There have been several neutral assessments of the losses incurred by both India and Pakistan during the war. Most of these assessments agree that India had a upper hand over Pakistan when ceasefire was declared. Some of the neutral assessments are mentioned below —
- According to the United States Library of Congress Country Studies: - The war was militarily inconclusive; each side held prisoners and some territory belonging to the other. Losses were relatively heavy—on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan's army had been able to withstand Indian pressure, but a continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan. Most Pakistanis, schooled in the belief of their own martial prowess, refused to accept the possibility of their country's military defeat by "Hindu India" and were, instead, quick to blame their failure to attain their military aims on what they considered to be the ineptitude of Ayub Khan and his government.
- TIME magazine reported that India held 690 mi2 of Pakistan territory while Pakistan held 250 mi2 of Indian territory in Kashmir and Rajasthan. Additionally, Pakistan had lost almost half its armour temporarily.The same article stated that - Severely mauled by the larger Indian armed forces, Pakistan could continue the fight only by teaming up with Red China and turning its back on the U.N.
- Devin T. Hagerty wrote in his book "South Asia in world politics" – The invading Indian forces outfought their Pakistani counterparts and halted their attack on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city. By the time United Nations intervened on September 22, Pakistan had suffered a clear defeat.
- In his book "National identity and geopolitical visions", Gertjan Dijkink writes – The superior Indian forces, however, won a decisive victory and the army could have even marched on into Pakistani territory had external pressure not forced both combatants to cease their war efforts.
- An excerpt from Stanley Wolpert's India, summarizing the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, is as follows: In three weeks the second Indo-Pak War ended in what appeared to be a draw when the embargo placed by Washington on U.S. ammunition and replacements for both armies forced cessation of conflict before either side won a clear victory. India, however, was in a position to inflict grave damage to, if not capture, Pakistan's capital of the Punjab when the cease-fire was called, and controlled Kashmir's strategic Uri-Poonch bulge, much to Ayub's chagrin.
- In his book titled The greater game: India's race with destiny and China, David Van Praagh wrote – India won the war. It gained 1,840 square kilometers of Pakistani territory: 640 square kilometers in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan's portion of the state; 460 square kilometers of the Sailkot sector; 380 square kilometers far to the south of Sindh; and most critical, 360 square kilometers on the Lahore front. Pakistan took 540 square kilometers of Indian territory: 490 square kilometers in the Chhamb sector and 50 square kilometers around Khem Karan.
- Dennis Kux's "India and the United States estranged democracies" also provides a summary of the war – Although both sides lost heavily in men and materiel, and neither gained a decisive military advantage, India had the better of the war. New Delhi achieved its basic goal of thwarting Pakistan's attempt to seize Kashmir by force. Pakistan gained nothing from a conflict which it had instigated.
- "A region in turmoil: South Asian conflicts since 1947" by Robert Johnson mentions – India's strategic aims were modest – it aimed to deny Pakistani Army victory, although it ended up in possession of 720 square miles of Pakistani territory for the loss of just 220 square miles of its own.
- An excerpt from William M. Carpenter and David G. Wiencek's "Asian security handbook: terrorism and the new security environment" – A brief but furious 1965 war with India began with a covert Pakistani thrust across the Kashmiri cease-fire line and ended up with the city of Lahore threatened with encirclement by Indian Army. Another UN-sponsored cease-fire left borders unchanged, but Pakistan's vulnerability had again been exposed.
- English historian John Keay's "India: A History" provides a summary of the 1965 war – The 1965 Indo-Pak war lasted barely a month. Pakistan made gains in the Rajasthan desert but its main push against India's Jammu-Srinagar road link was repulsed and Indian tanks advanced to within a sight of Lahore. Both sides claimed victory but India had most to celebrate.
- Uk Heo and Shale Asher Horowitz write in their book "Conflict in Asia: Korea, China-Taiwan, and India-Pakistan" – Again India appeared, logistically at least, to be in a superior position but neither side was able to mobilize enough strength to gain a decisive victory.
- Newsweek magazine, however, praised the Pakistani military's ability to hold of the much larger Indian Army. – "By just the end of the week, in fact, it was clear that the Pakistanis were more than holding their own."
