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EAST PAKISTAN - 1971


(DISTORTIONS AND LIES)

COLONEL NAZIR AHMED

An autobiographical account narrating personal experiences of a


journey spanning over seven decades; revealing undisclosed facts
about causes and consequences of Indo-Pak Wars (1965, 1971, 1999)
and offering a common man’s perspective to rediscover the path
towards a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan
(Revised edition)
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Copyright © Colonel (Retired) Nazir Ahmed

First Published – September 2013

Revised - September 2017

Email: n_ahmed42@hotmail.com
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The book is dedicated to Farkhanda,

My wife who bore with my circumstances with grace and


fortitude making idyllic home; raising children blessed
with exceptional abilities and sterling character
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List of Contents

Prologue .......................................................................................................................... 7
THE EXPERIENCE ....................................................................................................... 13
Part-I .......................................................................................................................... 13
Village Life..................................................................................................................... 15
Ayub Khan’s Era ........................................................................................................... 33
General Yahya Khan’s Rule .......................................................................................... 51
Call to Arms................................................................................................................... 55
THE EXPERIENCE ....................................................................................................... 65
Part – II ...................................................................................................................... 65
Move to East Pakistan................................................................................................... 67
Thakurgaon ................................................................................................................... 79
Panjbibi ....................................................................................................................... 105
Prisoner of War ........................................................................................................... 125
Part – III ................................................................................................................... 149
Back Home to a ‘New’ Pakistan .................................................................................. 151
South Waziristan ......................................................................................................... 163
Reverting Back to Khakis ............................................................................................ 169
Army Hajj Contingent 1984 ......................................................................................... 175
Shikarpur and Thereafter ............................................................................................ 181
Lure of Mountains ....................................................................................................... 191
Retirement and Post Retirement Years ....................................................................... 207
OPINIONS................................................................................................................... 223
Part – IV................................................................................................................... 223
Conflict with India ........................................................................................................ 224
The Stranglehold ......................................................................................................... 233
11 Sep 2001 and its Aftermath .................................................................................... 251
Taliban ........................................................................................................................ 257
The Regional Context.................................................................................................. 263
The Fallacy of Army’s Rule ......................................................................................... 269
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Army’s Challenges and Response .............................................................................. 277


Overcoming Unrest in Balochistan .............................................................................. 285
The Question of Provinces in Pakistan........................................................................ 293
Local Governments and Community Development ..................................................... 307
Provision of Justice ..................................................................................................... 313
Outline of a New Order................................................................................................ 317
Epilogue ...................................................................................................................... 329
Annex A....................................................................................................................... 331
List of 34 Punjab Officers in East Pakistan- 1971 ....................................................... 331
Annex B....................................................................................................................... 335
Extract from the statement of Air Marshall Inam ul Haque Khan ................................. 335
Annex C ...................................................................................................................... 345
Order of Battle ............................................................................................................. 345
Location of Pakistani units in East Pakistan on 03 December 1971 ............................ 345
Annex D ...................................................................................................................... 353
Dr. Sarmila Bose on the courageous PAKISTAN ARMY’s stand on the Eastern Front:
An untold story of 1971 Indo-Pak War ..................................................................... 353

Annex E

Army Hajj Comtigent 1984 – Travel Schedule 329


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Prologue

No claim of erudition, literary merit or pretence of sagacity prompts me to write


this book. The stimulus in undertaking such demanding endeavour was to state
some facts that would help negate false perceptions about the tragic events in
erstwhile East Pakistan during that fateful year – 1971. The effort, however, has
turned into a biographical account which apart from challenging the falsehood
propagated about events of 1971, also addresses some vital facts in our short
history that got distorted. Realities were substituted by carefully crafted
presumptions, spreading lies through controlled media, turning devils into heroes
and vice versa. The present state of all pervasive media is recent phenomenon
and came much later than those momentous events; the two wars with India and
dismemberment of Pakistan. My narrative thus contests prevailing perceptions
about rulers and exposes lies with which they befooled the people.

Nothing much is available in writing from persons of my age, in our late seventies
and older, who have seen the best of Pakistan that is before the country was put
into spin in 1965 from which it has not recovered. This deficit is because writing
for us was not easy. Getting hold of a paper and pen, writing first draft, finding a
typist to produce its typed version that needed corrections and recorrections was
a cumbersome exercise. Getting our accounts available in some form for posterity
remains undone, left as difficult task. The computer literate younger generation
can not understand our problem but that is how it was.

