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American Academy of Political and Social Science

Wars without End: The Indo-Pakistani Conflict

Author(s): Sumit Ganguly
Source: The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 541,
Small Wars (Sep., 1995), pp. 167-178
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of
Political and Social Science
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ANNALS, AAPSS, 541, September 1995

Wars without End:

The Indo-Pakistani Conflict


ABSTRACT: The three Indo-Pakistani conflicts (1947-48, 1965, and

1971) were all characterized by a low threshold of violence, limited
scope, and short duration. A number of factors explain the limited
extent of these conflicts: the common British imperial heritage, the
lack of doctrinal innovation, and the paucity of highly sophisticated
weaponry. Although these three factors are no longer relevant today,
the current recrudescence of violence in Kashmir is unlikely to lead
to another full-scale war between India and Pakistan because, oddly
enough, the incipient nuclearization of the region has introduced a
level of stability at higher levels of violence. Only through mispercep-
tion, miscalculation, and inadvertence could war once again erupt
between these two states.

Sumit Ganguly is professor of political science at Hunter College of the C

University ofNew York. He is the author of The Origins of War in South Asia, 2d e
(1994). He has published in Asian Survey, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Curr
History, Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Strategic Studies, Survival, and the Wash
ton Quarterly. He is currently working on a book that traces the origins of
insurgency in Kashmir Research support for this article was provided by the Rese
Foundation of the City University of New York.


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EVEN though the is fueled by substantial moral
wars of 1947-48, and
from Pakistan.4
were of low intensityAnother deliberately
and short planned war
over Kashmir
tion, this conflict has is unlikely for
persisted as both
sides its
nearly fifty years and realizesignificance
the material and politi-
overshadows all other issues in the cal costs that another war would im-
pose.5 Yet India's harsh attempts to
region.1 The first two of the wars were
quell the rebellion in Kashmir and
directly related to the Kashmir question.
The third war, which was precipi- Pakistan's concerted efforts to sus-
tated by an internal crisis within tain it could lead to inadvertent con-
flict through a spiral of mispercep-
Pakistan, led to Indian intervention
and the creation of Bangladesh. tion and miscalculation. Further-
Since 1971, India and Pakistan havemore, owing to the quasi-nuclear
not fought another war, though theirstatus of both states and the substan-
relationship remains conflictual. For tially greater firepower they now pos-
example, since 1982 the two sidessess, another Indo-Pakistani war
have been engaged in a sanguinarymay not be as limited as past con-
and internecine conflict on the Siachenflicts. Consequently, the avoidance of
glacier along the Saltoro range inboth a conventional conflict between
Kashmir at altitudes exceeding India and Pakistan and, more impor-
14,000 feet.2 More recent crises tant,
in a potential escalation to the nu-
1987 and 1990 have punctuated theirclear level requires U.S. attention to
the region.
relations.3 Currently, India is trying
to suppress a four-year-old insur- The three Indo-Pakistani con-
flicts, two of which were over Kas
gency in Kashmir, the roots of which
are quintessentially indigenous butmir, pose an interesting paradox f
students of strategy and interna
tional politics. Despite the enorm
1. For a comparative and comprehensive
significance of the state of Kashm
analysis of the genesis of the three Indo-Paki-
stani wars, see Sumit Ganguly, The Origins both India and Pakistan and the
War in South Asia: The Indo-Pakistani Con- obvious significance of the creation of
flicts since 1947 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press,Bangladesh, all three conflicts can be
1994). For an analysis of the origins of the 1965
described as small wars; they were of
war, see Russell Brines, The Indo-Pakistani
limited duration, were fought with
Conflict (New York: Pall Mall, 1968). For dis-
limited resources, and had externally
cussion of the 1971 conflict, see Leo Rose and
Richard Sisson, War and Secession (Berkeley: imposed constraints on firepower
University of California Press, 1991). and strategy. With the exception of
2. M. L. Chibber, "Siachen--The Untold
Story," Indian Defence Review, pp. 146-52 (Jan.
1990). 4. Sumit Ganguly, "Avoiding War in Kash-
3. See Sumit Ganguly, "Getting Down to mir," Foreign Affairs, 69(5):57-73 (Winter
1990-91); Sumit Ganguly and Kanti Bajpai,
Brass Tacks," World and I, 2(5):100-4 (1987).
See also Michael Krepon and Mishi Faruqee,"India and the Crisis in Kashmir," Asian Sur-
eds., Conflict Prevention and Confidence- vey, 34(5):401-16 (May 1994).
Building Measures in South Asia: The 1990 5. Sekhar Gupta and Kanwar Sandhu, "De-
Crisis (Washington, DC: Henry L. Stimson
fence: Are We Prepared?" India bToday, 30 June
Center, 1994). 1990, p. 31.