The United States and the Soviet Union used significant diplomatic tools to prevent any further escalation in the conflict between the two South Asian nations. The Soviet Union, led by Premier Alexey Kosygin, hosted ceasefire negotiations in Tashkent (now in Uzbekistan), where Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Agreement, agreeing to withdraw to pre-August lines no later than February 25, 1966.
With declining stockpiles of ammunition, Pakistani leaders feared the war tilting in India's favor. Therefore, they quickly accepted the ceasefire in Tashkent.
Despite strong opposition from Indian military leaders, India budged to growing international diplomatic pressure and accepted the ceasefire. On September 22, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that called for an unconditional ceasefire from both nations. The war ended the following day.
India's Prime Minister, Shastri, suffered a fatal heart attack soon after the declaration of the ceasefire. As a consequence, the public outcry in India against the ceasefire declaration transformed into a wave of sympathy for the ruling Indian National Congress. The ceasefire was criticized by many Pakistanis who, relying on fabricated official reports and the controlled Pakistani press, believed that the leadership had surrendered military gains.
The protests led to student riots. Pakistan State's reports had suggested that their military was performing admirably in the war – which they incorrectly blamed as being initiated by India – and thus the Tashkent Declaration was seen as having forfeited the gains. Some recent books written by Pakistani authors, including one by ex-ISI chief titled "The Myth of 1965 Victory", allegedly exposed Pakistani fabrications about the war, but all copies of the book were bought by Pakistan Army to prevent publication because the topic was "too sensitive."
India and Pakistan accused each other of ceasefire violations; India charged Pakistan with 585 violations in 34 days, while Pakistan countered with accusations of 450 incidents by India. In addition to the expected exchange of small arms and artillery fire, India reported that Pakistan utilized the ceasefire to capture the Indian village of Chananwalla in the Fazilka sector. This village was recaptured by Indian troops on 25 December. On October 10, a B-57 Canberra on loan to the PAF was damaged by 3 SA-2 missiles fired from the IAF base at Ambala A Pakistani Army Auster was shot down on 16 December, killing one Pakistani army captain and on 2 February 1967, an AOP was shot down by IAF Hunters.
The ceasefire remained in effect until the start of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
Strategic miscalculations by both India and Pakistan ensured that the war ended in a stalemate —
Indian military intelligence gave no warning of the impending Pakistan invasion. The Indian Army failed to recognize the presence of heavy Pakistani artillery and armaments in Chumb and suffered significant losses as a result.
The "Official History of the 1965 War", drafted by the Ministry of Defence of India in 1992, was a long suppressed document that revealed other miscalculations. According to the document, on September 22 when the Security Council was pressing for a ceasefire, the Indian Prime Minister asked commanding Gen. Chaudhuri if India could possibly win the war, were he to delay accepting the ceasefire. The general replied that most of India's frontline ammunition had been used up and the Indian Army had suffered considerable tank losses. It was determined later that only 14% of India's frontline ammunition had been fired and India held twice the number of tanks as Pakistan. By this time, the Pakistani Army had used close to 80% of its ammunition.
Air Chief Marshal (retd) P.C. Lal, who was the Vice Chief of Air Staff during the conflict, points to the lack of coordination between the IAF and the Indian army. Neither side revealed its battle plans to the other. The battle plans drafted by the Ministry of Defence and General Chaudhari, did not specify a role for the Indian Air Force in the order of battle. This attitude of Gen. Chaudhari was referred to by ACM Lal as the "Supremo Syndrome", a patronizing attitude sometimes held by the Indian army towards the other branches of the Indian Military.
The Pakistani Army's failures started with the supposition that a generally discontented Kashmiri people, given the opportunity provided by the Pakistani advance, would revolt against their Indian rulers, bringing about a swift and decisive surrender of Kashmir. The Kashmiri people, however, did not revolt. Instead, the Indian Army was provided with enough information to learn of Operation Gibraltar and the fact that the Army was battling not insurgents, as they had initially supposed, but Pakistani Army regulars.
