Operation Gibraltar

Operation Gibraltar was the codename of a military operation planned and executed by the Pakistan Army in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir in August 1965. The operation's strategy was to covertly cross the Line of Control (LoC) and support the Muslim-majority Kashmiri population's uprising against Indian occupation.[11] The military leadership believed that a rebellion (sparked by Operation Gibraltar) by the local Kashmiri population against Indian authorities would serve as Pakistan's casus belli against India on the international stage.[12]

Operation Gibraltar
Part of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
DateAugust 1965[1]
 India  Pakistan
Commanders and leaders
Gen. J. N. Chaudhuri
Brig. Gen. Z. C. Bakhshi[5]
Maj. Gen. Akhtar Hussain Malik[5][6][7]
100,000[8] 20,000[9] — 30,000[10]
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

Pakistan's leadership specifically chose this name to draw a parallel to the Muslim conquest of Portugal and Spain that was launched from the port of Gibraltar.[13]

In August 1965, Pakistani troops from the Azad Kashmir Regular Force,[14][15] disguised as locals, entered Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir with the goal of fomenting an insurgency amongst the Muslim-majority population in the Kashmir Valley. However, the strategy went awry from the outset due to poor coordination, and the infiltrators' presence was soon disclosed to the Indian military.

Following the operation and discovery of the Pakistani infiltration, India responded by deploying more troops in the Kashmir Valley and the Indian Army subsequently began its assault against the infiltrators operating in the region. Pakistan launched a major offensive named Operation Grand Slam on 1 September 1965 in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, sparking the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965,[16] which was the first major engagement between the two neighbouring states since the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948.[17] Thus Operation Gibraltar became the immediate cause of Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.[18]


Following the First Kashmir War (1947–1948), which saw India maintaining its hold over two-thirds of Kashmir, Pakistan sought an opportunity to win the remaining Kashmir areas. In 1960s Pakistan received 700 million dollars of military aid from United States, by signing a defense agreement in 1954, which significantly modernized Pakistan's military equipment.[19][20][21] After the defeat in 1962 Sino-Indian War Indian Military was undergoing massive changes both in personnel and equipment. During this period, despite being numerically smaller than the Indian Military, Pakistan's armed forces had a qualitative edge in air power and armor over India, which Pakistan sought to utilize before India completed its defense build-up.[21] The Rann of Kutch episode in the summer of 1965, where Indian and Pakistani forces clashed, resulted in some positives for Pakistan. Moreover, in December 1963, the disappearance of a holy relic[22] from the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar, created turmoil and intense Islamic feeling among Muslims in the valley, which was viewed by Pakistan as ideal for revolt.[23] These factors bolstered the Pakistani command's thinking: that the use of covert methods followed by the threat of an all out war would force a resolution in Kashmir.[24][25][26] Assuming that a weakened Indian military would not respond, Pakistan chose to send in "mujahideens" and Pakistan Army regulars into Jammu and Kashmir.


The original plan for the operation, codenamed Gibraltar, was conceived and prepared as early as the 1950s; however it seemed appropriate to push this plan forward given the scenario. Backed by then foreign minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and others, the aim was an "attack by infiltration" by a specially trained irregular force of some 40,000 men, highly motivated and well armed. It was reasoned that the conflict could be confined only to Kashmir. In the words of retired Pakistani General Akhtar Hussain Malik, the aims were "to defreeze the Kashmir problem, weaken Indian resolve, and bring India to the conference table without provoking general war."[27] As a result, groundwork and intelligence gathering for execution of the plan was laid by launching "Operation Nusrat", the purpose of which was to locate gaps in the Cease Fire Line (CFL) that were to serve as entry points for the mujahideen, and to gauge the response of the Indian army and the local population.[28]


Name of Force Area of operation
Salahudin Srinagar Valley
Ghaznavi Mendhar-Rajauri
Tariq KargilDrass
Babur Nowshera-Sundarbani
Qasim Bandipura-Sonarwain
Khalid Qazinag-Naugam
Nusrat Tithwal-Tangdhar
Sikandar Gurais
Khilji Kel-Minimarg

Despite initial reservations by the President of Pakistan Ayub Khan, the operation was set in motion. In the first week of August 1965, (some sources put it at 24 July)[29] Pakistani troops who were members of Azad Kashmir Regular Force (Now Azad Kashmir Regiment) began to cross the Cease Fire Line dividing Indian- and Pakistani-held Kashmir across the Pir Panjal Range into Gulmarg, Uri and Baramulla. Several columns were to occupy key heights around the Kashmir valley and encourage a general revolt, which would be followed by direct combat by Pakistani troops. According to Indian sources as many as 30,000[5][30] – 40,000 men had crossed the line, while Pakistani sources put it at 5,000 -7,000 only.[31] These troops known as the "Gibraltar Force"[5] were organized and commanded by Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, GOC 12 Division.[6][7] The troops were divided into 10 forces (5 companies each).[5] The 10 forces were given different code names, mostly after historically significant Muslim rulers.[30] The operation's name, Gibraltar, itself was chosen for the Islamic connotations.[32] The 8th century Umayyad conquest of Hispania was launched from Gibraltar, a situation not unlike that Pakistan envisaged for Indian Kashmir, i.e. conquest of Kashmir from Operation Gibraltar. The areas chosen were mainly on the de facto Cease Fire line as well as in the populous Kashmir Valley.