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Indian aims in the 1971 war, the strate that all faiths could live under
goals were limited. Furthermore, the the aegis of a secular state. By the
belligerents observed both tacit and same token, for Pakistani national-
explicit restraints." Even the 1971 ists, like Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the
war, which contributed to the absorption of Kashmir into Pakistan
breakup of Pakistan, saw important was equally critical for diametrically
restraints on the use of force. opposite reasons. For Jinnah, Paki-
stan would be "incomplete" without
Kashmir. In essence, Pakistan's
claim to Kashmir was and remains
The origins of the dispute precede
the creation of India and Pakistan. Under British colonial rule, the
subcontinent had been divided into
They can be traced to the profoundly
divergent conceptions of nation two categories of states. The British
building that underlie the Indian and crown directly ruled one set of states,
Pakistani nationalist movements. those referred to as British India. A

The Indian National Congress, which second set, the so-called princely
spearheaded the Indian nationalist states, were notionally independent
movement, was committed to the no- as they recognized the British
as long
tion of creating a secular and demo- as the "paramount" power in the sub-
cratic state. The Pakistani national-continent. The rulers of the princely
states were free to conduct their af-
ist movement, in marked contrast,
sought to create a religiously based fairs as they saw fit except in the
state that would serve as a homeland areas of defense, foreign affairs, and
for all South Asian Muslims.7 Posses- communications. On the eve of inde-

sion of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority pendence and partition, Lord Mount-

state abutting the two nascent batten, the last viceroy, decreed that
with the end of British rule and the
states, consequently assumed a sig-
consequent lapse of the doctrine of
nificance far greater than a mere ter-
ritorial claim. For Indian national- paramountcy, the rulers of the
ists, like Jawaharlal Nehru, the princely states had two choices: they
integration of Kashmir into India could join either India or Pakistan.
was critical because it would demon- Independence, as an option, was
ruled out. Mountbatten, in consul-
tation with the leaders of the two
6. For a discussion of these restraints, see
Sumit Ganguly, "India, Pakistan and Interna- nationalist movements, also held
tional Society," in After the Cold War: Interna- predominantly Muslim states
tional Politics and International Society: Es-would go to Pakistan.
says for A.P Rana, ed. Kanti Bajpai and H. C. Kashmir posed a peculiar prob-
Shukul (New Delhi: Sage, 1994).
lem, because it had a Hindu mon-
7. The literature on this subject is simply
voluminous. The most succinct statement arch, shared borders with both India
about the structures, ideologies, and mobiliza-
tion strategies of the two nationalist move-
ments can be found in Paul Brass, Language, 8. Myron Weiner, "The Macedonian Syn-
Religion and Politics in North India (New drome," World Politics, 23(4):665-83 (July
York: Cambridge University Press, 1974). 1971).

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and Pakistan, and had a Muslim First,ma- he obtained the support of

