Gohar Ayub Khan, son of late Field Marshal Ayub Khan, has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons with his revelations relating to the 1965 Indo-Pak conflict ahead of the publication of his autobiography.
Essentially, the revelations are about an uniformed Indian mole, a brigadier and an ex-DMO, who is supposed to have handed over Indian war plans for the 1965 war for a monetary consideration. The allegations are also laced with revelations about how the war progressed - an account so garbled that the author comes out as a somewhat muddled person, or one seeking free publicity for his forthcoming book, or both.
There is no doubt that all intelligence agencies work very hard to cultivate moles in the most sensitive areas of their adversary's establishments and Pakistani intelligence is no exception. However, when it is claimed that the mole had been a Directorate of Military Operations (DMO), it gives an entirely different, unbelievable and somewhat sinister complexion to the claim. This is not to say that a DMO is not human and hence not susceptible to inducements, but to highlight that his selection for the appointment is based not only on professional competence but also on his impeccable character. In addition, there are numerous checks and balances, which ensure that operational secrets remain so. Having served in practically every sensitive appointment in our MO Directorate, including as the (Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), I am perhaps singularly placed to comment on how war plans are handled in MO Directorate, the nearest equivalent to Fort Knox of USA. But before that, since we are dealing with the theatre of the absurd, let us have a brief look at the stage setting of the 1965 war and how the war progressed, so that we are able to judge the veracity of the leaks.
The 1965 war commenced in early August, with the infiltration of Pakistani commandos and irregulars, who sneaked into J&K in civilian clothes and commenced targeting military and non-military targets. The plan was based on the false assumption that their actions would trigger an uprising, which the Pakistani Army would then exploit and cease Kashmir.
The Indian Army took resolute action against the infiltrators. It also captured areas across the LoC (then called CFL - Ceasefire Line), including the Haji Pir Pass and dominating features in other sectors. To ease the pressure, the Pakistanis launched a massive attack in the Chhamb Sector. The point to note is that Pakistan was deliberately confining all the fighting within J&K, as they were convinced that like in 1947-48, the Indian Army would also confine their responses and actions to J&K. They were therefore completely surprised when the Indian Army launched offensives across the international border, first in the Lahore and Kasur sectors by 11 Corps and later in the Sialkot and other sectors by 1 Corps and other troops. The Pakistanis were caught completely off guard. If war plans of India had been known to Pakistan, surely they would have secured these sectors better!
We now come to the counter-offensive launched in the Khem Karan Sector, where the Pakistani Army tried to make a breakthrough with their armour reserves. Their plan was to cut off the bulk of Punjab by securing the bridge over the Beas river, but they were effectively brought to an abrupt halt in the area of Khem Karan, which became the graveyard of Pakistani Patton tanks. However, Gohar talks of an improbable story of one of their recalcitrant tanks, which had blocked the bridge at Beas! This is of course completely wrong, as it turned out as 'the bridge too far'!
It is obvious that either the Pakistanis did not possess any war plans of India, or they were so incompetent that even with the war plans in their pockets, they could neither perceive the areas of Indian thrusts, nor take adequate defensive measures. The conclusions are obvious - the entire story seems to be a figment of Gohar's fertile imagination!
Let us now revert to the systems in place in the MO Directorate to safeguard our sensitive documents. As far as national offensive plans are concerned, only three persons have access to them. These are the Chief, the Vice Chief and the DMO (now called DGMO). In any case, these are only outline plans, in the form of operational instructions, based on which the concerned Commands and Corps prepare their detailed plans.
Handling of defensive plans is also on 'need to know' basis. Therefore, under normal circumstances, a leak is unlikely. However, it is also a truism that the ingenuity of human beings is boundless and that of a criminal mind surpasses even that. Moles, intelligence agents, double agents, spies and the like are consequently real and one should expect them to emerge once in a while, like termites from woodwork, despite all the precautions. Let us leave it at that for the present till Gohar Sahib decides to release the next tit bit!