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Why Is the Indo-Pakistan 1965 War a Crucial Event in History

A pivotal period in the intricate history of South Asia was marked by the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. The long-running political and territorial conflicts between India and Pakistan, which were mostly focused on the region of Kashmir, provided a backdrop for this conflict, which raged from April to September 1965. In addition to putting the two countries’ armed forces to the test, the conflict had a significant impact on regional geopolitics.

Reasons of Indo-Pakistan War of 1965

The 1947 division of British India, which resulted in the creation of India and Pakistan, is the source of the 1965 war. The two countries had a complicated and tense connection since they were formed in the midst of widespread migrations and community conflict. 

1) Kashmir Issue

A major and enduring contributing element to the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War was the Kashmir conflict. Since British India was divided into two states in 1947, there has been a struggle over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claimed the region; the issue became complicated due to the country’s primarily Muslim people and its Hindu king, Maharaja Hari Singh.

The First Kashmir War broke out between India and Pakistan in 1947 as a result of the Maharaja’s decision to join India. The conflict did not resolve the Kashmir issue, but it did create the Line of Control as a de facto boundary. Tensions remained high after the cease-fire agreement in 1949 failed to bring forth a permanent settlement.

The Kashmir conflict had grown to be a contentious and protracted matter for both nations by 1965. Pakistan aimed to upset the status quo by supporting the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination. Operation Gibraltar was a clandestine operation that began in April 1965 with the goal of inciting local uprisings and undermining Indian authority in Jammu and Kashmir by infiltrating armed rebels into the region.

Tensions increased as a result of this incursion, and border clashes broke out. Operation Grand Slam, Pakistan’s military operation, was designed to cut off Indian soldiers in the Chamb-Jaurian area and provide a path to the Kashmir Valley. The dispute swiftly intensified into a full-fledged battle.

The Kashmir issue acted as a trigger, setting the stage for a more extensive confrontation between Pakistan and India. While historical hostility and geographical disputes were at the core of the conflict, the Kashmir problem emerged as the main source of tension, intensifying hostilities and leading to military action in 1965. The Kashmir issue remains one of the most important conflicts after so many years and is also a primary reason for India’s absence from Nato.

2) Indus Water Dispute

The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 resulted from heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, which were also caused by the Indus Water Dispute. The sharing of the waters of the Indus River system, which passes through both countries, is at the center of the conflict. In order to establish a foundation for cooperation, the World Bank mediated the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, which sought to divide the waters equally between India and Pakistan.

Concerns about possible water shortages were raised in Pakistan by India’s construction of the Baglihar Dam on the Chenab River, an Indus tributary, particularly during important agricultural seasons. Given that the dam might affect the water flow downstream, Pakistan claimed that its construction breached the treaty.

Pakistan intensified the matter in response to the alleged transgressions, taking it to international forums and accusing India of endangering its commercial and agricultural interests. As a result, the Indus Water Conflict came to represent deeper tensions between the two countries.

When Pakistan asked the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) for assistance in addressing the purported treaty violations, the issue became more heated. This action increased tensions between nations, setting the stage for military conflict.

After Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir in April 1965, violence broke out. The protracted Kashmir dispute and the Indus Water Dispute were two of the main causes of the conflict’s rapid escalation into a full-scale war between the two countries.

3) Political Differences

Ideological and geopolitical divides between India and Pakistan, which arose from their divergent visions for the region after British India was divided in 1947, characterized the political landscape of the Indian subcontinent.

These political divides included, among other things, the long-standing competition between the two countries as a result of their divergent identities and political philosophies. India became a secular democracy that placed a strong emphasis on the cohabitation of many groups and diversity. Pakistan, on the other hand, referred to itself as an Islamic state, expressing a belief in the existence of a separate country for Muslims.

These political divisions went beyond ideological spheres and included territorial and geopolitical conflicts, with the Kashmir dispute serving as a focal point. Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority princely state headed by a Hindu Maharaja, came to be seen as a long-standing point of contention between India and Pakistan. Both countries made claims to the area, which sparked many wars and a climate of enduring animosity.