jority. The ruler of Kashmir, SheikhMaha- Mohammed Abdullah, the
raja Hari Singh, despite Mountbat-
leader of the largest secular and
ten's explicit injunction, harbored
popular organization within the
state, the Jammu and Kashmir Na-
visions of independence. Accordingly,
despite entreaties from both Indian
tional Conference.12 Furthermore, he
and Pakistani representatives, insistedhethat the maharaja provision-
kept temporizing on the issue allyofsign
ac-the Instrument of Acces-
cession. During the first week of Oc-
sion.13 Following the signing of the
tober 1947, a tribal rebellion broke of Accession on 27 Octo-
out in the region of Poonch, ber,on the 161st Infantry Brigade
northwestern reaches of Kashmir. was airlifted into Srinagar. This was
Pakistani troops, disguised as local
no mean accomplishment. Srinagar's
tribesmen, quickly joined the rebels.9
airport was hardly designed to accept
On the morning of 22 October, military
the aircraft. Moreover, the prin-
invading column composed of Pathancipal transport aircraft of the newly
formed Indian Air Force were DC3
tribals and regular Pakistani army
Dakotas, aircraft that could barely
personnel in mufti captured the town
clear the Banihal Pass.
of Muzaffarbad. The majority of the
Muslim troops in the Jammu and This Indian unit was largely suc-
Kashmir State Forces stationed incessful in hobbling the advance of the
Muzzafarbad joined the raiders and In fact, in early November
massacred their Dogra (Hindu) coun- it successfully counterattacked
terparts.'0 After engaging in mayhem broke through the tribal de-
and rapine in Muzzafarbad, they fenses. Despite this early success, the
Indian Army suffered a setback in
headed toward Srinagar, the capital
of Kashmir. Caught in a panic, Hari This enabled the forces of
the Azad Kashmir (literally "free
Singh initially appealed to the neigh-
boring princely state of Patiala Kashmir,"
for as the Pakistani-assisted
tribal army styled itself) to push the
assistance. The maharaja of Patiala
Indian troops from the border areas.
sent him an infantry battalion from
the Patiala State Forces, but thisIn the spring of 1948, the Indian side
unit proved inadequate to the taskmounted
at another offensive to regain
hand." In desperation, Hari Singh some of this ground.
appealed to the government of India
for assistance. Prime Minister Jawa- 12. Richard Sisson and Leo E. Rose, War
and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Crea-
harlal Nehru agreed to provide assis-
tion of Bangladesh (Berkeley: University of
tance only if two conditions were met.
California Press, 1990).
13. The accession to India was provisional
9. Akbar Khan, Raiders in Kashmir (Kara- in that both parties agreed to subsequently
chi: Pak, 1970); H. V. Hodson, The Great Divide hold a plebiscite after normalcy had been re-
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). stored and the invaders repulsed from Kash-
10. Lionel Protip Sen, Slender Was the mir. For the text of the Instrument of Acces-
Thread (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1988),sion, see Rajesh Kadian, The Kashmir Tangle:
pp. 36-37. Issues and Options (New Delhi: Vision Books,
11. Ibid., p. 39. 1992).

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Perhaps fearful that the war developed explicit tactics for warfare
might cross its borders, Pakistan in high-altitude, mountainous ter-
sent in regular units of the Pakistanirain. The terrain, combined with the
paucity of passable roads, restricted
Army. Later in the year, as the Indian
Army made some advances, the Paki-the use of tanks. The use of airpower
stani Army reacted by concentrating was also limited. The air forces of the
two states were in a rudimentary
a parachute brigade, two field artil-
lery regiments, and a medium artil- stage. Furthermore, high-altitude
lery battery west of Jammu. Thisairfields designed to take military
troop emplacement would enable aircraft simply had not been con-
them to harry the tenuous Indian structed. Finally, the war saw no na-
lines of communication, which ran val engagements.
from Amritsar in Punjab to The best estimate places combined
Pathankot, Jammu, and Poonch Indian
in and Pakistani military casu-
alties at 1500.'~ No sources-
Kashmir. As the conflict escalated,
whether Indian, Pakistani, or
the Indian leadership quickly real-
ized that the war could not be other-indicate the number of tanks
or aircraft destroyed. The war did
brought to a close unless Pakistani
support for the Azad Kashmir costly for India in territorial
could be stopped. Accordingly, One-third of Kashmir, or ap-
government of India sought U.N. me- 5000 square miles, went
to Pakistan.16
diation of the conflict on 1 January
1948. It took a full year for the me-
diation process to bring the hostili-
ties to an end.14 CONTINUING CONFLICT.
THE 1965 WAR

