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Kashmiris didn’t back Pakistan in 1965: Gohar

Islamabad, June 2
A large number of some 4,000 Pakistani commandos sent to the Kashmir valley in 1965 were butchered or caught by Indians after the local population failed to support them, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan says in another sensational disclosure.

Gohar says his father and then military ruler, Mohammed Ayub Khan, sent the commandos into India only after being fed apparently “doctored reports” that the valley’s Kashmiri population was ready to revolt against “Indian occupation”.

But this never happened, and the commandos ended up getting trapped in the region after the Indian Army cut off their escape routes, leading Islamabad to broaden the war front, Gohar, who is writing his autobiography, told The News in an interview.

Gohar said Ayub Khan was misled by “doctored” reports of Kashmiri leaders from across the border that painted “a rosy picture that the entire population of the valley was ready to fight Indian forces and (that the Pakistanis) would help the commandos occupy territory if they were given weapons”.

He said these secretly conveyed reports from “the then top leadership of Jammu and Kashmir” led “to a big disaster and resulted in killings and capturing of Pakistani commandos after Indians sealed exit points at Kargil and elsewhere”.

Once they were in the valley, the commandos realised that only four Muslim majority districts were fighting while the rest of the valley was in no mood to revolt against India.

Consequently, he said, Pakistan was left with no option but to open other fronts to ease the Indian Army pressure on the trapped commandos.

Gohar also revealed that after Pakistan ran short of ammunition during the 1965 war, Iran and Turkey supplied massive quantities of ammunition to enable it to fight on for 17 days.

According to Gohar, then Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had presented the report about Kashmiri disaffection with Indians to Ayub Khan, based on secret communications with the Kashmiri leadership.

Based on Bhutto’s report, every commando sent to Indian Kashmir was given two rifles and additional ammunition.

Each commando was supposed to keep one rifle with him and distribute the other to the local population to fan a “massive indigenous war against Indian occupation”.

Gohar, who served as Foreign Minister of Pakistan in 1998, is writing his memoirs and digging into the personal diaries of his father to unfold many secret aspects of Pakistani history from 1958 to 1974.

Once in the Kashmir valley, the commandos sent back “horrifying reports” saying earlier assertions by Kashmiri leaders were “doctored” and that they (commandos) were trapped.

Ayub and the entire leadership of Pakistan feared that the Indians would slaughter the Pakistani commandos.

The Indian Army quickly captured all the major entry and exit points such as Kargil, Pirsahab and Nemil while Pakistani commandos were stranded without any support from local Kashmiris.

Gohar said many commandos were “martyred” or captured by Indians. Some managed to escape and return to Pakistan.

At one stage, the Pakistan Army was about to capture Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir.

After then Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri announced on September 4 that New Delhi would attack the international border, Ayub asked the army chief to move Pakistani troops into operational areas.

But the advance in the Chamb sector had to be halted in view of the difficulty of constructing a bridge on a river that lay between the Pakistanis and the Indian city.

Gohar said his father made Pakistan join the US-backed Baghdad Pact only to wage war against India.

Pakistan was getting ammunition from Americans and its allies in the name of training but half of the ammunition was being secretly stored in Pakistan army depots for use against India in case of a full-fledged war.

Pakistan also ran short of ammunition and had to seek help of Turkey and Iran. The two countries, Gohar said, “generously provided ammunition”.

Gohar said the ceasefire was a prudent option because the Pakistan army would not have fought on beyond some days.

“Pakistan was meeting its military needs from external resources while India was manufacturing it locally and they (Indians) could afford a long battle.

“A long war could go against Pakistan. There was no point in continuing the war after Pakistan had failed to achieve its targets within the first seven days of the conflict,” Gohar added.

Earlier this week, Gohar, seen in New Delhi as bitterly anti-India, claimed that an Indian Brigadier sold the Indian Army’s secret war plan for Rs 20,000. The Indian Government has ordered a probe into the claim. — IANS

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