India at war with China and Pakistan - 1962

India and wars on two fronts - recipe for a less-than-satisfying end.

November 18, 1962 – B.K. Nehru – India And China At War – India And Pakistan On The Brink Of War – Full Plates Of Conflict

India at war with China and Pakistan - 1962
India and wars on two fronts – recipe for a less-than-satisfying end.
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In this panel interview for the Meet The Press program from November 18, 1962, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. B.K. Nehru (cousin of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru) discusses the current series of crises India was facing with wars on potentially two fronts; a war with China over the Himalayas and a potential war with Pakistan over Kashmir – although the Pakistan conflict consisted of skirmishes and not an all-out war, the focus of attention was on China and a war that began in October of that year.

A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. India initiated a Forward Policy in which it placed outposts along the border, including several north of the McMahon Line, the eastern portion of the Line of Actual Control proclaimed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959.

Unable to reach political accommodation on disputed territory along the 3,225 kilometre- (2,000 mile-) long Himalayan border, the Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962. Chinese troops advanced over Indian forces in both theatres, capturing Rezang La in Chushul in the western theatre, as well as Tawang in the eastern theatre. The war ended when China declared a ceasefire on 20 November 1962, and simultaneously announced its withdrawal to its claimed ‘line of actual control’.

Much of the battle took place in harsh mountain conditions, entailing large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,000 metres (14,000 feet). The Sino-Indian War was also noted for the non-deployment of the air force by either the Chinese or Indian side.

The buildup and offensive from China occurred concurrently with the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962) that saw the United States and the Soviet Union confronting each other, and India did not receive assistance from either of these world powers until the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved. It was the first war between India and China. Following the end of the war, a number of small clashes broke out between both sides, but no large-scale fighting ensued.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been complex and largely hostile due to a number of historical and political events. Relations between the two states have been defined by the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Kashmir conflict, and the numerous military conflicts fought between the two nations. Consequently, their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion. Currently after Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill, Pakistan cut off bilateral and trade relations with India, recalled the Pakistani ambassador to India, and expelled the High Commissioner of India to Pakistan. Northern India and Pakistan somewhat overlap in areas of certain demographics and shared lingua francas (mainly Punjabi and Hindustani).

After the dissolution of the British Raj in 1947, two new sovereign nations were formed—the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The subsequent partition of the former British India displaced up to 12.5 million people, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to 1 million. India emerged as a secular nation with a Hindu majority population and a large Muslim minority, while Pakistan with a Muslim majority population and a large Hindu minority later became an Islamic Republic although its constitution guaranteed freedom of religion to people of all faiths. It later lost most of its Hindu minority due to migration and after East Pakistan was separated in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Soon after their independence, India and Pakistan established diplomatic relations but the violent partition and numerous territorial claims would overshadow their relationship. Since their Independence, the two countries have fought three major wars, one undeclared war and have been involved in numerous armed skirmishes and military standoffs, of which this latest set of skirmishes was one more headache the Indian government had to deal with.

Here is that interview and the background behind the latest series of conflicts, as of November 18, 1962 from Meet The Press.

B.K. Nehru with President Kennedy - November 1962
Indian Ambassador to the U.A. Nehru and President Kennedy – many full plates and much agitation, this Autumn of 1962.

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