About events in East Pakistan in 1971, being one of about thirty four thousand
armed forces personnel who spent over two years in Prisoners Of War (POW)
camps in India, I have felt extreme frustration and helplessness on vicious lies
about proceedings of that tumultuous period resulting into breakup of Pakistan,
the largest Muslim country of the world. While the number of prisoners was
exaggerated to a preposterous figure aimed at denigrating Pakistan Army, the
atrocities attributed to men of the Army are the greatest falsehood propagated
and pursued even after decades of that catastrophic event. Every year around 16
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December the local press has been derisively writing about the military defeat as
cause of break up of Pakistan. The reality is that those men, who performed their
task even beyond the call of duty, were abandoned with a purpose. In fact the
military operations were launched as catalyst to expedite implementation of the
plan hatched in West Pakistan by those people who did not see their chance of
coming to or retaining power in a united Pakistan. They got ready support from
outside forces with India in the lead, instigating, training and launching terrorist
groups from their soil into East Pakistan, followed by outright invasion to wind up
the plan.

In fact 16 December 1971 was culmination of the process started in 1965 by


getting Pakistan into armed conflict with India. The skirmishes in Rann of Kuch in
early 1965 were followed by efforts to create disturbances in Indian Held Kashmir
that resulted in fighting across ceasefire line in Kashmir by regular troops from
both sides. Expanding the conflict, the Indian crossed international borders
towards Lahore on 6 September. A stirring short address by the President to the
nation on 6 September evoked a strong response from the nation. In the days of
war not a single crime was reported throughout the country. Everyone was
focused, enthusiastic and keen to play his role in supporting the armed forces of
Pakistan to defeat Indian designs. Our armed forces performed much beyond
normal during the battles fought during 1965 war. Five times larger Indian forces
were effectively stopped to gain any meaningful objective.

However the overall result of this purposeless war effectively derailed Pakistan
from path of unprecedented rapid progress under the stable political conditions
achieved during Ayub Khan’s rule. The main proponent of initiating this war was
Mr Z A Bhutto, the Foreign Minister in Ayub Khan’s Cabinet who wanted to
‘defeat the Generals’ by getting Pakistan into war with India that would help him
come to power. Enough evidence has surfaced about his efforts and role as I have
included some in relevant chapters of this account. He had the backing of global
and regional forces that did not want Pakistan to become a strong country and
wanted to cut it to size. As events unfolded after 1965 war, Ayub Khan’s position
weakened resulting in take over by General Yahya Khan declaring Martial Law in
1969. Z A Bhutto in the meantime had founded a new political party that won
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majority seats in general elections of 1970 from West Pakistan, mainly in Punjab
and Sindh. After elections, unable to form government at the centre, he refused
to attend the first session of National Assembly called in Dacca on 3 March 1971,
creating the crisis that led to break up of Pakistan. In this he had tacit support
from the ruling elite of West Pakistan who wanted to get rid of Bengalis, a
majority that was threat to feudal system prevalent in West Pakistan. In East
Pakistan, soon after independence the Provincial Assembly had passed a bill
resuming control of lands by the State, doing away with Zamindari System.

Within a year after general elections of 1970, East Pakistan faced unrest,
disturbances, anarchy, rebellion, a military operation to restore order and finally
Indian invasion leading to creation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971.

The theme to demonise a contingent of Pakistan Army trapped in East Pakistan in


1971 is fully exposed by Dr Sarmila Bose in her book ‘DEAD RECKONING -
Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War’ published in 2011. A research scholar of
impeccable credentials, her conclusions are result of detailed investigation of
events by interviewing accusers of murders and atrocities, visiting sites of
reported crimes to find details from people of those areas and questioning
concerned officers of Pakistan Army. She has been travelling to Pakistan and
Bangladesh in connection with her research spanning over a period of some years
(2003 to 2006). She concludes that the claims of killings attributed to Pakistan
Army during 1971 are grossly exaggerated and accusations of atrocities patently
false. In introduction chapter of her Book, she laments about Pakistanis on
‘deafening silence from the majority of those who had served in East Pakistan’.
Obviously with her educational and cultural background she does not understand
that those of us who served in East Pakistan during 1971 are shy with the pen, not
inclined to undertake writing of our accounts. A few who wrote, including
Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the commander of Pakistani forces
in East Pakistan narrated similar facts as by Dr Bose but their version does not get
acceptance coming from a maligned and defeated party. General Niazi’s book
‘The Betrayal of East Pakistan’ published in 1998 gives overall picture of the
situation on ground and the predicament he was faced with in dealing with
callous, unresponsive and unconcerned ruling junta of the time. It is revealing
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study in the backdrop of vigorous propagation of fictional narrative for so many