This first war between India and

Pakistan was the longest of the three.Neither the U.N. mediation pro-
cess nor two attempts at bilateral
Despite its length, it was the least
costly in both human and material negotiations brought the two bellig-
terms. The reasons are not far to erents any closer to a resolution of
the dispute." The failure of the vari-
seek. It was essentially a land war,
and both armies were too new to have ous negotiations and several other
factors-including India's rearma-
14. The U.N. mediation process followed a
ment program (initiated after the
tortuous course without accomplishing much.
1962 military debacle with the Peo-
The two sides proved to be equally unyielding
in the positions that they adopted. The nubple's
of Republic of China), its steady
the problem was centered around the issue integration
of of Jammu and Kashmir
into the Indian state, and perceptions
the plebiscite. India insisted that a plebiscite
could be held only after Pakistan "vacated" ofits Indian political disunity in the
aggression. Pakistan, in turn, argued that, de-
pending on the outcome of a plebiscite, it would15. J. David Singer and Melvin Small, The
Wages of War 1816-1965: A Statistical Hand-
withdraw its troops. For all practical purposes,
the multilateral negotiation process came bookto a (New York: John Wiley, 1972), p. 75.
close in 1960. For a detailed account of the 16. Alistair Lamb, The Kashmir Problem
legal maneuvering, see Jyoti Bhushan (New Das York: Praeger, 1966), p. 67.
Gupta, Jammu and Kashmir (The Hague:17. Denis Wright, India-Pakistan Relations
Martinus Nijoff, 1968). (1962-1969) (New Delhi: Sterling, 1989).

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wake of the death of Jawaharlal

initially involved infiltrating Paki-
Nehru-all combined to propel Paki-
stani troops disguised as Kashmiris
stan toward a second war in 1965.18 across the Cease-Fire Line (CFL) in
In order to test Indian defense pre-Kashmir. Taking advantage of the
paredness, Pakistan initially made aensuing disturbances that the infil-
small incursion in January 1965 intrators would set in motion within
the Rann of Kutch, a trackless waste the Kashmir valley, the Pakistani
in the Indian state of Gujarat. The military would seize the state in a
Indian Army, which found itself at aquick, short war. Having seized the
tactical disadvantage owing to the territory, the Pakistani leadership
would appeal to the international
nature of the terrain, did not respond
with any great vigor. General J. N.community as India sought to dis-
Chaudhuri, the chief of staff of thelodge the invaders from its territory.
Indian Army, refrained from calling The strategy unraveled from the
in airpower. The open, coverless ter- very outset. The local populace,
rain of the Rann of Kutch left the though disenchanted with aspects of
Pakistani infantry exposed, so they, Indian rule in Kashmir, were not nec-
too, would have called in air support,essarily sympathetic to the Pakistani
resulting in a quick escalation ofinfiltrators.
the Contrary to Pakistani
conflict. expectations, they promptly alerted
The seeming timidity of the Indianthe Indian authorities. The Indian
response led the Pakistani leader-
military and civilian intelligence
ship to make a fundamentally flawed agencies took prompt action, seeking
inference, namely, that the Indians to capture the infiltrators and sealing
lacked the stomach for battle. Follow- off the appropriate salients along the
ing British intercession in May 1965,CFL. Throughout the month of Au-
the two sides agreed to return to thegust 1965, armed skirmishes took
status quo ante and referred the caseplace between the infiltrators and
to the International Court of Justice. the Indian military. During this
Their apparent military success inmonth, much to the surprise of the
the Rann of Kutch emboldened the Pakistani military, the Indian forces
Pakistani military. Later in the year,
twice crossed the CFL.
they embarked on an audacious On 15 August, the Indians scored
strategy of first fomenting a rebellion
a major victory after a prolonged ar-
and then invading the state of tillery barrage, capturing three im-
Jammu and Kashmir.19 The strategy portant mountain positions in the
essentially had three components. northern
It sector of Kashmir. Later in
the month, the Pakistanis counterat-
18. For a detailed description and tacked,
analysis moving closer to the CFL and
of the origins of the Indo-Pakistani shelling
war of Indian positions at Poonch,
1965, see Sumit Ganguly, "Deterrence Failure and Uri. This action led to a
Revisited: The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965,"
powerful Indian thrust on 24 August
Journal of Strategic Studies, 13(4):77-93 (Dec.
into Azad Kashmir. Other Indian
19. Mohammed Musa, My Version:forces India- captured a number of strateg
Pakistani mountain positions inclu
Pakistan War (Lahore: Wajidalis, 1983).