"Operation Grand Slam", which was launched by Pakistan to capture Akhnoor, a town north-east of Jammu and a key region for communications between Kashmir and the rest of India, was also a failure. Many Pakistani commentators criticized the Ayub Khan administration for being indecisive during Operation Grand Slam. These critics claim that the operation failed because Ayub Khan knew the importance of Akhnur to India (having called it India's "jugular vein") and did not want to capture it and drive the two nations into an all-out war. Despite progress being made in Akhnur, General Ayub Khan relieved the commanding Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik and replaced him with Gen. Yahya Khan. A 24-hour lull ensued the replacement, which allowed the Indian army to regroup in Akhnur and successfully oppose a lackluster attack headed by General Yahya Khan. "The enemy came to our rescue", asserted the Indian Chief of Staff of the Western Command. Later, Akhtar Hussain Malik criticized Ayub Khan for planning Operation Gibraltar, which was doomed to fail, and for relieving him of his command at a crucial moment in the war. Malik threatened to expose the truth about the war and the army's failure, but later dropped the idea for fear of being banned.
Some authors have noted that Pakistan might have been emboldened by a war game – conducted in March 1965, at the Institute of Defence Analysis, USA. The exercise concluded that, in the event of a war with India, Pakistan would win. Other authors like Stephen Philip Cohen, have consistently commented that the Pakistan Army had "acquired an exaggerated view of the weakness of both India and the Indian military... the 1965 war was a shock".
Pakistani Air Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of PAF during the war, Nur Khan, later said that the Pakistan Army, and not India, should be blamed for starting the war. However propaganda in Pakistan about the war continued; the war was not rationally analyzed in Pakistan, with most of the blame being heaped on the leadership and little importance given to intelligence failures that persisted until the debacle of the 1971 war, when then East Pakistan was invaded by India and seceded from West Pakistan, leading to the creation of Bangladesh.
Involvement of other nations
The United States of America, which had previously supplied military equipment to India and Pakistan, imposed an embargo against further supplies to both countries once the war had started. The US was apprehensive that military equipment that it had provided to be used in a battle against communism, would instead be used by the countries to fight one another. The American embargo especially affected Pakistan since the majority of its equipment was provided by America. This would cause Pakistan to believe that it could not continue the war beyond September.
Following imposition of the American embargo, other NATO allies (including the UK) discontinued providing military equipment to the nations.
Both before and during the war, China had been a major military associate of Pakistan and had invariably admonished India, with whom it had fought a war in 1962. There were also reports of Chinese troop movements on the Indian border to support Pakistan. As such, India agreed to the UN mandate in order to avoid a war on both borders.
India's participation in the Non-Aligned Movement yielded little support from its members. Pakistan, however, gained assistance from countries of Asia with large Islamic populations, including Turkey, Iran and Indonesia. The USSR was more neutral than most other nations during the war and even invited both nations to talks that it would host in Tashkent.
Despite the declaration of a ceasefire, India was perceived as the victor due to its success in halting the Pakistan-backed insurgency in Kashmir. In its October 1965 issue, the TIME magazine quoted a Western official assessing the consequences of the war —
- Now it's apparent to everybody that India is going to emerge as an Asian power in its own right.
In light of the failures of the Sino-Indian War, the outcome of the 1965 war was viewed as a "politico-strategic" victory in India. The Indian premier, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was hailed as a national hero in India.
While the overall performance of the Indian military was praised, military leaders were criticized for their failure to effectively deploy India's superior armed forces so as to achieve a decisive victory over Pakistan. In his book "War in the modern world since 1815", noted war historian Jeremy Black said that though Pakistan "lost heavily" during the 1965 war, India's hasty decision to call for negotiations prevented further considerable damage to the Pakistan Armed Forces. He elaborates —
- India's chief of army staff urged negotiations on the ground that they were running out ammunition and their number of tanks had become seriously depleted. In fact, the army had used less than 15% of its ammunition compared to Pakistan, which had consumed closer to 80 percent and India had double the number of serviceable tanks.