years. General Niazi who took over command of troops in East Pakistan on 10
April 1971 restored State writ in the country by end of April 1971 in just three
weeks. Army operations under his command were strident and swift, creating
enabling conditions for resumption of political process but that never happened
because it was not intended by Yahya-Bhutto combine, with Yahya being in the
driving seat.

Lots of people got killed in East Pakistan during the months of Feberuary to April
1971 before the Army could restore order but who were the killers and who were
victims is different from what has been propagated since decades. Brigadier
Karrar Ali Agha’s book ‘Witness to Carnage, 1971’ published in 2011 fills an
important gap in the records. Brigadier Agha, then a Major posted as staff officer
in the Headquarters East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) during the period gives graphic
details of events at different places. He also sheds light on the proceedings of
negotiations held at Dacca between leadership of Awami League, Pakistan
People’s Party and General Yahya’s Government. Another book ‘Blood and Tears’
by Qutubuddin Aziz of United Press of Pakistan, first published in 1974 records
170 eye-witness accounts of the atrocities committed on West Pakistanis, Biharis,
other non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistan Bengalis in 55 towns of East Pakistan by
Awami League militants and other rebels in March-April, 1971.

My basic motivation to write is to refute the outrageous lie of the grossly


exaggerated number of prisoners of war. With about 34,000 (thirty four
thousands) armed forces personnel that include Army, Navy and Air Force and
another about ten to twelve thousand persons in different categories including
some civilians, the total number of persons incarcerated in India as prisoners of
war comes to about forty five thousands. The number of armed forces personnel
can be easily calculated from the details of formations and units located in East
Pakistan on 16 December 1971 that I have included as annex. This information
was available in the form of ‘order of battle’ (ORBAT) given in the Indian
publications right after the war but no effort was made by Pakistani media or
academia to find out facts. Against reality, a preposterous figure of 93000 (ninety
three thousand) prisoners was invented and fed to Hamoodur Rehaman
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Commission creating an impression that a large part of Pakistan Army had


surrendered to Indians in East Pakistan. That is a lie which must be exposed even
if so much time has passed. About ‘surrender’ the actual position was that the
message received by us on wireless networks on 16 December was that of
‘ceasefire’. The Indians on contact conveyed that since the war has ended and we
were to go to Pakistan through India, we could not carry our weapons and
therefore these had to be deposited with them. There was no indication from
Indians that we were to be detained in India. We were to be in transit through
India to Pakistan, a lie that we continued to believe in for some time even after
reaching India.

I have made an effort to recount what I saw and experienced as an infantry officer
who traversed through almost whole of North and North West Bengal, a good
part of it on foot. My unit 34 Punjab, starting its march from Dacca on 11 April
1971 carried out its assigned tasks in areas Narsinghdi, Bhairab Bazaar, Ashuganj,
Kishorganj, Mymensingh, Nitrakona, reaching Durgapur on borders with the State
of Meghalaya in India; then moving towards west, crossing over River
Brahmaputra/Jumna to Rangpur, clearing areas Nageshwari, Bhurangamari up to
borders with the State of Assam in India; finally reaching Thakurgaon – Pachagarh
in the extreme north western corner of the country bordering the State of West
Bengal in India by June 71. Detached from unit in first week of August, my
Company operated in areas Hilli, Panchbibi, Patnitola, finally reaching Naogaon
when the war concluded. A perusal of Bangladesh map will show that this was a
very long journey and an enormous undertaking. Seeing events at close quarters
on ground over such a vast area, my observations, taken from a far wider sample
give a fuller picture, different than the perceptions created and propagated
during all these years. There was no popular insurgency; the general public was
not involved in any effort towards break up of Pakistan.

