1965: Bhutto Writes to Ayub Khan

On May 12, 1965, the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, addressed a letter to President Ayub Khan, which bears quotation in extenso:

“India is at present in no position to risk a general war of unlimited duration for the annihilation of Pakistan…. Moreover, from what I have been able to gather from authoritative sources, there is for the present at least, the relative superiority of the military forces of Pakistan in terms of quality and equipment…. This does not mean that there cannot be a general war of limited duration … the morale of our nameless soldier on the front line is high. He has proved to be an effective exponent of our foreign policy. The powder out of his gun has succeeded in drawing attention and bringing forth appeals from all over the world. It has been demonstrated that a bold and courageous stand on our part does not only succeed in stemming the tide but it also helps to open up greater possibility for a negotiated settlement. The justice of our cause is not in doubt. The valour and morale of our people is equally well-established.… However, facts being what they are, the situation is becoming more and more difficult for us and the time must come when India will be in a position to successfully wage a short and swift action against Pakistan…In issues of war and peace, the question of initiative assumes very great importance.… It is the nature and extent to which Pakistan reacts to the retaliatory action by India which will determine the future course of events. The initiative would move to India only in case Pakistan should decide to rationalise India’s retaliatory measure as a fair retribution for Biar Bet (in Kutch) and to leave it at that. India would then use Pakistan’s acquiescence as a springboard for precipitating a war.… In the ultimate analysis, two alternatives face us: (i) to react now boldly and courageously in self-defence, in the event of Indian retaliation, or (ii) to allow the initiative to move irrevocably to India, who would then proceed to launch her final attack for the liquidation of Pakistan subsequently at a place and time of her own choosing. “

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