As a consequence, India focussed on enhancing communication and coordination within and among the triservices of the Indian Armed Forces. Partly as a result of the inefficient information gathering preceding the war, India established the Research and Analysis Wing for external espionage and intelligence. Major improvements were also made in command and control to address various shortcomings and the positive impact of these changes was clearly visible during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 when India achieved a decisive victory over Pakistan within two weeks
China's repeated threats to intervene in the conflict in support of Pakistan increased pressure on the government to take an immediate decision to develop nuclear weapons. Despite repeated assurances, the United States did little to prevent extensive use of American arms by Pakistani forces during the conflict which irked India. At the same time, the United States and United Kingdom refused to supply India with sophisticated weaponry which further strained the relations between the West and India. These developments led to a significant change in India's foreign policy — India, which had previously championed the cause of non-alignment, distanced itself further from Western powers and developed close relations with the Soviet Union
. By the end of 1960s, the Soviet Union emerged as the biggest supplier of military hardware to India. From 1967 to 1977, 81% of India's arms imports were from the Soviet Union. After the 1965 war, the arms race between India and Pakistan became even more asymmetric and India was outdistancing Pakistan by far.
At the conclusion of the war, many Pakistanis considered the performance of their military to be positive. September 6 is celebrated as 'Defence Day' in Pakistan, in commemoration of the successful defence of Lahore against the Indian army. The performance of the Pakistani Air Force, in particular, was praised.
However, the Pakistani government was accused by foreign analysts of spreading disinformation among its citizens regarding the actual consequences of the war.
Telegram from the Embassy of the United States in Karachi: "Continuing propaganda regarding achievements of Pak forces seems to have convinced most that only Pak forbearance saved the Indians from disaster."
In his book "Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani foreign policies", S.M. Burke writes —
- After the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 the balance of military power had decisively shifted in favor of India. Pakistan had found it difficult to replace the heavy equipment lost during that conflict while her adversary, despite her economic and political problems, had been determinedly building up her strength.
Most observers agree that the myth of a mobile, hard hitting Pakistan Army was badly dented in the war
, as critical breakthroughs were not made. Several Pakistani writers criticized the military's ill-founded belief that their "martial race" of soldiers could defeat "Hindu India" in the war
. Rasul Bux Rais, a Pakistani political analyst wrote –
- The 1965 war with India proved that Pakistan could neither break the formidable Indian defenses in a blitzkrieg fashion nor could she sustain an all-out conflict for long.
Moreover, Pakistan had lost more ground than it had gained during the war and, more importantly, failed to achieve its goal of occupying Kashmir; this result has been viewed by many impartial observers as a defeat for Pakistan.
Many high ranking Pakistani officials and military experts later criticized the faulty planning of Operation Gibraltar that ultimately led to the war. The Tashkent declaration was also criticized in Pakistan, though few citizens realised the gravity of the situation that existed at the end of the war. Political leaders were also criticized. Following the advice of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's foreign minister, Ayub Khan had raised very high expectations among the people of Pakistan about the superiority – if not invincibility – of its armed forces, but Pakistan's inability to attain its military aims during the war, created a political liability for Ayub
. The defeat of its Kashmiri ambitions in the war led to the army's invincibility being challenged by an increasingly vocal opposition.
One of the most far reaching consequences of the war was the wide-scale economic slowdown in Pakistan. The cost of the 1965 war put an end to the impressive period economic growth Pakistan had experienced during early 1960s. Between 1964 and 1966, Pakistan's defence spending rose from 4.82% to 9.86% of GDP, putting tremendous strain on Pakistan's economy. By 1970–71, defence spending comprised a whopping 55.66% of government expenditure.
Pakistan was surprised by the lack of support by the United States, an ally with whom the country had signed an Agreement of Cooperation. USA declared its neutrality in the war by cutting off military supplies to both sides, leading Islamabad to believe that they were "betrayed" by the United States. After the war, Pakistan would increasingly look towards China as a major source of military hardware and political support.
Another negative consequence of the war was the growing resentment against the Pakistani government in East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh), particularly for West Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir. Bengali leaders accused the central government of not providing adequate security for East Pakistan during the conflict, even though large sums of money were taken from the east to finance the war for Kashmir. In fact, despite some Pakistan Air Force attacks being launched from bases in East Pakistan during the war, India did not retaliate in that sector, although East Pakistan was defended only by an understrenghted infantry division (14 Division), sixteen planes and no tanks. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was critical of the disparity in military resources deployed in East and West Pakistan, calling for greater autonomy for East Pakistan, which ultimately led to the Bangladesh Liberation war and another war between India and Pakistan in 1971.