Has India won any war against Pakistan
All 4 of them.
Victory in a war is only decided by what each side wanted to achieve at the start of the war and what each achieved at the end of the war. In all the 4 wars, Pakistan fired the first shots and it was their initiative to lose. In each, India started reactive and by the end got better than their initial state.
At the start of the 1947–48 war, Pakistan wanted to take over all of Kashmir. It ended up with only Kashmir’s fringes and hills. India didn’t think of Kashmir as much and only wanted to keep Kashmir’s options open. They ended up with all of the valley of Kashmir, including the capital as well as Jammu and Ladakh. Victory for India, Failure for Pakistan.
At the start of the 1965 war, Pakistan wanted a mass people uprising in Kashmir after Sheikh Abdullah visited Pakistan in 1964. Pakistan also wanted to destabilize India that was already reeling under enormous problems including language agitations. At the end of the war, there was no people uprising in Kashmir and Pakistan ended up destabilizing itself. Mujibur pointed to how little the east was protected compared to the west, paving way for the later creation of Bangladesh.
India on the other hand was praying nothing terrible should happen. Already wounded by China and stung by inflation, India wanted to avoid another failure. Anti-Hindi agitations of the south worried leaders of another partition. Indonesian threat on Andamans posted another headache. In the end, India not just avoided uprising in Kashmir & avoided losing Andamans, but also had a national integration with swelling of national pride. The wounds of China was forgotten with the tactical victories. Victory for India, failure for Pakistan.
At the start of the 1971 war, Pakistan wanted to punish India for supporting the Bangla uprising. They had the superpower US and a variety of Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia behind them. India wanted to split Pakistan & teach it a lesson. In the end, India got what it wanted by equally splitting Pakistan. Massive defeat for Pakistan, ending with a massive surrender and loss of huge territory.
At the start of the 1999 Kargil war, Pakistan wanted an uprising in Kashmir and bring global intervention in Kashmir at a time when Indian political leadership was shaky with coalition politics & intelligence too weak. With both nations going nuclear, it potentially could have brought direct UN intervention in the valley.
In the end, what Pakistan got was a severe reprimanding by the US. Clinton brought Nawaz Sharif to Washington and got him a earful. India not just avoided any uprising, but also built meaningful relationship with both the US and Israel on the back of the war. Pakistan helped test India’s intelligence holes with only a small damage and India quickly built a range of measures. Defeat for Pakistan and a partial victory for India.
You can see what happened in geopolitics. In 1948 Pakistan didn’t want global attention to Kashmir, but India got that anyway by taking it to UN. 50 years later, India didn’t want global intervention in Kashmir [changed circumstance] and once again India got what it wanted. In 1948, India would have been happy with a plebiscite or even settled for an independent Kashmir. By 1999, India’s position had improved substantially with these results that it no longer would settle for those options.
You can also see what happened in politics. Losing countries have huge political upheaval. No Pakistani leader survived long after a war with India. After 1965 war, President Ayub Khan was reeling under pressure with allies like Zulfikar Bhutto quitting government. Bhutto eventually helped Ayub Khan lose power in a couple of years to Yahya Khan. In 1971, it was Yahya Khan’s turn to lose power. In 1999, it was Nawaz Sharif who lost power.
In India’s case, leaders like Nehru, Shastri, Indira and Vajpayee had hero’s reception and all but Shastri successfully ruled years after their victory. Had it not been his untimely death from ill-health/conspiracy, Shastri would have ruled long after the war too.
1947–48: India got most of Kashmir
1965: Quelled the anti-Hindi agitations locally & rebuilt lost pride from China war
1971: India tore apart Pakistan to create Bangladesh
1999: India rebuilt strong relationship with the west and Israel.
In the end, India won every time. Pakistan lost most of Kashmir and all of East Pakistan. I’m astonished how Pakistanis think this is a victory. If this is victory, what is defeat? India, on the other hand, used the Pakistan’s wars to not only hold on to most of Kashmir, but also for national integration especially during the worrying phase of the 1965 anti-Hindi agitations, just before the war.
Credits: Balaji Viswanathan