In the green and gold chamber of the U.N.’s Security Council, the eyes of the diplomats flicked back and forth from the clock on the north wall to the impassioned face of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Zulfikar AH Bhutto. Before him lay the answer to everyone’s question: Would it be wider war or temporary peace for South Asia? Bhutto waited until the last possible moment before answering.
At one minute before 3 a.m. — the deadline — he interrupted a scorching, anti-Indian diatribe, plucked from the stack of papers before him a telegram from Pakistan’s President Mohammed Ayub Khan: “In the interests of international peace … I have issued the following order to the Pakistani armed forces: they will stop fighting as from 1205 hours West Pakistan time today.”
Claims of Victory. Soon, the guns fell silent along 1,000 miles of battle ground between India and Pakistan. At Pakistani airbases, pilots stepped wearily from their American-built Sabres and Starfighters. On the Plain of Sialkot, tank-recovery vehicles clanked up to the hulks of shattered Indian and Pakistani armor to drag them off for salvage. In New Delhi and Rawalpindi, Indians and Pakistanis began to count their dead and gild their battles of the last three weeks with claims of victory.
Victory, in fact, belonged to no one in last week’s ceasefire. Kashmir remained divided. India still claimed 690 sq. mi. of Pakistani territory, but had failed by a scant three miles to capture the strategic Sialkot plateau. Pakistan held 250 sq. mi. of Indian Kashmir and Rajasthan, but had lost —temporarily at least — half its armor. And Red China had lost that most valuable of Asian commodities: face.
Peking’s stern ultimatum to India, which once sounded like the voice of certain war, was resolved in a squeaky backdown. Peking announced that the Indians had dismantled 56 outposts on Chinese territory, thus precluding the possibility of a three-cornered war. But Peking kept up the threat of future trouble by demanding the immediate return of “two kidnaped Tibetans, 800 sheep and 59 yaks.” India, of course, denied everything from dismantling to yaknaping. And in New Delhi, a mob promptly marched on the Chinese Embassy, leading a herd of sheep bearing placards that read: “Eat me, but save the world.”
“A New Phase.” The lull in the war ‘may well be short-lived, as both Pakistan’s Ayub and India’s Prime Minister Lai Bahadur Shastri indicated in their-post-cease-fire speeches. “From now on we enter a new phase in our struggle to show the righteousness of our cause,” said Ayub. He added warm praise for Red China, whose “moral support . . . will forever remain enshrined in our hearts,” as well as for Indonesia and other Moslem nations. The U.S. understandably received no public praise from Ayub for its role in the ceasefire, though Ayub quickly called President Johnson by phone to advise L.B.J. of Pakistan’s acceptance of the ceasefire. Nothing was said of the anti-American demonstrations in Karachi and Lahore the day before the ceasefire, in which mobs smashed U.S. libraries and embassy windows.
Punctured Euphoria. In New Delhi, a wave of euphoria swept the population, but not the top level of Indian leadership. Shastri took to the radio to puncture the jubilation. “Pakistan is still in a bellicose mood,” he said. “I must state clearly that if Pakistan launches an attack again on the state of Jammu and Kashmir, we shall meet the challenge with full determination and full force. Let there be no miscalculations again.” Shastri evidently had in mind infiltrations of Pakistani “freedom fighters,” whose raids had triggered the crisis. Indeed, no sooner was the cease-fire in effect than each side accused the other of violations.
Clearly, Pakistan had little choice but to accept the U.N.’s cease-fire ultimatum. Cut off from U.S. and British arms supplies, denied Russian aid, and severely mauled by the larger Indian armed forces, Pakistan could continue the fight only by teaming up with Red China and turning its back on the U.N. To take those steps would have meant a permanent break with the West and an end to the Western aid that has so greatly stimulated Pakistan’s economy. India, by contrast, is still the big gainer in the war. Shastri had united the nation as never before. Said one Western ambassador last week: “It used to be you could feed the word ‘India’ into the machine and it would spit out ‘Maharajahs, snakes, too many babies, too many cows, spindly-legged Hindus.’ Now it’s apparent to everybody that India is going to emerge as an Asian power in its own right.”