrics of courage and valor which we still hum to this day, making of it is some tale to tell, it’s some story to write. It’s a tribute, it’s an homage to those vary souls who clashed with a tyrant who thought he could re-write history, much to his dismay didn’t ever really happen.

Indian invasion of Pakistan in 1965 has a gloomy outset to it, historians will see it differently depending upon the perspective they are observing, some might say it was a denial of primary objectives (taking Indian occupied Kashmir) on part of Pakistan as operation Gibraltar and operation grand slam were unsuccessful to accomplish their desired results. The whole “limited boarder conflict” idea promoted by ZA Bhutto blew completely out of proportion instead on the contrary expanded into a full-fledged conventional military confrontation with India, finally ending up as a military stalemate between India and Pakistan which ultimately cultivated the shape of Tashkent agreement, of course with Soviet Russia’s irrefutable intervention, mainly on the part of India.

Other perspective is much richer that under overwhelming odds of 5:1, a moderate military power able to withstand the barrage of much larger enemy and mark a blow or two on him with astounding efficiency. Impression is quite evident, whether you look at display of gallantry and valor from Major Bhatti’s company when they held off an entire Indian brigade near Lahore or you look up to the skies of Sargodha and see MM Alam’s Saber gunning down much superior invading IAF jets or witness the whole (almost) Pakistani naval fleet sailing to Gujrat with intent of rocking the foundation of Dawarka, these all are the feats unthinkable, yet were executed and accomplished with a profound excellence.

Liberating Kashmir with boots on the ground, it was the idea, without proper ground work and in the hype of cold war, one can’t entirely relate to the geo-political surroundings which encouraged Pakistan’s ruling elite’s to such adventurous approach but to an extent can attempt to analyze it. Being an ally of western block through SEATO and CENTO perhaps Pakistani ruling elite was under certainty of expecting a sweeping supporting reaction from US and Brittan led alliance, instead it invoked backlash in the form of arms embargo from US, London B Johnsen’s administration was succession of Kennedy doctrine which considered China as their emerging hostile and a proxy of Soviet Russia. Though Soviets and Chinese started to part ways as early as 1959 to follow their respective versions of Marxism but it was not satisfactory for the ones who were following them closely, especially in the backdrop of Korean war and rapidly building up Vietnam situation, a viable China was in direct collision course with US interests in the region, ironically making India as their natural ally. Chinese kicking Indian boarder forces in 1963 became icing on the cake, boarder confrontation between India and China resulted in limited Chinese countermeasures in Nefa and Indian prime minister Nehru started proclaiming to be a victim of Chinese aggression, resulting in unprecedented military and social aid from western bloc, US in particular.

“Democratic” India, allied with Soviet Union, receiving aid from US and “leading” the non-aligned movement was politically, diplomatically and militarily in much better position to sustain a “limited boarder” conflict and expand it to theater of its own choice, in a nutshell engaging India at that time militarily to resolve Kashmir dispute was a miscalculation from both military and political elite of Pakistan. Perhaps delivery of a dozen F-104 high altitude fighters from Americans made our elite little too optimistic to shut the eyes from the  emerging reality and they decided to jump into a conclusion without proper background work essential for such optimistic objectives.

Individual acts of heroism and commitment by combatants of Pakistan armed forces were without a shadow of doubt praise worthy, but overall analysis of the strategic alignment of diplomatic, political and PR efforts to complement ground victories was depressingly un-synchronous. There were clear confusions in brasses which did not resonate well with the will and vouches and sacrifice of forces fighting the actual battle on the ground, ZA Bhutto had a political agenda supporting and misguiding the military elite of international reaction, Ayub Khan wanted to get rid of the matter in a way which resulted in a picture that could display him as the savior of the nation, everyone was up to something additional and when it came to Tashkent most things fell apart, it’s safe to say political leadership of the time failed to capitalize on advantages the country earned on the battlefield.

None the less it would be injustice not to remember and pay tribute to those individuals who regardless of what’s going on around the higher level performed their duty with utmost diligence and honor. Those immortals who laid down their lives and saved the day for generations to come, they knew that the key to immortality is about leaving something precious behind. They left liberty as their legacy, a song we still hum to this very day, born rightfully to this fine land, defied the foreign hordes on the twilight of a September son, dear immortals, we still have to realize, it’s some tale to tell, it’s some story to write, may haven be your garden, may angels be your guide.

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Ahsan Malik is an IT professional with a passionate & candid version of his own on national and international issues relating to Pakistan, he tweets @MohdAhsanMalik and can be reached at m.ahson.malik@gmail.com

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