In addition to giving detailed account of events in East Pakistan, the events that I
witnessed and was a participant of, this account has turned into memoirs starting
with life at a small village in Pothowar region of Pakistan. It gives glimpses of
history of Pakistan, described from the perspective of a common man who is
neither a historian writing from a distance in time and space, giving subtle twists
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to events according to his understanding and interpretations; nor it is written by


someone in undue haste to build false image, save reputations or mere
glorification of a side, like some Indian authors who brought out books on the
conflict within weeks on conclusion of war.

My account starts with recounting the atmosphere of serenity and contentment


in lives of common people of Pakistan before 1965 War, in contrast to growing
insecurity, uneasiness and agitation of later years caused by dishonest and
incompetent rulers and policy makers, leading to current chaotic situation that we
find ourselves in. I have tried to portray some aspects of life one lived in rural
environments about sixty years back. This part was demanded by my children,
particularly Ahmad Yaman the eldest, who was keen to record unbelievable
changes in living conditions and social environments that have taken place in
these years. My children, who used to visit the village as little boys, would listen
to the state of affairs prevailing in rural areas not long ago with scepticism and
disbelief. The changes, particularly in agricultural processes and overall village life
of comparative isolation and self sustenance have been rapid and fundamental,
replacing old ways, taking away the romance of rural life.

First three parts (Parts I, II and III) of the book contain ‘The Experience’ that I went
through. Counter insurgency operations in erstwhile East Pakistan culminating in
war with India in 1971 have been chronicled in some detail in Part II where I was a
participant or a witness. Part IV conveys my opinions on matters of collective
concern formed while struggling through the journey of life. Stand alone chapters
in this part carry some repetition that may have to borne with.

Nazir Ahmed
Islamabad
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THE EXPERIENCE

Part-I
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Village Life

As I look back at my journey through life, the kaleidoscope starts with the
momentous event of creation of Pakistan. For a child of about five years, it was
not possible to comprehend its impact. There was no conflict, fighting, arson,
looting or unrest of any kind in our area. My village Kufri, (renamed Bilalabad) is
situated about twelve kilometres away towards west from Talagang, a tehsil
headquarters then part of Campbellpur /Attock district in the rain fed Pothohar
region of Pakistan. In that village there were a few Hindu families and one Sikh
family residing at that time. The Hindus referred to as ‘Kirars’ were more affluent
because of owning better tracts of land and doing small businesses including
money lending. As the migration started, the Hindu families gave keys of their
houses to neighbours with the understanding that they would be coming back
after sometime when the dust settled. In most cases the neighbors accompanied
them from the village up to the town of Talagang to bid them farewell. If an
Indian ex-Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh felt nostalgic to invite his class
fellow from Village Gah, near Chakwal to India after almost sixty years of that
event, he must have nurtured fond memories of peaceful life in those times in
this part of the land. Later we heard of killings, mainly in the towns along the
railway line running from Rawalpindi to Lahore, an unfortunate chapter of our
history whatever the reasons which caused this madness.

The cause of partition of Indian sub-continent into two independent countries,


Pakistan and India however was very clear. We as children, while walking in the
street would be shooed away by Hindu women coming across in the street for the
reason that according to them even a touch to their clothes by Muslims, even if
they were children would make them ‘Bhrisht’ i.e. unclean. Houses of Hindus
were off limits to Muslims. Both communities could not use same utensils for
eating or drinking. For quite some times after the partition large earthen vessels
(matkas) in our school remained marked with ‘Hindu’ water and ‘Muslim’ water.
Even the food was different, the Muslims eating beef that was anathema to
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Hindus who revered cows. Both communities had lived under a system where the
Muslims, less in numbers were a dominant class for almost a thousand years.

The Muslims came into the Indian sub-continent from a position of strength that
they enjoyed for about a thousand years despite being less in numbers than
Hindus. Before the advent of nation states and present democratic systems the
general public was ‘subjects’ of the kings and not ‘citizen’ of a State. As the
Muslim emperors and kings were ruling most parts of the sub-continent starting
from early eleventh century, the Muslims as a community did not feel threatened
or in danger. End of British rule from the sub –continent created a different
situation where rule by a majority under the promised democratic system would
relegate the Muslims to a position of permanent minority.

