As one reads more about 1965, one thing becomes clear:
- the decision to attack into Pakistan in the Lahore sector (even before the Sialkot Sector on 8th September), had a much wide ranging implication than simply taking the pressure off the Chhamb sector.
- It most probably prevented the proverbial 4th Battle of Panipat!
- IMO, 1965 war had two objective - one was in Kashmir and second one was in southern Punjab (Indian). And basis what Lt General Mehmud Ahmed, ex-DG ISI, wrote/mentioned in his book on 1965 war, Pakistan Army's 1st Armored Division had never practiced or trained or war-gamed attacking into India along the Kasur - Khem Karan axis.
- It was supposed to undertake much grander plans, south of where it fought.
- He alludes that the Division was supposed to attack along southern Indian Punjab and attack deep into India.
- Shortest route towards Delhi is the Fazilka, Malout, Sirsa, Hisar, Rohtak and then, Delhi.
- Though, one can argue about an armored division traveling 400 km deep into Indian territory but then again, very few troops were available south of Punjab. And any deep penetration into India (even 100 kilometers) could've panicked and unhinged the political leadership. And possibly many within the army as well.
- The bombast about having tea at Red Fort had some basis to it, even if it was quite outlandish.
- It is my considered opinion that 1965 had two prongs - one was in Kashmir and second one was in Southern Punjab. And it quite likely that Indian attack opposite Lahore forced the Pakistan Army to launch 1st Armored Division opposite Kasur rather than move it further south for a punch deep into India.
- Just look at the timelines: 1st Sep is when Grand Slam was launched, 6th September is when we attack opposite Lahore and 8th September is when 1st Armored Division attacks Khem Karan.
- Does it look like 1st Armored Division 'just' appeared opposite Kasur? And that PA wanted to restrict the battle to only Kashmir?
- The 1st Armored Division was actually located in a forested area known as 'Changa-Manga'. You can look it up on Google Maps; its about 44 km west of Kasur.
- So, Pakistan Army's premier reserve formation, 'The Mailed Fist' was not in its peacetime location but hiding in a forest. And why? Does it look like PA was not ready for actions south of Kashmir?
- Also, as per Pakistan Army write-ups, it was launched prematurely into Khem Karan. It was asked to move out on 6th September towards Kasur because given Indian attack in Lahore sector, it was told to 'DO SOMETHING'. And Kasur was the nearest target.
- But what was the actual target for which it had trained?
- In the words of its GOC in 1965 war (in an interview he gave to some officers in PA Staff College) - '....a much bigger hook and a much deeper objective'.
- An indication about this objective can be drawn from the fact that when leading elements of 1st Armored Division, its 4th Armored Brigade, arrive in Changa-Manga area, its Brigade Commander did a recce of Suleimanke Sector.
- Now, where is Suleimanke? Opposite India's Fazilka.
- Look it up on the map of India and see what possibilities a combined force of 1st Armored Division and 7th Infantry Division could exploit? And what could be a deeper hook and bigger objective.
- BTW, 1st Armored Division had moved out from its peace station in Kharian to general area of Chiniot and Changa-Manga by mid-May 1965. And then whole of it was concentrated in general area of Changa-Manga. This movement happened when Rann-of-Kutch was active and then it stayed-put.
- So, their most powerful strike formation was moved 230 km from its peace station. If Kashmir was the sole objective of 1965 war, this insanely powerful armored division could've been applied opposite Chamb and wound-up the whole matter before even India could react.
- So, why did it go so south?
- In an another interview, the Brigade Commander of 3rd Armored Brigade (which was under 1st Armored Division) had said and I quote:
"No information was provided to us regarding the projected operations of 1 Armored Division in the Khem Karan sector prior to the outbreak of the hostilities in September 1965. We were training for operations down south in the Suleimanke Sector. The operations in the Khem Karan sector were not even considered a possibility. We never heard of it. All was kept too secret. If we had known about this operation, we would've certainly prepared for it. We came to know about employment of 1st Armored Division in this sector , for the first time on 6th September, 1965, in the order group by the commander of 1 Armored Division'.
Even the maps of the Khem-Karan area were given to them on 6th September!!!
- So, what happened which forced the Pakistanis to deploy 1 Armored opposite Khem Karan?
- The attack on Lahore front happened!
As I said earlier, 1965 was much bigger than Kashmir!