In this context, territorial conflicts, competing national identities, and a competition for influence in the area were the political manifestations of India’s and Pakistan’s divisions. With their different ideologies and strategic goals, the political leadership of both nations, Jawaharlal Nehru in India and Ayub Khan in Pakistan, further exacerbated these conflicts.

These political divisions were expressed in different ways during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. Pakistan attempted to subvert the political system by using military actions such as Operation Gibraltar and Operation Grand Slam, especially in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. Political considerations and the desire to change the status quo drove these activities.

The Beginning of War of 1965

Operation Gibraltar, a clandestine movement of armed rebels into the Indian-administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, marked the start of the conflict on April 6, 1965. This signaled the start of hostilities and eventually resulted in a full-scale war.

1. Rann of Kutch Battle

There had been clashes between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch before the major battle in Kashmir. Ultimately, a cease-fire was declared in June 1965, although this was only a prelude to the main conflict.

2. The Grand Slam Operation

In September 1965, Pakistan began Operation Grand Slam, its main attack, in the Chamb-Jaurian area of Jammu and Kashmir. Closing off Indian soldiers in the area and creating a path to the Kashmir Valley were the goals.

3. Battle of Dograi

Indian soldiers attacked the town of Dograi in Pakistan’s Sialkot region during one of the most important engagements of the conflict.

4. The Tashkent Agreement and the Ceasefire

International pressure on India and Pakistan to end hostilities increased as the conflict dragged on. On September 22, 1965, a cease-fire was announced with the support of the US and the USSR. On January 10, 1966, the Tashkent Agreement was signed, normalizing ties between the two nations.

Implications of the War of 1965

1. Regional Status Quo

There were no notable territorial changes as a result of the conflict. Both nations declared victory, and the Line of Control remained mostly unaltered after the truce.

2. Tashkent Agreement

The Tashkent Agreement created the conditions for better diplomatic ties while also facilitating the return of prisoners of war. It did not, however, address the fundamental problems.

3. Prolonged Hostilities

Tensions between India and Pakistan remained despite the Tashkent Agreement’s goal of bringing about peace. Unresolved issues surrounding Kashmir have led to recurrent clashes along the Line of Control, including the 1999 Kargil War.

4. Nuclear Advances

The conflict brought attention to the possibility of regional nuclear escalation. Subsequently, nuclear weapons were produced by both India and Pakistan, which further complicated the security dynamics in South Asia.

Read More: How to Resolve Conflicts Between India and Pakistan?

How Did the USA Respond to the Indo-Pak War of 1965?

The United States’ strategy towards the conflict was influenced by its desire to uphold stability in South Asia, the dynamics of the Cold War, and its worldwide strategic objectives.

Under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the United States followed a non-interventionist strategy in the dispute. The sensitivity of the region, where Pakistan and India both had strategic significance, was acknowledged by the U.S. government. The United States also hesitated to declare its stance because of its efforts to preserve a precarious balance in its relations with Pakistan and India.

The United States was involved in starting diplomatic attempts to bring about a truce during the war. Arthur Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, conducted diplomatic engagement between Islamabad and New Delhi. During a time of Cold War tensions, the United States viewed the war as a possible danger to regional security and, consequently, as a risk to world peace.

The United States administration favored a diplomatic settlement, as seen by its backing of resolutions by the UN Security Council that demanded a ceasefire. Understanding the possibility that the conflict would attract other forces and upset the precarious balance of power in the context of the Cold War, the United States worked to stop hostilities from getting worse.

Despite maintaining formal neutrality, the United States encountered difficulties in overseeing its connections with Pakistan and India. India’s close ties to the Soviet Union and its non-aligned position presented a diplomatic challenge to the United States, which was fighting communism on a worldwide scale. Pakistan’s strong links to the United States due to a number of military and economic aid initiatives posed a difficult diplomatic balancing act for the United States.

The United States worked hard to mend relations with both countries after the war. It acknowledged Pakistan’s status as a Cold War ally and proceeded with its program of giving it military and economic support. In order to demonstrate its commitment to preserving stability in South Asia, the United States also pushed to strengthen diplomatic ties with India.