To avoid that possibility and to secure Muslim’s interests, Quaid-e-Azam (Great


Leader) Mr. Muhamad Ali Jinnah gave a call for a separate homeland for Muslims.
His call reached all parts of the sub-continent despite very limited means of
communications in those days resulting in emergence of Pakistan. British India
was divided through ‘Indian Independence Act 1947’ forming India and Pakistan
into two independent dominions.

Earlier when the British were in the process of gaining power in the Indian sub-
continent, the Muslim notables of our region supported the British in their efforts
particularly after events of 1857. The present landed aristocracy in Pakistan is
criticized for their ancestors supporting the British during those times but that
criticism is most unjustified. Supporting British was right decision by Muslims at
that time. It is consolidation of British rule in India that gave us Pakistan in 1947.
Otherwise the Mughals were being replaced by Marhattas, Jats and Sikhs. Sha
Waliullah’s appeal to Ahmad Shah Abdali resulting in third battle of Panipat in
1761 did not help restore Muslim power. Had the British also failed in gaining
power in Indian sub-continent allowing Hindu domination, people like Narendra
Modi ruling India would have eliminated the Muslims or forced them to convert.
An example is of Muslims in Spain who after about eight hundred years of Muslim
rule in Spain were evicted from the land.
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Life in the household with agricultural background entailed multiple chores like
grazing animals after the school hours, bringing fodder from fields, chopping
wood and other numerous small tasks mostly involving outdoor activities. I still
feel longing for the fragrance of land and its crops of different seasons. The village
at that time was a self-sufficient unit meeting almost all the requirements of life.
The means of transporting materials were mainly confined to camels for longer
distances and donkeys for short hauls. Movement of people was mostly on foot.
For distant travel, camels were used to carry the women and children being
placed in ‘Kajawas’ (a wooden contraption). The present means of
communications which make movement of goods and material so easy were not
available then. The communities were therefore forced to stay self-contained,
devising their own solutions to meet essential requirements.

Travel was an adventure undertaken under extreme compulsion. As a child I


would hear my grandmother narrating account of very long travel on camels and
the railway network during second and third decades of twentieth century. My
grandfather Malik Sher Muhammad and another person named Ghulam
Muhammad were the first two Muslims from our village who acquired primary
education in whatever system was in place during last decade of nineteenth
century. Both young men got inducted into revenue department as ‘Patwaris’ and
were called ‘Munshis’ a title that continued to be used for their next generation.
Munshi Sher Muhammad, my grandfather died young when my father was just six
months old. Munshi Ghulam Muhammad reached ripe old age. As school
children, we would see him wearing ‘Sherwani’ and ‘Kullah’ holding a long staff in
his hand gracefully strolling out of his house to visit his piece of land watered by
‘Persian Wheel’ running on his well located nearby. He had given part of his
spacious dwelling on eastern corner of the village for village school that remained
functional till a new building was constructed by the department in nineteen
sixties near the main road.

My grandfather ‘Munshi’ Sher Muhammad was selected as member of a small


team of revenue officials deputed to the State of Las Bela on the Arabian Sea
coast for making revenue record of the State. Because of that my grandmother
had a chance to travel on the newly introduced railway system more than once.
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She would narrate as to how they would travel on camels to catch a train at Injra
Railway Station on Attock – Mianwali Section, the nearest one from our village.
Unpredictable Soan River had to be crossed before reaching railway station which
posed problems. The train journey would take three days. There were no fast
moving trains available then. Karachi at that time was a small place, the travellers
mostly staying at Khara Darr and Mitha Darr in one of the two inns named after
their owners (I cannot recollect the names of those owners that grandmother
used to tell). From Karachi to Bela the journey was conducted in seven stages,
each stage covered in one day, travelling on the camels. The first stage was from
Khara Darr to Hab Chowki, from where the State of Las Bela started. Midway was
Uthal and the seventh stage was Bela. After serving in Las Bela for about seven
years my grandfather returned to village, spending last years of his life before he
died in 1925 complaining of chest pain. There was no method or facility to
diagnose heart attacks that he may have suffered.

