February 28, 2020
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The Stalemate That Slipped Our Memory

Factoids from the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The Stalemate That Slipped Our Memory

Dramatis Personae



The War

Why did it start?

Pakistan had several reasons to start the war: India’s new PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was yet to find his feet; morale of the Indian army was low after the 1962 Sino-Indian war; Kashmiris were expected to rise in rebellion and support Pakistani infiltrators to take control of the Valley; fear of China’s involvement was expected to stop New Delhi from embarking on a full-fledged war.

Where did it start?

It began in the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, in April but intervention by UK ended it. It restarted in Kashmir and spread to other parts. Became a full-scale war by September.

How long did it last?

Though the war started in April, the full-fledged war lasted for 22 days

Where was the scene of action?

Akhnoor in J&K and Khem Karan in Punjab, though several battles were fought in the west, particularly in the Lahore sector

How did it end?

With no chance of an outright victory and mounting global pressure the two countries agreed to end the war and the stalemate

Why do we not remember the 1965 war?

Give-and-take of the war was very low unlike other wars, before and after, where the outcome was clear and pronounced

Why did Pakistan fail?

Kashmiris did not come in support of infiltrators from across the border, Shastri proved to be a determined and strong leader and India opened the war in Punjab to successfully turn the heat on Pakistan

What was the role of key world powers?

UK: Brokered peace to end armed confrontation at Rann of Kutch in April

US: Angered with Pakistan’s decision to infiltrate in J&K, Lyndon Johnson imposed an arms embargo on both belligerents

USSR: With US busy in Vietnam, Moscow found the space to be the peacemaker with an offer for the Tashkent Conference

International Players

British PM Harold Wilson Brokered peace between India and Pakistan at Rann of Kutch in July 1965   US President Lyndon B. Johnson Imposed arms embargo on both India and Pakistan and remained neutral despite an existing war pact with Pakistan

Premier of Soviet Union Alexei Kosygin mediated to bring India-Pakistan to sign the Tashkent Declaration   Secretary-General of United Nations U Thant mediated to stop the war



  • GDP $5.885 billion
  • GDP per capita $113.72
  • GDP growth rate 10.4% annual change
  • Population 51.75 million


  • GDP $236.62 billion
  • GDP per capita $806.38
  • GDP growth rate 4.14% annually
  • Population 188 million



  • GDP $60.6 billion
  • GDP per capita $121.70
  • GDP growth rate -2.6% annual change
  • Population 498 million


  • GDP $1,876.80 billion
  • GDP per capita $1,165
  • GDP growth rate 7.5% (2015-16)
  • Population 1.28 billion

Indians exult over a captured Pakistani tank during the war. (Photograph by AFP, From Outlook 25 May 2015)

War Numbers

Territory Lost

  • India 550 sq km
  • Pakistan 1920 sq km

Military Strength


  • India 720
  • Pakistan 756


  • India 200
  • Pakistan 150


  • India 628
  • Pakistan 552


  • India 7,00,000
  • Pakistan 2,60,000

Claims and Counter-claims

  • India: 5,259 Pak troops killed or taken POW
  • Pakistan: 8,200 Indian troops killed or taken POW
  • India: 75 aircraft lost
  • Pakistan: 19 aircraft lost
  • India: 471 tanks captured or destroyed
  • Pakistan: 500 tanks lost or destroyed
  • India: 73 aircraft destroyed
  • Pakistan: 110 aircraft destroyed
  • India: 1,920 sq km gained and 322 sq km lost
  • Pakistan: 2,602 sq km gained, no territory lost


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