Ayub Khan's Foreign Policy and the 1965 War with India
Ayub Khan articulated his foreign policy on several occasions,
particularly in his autobiography, Friends not Masters.
His objectives were the security and development of Pakistan and
the preservation of its ideology as he saw it. Toward these ends,
he sought to improve, or normalize, relations with Pakistan's
immediate and looming neighbors--India, China, and the Soviet
Union. While retaining and renewing the alliance with the United
States, Ayub Khan emphasized his preference for friendship, not
subordination, and bargained hard for higher returns to Pakistan.
Other than ideology and Kashmir, the main source of friction
between Pakistan and India was the distribution of the waters
of the Indus River system. As the upper riparian power, India
controlled the headworks of the prepartition irrigation canals.
After independence India had, in addition, constructed several
multipurpose projects on the eastern tributaries of the Indus.
Pakistan feared that India might repeat a 1948 incident that curtailed
the water supply as a means of coercion. A compromise that appeared
to meet the needs of both countries was reached during the 1950s;
it was not until 1960 that a solution finally found favor with
Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 was backed by the World Bank
(see Glossary) and the United States. Broadly speaking, the agreement
allocated use of the three western Indus rivers (the Indus itself
and its tributaries, the Jhelum and the Chenab) to Pakistan, and
the three eastern Indus tributaries (the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej)
to India. The basis of the plan was that irrigation canals in
Pakistan that had been supplied by the eastern rivers would begin
to draw water from the western Indus rivers through a system of
barrages and link canals. The agreement also detailed transitional
arrangements, new irrigation and hydroelectric power works, and
the waterlogging and salinity problems in Pakistan's Punjab. The
Indus Basin Development Fund was established and financed by the
World Bank, the major contributors to the Aid-to-Pakistan Consortium,
and India (see Foreign Aid , ch. 3).
Pakistan's tentative approaches to China intensified in 1959
when China's occupation of Tibet and the flight of the Dalai Lama
to India ended five years of Chinese-Indian friendship. An entente
between Pakistan and China evolved in inverse ratio to Sino-Indian
hostility, which climaxed in a border war in 1962. This informal
alliance became a keystone of Pakistan's foreign policy and grew
to include a border agreement in March 1963, highway construction
connecting the two countries at the Karakoram Pass, agreements
on trade, and Chinese economic assistance and grants of military
equipment, which was later thought to have included exchanges
in nuclear technology. China's diplomatic support and transfer
of military equipment was important to Pakistan during the 1965
Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir. China's new diplomatic influence
in the UN was also exerted on Pakistan's behalf after the Indo-Pakistani
War of 1971. Ayub Khan's foreign minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,
is often credited for this China policy, which gave Pakistan new
flexibility in its international relationships. The entente deepened
during the Zia regime (1977-88).
The Soviet Union strongly disapproved of Pakistan's alliance
with the United States, but Moscow was interested in keeping doors
open to both Pakistan and India. Ayub Khan was able to secure
Soviet neutrality during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.
Ayub Khan was the architect of Pakistan's policy of close alignment
with the United States, and his first major foreign policy act
was to sign bilateral economic and military agreements with the
United States in 1959 (see The United States Alliance , ch. 5).
Nevertheless, Ayub Khan expected more from these agreements than
the United States was willing to offer and thus remained critical
of the role the United States played in South Asia. He was vehemently
opposed to simultaneous United States support, direct or indirect,
for India's military, especially when this assistance was augmented
in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Ayub Khan maintained,
as did many Pakistanis, that in return for the use of Pakistani
military facilities, the United States owed Pakistan security
allegiance in all cases, not merely in response to communist aggression.
Especially troublesome to Pakistan was United States neutrality
during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. The United States stance at
this time was a contributing factor to Pakistan's closing of United
States communications and intelligence facilities near Peshawar.
Pakistan did not extend the ten-year agreement signed in 1959.