The village community was self-sufficient in its basic needs. Food was grown in
the fields, sown with the old plough using two animals, the practice of thousands
of years as can be seen in murals from the Indus Valley civilization preserved in
frescos at ruins of Harrapa and Mohan Jo Darro. Introduction of 'tractor' has
eliminated the need of old plough and its related gear which is becoming extinct
and is fading away from the agricultural scene.

Wheat, the main crop was sown in early winters after the land had been prepared
by ploughing at least twice and then its surface made plain with the help of a
heavy wooden plank known as ‘majj’ pulled by the two animals. Sowing was done
by adding a device known as ‘nal’ to plough and the seed released in the ‘nal’ by
an experienced hand to avoid cluttering or leaving gaps. Gram and mustered were
also sown during the same period. The crops took about six months to be ready
for harvesting and depended totally on the rains for growth in our rain fed areas.
Wheat crop was ready for harvesting in mid April, by 1st of Besakh in the Bikrami
Calendar in the Punjab and Pothohar region. The festival of ‘Besakhi’, celebrated
with zest particularly by the Sikh community was to start the harvesting process.

The first step was to cut the crop. Armed with sickles the whole household would
reach their fields early in the morning and start cutting plants, binding these into
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manageable sizes for easy handling. Anyone who lagged behind in cutting would
invite the neighbors and relatives for help. This was called ‘Maang”. The food
served to them would be very well prepared 'Dall Chana' with 'Tandoori Roti'
during early part of the day. In the evening it would be 'Ghee' and 'Shakar' (brown
sugar) consumed with the Tandoori Roti. This was standard practice from which
no one deviated. The food otherwise was very simple. Wheat was staple diet
supplemented by Millet (Bajra), Corn and Maize (Jowar) for some months in the
winters. For afternoon snacks, particularly for children, seasonal grains like gram,
corn, millet and maize were roasted by the local Bhatiara/Bathiari who started
work after Zuhar prayers and closed by Maghrib prayers. Milk was not sold in the
village. It was processed to make butter and ‘lassi’ a drink which was available
free of cost to anyone who did not have animals of his own. Pulses and vegetable
grown in the village by some families called ‘Maliars’ on small pieces of irrigated
land around the wells were consumed mainly with the evening meal. Chickens
were slaughtered only for guests, the standard menue for them being chiken
curry, Tanduri Roti and Halwa as sweet. Meat would be available only when
someone’s animal became sick and had to be slaughtered. Other source of meat
was through hunting by some people who were experts in the craft. Arrival of
seasonal birds and rabbits were of main interest.

Coming back to the processing of the harvested wheat, the next stage was to
separate grain from the plants which involved spreading plants on a compacted
part of the field, called ‘Khalara’ and crushing these with the help of heavy
branches of trees bound in a certain pattern pulled by the animals moving in
circles. This was known as ‘gah’ and the device made with the help of branches
known as ‘mairra’. Once the plants were thoroughly broken, the whole material
would be collected in a heap of particular shape known as ‘dharr’. Further
process was dependent on gentle breeze to separate grain from the husk ‘Bhoosa’
by throwing up small portions of the material in the air using a device known as
‘karahi’. The grains being heavier would fall near the heap and husk a little away
completing the separation process. This however would take a couple of days to
complete because blowing of breeze in a certain direction and speed was not
there all the time. The husk would be compressed with the help of five to six cots
‘Charpoys’ bound together to form an open container turning it into a cone
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shaped ‘Bhowara’ for use during the year for feeding animals. The grain would be
put into jute bags containing two and a half maunds (about one hundred
kilograms) each. The measures used were vessels of various sizes like ‘Chaha’
equal to about three ‘Sers’ (its fourth part a ‘Paeeni’ and ‘Lap’ being the smallest
measure). One ‘Ser’ was a little less than a kilogram. It was further divided into
‘Pao’ a fourth part and ‘Chitank’ the sixteenth part. Similarly for currency, one
rupee was also divided into sixteen parts called ‘aanas’ which was further divided
into four parts called ‘paisa’. One could make purchases of small requirements
even against half a paisa, called ‘dhela’. Smaller coins like ‘Pai’, ‘Ratti’ and ‘Kauri’
had gone out of use by then; only their names used in metaphors. The coins were
of metal, the Ruppee of silver and other smaller one of different metals. Paper
currency came later.