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ing the key Haji Pir pass, five

sides miles
accept the U.N. resolution. A
inside Pakistani territory.joint Anglo-American arms embargo
These Indian gains led had to significantly
a major hobbled Pakistan's
Pakistani attack on 1 September in
war-making capacity. Furthermore,
the southern sector. Here the Indian the poor performance of the Paki-
forces, caught unprepared, sustained
stani armed forces had demoralized
heavy losses. The sheer force of the
President Mohammed Ayub Khan.
Pakistani thrust, which was spear-On the Indian side, Prime Minister
headed by 70 tanks followed by twoLal Bahadur Shastri, loath to offend
infantry brigades, prompted the In-the United States and the United
dian Army to call in air support.Kingdom, overrode the advice of his
Within an hour and a half, the first
defense minister, Y. B. Chavan, and
air strikes had taken place against
the professional military.22 Accord-
the Pakistani forces. The Pakistanis
ingly, the Indian government ac-
retaliated the next day with air cepted the resolution on 21 Septem-
strikes of their own. From this pointber, and the Pakistanis did so on 22
until the end of the war, both sidesSeptember.
used airpower in support of ground This second war imposed greater
operations. Yet the use of airpower,costs on both belligerents than the
once again, was carefully circum- first conflict did. India lost 70 aircraft
scribed. In early September, Air Mar-and about 190 tanks and suffered
shal Asghar Khan of the Pakistan Airsome 3000 casualties. In the postwar
Force contacted his Indian counter- negotiations, held at Tashkent in So-
part, Air Marshal P. C. Lal, about the
viet Central Asia in January 1966,
use of airpower in the conflict. The India conceded around 300 square
two senior-most air force officers
miles of territory despite the sharp
reached a tacit agreement that nei-
opposition of the Indian military.
ther side would bomb population cen-
Pakistan's losses were also signifi-
ters, an agreement they observedcant. It lost approximately 20 air-
scrupulously throughout the war.20
craft, 200 tanks, and 3800 combat-
Furthermore, both sides refrained
ants. Furthermore, it lost about 720
from bombing irrigation facilities,
square miles of territory.
such as dams and barrages in the The United States and the United
Punjab, one of the principal theaters
Kingdom had imposed an arms em-
of the war.21
bargo on India and Pakistan at the
The war was reaching a stalemate
very onset of the hostilities. The arms
when the U.N. Security Council embargoes imposed on both sides
passed a unanimous cease-fire reso- hobbled their war-making capacities.
lution on 20 September. Slightly dif- Pakistan felt the costs of the embar-
fering calculations made the two goes more acutely as virtually all its
equipment was of Western and par-
ticularly U.S. origin. Moreover, it had
20. Asghar Khan, The First Round (Ghazi-
little indigenous military-industrial
abad, India: Vikas, 1979).
21. Ganguly, "India, Pakistan and Interna-
tional Society." 22. Brines, Indo-Pakistani Conflict, p. 347.

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THE WAR'S AFTERMATH East Pakistani leader Sheikh Mu-

