This week in 1965 : A look back at the events that shaped Singapore 50 years ago

India, Pakistan at war with each other

Military conflict over state of Jammu and Kashmir, claimed by both sides, threatened to involve other countries

War between India and Pakistan dominated headlines this week in 1965, sparking fears of a wider escalation if countries like China got involved. On Sept 6, Pakistan's President Ayub Khan and India's Premier Lal Bahadur Shastri said their countries were at war with each other, after Indian forces invaded West Pakistan, capturing Lahore airport.

President Khan said Indian troops had crossed into Pakistan, bombing and shelling Lahore with no formal declaration of war.

Meanwhile, Indian Defence Minister Yashwantrao Chavan told cheering Members of Parliament that the crossing of the Punjab border by Indian troops was "for the protection of the Indian border".

The military conflict was over the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is claimed by both sides.

A month earlier, in August 1965, Pakistani soldiers had gone on a covert operation across the ceasefire line, established in 1949 after the first Indo-Pakistani war, into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, the BBC reported.

There was a series of clashes along the ceasefire line before India invaded West Pakistan, it added.

The invasion began with air attacks. The Indians said they bombed military installations and trains and admitted that there were air battles over the Lahore area. But the Pakistanis said the city itself had been bombed and shelled.

Reports said strategists in New Delhi saw Lahore as Pakistan's major communications centre and its most vulnerable point. The Punjab terrain was also suitable for armoured warfare.

China took Pakistan's side, with Foreign Minister Chen Yi calling on Indian troops to withdraw from Kashmir; the United States, meanwhile, suspended military aid shipments to both India and Pakistan and urged them to end the violence.

Indonesian President Sukarno expressed support for Pakistan, praising it for resisting the onslaught of what he called the far superior military strength of India.

Asked about the conflict, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew expressed his sympathies for India, one of the first countries to recognise Singapore.

Fierce tank battles were waged in the Punjab area on Sept 10 as United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, who had flown to Pakistan on a peace mission, continued efforts to persuade President Khan to agree to a cease fire.

Both sides agreed to a ceasefire only by Sept 22, 1965, after they had reached a stalemate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015, with the headline 'India, Pakistan at war with each other'. Print Edition | Subscribe