Towards a ceasefire, slowly
This comforting view was also punctured before long. Nazir Ahmed, his defence secretary, who was a member of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's hardline coterie that had thought up Operation Gibraltar, reported to Khan that the army and air force were "facing acute shortage of spare parts, ammunition and petroleum, and that neither Turkey nor Iran (the two great allies) was willing to provide armour-piercing ammunition". Gauhar adds: "Ayub was mortified. He was stunned to find that the GHQ had been importing the wrong kind of ammunition". He became worried that the Indian army "might occupy Lahore". To add to his woes, the US started hinting at the "possibility of sanctions being applied against Pakistan", and the British prime minister, Harold Wilson, having initially delighted the Pakistanis by condemning "Indian aggression", started pressing them immediately to accept the UN resolution.
(Incidentally, Wilson's September 6 statement holding India responsible for starting the war so infuriated this country as to put paid to the cosy friendship he had developed with Lal Bahadur Shastri since December 1964, when the two had first discussed a "nuclear umbrella for India" in London. Shastri had great difficulty in restraining Parliament from passing a resolution demanding withdrawal from the Commonwealth.)
Despite all the setbacks he had had, Khan persisted in his efforts to delay the ceasefire as long as possible because he had resolved to play the China card. Even on September 12 he was conscious that this was his ultimate weapon, but he must resort to it only at an "appropriate moment" and not too soon, for fear of reprisals by the US and the West. That moment arrived on September 18, when the UN gave both India and Pakistan its final resolution on ceasefire, together with the deadline of noontime on September 22 for its acceptance. Accompanied by Bhutto, Khan embarked on a secret flight to Beijing from Peshawar on the night of September 19-20 and returned the next night after most detailed talks with Zhou Enlai and Chen Yi, the Chinese foreign minister.
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