jibur Rehman. As the negotiations
Despite its acceptance of the U.S.-
between the two parties broke down
sponsored cease-fire, India was un-
over issues of power sharing and re-
willing to accept any further U.N.
gional autonomy, the Pakistani Army
mediation to settle the Indo-Paki-
began a brutal military crackdown on
stani dispute. The United States,
26 March 1971 in Dacca (now
which was becoming increasingly in-
Dhaka), the capital of East Pakista
volved in Vietnam, evinced little in-
Several thousand East Pakistani in-
terest in devoting any further re-
sources to the resolution of this
telligentsia were killed at the hands
of the Pakistani Army. In the wake of
conflict. In effect, this allowed the
this reign of terror, close to 10 million
Soviet Union to step into the breach
refugees streamed across the border
and play the role of the honest broker.
into the Indian state of West Bengal
Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin in-
over the course of the next two
vited the two sides to meet at
months, placing an extraordinary
Tashkent on 4 January 1966. With a
refugee burden on India. By mid-
mixture of persuasion and cajolery,
summer of 1971, the Indian political
Kosygin succeeded in hammering out
leadership, under Prime Minister In-
an agreement between the two par-
dira Gandhi, decided that in the ab
ties. On 10 January 1966, the Indian
and Pakistani delegations an- sence of a political resolution to th
nounced that "all armed personnel of crisis, it was cheaper to go to war
the two countries shall be withdrawn than absorb the refugees into India's
not later than February 25, 1966, to population. In pursuit of this end, it
positions they held prior to August 5, fashioned a politicomilitary
1965, and both sides shall observe strategy to create a separate state in
the cease-fire terms on the cease-fire East Pakistan.

line."23 This strategy had essentially

three components. It initially in-
volved concerted efforts to focus the
THE 1971 WAR:
attention and concern of the interna-
tional community on the situation in
The roots of the third Indo-Paki- East Pakistan and on the plight of
the refugees. The goal of this effort
stani conflict are different from those
of the first two. In December 1970, was to seek a diplomatic solution that
Pakistan held what was widely con- would be acceptable to the East Paki-
strued to be its only free and fair stani leadership and would ensure
election to date. The West Pakistani the return of the refugees. This op-
tion was quickly exhausted. The in-
leader of the Pakistan People's Party,
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, failed to reach an community, particularly
agreement on power sharing with the the United States, because of Paki-
stan's role in the delicate negotia-
23. Text of the Tashkent Declaration, 10 tions on normalizing relations with
Jan. 1966, as reprinted in Kadian, Kashmir the People's Republic of China, was
unwilling to place the requisite pres-

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sure on Pakistan to fashion an ac- known as the Mukti Bahini (literally,

ceptable political solution.24 "liberation force"), however, contin-
ued unabated.
After exhausting the diplomatic Unable to deter In-
option, the Indian leadership had dia's
two activities in the Eastern Sector,
aims: to secure its northern border Pakistan launched an air attack on a
with China to prevent the People's
number of India's northwestern mili-
Republic from opening a second tary and air bases on 3 December
front, and to obtain Soviet support in 1971. The Indian Air Force retaliated
the United Nations Security Council the next day and maintained air su-
to protect India from possible censure periority until the end of the war on
at the Security Council. Both these 17 December.
actions were deemed to be critical to On the ground, in the Western Sec-
enabling India to have a free hand intor, Indian objectives were limited.
undertaking military action in East They were confined to holding India's
Pakistan. Accordingly, in August position along the CFL, seizing tacti-
1971, India signed a twenty-year cal territorial advantages, and in-
treaty of peace, friendship, and coop- flicting the maximum possible dam-
eration with the Soviet Union. The age on Pakistan's military assets,
treaty effectively met both Indian ob- its armor and heavy weap-
onry.25 In the Eastern Sector, the In-
jectives, for one of the key provisions
dian strategy showed considerable
in the treaty implied that each state
was expected to come to the assis-
innovation, marking a profound de-
tance of the other in the event of a parture from the set-piece battle tac-
threat to national security. tics that had characterized the wars
Having secured both these objec- of 1947-48 and 1965. India adopted
tives, India's foreign intelligence what American strategist John
arm, the Research and Analysis Mearsheimer has called a "blitzkrieg
Wing, in concert with the army and strategy,"26 a swift, three-pronged as-
paramilitary forces, particularly the sault with close air support that
Border Security Force, started to or-would rapidly converge on Dacca.
ganize, train, and provide sanctuary The Western Sector was divided
to the indigenous guerrilla groups in into four segments from the CFL in
East Pakistan that were fighting Jammu and Kashmir to the reaches
against the Pakistani Army. This of the Rann of Kutch south of Rajas-
training, which started as early as than in the state of Gujarat. On the
midsummer of 1971, went on into the evening of 3 December, the Pakistani
fall. Understandably, Pakistan vigor- Army launched ground operations in
ously protested India's actions as in- Kashmir and in the Punjab and
terference in its internal affairs. In- started an armored operation in Ra-
jasthan. In Kashmir, the operations
dian support for the guerrilla groups,

24. Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: 25. Pran Chopra, India's Second Liberation
Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy (Delhi: Vikas, 1973).
(New York: Harper & Row, 1977). For a more 26. John Mearsheimer, Conventional De-
sympathetic formulation, see Sisson and Rose,
terrence (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
War and Secession. 1983).

