India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965—the second of four skirmishes between India and Pakistan during the twentieth century since their independence in 1947—was defused when the United Nations intervened after six weeks of conflict by appointing the U.N. India-Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM), which accomplished its task in six months.

Summary of Event

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was the second flare-up between the two countries over the Kashmir Valley (Kashmir and Jammu) Kashmir Jammu since the partition of India and Pakistan as independent countries in August, 1947. Under the scheme of partition provided by the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Indian Independence Act, British (1947) Kashmir—an autonomous kingdom ruled by a prince of the Dogra Dynasty, geographically as well as strategically situated between India and Pakistan—was given the option to accede to either country. In August, 1947, the Muslim inhabitants, especially the tribal groups of northern Kashmir, assisted by Pakistani paramilitary forces and claiming themselves Azad Kashmir (Free Kashmir), agitated against the possible accession to India, and the Hindu maharaja of the state sought asylum in India. Subsequently, the military forces of Pakistan and India were deployed on both sides of the international border for a showdown. This was the context for the First Kashmir War, First Kashmir War (1947) during the fall and early winter of 1947. Indo-Pakistani War of 1965[IndoPakistani War of 1965] United Nations;peacekeeping United Nations;Indo-Pakistani conflict[IndoPakistani conflict] [kw]India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response (Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966)[India Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response] [kw]Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response, India- (Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966) [kw]U.N. Peacekeeping Response, India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts (Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966) [kw]Peacekeeping Response, India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. (Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966) Indo-Pakistani War of 1965[IndoPakistani War of 1965] United Nations;peacekeeping United Nations;Indo-Pakistani conflict[IndoPakistani conflict] [g]South Asia;Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966: India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response[08540] [g]India;Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966: India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response[08540] [g]Pakistan;Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966: India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response[08540] [c]Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966: India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response[08540] [c]United Nations;Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966: India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response[08540] [c]Diplomacy and international relations;Sept. 20, 1965-Mar. 22, 1966: India-Pakistan Conflict Prompts U.N. Peacekeeping Response[08540] Goldberg, Arthur J. Ayub Khan, Mohammad Kosygin, Aleksey Lagergren, Gunnar Marambio, Tulio Nimmo, Robert H. Shastri, Lal Bahadur Thant, U [p]Thant, U;peacekeeping

On January 17, 1948, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 39, Security Council Resolution 39, U.N.[Security Council Resolution 039, U.N.] establishing the U.N. Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to mediate the dispute. In April, the Security Council’s Resolution 47 Security Council Resolution 47, U.N.[Security Council Resolution 047, U.N.] enlarged the membership of UNCIP, and in July, 1949, India and Pakistan signed the Karachi Agreement, Karachi Agreement (1949) which established a cease-fire line (CFL) along the international India-Pakistan border, to be supervised by the U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). A part of Kashmir bordering Pakistan (including the hilly northern region) covering an area of more than five thousand square miles, came to be known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir, under indirect rule by Pakistan. On March 30, 1951, UNCIP was terminated by the Security Council’s Resolution 91, Security Council Resolution 91, U.N.[Security Council Resolution 091, U.N.] and UNMOGIP continued its task of military observation.

Following India’s setback in a border battle with the People’s Republic of China (October 10-November 20, 1962), India began negotiations (December 27, 1962-May 16, 1963) with Pakistan on the future of Kashmir, but to no avail. The defeat of the Indian army by China was seen by Pakistan as a window of opportunity to achieve Pakistan’s irredentist aims by force while the Indians had become demoralized. This military calculation appeared to be realizable in the context of serious communal disturbances in Kashmir, especially between 1962 and 1964, a period during which the region’s Muslim population felt growing resentment of Indian control.

The Pakistani military began a probe in a disputed border zone with India—the Rann of Kutch, Rann of Kutch, Battle of the (1965) Kutch, Rann of a 10,000-square-mile salt marsh between the Gulf of Kutch and the Indus River basin. Several border skirmishes in the Rann escalated into a veritable war in April, 1965, but came to a close on June 30, thanks to British intervention and the formation, under the aegis of the United Nations, of an arbitral tribunal on December 14, 1965, chaired by Judge Gunnar Lagergren of Sweden; the tribunal would award some 350 square miles of the land to Pakistan three years later.

Meanwhile, relations between India and Pakistan soured further: Indian letters to the Security Council of March 5, March 17, April 27, 1965, accused Pakistan of attempting to integrate part of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir and also of negotiating with the People’s Republic of China China;and India[India] concerning demarcation of the Jammu Kashmir border (the Aksai Chin region) with Sinkiang. Moreover, the relatively weak Indian response and performance in the Battle of the Rann of Kutch had encouraged the Pakistani military to settle the Kashmir question on the battlefield. A secret guerrilla operation in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, codenamed Operation Gibraltor Operation Gibraltor and launched on March 5, escalated into a full-scale battle along the CFL on August 5. The fighting was intense, involving heavy casualties on both sides and extending intermittently to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Lahore, and the Pakistan portion of the Punjab by the middle of September. Toward the latter half of September, the battle staggered in a stalemate.

