Pakistani ex-troops speak about secret infiltration of Indian Kashmir

1965 Indo-Pakistani WarFifty years after the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, Pakistani former soldiers have spoken for the first time about their role in a secret effort by Pakistan to infiltrate India and incite a Muslim uprising. The conflict between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir is largely rooted in Britain’s decision to partition its former colonial possession into mainly Hindu India and Pakistan, a mostly Muslim state. As soon as the British withdrew in 1947, the two states fought a bloody war that culminated in a violent exchange of populations and led to the partition of Kashmir. Today India controls much of the region, which, unlike the rest of the country, is overwhelmingly Muslim. Indian rule survived an uprising by some of the local population in August 1965, which led to yet another war between the two countries, known as the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.

Although Pakistan refuses to confirm that it was behind the opening shots of the war, much historical research has focused on Operation GIBRALTAR, a secret project by the Pakistani military to infiltrate Indian-controlled Kashmir and prompt the local population to start a rebellion against Indian rule. It is believed that the plan was devised and supervised by Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, a hawkish military leader who was close to Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s military dictator who served as the country’s second president, from 1958 to 1969. Operation GIBRALTAR involved the use of between 7,000 and 20,000 men who were trained by the Pakistani Army before being sent to infiltrate Indian Kashmir in the summer of 1965. Moving mostly at night in units of no more than 200 men, the armed infiltrators sabotaged Indian transportation and communication systems in order to prevent Indian Armed Forces units from reaching the region.

Several of these men, who are today in their 60s and 70s, have been speaking to the BBC and to Pakistani newspaper The Dawn about their role in Operation GIBRALTAR. Among them is Qurban Ali, 71, who told the BBC that most of the men in his unit of 180 infiltrators were civilian recruits. Another GIBRALTAR veteran, Mohammad Nazeer, 64, who was only 14 when he was recruited, said that he and his fellow soldiers thought they were practicing maneuvers when they were moved toward the Indian border. Interestingly, the infiltrators were unaware that hundreds of other Pakistani military units were also operating in secret in Indian Kashmir.

Eventually, India was able to deploy over 100,000 soldiers in the contested region, while few among the local Muslim population joined the infiltrators of Operation GIBRALTAR. After several weeks of fighting, the two sides entered negotiations held in Soviet Uzbekistan. The outcome was the Tashkent Agreement, under which both sides agreed to withdraw to the pre-August borders. However, the fate of Operation GIBRALTAR weakened the position of Pakistan’s President Khan. He was deposed in a popular uprising in 1969 and died in 1974, aged 66, allegedly a broken man.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 07 September 2015 | Permalink

7 Responses to Pakistani ex-troops speak about secret infiltration of Indian Kashmir

  1. Operation Gibraltar is a most odd name to ascribe to such an operation. Was the ISI just working through an alphabetical list of places or countries or were they trying to “ape” the Spanish!

  2. I ran into two doctors who were born and raised in India. No love loss between India and Pakistan, and it’s deeper than the Kashmir conflict; it’s due to radical Muslim jihadists. My brother and his wife stopped traveling through India due to the train bombings (remember those?) The ISI can’t be trusted. When the then President Bush gave Pakistan hundreds of millions to modernize their army to fight the Taliban, it was used for offensive missiles that could reach India…connect the dots. Robert at OSINT News:

  3. Really, really interesting stuff. I’ve got to agree with Bill though, Gibraltar is a weird name.

  4. Peter Wallerberger says:

    It’s a long shot Bill but I have a feeling that the name of the operation may well have come from some smart military tatician haveing studied the works of (Polish) General Sikorsky as to how to recruit activists and plan a major military infiltration .

    Of course – sadly – the much decorated and talented General Sikorsky was killed in an aircraft
    crash not far from the end of the runway at Gib, the ‘official’ investigations of which – on hindsight, make no more sense than that of a certain air “accident” in the Congo killing the Chief
    of the United Nations mission.

  5. Peter Wallerberger says:

    In answer to your observation Alec – I stand corrected. According to Wikipedia the Code Name Operation Gibraltor is said to have been chosen due to it’s “Islamic Connotations”.

    It is claimed that at the time of this infiltration the Kashmir area was 86 % Muslim therefore there would be no shortage of recruits to be found.

    The dareing 8th Century invasion of Southern Spain via Gibraltor and North Africa by Muslim soldiers was supposedly the ‘template’ upon which this ambitious plot was formulated.
    Interestingly – it is said that the initial covert operations carried out in support of the ‘Gibraltor Force’ – was a success.

  6. Imtiaz Awan says:

    It is high time to accept the realities. One must remember that fact is stronger than the fiction. Indian claims of victory in 1965 war could be taken as nothing more than a good fiction to please themselves. It is nothing but natural what a timid enemy should do. At the same time it is very unfortunate that few Pakistani writers simply term GIBRALTAR Operation as a failure without carrying out in depth study of the failures and achievements of GIBRALTAR Operation. No doubt nine out of ten forces of GIBRALTAR Operation miserably failed to accomplish their
    mission. But GHAZNAVI Force commanded by Major Munawar Khan SJ (Sitara e Jurrat) successfully won the support of local mountainous eagles in Rajouri-Budil Region and they taught unforgettable lessons to the Indian security forces (My hats off to the true Muslim wariors of Rajouri and Budil Region). GHAZNAVI Force over ran Rajouri Garrison (attack started in the evening, Indian soldiers posed strong resistance and it continued till next morning, the death toll of Indian soldiers raised to over 700, eventually remaining Indian personnel managed to escape), beside other losses of men and material, wiped out four Indian Infantry Battalions (3 Kamaon Regiment, 8 &9 Kamaon Regiment and 7 Madras Regiment), Jatha of 600 Jain Singh and two Artillery Batteries in Rajouri, Budil, Thana Mandi Naushera and Mehndor. Maj Munawar also formed Revolutionary Council for Rajouri-Budil Region under the chairmanship of Ex President Muslim Conference Sardar Jalal Deen. Major Munawar Khan SJ controlled area measuring 500 sq miles (750 sq KM) in Rajouri-Budil Region and established his own government, had his own civil administration till the implementation of UN mandated Cease Fire. He was a hero amongst the war heroes of Indo-Pak Armies in 1965 war. He became a symbol of terror for the Indian security forces. There is none except Major Munawar Khan SJ, in Indo-Pak Armies who had secured and controlled this much of area in one theatre of war during 1965. Had the paper tiger Gen Yahya Khan not involved himself in the rapidly progressing Operation Grand Slam brilliantly planed by Gen Akhtar Malik, Pakistan Army would have conveniently carried out link up with Rajouri already under the administrative control of Major Munawar Khan SJ. The Map of Kashmir would have changed. A large number of Indian security forces in IOK would have surrendered and India would not have dared to open a front on International Border. But alas………..

  7. kashmiriweb says:

    Whatever happened kashmir people are still paying 4 this.

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