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were concentrated on two key

dia. points,of this strategy, he
In support
Poonch and Chammb. The had major
a force comprising 35
dian counteroffensive came in the infantry battalions, one armored
Sialkot-Shakargarh area south and regiment, two armored squadrons
west of Chammb. Here two Pakistani equipped with Walker Bulldogs and
tank regiments, composed of Ameri- Chaffee tanks, six artillery regi-
can Patton tanks, confronted India'sments, and a number of independent
First Armored Corps, consisting ofmortar and field batteries. Several
British Centurions. In what provedSpecial Services Group commando
to be the largest tank battle of theunits supported these forces. Two
war, both sides suffered substantial squadrons of F-86 Sabres repre-
casualties. sented the Pakistani Air Force. The
The Indian conduct of the land war naval strength was confined to some
in the Western Sector was somewhat gunboats for coastal and inland wa-
timid. The air operations, however,terway patrols. The paucity of air and
naval power deserves comment.
were bolder. During this 14-day war,
the Western Command of the Indian Their limitations typified the histori-
Air Force carried out as many as 4000 cal Pakistani belief that the "defense
sorties. The Pakistani Air Force's re- of the east lay in the west."
taliation was limited by the loss of The Indian force that ultimately
significant numbers of its technical
led the attack into East Pakistan was
personnel, who were of Bengali ori-drawn essentially from the Eastern
gin, and by a deliberate decision to
Command. Its total composition in-
cluded six divisions. Additional
conserve its aircraft, as they had in-
curred heavy losses in the early daysbridge-building platoons, such as
of the war. Mukti Bahini forces, composed an-
The use of airpower in the 1971 other eight infantry battalions. Lieu-
war was confined primarily to the tenant-General Sagat Singh, com-
Western Sector. In the Eastern Sec- mander of the 8th, 23rd, and 57th
tor, airpower was used mostly for divisions, led the major Indian thrust
mining harbors and carrying out air into East Pakistan. This movement
was directed against the Pakistani
strikes against a few strategic ports.
The land war in the Eastern Sector 14th Infantry Division near its head-
was also not nearly as fierce as that
quarters at Ashuganj and the 39th
in the Western Sector. In the east, the
Infantry Division at Chandpur. As
Pakistani Army had formulated a ba- the ground forces attacked the Paki-
sically defensive strategy, relying stani infantry formations, the Indian
upon the marshy topography of the Air Force rapidly destroyed the small
region to provide natural obstacles air
to contingent in East Pakistan and
put the Dacca airfield out of commis-
any invasion force. Accordingly, Gen-
eral A.A.K. Niazi, the commandersion.of In the meanwhile, the Indian
the Pakistani forces in East Paki- Navy carried out a thoroughly effec-
stan, had a series of major bridges
tive blockade of East Pakistan. On 17
blown up and fortified a number of
December the Indian forces entered
towns to block entry routes from
theIn-capital city of Dacca. The same

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day, Prime Minister IndiraTHE OUTCOMES