The plan was multi-pronged. Infiltrators would mingle with the local populace and incite them to rebellion. Meanwhile, guerrilla warfare would commence, destroying bridges, tunnels and highways, harassing enemy communications, logistic installations and headquarters as well as attacking airfields,[33] with a view to create the conditions of an "armed insurrection" in Kashmir — leading to a national uprising against Indian rule. It was assumed that India would neither counter-attack,[34] nor involve itself in another full-scale war, and the capture of Kashmir would rapidly follow. Out of the 9 Infiltrating Forces, only Ghaznavi Force under command Maj Malik Munawar Khan Awan managed to achieve its objective in Mehndar-Rajouri area.[35][36][37][38]

Ghaznavi ForceEdit

The Ghaznavi Force (Urdu:غزنوی فورس), named after famous Muslim invader Mahmud of Ghazni, was an auxiliary Special Operations unit formed by the Pakistan Army as part of Operation Gibraltar in 1965 to infiltrate Jammu and Kashmir in the hopes of provoking a local revolt against the Indian regime there. It had a strength of approximately 200 and was composed of regular soldiers of the Azad Kashmir Regular Force and commandos from the Pakistani Special Service Group. Its commander was decorated officer Major Malik Munawar Khan Awan SJ.[39]

The Ghaznavi Force was one of 10 units, each named after a historic Muslim leader, to be assembled for the operation by the Pakistan Army. It infiltrated Jammu and Kashmir in July 1965 to operate in the Poonch-Rajuri area. It was resupplied with ammunition dropped from Pakistan Air Force planes.[40] Towards the end of August, most infiltrators had been found, captured or killed. Those that survived were asked to pull back when India attacked Lahore.[41]

Reasons for FailureEdit

A declassified US State Department telegram that confirms the existence of hundreds of infiltrators in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

While the covert infiltration was a complete failure that ultimately led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, military analysts have differed on whether the plan itself was flawed. Some have held that the plan was well-conceived but was let down by poor execution[citation needed], but almost all Pakistani and neutral analysts have maintained that the entire operation was "a clumsy attempt"[42] and doomed to collapse. 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.[43]

According to then Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, Air Marshal Nur Khan, there was little coordination amongst the military services on the impending operation.[44] According to him "the (Pakistan) army "misled the nation with a big lie" - that India rather than Pakistan provoked the war - and that Pakistan won a "great victory. And since the "lie" was never rectified, the Pakistani "army came to believe its own fiction, (and) has continued to fight unwanted wars".[45] Pakistani author Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema notes that Musa Khan, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff, was reportedly so confident that the plan would succeed and conflict would be localized to Kashmir that he did not inform the Air Force, as he believed the operation would not require any major air action.[29] Many senior Pakistani military officers and political leaders were unaware of the impending crisis, thus surprising not only India, but also Pakistan itself.[46]

