Operation Grand Slam
Operation Grand Slam is virtually synonymous with the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. It refers to a plan drawn up by the Pakistan Army, in May 1965, to attack the vital Akhnoor Bridge in Jammu and Kashmir, which was not only the lifeline of an entire infantry division in Jammu and Kashmir but could also be used to threaten Jammu, an important logistical point for Indian forces. The operation ended in a failure for Pakistan Army as the stated military objectives were not achieved and subsequently were forced to retreat following a counterattack by the Indian Army.
Following the Rann of Kutch affair, which resulted in territorial gains for Pakistan following a boundary award later in 1968, the political atmosphere in Pakistan was jubilant. Believing the Indians were badly demoralised and the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir would revolt against them with a little help, General Ayub Khan gave his approval for Operation Gibraltar, a plan to provoke uprisings in Jammu and Kashmir by infiltrating teams of military personnel to conduct sabotage and prod the Kashmiri people against Indian forces. The infiltration started in the first week of August 1965, as Pakistani infantry infiltrated the border in teams of twos and threes, eventually swelling to more than 9,000 in number.
Identifying the insurgents as Pakistan Army regulars, India countered them by bringing in additional troops. The Indian Army also launched attacks on the logistical bases of the insurgents in Azad Kashmir.
In order to ease the pressure on the 12th Division, which was defending against repeated Indian attacks, and to guard against the threat to the important city of Muzaffarabad, which resulted from the gain by Indian forces of strategic areas, like the Hajipir pass, in Azad Kashmir, the Pakistani Army commenced Operation Grand Slam at 0500 hours on 1 September 1965.
The Akhnoor sector was lightly defended by four Indian infantry battalions and a squadron of tanks. The infantry was stretched thin along the border and the AMX-13 tanks were no match for the Pakistani M47 Patton and M48 Patton tanks. Against a militarily stronger and larger Pakistani thrust, the Indian forces retreated from their defensive positions. According to Pakistani military historian Major (retd.) A. H. Amin, the Pakistani forces in Operation Grandslam had a 6 to 1 advantage over Indian AMX-13 tanks which were like 'matchboxes' in front of the Pakistani Pattons. In terms of artillery Pakistan's 8 inch guns were superior to anything which Indians had at that time and had an overall superiority of 6 to 1.
On the second day of the attack, the GOC of the 12th Infantry Division Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, commanding the overall forces in the area, was replaced by Major General Yahya Khan, the GOC of the 7th Infantry Division, which delayed the attack by one day. Not only did this decision cause confusion among the Pakistani officer cadre, the delay also permitted the Indians to rush reinforcements to the sector. When the attack recommenced on 3 September, the Indian forces in the sector were sufficiently reinforced to hold out for a few more days, but they did not have the strength to launch a counterattack. As the attack carried on for two more days without any significant gains in territory, the Indian Army opened up a new front, on 6 September, across the sensitive state of Punjab in Pakistan. The advance of the Indian Army also threatened to cut across the right flank of the Pakistani attack. Realising the gravity of the threat, the Pakistani Army stopped its thrust into Kashmir and diverted forces to counter the Indian incursion.
Analysts on both sides of the border believe that if the operation were to have proceeded according to plan without any interruption, it would have resulted in the unprecedented success the Pakistani Army always dreamt of having against their arch rivals. Pakistan would have made significant territorial gains in Indian-Administered Kashmir which might have allowed her to bargain from a position of strength in the peace talks, sponsored by the Soviet Union at Tashkent. However, the Pakistani military leadership failed to execute the plans effectively, and the operation produced negative results for Pakistan's Army.
The operation was marred by bad decisions made not only by the Pakistani Army GHQ but also by individual commanders. In spite of having the advantage of making preparations to advance along this sector with superior military forces for over 3 months and implementing strategic surprise, the attack was bogged down due to unnecessary and innane change of command (from Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik to Major General Yahya Khan) while the Pak Army forward lines were advancing with full vigour on the battlefield, by the Pakistani GHQ rendered a full day to the Indian forces to fortify their forward lines on the stretegic Akhnoor river bridge.
- Amin, Major A. H. "Pakistan army till 1965". defence anlyst. pg 41. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Bharat-Rakshak Official Indian Account can be found here.
- Defence Journal A Pakistani Account of 1965.
- Air Commodore Syed Sajjad Haider on 1965 war and surrounding events