Operation Grand Slam: The Story of Pakistan's Failure to Capture Kashmir in 1965.
The Attack on Kashmir
'Operation Grand slam’ is synonymous with the Pakistan plan to invade Kashmir in 1965. At that time the Pakistan army with its newly inducted Patton tanks was confident of victory. The plan was hatched at GHQ in Rawalpindi and the Pak top brass had honed the plan to minute detail. The plan was good on paper , but was based on a number of assumptions. Foremost among them was a feeling in the Pakistan Army and General Staff, that the Hindu soldiers were not a match for the Pakistan army. Part of this belief was fostered due to the debacle of the Indian army against China in 1962. The Pakistan generel staff failed to appreciate that things had changed and India now had much more muscle power.
This lack of appreciaton of the military capability of the Indian army was to have a disastrous effect on the command and control of the Pakistan army during the actual battle. The Pakistan plan basically concerned the following salient points.
a) Cut the Indian lines of communication to Kashmir
b) Capture Chamb
c) Capture Rajauri
A major part of the plan hinged on an uprising by the Kashmir valley by the populace in favor of Pakistan and for this purpose about 1000 Mujahidin had infiltrated into the valley. This again was a disastrous assumption as the Kashmiri people did not rise up against the Indians. On the contrary, they actively sided with the Indian troops and led them to places where the Mujahidin were hiding. The Indian army thus shot tens of the infiltrators with the help of the local Kashmir populace.
Another major drawback in the higher command of the Pakistan army was the lack of unity of command, an important Principle of War.Assuming the Pakistan army would have an easy victory, a battle to corner the 'glory' of a win dominated the top echelons of the Pakistan army. This actually sounded the death knell of any Pakistan victory.
Failure of Command and Control
The command of the Pak army was initially given to Major General Akhtar Malik. The attack was to commence on 01 sept but was delayed by a day. General Mohammed Musa the Chief of the Pakistan army informed Ayub Khan that a victory was on the cards. General Malik was a capable soldier and commander, but he was unaware that General Headquarters was hatching a different plan and that included his removal as the battle commander.
On 02 September 1965 the Pakistan army under cover of heavy artillery barrage and spearheaded by the Patton tanks advanced in the Akhnoor sector to capture and cut of the Indian lines of communication to Kashmir. The battle went as per plan and then something happened which has no explanation. Probably we will have to await the archives of the Pakistan history section of military history to learn the exact truth. As already pointed out elements in General HQ led by the Army Chief general Musa and the President General Ayub Khan anticipating an easy victory decided to give the command to General Yahya Khan, favorite of Ayub and Musa. This was a most illogical decision and violated all the Principles of War.
Change of Command
When the battle was in progress Major General Akhtar Malik was removed from command. This happened at a critical juncture on 5 September when the battle was on. GHQ by a signal ordered Major General Malik to hand over his command to Major General Yahiya Khan. There is no reason for this except that some people felt that Yahiya Khan was close to Ayub and thinking it was going to be an easy victory he was handed the command so that all the glory could dwell on him. this change of command in the middle of a battle when an offensive had been mounted and the Pakistan army was advancing forward is unparalleled in military history. Worse the reasons were not patriotic, but parochial.
But the script went awry after this change of command and confused the Pakistan soldiers. The rank and file of the Pakistan army got bogged down and confused at this change of command in the middle of the battle. The change of command took time. Akhtar Malik took his own time to hand over command and brief Yahiya Khan, who also took precious time to understand the ground situation. All this resulted in delay and the target of Akhnoor slipped from the grasp of the Pakistan army. Rarely in military history has an army allowed the initiative to slip from its grasp like the Pakistan army did. Once general Yahiya Khan ordered another offensive the momentum had been lost and the Indians had stiffened their defenses and brought their own tanks in the forefront. Though not as modern as the Patton tanks the aged Indian Sherman and AMX tanks fought credibly and blunted the Pakistan offensive. General Yahiya Khan's dream of donning the mantle of a conquering general collapsed and he was hard put to explain to his seniors why the Pakistan army could not advance forward.
The Indians not only stiffened their resolve but mounted an offensive in the Lahore sector. The Indian army crossed the International border and reached 7 miles from Lahore. Operation Grand slam than just frittered away. It was a colossal blunder committed by the Pakistan army and probably cost them a sure victory. This shows that petty jealousies can have far reaching effects.