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Operation Grand Slam is virtually synonymous with the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. It refers to an audacious plan drawn up by the Pakistan Army, in May 1965, to attack the vital Akhnoor Bridge in Jammu and Kashmirmarker, which was not only the lifeline of an entire infantry division in Jammu and Kashmirmarker 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 counter attack by the Indian Army.

Background

Following the Rann of Kutchmarker affair, which was seen as a military victory for Pakistanmarker (it resulted in territorial gains for her following a boundary award later in 1968), the political atmosphere in Pakistanmarker 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 Kashmirmarker 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 6,000 in number.

Identifying the insurgents as Pakistan Army regulars, Indiamarker countered them by bringing in additional troops. The local populace also cooperated with the Indian Army and in some cases worked alongside them. The Indian Army also launched attacks on the logistical bases of the insurgents in Pakistan-held Kashmirmarker.

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 Muzaffarabadmarker, which resulted from the gain by Indian forces of strategic areas, like the Hajipir pass, in Pakistan-held Kashmirmarker, the Pakistani Army commenced Operation Grand Slam at 0500 hours on 1 September 1965.

Execution

The Akhnoormarker 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 Patton tanks. Against a militarily stronger and larger Pakistani thrust, the Indian forces retreated from their defensive positions.

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 show 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 having the strength to launch counter attacks. 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 Punjabmarker 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 Kashmirmarker and diverted forces to counter the Indian incursion.

Conclusion

Analysts in Pakistan believe that if the operation were to have proceeded according to plan without any interruption, it would have been the unprecedented success the Pakistani Army always dreamed of having against their arch rivals. Pakistanmarker would have made significant territorial gains in Indian-Administered Kashmirmarker which might have allowed her to bargain from a position of strength in the peace talks, sponsored by the Soviet Unionmarker at Tashkentmarker. However, the Pakistani military leadership failed to execute the plans effectively, and the operation produced negative results for Pakistan 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 achieving strategic surprise, the attack was slowly bogged down due to unnecessary change of command on the battlefield by the Pakistani GHQ.

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