ordered a unilateral cease-fire, Of the three Indo-Pakistani con-

which was to take effect at 8 p.m.
flicts, the 1971 war was, in all cer-
Shortly thereafter, Pakistani presi-
tainty, the most consequential. At a
dent Yahya Khan read a statement on
regional level, with the disintegra-
Pakistan's national radio ordering
tion of Pakistan and the birth of
the Pakistani forces to reciprocate
Bangladesh, India emerged as the
the cease-fire.27 dominant power on the subcontinen
Around the middle of the war, on
At the international level, the
10 December, the United States dis-
lukewarm U.S. support for Pakistan
patched Naval Task Force 74. Com-
had adverse consequences for its re-
posed of the nuclear-powered aircraftlations with both India and Pakistan.
carrier U.S.S. Enterprise and four es-
The Indians were dismayed and in-
cort ships, the task force left their
censed with what they perceived as
Gulf of Tonkin station for Singapore.
U.S. support for a brutal, military
On 12 December, it linked up with
regime. The Pakistanis, in turn, felt
another naval detachment off Singa-
that the United States had betrayed
pore and two days later set sail down
them for failing to prevent India from
the Strait of Malacca into the north-
dismembering their country.
ernmost section of the Bay of Bengal.
The Soviet Union, which had re-
When Dacca fell to the Indian forces
luctantly but steadily supported In-
on 16 December, the task force had
dia during the conflict, emerged as
steamed south into the Indian Ocean
the principal external gainer. A con-
and was operating near the south-
vergence of interests with India bol-
east of Sri Lanka.28
stered the Indo-Soviet relationship.30
A variety of hypotheses have been
This bond was to be strengthened
offered to explain the sending of the
throughout the 1970s until the Soviet
U.S. naval task force. The most con-
invasion of Afghanistan.
vincing argument is that it was a
signal to both Pakistan and the Peo-
ple's Republic of China that the
United States was willing to stand byAre the past three wars adequat
a beleaguered ally.29 At any event,prognosticators of future conflicts
apart from offending Indian nation- South Asia? The answer at best is
alistic sensibilities and dashing Paki- ambiguous. Some of the prior norm
stan's hopes of any meaningful assis-tive and structural restraints no
tance, the presence of the task force longer exist. The previous generation
accomplished nothing. of senior military officers on both
sides had had long-standing ties
hearkening back to their early mili-
27. Much of this discussion has been drawn tary training during the British pe-
from Sumit Ganguly, The Origins of War in riod. Similar bonds do not link the
South Asia: The Indo-Pakistani Conflicts since
1947 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994). 30. Robert Horn, The Soviet-Indian Rela-
28. Sisson and Rose, War and Secession. tionship: Issues and Influence (New York:
29. Ibid., pp. 262-64. Praeger, 1980).

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post-independence generation of sen-states.33 The weak

ior military staff.31 Consequently, command, control, communications
various tacit intrawar restraints can-
and intelligence structures in South
not be so easily fashioned as in theAsia combined with the political tur-
past. bulence of the region could contribute
At the end of the Cold War, despite to inadvertent escalation to the nu-
the loss of their respective super- clear level.
power patrons, the Indian and Paki- The final prospect demands
stani armed forces are far more tech- greater U.S. policy attention to the
nologically sophisticated than ever region. It may well be too late to "cap,
before. Both India and Pakistan have roll back and finally eliminate" weap-
limited ballistic missile capabilities,ons of mass destruction in South
for example.32 Another war, there- Asia.34 However, given the enormous
fore, particularly in the absence of significance that has been attached
normative restraints, could be farto preserving the nuclear firebreak in
more costly. the post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki era, it
Finally, India and Pakistan, offi- behooves the United States to urge
cial professions to the contrary, are both India and Pakistan to pursue
31. Stephen P. Cohen, The Indian Army a regional arms con-
(Berkeley: University of California Press,trol regime while expanding and
1967); idem, The Pakistan Army (Berkeley: strengthening the existing confi-
University of California Press, 1983). dence-building measures in South
32. See W. Thomas Wander, Eric H. Arnett, Asia.
and Paul Bracken, eds., The Diffusion of Ad-
vanced Weaponry: Technologies, Regional Im- 33. Reiss and Litwak, eds., Nuclear Prolif-
plications, and Responses (Washington, DC: eration after the Cold War.
American Association for the Advancement of 34. U.S., Department of State, The Presi-
Science, 1994); Mitchell Reiss and Robert Lit-
dent's Report to Congress on Progress towards
wak, eds., Nuclear Proliferation after the Cold
Regional Nonproliferation in South Asia
War (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington, DC: Department of State, 1993),
Press, 1994). p. 1.

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