In his report of September 3 to the Security Council, Secretary-General U Thant declared that the cease-fire agreement of July 27, 1949, between the two belligerent nations (following the First Kashmir War) had collapsed. The next day the Security Council, presided over by Arthur J. Goldberg, voted on Resolution 209, Security Council Resolution 209, U.N. sponsored by six nonpermanent members of the Security Council—Bolivia, the Ivory Coast, Jordan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Uruguay—and presented by R. Ramani of Malaysia. The resolution called for a cease-fire and asked the governments of India and Pakistan to cooperate with UNMOGIP in its task of supervising the observance of the cease-fire.

However, at the Security Council’s 1,238th meeting, on September 6, U Thant reported on new and alarming developments: India’s attack across the West Pakistan borders on such Pakistani cities as Lahore, Sialkot, and Kassur. The Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution on the same day, urging both belligerents to cease hostilities immediately and withdraw their forces to status quo ante as of August 5. From September 7 to September 16, U Thant visited the subcontinent and, in his dispatch to the Security Council on September 16, reported on the willingness of India and Pakistan to accept a cease-fire and on the sheer difficulty of reaching a peaceful agreement between them because of their insistence on mutually unacceptable conditions.

On September 20, after the hostilities had spread to the international border between India and West Pakistan, the Security Council, at its 1,242d meeting, adopted Resolution 211, Security Council Resolution 211, U.N. demanding a cease-fire at 0700 hours Greenwich mean time on September 22. The Security Council further asked Secretary-General U Thant to provide the necessary support for the supervision of the cease-fire and the withdrawal of all armed personnel to the positions held before August 5. To supervise the situation in Kashmir, the Security Council increased the number of the members of UNMOGIP to 102 and established a temporary administrative adjunct of this body, the U.N. India-Pakistan Observation Mission United Nations India-Pakistan Observation Mission[United Nations India Pakistan Observation Mission] (UNIPOM), initially under the command of the chief military observer of UNMOGIP, Lieutenant-General Robert H. Nimmo, with ninety observers provided by ten member states at the request of the secretary-general on the same day. This body’s specific task was to ensure supervision of the cease-fire and withdrawal of forces of both countries from the Rann of Kutch to Kashmir, a thousand-mile segment of the western India-Pakistan border.

The cease-fire resolutions continued to be violated by both belligerents, and the Security Council met several times from late September through early November, 1965. On November 25, Secretary-General U Thant appointed Brigadier-General Tulio Marambio as his special representative to meet with the representatives of India and Pakistan for the purpose of formulating a plan for withdrawal in compliance with the November 5 Resolution 215. Ultimately, through the good offices of the United Nations, the cease-fire was achieved on December 26, 1965.

On January 10, 1966, Lal Bahadur Shastri of India and Muhammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan, who had met in Tashkent on January 4 at the invitation of the premier of the Soviet Union, Aleksey Kosygin, agreed to withdraw all armed personnel by February 25, 1966, to positions held prior to the conflict. On February 26, U Thant reported on the successful completion of the withdrawal of troops by India and Pakistan. UNIPOM was disbanded on March 22.

Significance

The United Nations, established for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security through the Security Council as stipulated in chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, tried sincerely (though not entirely successfully) to contain the escalating conflicts between the two newly independent neighboring countries of South Asia. The U.N. intervention in the Indo-Pakistani conflict of 1965 was crucial in avoiding a calamitous politico-military crisis in the subcontinent. Indo-Pakistani War of 1965[IndoPakistani War of 1965] United Nations;peacekeeping United Nations;Indo-Pakistani conflict[IndoPakistani conflict]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ganguly, Sumit. Conflict Unending: India-Pakistan Tensions Since 1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. A competent, lucid, nonpartisan analysis of the background and the course of the conflict of 1965.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

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    Indo-Pakistan War, 1965: A Flashback. 1966. 2d ed. Rawalpindi: Inter Services Public Relations, Government of Pakistan, 2002. An account of the conflict from Pakistan’s perspective, to be read with caution, especially in respect to the appraisal of the country’s military action and its impact on India.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Johnson, Rob. A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts Since 1947. London: Reaktion Books, 2005. Places the Kashmir disputes in the broader context of conflicts in the subcontinent in the second half in the twentieth century. A sound analysis.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Paul, T. V., ed. The India-Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. A collection of scholarly articles on the subject by a group of Canadian and American experts. Rich in theoretical analysis.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Singh, Arun. U.N. Security Council and Indo-Pak Conflicts. Delhi: Capital Publishing House, 1992. A detailed report on and analysis of U.N. deliberations on the Indo-Pakistani conflict of 1965.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">United Nations. Yearbook of the United Nations, 1965. New York: United Nations Publications, 1965. An easily accessible primary document.

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