1965 War: Pakistan Defeated India in the Air War

Written by Sajjad Shaukat   
Sunday, 06 September 2020 18:02

On September 7, Air Force Day (Yum-e-Fizaiya) is being celebrated by every Pakistani in the memory of the martyrs and heroes of the 1965 war and to pay tribute to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) which won air war by defeating India.

On September 6, 1965 when India suddenly attacked Pakistan, its forces crossed the international border and the BRB canal, and captured a town of Batapore, Lahore, (Lahore-Burki sector). The same day; a counter offensive of an armoured division and infantry division supported by Pakistan Air Force enforced the Indian 15th Division to withdraw to its starting point.

Similarly, when Indian forces launched an offensive on Sialkot, aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force supported the Pakistan Army and Indian forces were compelled to move back.

Besides, aircraft and valiant personnel of the PAF supported the ground forces in the sectors like Rajastan (Sindh), Khem Karan (Punjab) and Chumb (Kashmir) including other ones. Thus Pakistan’s forces recaptured Indian territories.

Despite Indian surprise invasion, while displaying valour, and without bothering for their lives, the pilots of the PAF castigated the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the air war.

In this regard, Squadron Leader M M Alam set new records in history of aerial warfare on September 7 by defending Pakistan’s airspace and shot down five Indian aircraft in less than sixty seconds at Sargodha. He is rightly branded as a “hunter of the hunters”.

And Flight Lieutenant Yunus Hussain fought in air battles fearlessly. During one such engagement, he fought singly against 6 enemy aircraft and shot down 2 Hunters. On September 6, while attacking Halwara airfield, his small formation was intercepted by a large number of enemy. Although his aircraft was hit, but, he refused to break off the engagement by disregarding his personal safety and was martyred.

Likewise, Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui led a formation of 3 F-86 aircraft on a strike against Halwara airfield, the formation was intercepted by about 10 Hunter aircraft out of which he accounted for one. Then his guns jammed due to a defect. But Rafiqui refused to leave the battle area instead he ordered his No 2 to continue the engagement, while his end was never in doubt, but, he chose to disregard it and, his aircraft was shot down and he was martyred.

As regards the victory of PAF, a writer of the Pakistan Air Force elaborates, “To achieve this, PAF adopted an aggressive and courageous approach, which ultimately provided an impregnable shield to the country’s airspace. This was also attributable to the leadership of Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Asghar Khan and dynamic leadership of Air Marshal Nur Khan—said on September 04 that superiority in numbers does not decide air battles; better training, morale, and above all fighting spirit in fact are the deciding factors—what many don’t know is that it was the PAF who played a major role in denying General Chaudhry of Indian Army his cocktail party at Gymkhana Lahore. PAF air support at this crucial juncture turned the tables on the enemy—at this crucial juncture, appeared 06 PAF Sabres led by Sqn Ldr Sajjad “Nosey” Haider and wrought havoc with the enemy armor and infantry trying to cross the BRB Canal—air support continued as 18 more F-86 Sabres kept pounding guns, tanks which were trying to advance towards Lahore, Jassar and Kasur. PAF was instrumental in saving Lahore.”

It is notable that since August 5, 2019 when Indian government revoked articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the disputed territory of the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOK), Indian fanatic government of the ruling party BJP led by the extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued lockdown there, as New Delhi unilaterally annexed the region with the Indian Federation to turn Muslim majority into minority. Implementing the ideology of Hindutva ((Hindu Nationalism), Indian rulers also issued domicile certificates to more than 400000 non-Kashmiris and also martyred many people by accelerated firing at the stones-pelting Kashmiris who have been protesting against Indian illegitimate actions.

Notably, PAF is supporting Pakistan’s Armed Forces and Rangers which have been boldly responding to India’s unprovoked shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir, while defending the airspace of the country.

Very Tension escalated rapidly between the two countries on February 27, 2019 in the aftermath of the false flag terror attack of Pulwama, when in response to the Indian pre-emptive air strike near the town of Balakot-Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, PAF shot down two Indian fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Nevertheless, Pakistan Air Force made it possible for the ground troops to recapture the territories from India, and also to take from Indian forces various regions like Khem Karan Rajastan, Chumb, etc.

The 1965 war saw the best of the PAF’s war-fighting abilities, and made history by shooting down 13 aircraft in one day. During that war of 1965, PAF had destroyed 104 Indian aircraft on ground and in the air, while damaged more than 10—not counting the losses, inflicted by PAF’s night bombing on the India airfields and bases and other military installations.

By imbibing the same spirit of the 1965 war, PAF has supported Pakistan’s other Armed Forces, during the successful military operations—especially Zarb-e-Azb, Radd-ul-Fasaad, which have killed many terrorists through ground offensive.

It is mentionable that some opine that India and Pakistan have made contradictory claims of victory during aerial warfare of the 1965 war. But facts cannot be denied, which prove that PAF won that war.

Realizing Indian failures, Indian Air Chief Marshal (R) PC Lal who was Vice Chief of Air Staff during the Indo-Pak war of 1965, points to the lack of coordination between the IAF and the Indian army.

In his book, titled “Duels of the Himalayan Eagle: The First Indo-Pak Air War”, ex-Indian Air Marshal Bharat Kumar admitted Indian defeat in the war of 1965, as disclosed by The Times of India. He reveals, “It was first air battle between India and Pakistan. The Indian Air Force was numerically superior, with 28 combat squadrons to PAF’s 11, but it was saddled with technologically inferior fighters. IAF suffered disproportionately higher losses than PAF.”

Undoubtedly, in the air war between IAFF and PAF, the latter emerged as victorious in the I965 war. Pakistan Air Force gained a lot of credibility among Pakistan military and international war writers for successful defence of Lahore and other important areas of Pakistan and heavy retaliation to India.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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