The 1965 war began as a series of border flare-ups along undemarcated
territory at the Rann of Kutch in the southeast in April and soon
after along the cease-fire line in Kashmir. The Rann of Kutch
conflict was resolved by mutual consent and British sponsorship
and arbitration, but the Kashmir conflict proved more dangerous
and widespread. In the early spring of 1965, UN observers and
India reported increased activity by infiltrators from Pakistan
into Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan hoped to support an uprising
by Kashmiris against India. No such uprising took place, and by
August India had retaken Pakistani-held positions in the north
while Pakistan attacked in the Chamb sector in southwestern Kashmir
in September. Each country had limited objectives, and neither
was economically capable of sustaining a long war because military
supplies were cut to both countries by the United States and Britain.
On September 23, a cease-fire was arranged through the UN Security
Council. In January 1966, Ayub Khan and India's prime minister,
Lal Bahadur Shastri, signed the Tashkent Declaration, which formally
ended hostilities and called for a mutual withdrawal of forces.
This objectively statesmanlike act elicited an adverse reaction
in West Pakistan. Students as well as politicians demonstrated
in urban areas, and many were arrested. The Tashkent Declaration
was the turning point in the political fortunes of the Ayub Khan
In February 1966, a national conference was held in Lahore, where
all the opposition parties convened to discuss their differences
and their common interests. The central issue discussed was the
Tashkent Declaration, which most of the assembled politicians
characterized as Ayub Khan's unnecessary capitulation to India.
More significant, perhaps, was the noticeable underrepresentation
of politicians from the East Wing. About 700 persons attended
the conference, but only twenty-one were from the East Wing. They
were led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (known as Mujib) of the Awami
League, who presented his controversial six-point political and
economic program for East Pakistani provincial autonomy. The six
points consisted of the following demands that the government
be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members elected by
universal adult suffrage with legislative representation on the
basis of distribution of population; that the federal government
have principal responsibility for foreign affairs and defense
only; that each wing have its own currency and separate fiscal
accounts; that taxation occur at the provincial level, with a
federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants;
that each federal unit control its own earnings of foreign exchange;
and that each unit raise its own militia or paramilitary forces.
Ayub Khan's also lost the services of Minister of Foreign Affairs
Bhutto, who resigned became a vocal opposition leader, and founded
the Pakistan People's Party (PPP--see Pakistan People's Party
, ch. 4). By 1968 it was obvious that except for the military
and the civil service, Ayub Khan had lost most of his support.
Ayub Khan's illness in February 1968 and the alleged corruption
of members of his family further weakened his position. In West
Pakistan, Bhutto's PPP called for a "revolution"; in the east,
the Awami League's six points became the rallying cry of the opposition.
In October 1968, the government sponsored a celebration called
the Decade of Development. Instead of reminding people of the
achievements of the Ayub Khan regime, the festivities highlighted
the frustrations of the urban poor afflicted by inflation and
the costs of the 1965 war. For the masses, Ayub Khan had become
the symbol of inequality. Bhutto capitalized on this and challenged
Ayub Khan at the ballot box. In East Pakistan, dissatisfaction
with the system went deeper than opposition to Ayub Khan. In January
1969, several opposition parties formed the Democratic Action
Committee with the declared aim of restoring democracy through
a mass movement.
Ayub Khan reacted by alternating conciliation and repression.
Disorder spread. The army moved into Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar,
Dhaka, and Khulna to restore order. In rural areas of East Pakistan,
a curfew was ineffective; local officials sensed government control
ebbing and began retreating from the incipient peasant revolt.
In February Ayub Khan released political prisoners, invited the
Democratic Action Committee and others to meet him in Rawalpindi,
promised a new constitution, and said he would not stand for reelection
in 1970. Still in poor health and lacking the confidence of his
generals, Ayub Khan sought a political settlement as violence
On March 25, 1969, martial law was again proclaimed; General
Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, the army commander in chief, was designated
chief martial law administrator (CMLA). The 1962 constitution
was abrogated, Ayub Khan announced his resignation, and Yahya
Khan assumed the presidency. Yahya Khan soon promised elections
on the basis of adult franchise to the National Assembly, which
would draw up a new constitution. He also entered into discussions
with leaders of political parties.
Data as of April 1994