Many senior officials also were against the plan, as a failure could lead to an all-out war with India, which many wanted to avoid.[47][48][49][50]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Khan, M. Ilyas (5 September 2015). "Operation Gibraltar: The Pakistani troops who infiltrated Kashmir to start a rebellion". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2 September 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  2. ^ Schofield, Victoria (2003). Kashmir in conflict: India, Pakistan and the unending war. I.T. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2003. p. 109. ISBN 1-86064-898-3.
  3. ^ Dossani, Rafiq (2005). Prospects for peace in South Asia. Stanford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8047-5085-8.
  4. ^ Wirsing, Robert (1994). India, Pakistan, and the Kashmir dispute: on regional conflict and its resolution. St. Martins Press, 1998. ISBN 0-312-17562-0.
  5. ^ a b c d e Rao, K. V. Krishna (1991). Prepare or perish: a study of national security. Lancer Publishers. p. 123. ISBN 978-81-7212-001-6.
  6. ^ a b Ahmad, Mustasad (1997). Living up to heritage: history of the Rajput Regiment 1947-1970. Lancer Publishers. p. 245. ISBN 9781897829035.
  7. ^ a b Singh, Sukhwant (2009). India's Wars Since Independence. p. 416. ISBN 9781935501138.
  8. ^ Khan, M Ilyas (5 September 2015). "Operation Gibraltar: The Pakistani troops who infiltrated Kashmir to start a rebellion". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  9. ^ Khan, M Ilyas (5 September 2015). "Operation Gibraltar: The Pakistani troops who infiltrated Kashmir to start a rebellion". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  10. ^ Vij, Shivam (27 August 2015). "Why neither India nor Pakistan won the 1965 war | DW | 27.08.2015". DW.COM. Archived from the original on 9 July 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  11. ^ Faruqui, Ahmad (6 August 2018). "Why did Operation Gibraltar fail?". Daily Times. Archived from the original on 5 July 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  12. ^ M. Hali, Sultan (21 March 2012). "Operation Gibraltar—An Unmitigated Disaster?". Criterion Quarterly. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  13. ^ Riedel, Bruce O. (29 January 2013), Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, Brookings Institution Press, pp. 67–, ISBN 978-0-8157-2409-4
  14. ^ Karim, Maj Gen Afsir (4 April 1981). "Azad Kashmir Regular Forces". Kashmir-The Troubled Frontiers. ISBN 9781935501763.
  15. ^ Snedden, Christopher (2 January 2012). "Azad Kashmir Regular Force". Kashmir-The Untold Story. ISBN 9789350298985.
  16. ^ Also known as the Second Kashmir War.
  17. ^ Also known as the First Kashmir War.
  18. ^ Hali, S. M. (2011). "Operation Gibraltar - an unmitigated disaster?". Defence Journal. 15 (1–2): 10–34 – via EBSCO.
  19. ^ Thomas, Raju G. C. (14 July 2014). Indian Security Policy: Foreword by Joseph S. Nye. Princeton University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-4008-5819-4. The transfer of American arms under these two pacts included.. Patton.. Starfighter...Sabre...Canberra...estimated about $700 million.
  20. ^ "The Double Game". The New Yorker. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  21. ^ a b "India and the United States estranged democracies", 1941–1991, ISBN 1-4289-8189-6, DIANE Publishing, pp 235, 238
  22. ^ It is believed to be the hair of Islamic prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam
  23. ^ Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War By Victoria Schofield Published by I.B.Tauris, pp 108, ISBN 1-86064-898-3, 2003
  24. ^ The Jammu and Kashmir conflict Overview by Meredith Weiss 25 June 2002 – Hosted on Yale University
  25. ^ The Fate of Kashmir International Law or Lawlessness? By Vikas Kapur and Vipin Narang Stanford Journal of International Relations, Stanford University
  26. ^ Pak Radio's claim of India starting 1965 war falls flat Archived 7 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Malaysia Sun 21 September 2007
  27. ^ Hassan Abbas (2004). Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America's War on Terror. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-1497-9., pp 49
  28. ^ Matinuddin, Kamal. "Operation Gibraltar revisited". Opinion archive. The News International Pakistan. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  29. ^ a b Pervaiz Iqbal (2004). The Armed Forces of Pakistan. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-119-1.
  30. ^ a b Karim, Major General Afsir (retd) (19 September 2005). "The 1965 War: Lessons yet to be learnt". The Rediff Special. Rediff.com India Ltd. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  31. ^ Grand Slam — A Battle of Lost Opportunities by Major (Retd.) Agha Humayun Amin, Defence Journal (Pakistan), September 2000
  32. ^ Sehgal, Ikram. "GIBRALTAR-2". Defence Journal (reproduced from The Nation newspaper). Dynavis (Pvt) Ltd. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  33. ^ My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir (7th Edition), pp 409
  34. ^ Faruqui, Ahmad. "Remembering 6th of September 1965". Pakistan Link. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  35. ^ Almeida, Cyril (30 August 2015). "Gibraltar, Grand Slam and war". Dawn.
  36. ^ Sawant, VSM, Brigadier Chitranjan (20 July 2015). "Operation Gibraltar". Aryasamaj.
  37. ^ Bajwa, Farooq (12 March 2010). "OPERATION GIBRALTAR". From Kutch to Tashkent:The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. ISBN 9781849042307.
  38. ^ Chadha, Vivek (1 April 2012). "Low Intensity Operations in India". Low Intensity Conflicts in India: An Analysis. ISBN 9788132102014.
  39. ^ Farooq Bajwa (30 September 2013). From Kutch to Tashkent: The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. Hurst Publishers. pp. 117–. ISBN 978-1-84904-230-7.
  40. ^ "The 1965 War: Lessons yet to be learnt".
  41. ^ Khan, M Ilyas (5 September 2015). "Operation Gibraltar: The Pakistani troops who infiltrated Kashmir to start a rebellion". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  42. ^ South Asia in World Politics By Devin T. Hagerty, 2005 Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0-7425-2587-2, p 26
  43. ^ Mankekar, D. R. (1967). Twentytwo fateful days: Pakistan cut to size. Manaktalas. pp. 62–63, 67. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  44. ^ "Nur Khan reminisces '65 war". Pakistan's Dawn (newspaper). 6 September 2005. Retrieved 8 July 2006.
  45. ^ Khan, M Ilyas (5 September 2015). "Operation Gibraltar: The Pakistani troops who infiltrated Kashmir to start a rebellion". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  46. ^ Kashmir in the Shadow of War: regional rivalries in a nuclear age By Robert G. Wirsing Pg 158
  47. ^ "Opinion: The Way it was 4: extracts from Brig (retd) ZA Khan's book". Defence Journal. Dynavis (Pvt) Ltd. May 1998. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  48. ^ "Is a Kashmir solution in the offing?". Centre for Aerospace Power Studies. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  49. ^ "Brig (Retd) Saeed Ismat, SJ in a Q&A session ("What do you have to say about 1965 war?")". Defence Journal. November 2001. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  50. ^ Refer to the main article Second Kashmir War for a detailed referenced analysis on the post-war fallout.


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