Pakistan’s Stance and Aftermath of the 1965 War

Pakistan was placed in a difficult political situation during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, which was molded by the conflict’s aftermath and the Tashkent Agreement that followed. Pakistan believed that the conflict had brought attention to the unresolved problem of Kashmir and the necessity of a diplomatic settlement.

The ceasefire was formalized, and the foundation for the reestablishment of diplomatic and economic relations between India and Pakistan was established by the Tashkent Agreement, which was mediated by Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin in January 1966. Pakistan’s response to the agreement’s approval was not uniform. Even as the conflict came to an end, several Pakistanis were disappointed since the battle had not produced any substantial territorial gains or a definitive settlement to the Kashmir problem.

President Ayub Khan’s administration in Pakistan experienced internal difficulties in handling the war’s aftermath. Navigating public opinion was necessary, since some felt that the Tashkent Agreement was a compromise that fell short of meeting Pakistan’s demands in Kashmir. Defense and foreign policy goals were reevaluated as a result of the war’s lack of conclusion and the impression of a military impasse.

Pakistan focused on reviving its economy and updating its military in the years following 1965. The war’s lessons led to a change in strategy that placed more of an emphasis on diplomatic channels for resolving the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan tried to win over other countries with its position on the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination.

India’s Stance and Implication After 1965 War

India also found itself in a situation after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 where the conflict had not resulted in major changes to its territory but had left enduring effects on the region. India viewed the Tashkent Agreement of January 1966, mediated by Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin, as a diplomatic end to hostilities, even though it did not solve the fundamental problem of Kashmir.

India’s resolve to uphold the nation’s territorial integrity was emphasized by the war, especially in light of the protracted conflict over Kashmir. Despite the fact that the military conflict was officially resolved by the Tashkent Agreement, some in India saw it as a compromise. Domestically, there were differing opinions on Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s endorsement of the deal, and his untimely death in Tashkent stoked more rumors and discussion.

India concentrated on strengthening its military and economic might after 1965. The conflict made clear that India’s armed forces needed a strong defensive plan, which prompted improvements. India has explored diplomatic channels to resolve the Kashmir dispute, reiterating its commitment to a bilateralist-based peaceful settlement.

India’s foreign policy was also impacted by the war’s aftermath as it attempted to negotiate the intricate dynamics of the Cold War. India adopted a non-aligned posture, pushing for greater participation in international affairs while attempting to strike a balance with the two superpowers, the US and the USSR.


The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was one important event that significantly influenced the course of the Indian subcontinent. It emphasized the ongoing difficulties in Indo-Pak relations, especially the Kashmir dispute, which is still a source of hostility and violence. The region became nuclearized as one of the war’s more significant effects. It is essential to know the historical background and the complexities of this battle in order to fully appreciate the complicated dynamics that still exist in South Asia today.


What Were the Primary Reasons for the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War?

Long-standing territorial conflicts, with the Kashmir area serving as a focal point, were the main cause of the war. In an effort to bolster their claims to the area, India and Pakistan both engaged in military clashes.

What Part Did Outside Forces—Particularly the Soviet Union and the United States Play in the Conflict?

Both the Soviet Union and the United States played diplomatic roles during the conflict; the Soviets mediated the Tashkent Agreement in 1966, which established the truce, while the United States focused on non-intervention. Their approach to the Indo-Pak war was shaped by the dynamics of the Cold War.

What Effects Did the Conflict Have on Pakistani and Indian Political Leadership?

The unexpected passing of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent, India, sparked discussions and conjecture among the populace on the circumstances of his passing. President Ayub Khan of Pakistan reevaluated his foreign and defense policy priorities as a result of the conflict.

What Geographical Changes Did the Conflict Bring?

Territorial changes were not notable as a result of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. A truce and a return to the pre-conflict situation marked the end of the fighting, preserving the Line of Control in Kashmir and other disputed areas.

What Impact Did the War Have on the Kashmir Problem and Later Indo-Pak Relations?

Tensions between India and Pakistan, especially regarding the unsolved Kashmir problem, remained strong after the war. It influenced diplomatic efforts and long-term regional stability by reshaping South Asia’s geopolitical environment and laying the groundwork for future wars.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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