After completing process in the field at ‘Khalara’, the grain would be loaded on
camels and brought home, a happy ending of a long, difficult process in which
everyone from the house including children had remained involved. This whole
process of harvesting crops has now been simplified by the use of tractors and
other agricultural machinery during recent years. The equipment and gadgets
used in agricultural process before advent of Tractor age like, ‘Hal’, ‘Jula’ ‘Panjali’,
‘Karah’, ‘Tringul’, ‘Karahi’, ‘Majj’, and many others have become extinct.

With wheat brought home, the season of marriages started. After keeping certain
quantity of wheat for domestic requirements till next crop, additional wheat was
sold to generate funds for marriages and other expenses.

In our rain fed area, crop yields totally depended on weather conditions during
the year. If it rained at appropriate intervals when needed for crops, enough grain
was produced in both seasons to meet essential needs. But it was not always so.
Starting in early nineteen fifties there was a period of drought spreading over
about seven continuous years, the rains being scanty and untimely. It caused a
famine as limited stocks of grains of all kinds got exhausted. There was no help
from other parts of the country, the means of communications and transporting
materials being rudimentary.The famine conditions due to lesser rains were
compounded by arrival of locust storms for a couple of years that would eat away
every green leaf sprouting from the earth. We as children from schools were the
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‘main force’ employed to fight the menace. We joined the villagers who used to
dig a long trench and we would drive the product of hatched locust eggs called
‘poong’ towards the ditch to be buried in it. A poisonous medicine was also used
in the process. Our whole day was spent in the fields and we were rewarded with
glass of milk prepared from ‘milk powder’a novelty for us seen for the first time. It
came as aid from America; a name becoming familiar as later a new variety of
wheat that gave better yield and was light in colouralso came from USA
replacingthe old variety.

During prolong famine, a time came when people had to grind the seeds of
‘pohli’ the yellow colored small thorny plant found in wheat fields at the time of
harvesting wheat. The bread made from its flour was tasteless and difficult to
swallow. Older people would remember such famine earlier when people had to
feed themselves by processing bark of trees.

The main population of our village was of the Awan tribe who had come in this
area about one thousand years back when King Mahmood of Ghazni
(Afghanistan) started his attacks across the Indus River. The tribe led by Qutub
Shah settled in the area bounded roughly by Soan River in the North to Salt Range
in the south/south west and line Chakwal – Choa Saidan Shah in the east. The
tribe was of Arabic origin who had ventured east in search of livelihood and
ultimately landed up in this region. A theory, that the tribe is from local Jaat stock
as given by some British writers, in not tenable. The use of household words
describing utensils in the house and other items of daily use were pure Arabic
words like ‘Sahnak’ for the large earthen utensil used to knead flour, the word
‘Tabak’ for the larger plate and ‘Sahanki’ for small plate, ‘Wassal’ for the onion
and such so on. These names were different from the words used for describing
these items of daily use in rest of the surrounding areas. The title of ‘Malik’ with
the names of Awans is an Arabic word, different from titles added to the names of
people of other tribes and casts in the area. The dress and style of its wearing was
peculiar, particularly the style of wearing headgear. The ‘Chador’ covering lower
part of the body was of two different sizes, a larger one for formal occasions and
a comparatively smaller one for normal use. These were different from small
‘Dhoti’ worn in Punjab.. Till the fifties and early sixties there was no concept of
22

getting out of one’s house and moving about in the village without headgear.
Haircut was also of a particular pattern. All this gradually changed after nineteen
fifties due to external influences and changing environments.

As mentioned earlier, the village was self sufficient in most of its requirements of
daily life. The main source of income being through agricultural activity, the
agriculturist was supported by other artisans. Under a term called ‘saip’ the
artisans were attached with different agriculturist families to get a share from the
harvested crops as compensation for their work. There was no concept of cash
remunerations. A ‘Lohar’ combined the work of blacksmith, carpenter and mason.
The weaver produced cloth from thread woven by the women at home on their
‘Çharkha’. Mian Muhammad the weaver in our neighbourhood was a very skillful
artisan producing Khes (sort of light weight cotton blanket) of very intricate
designs when he was free from producing coarse cloth for general use. The coarse
cloth was taken by ‘Dhobi’ (washer man) to a stream, Nullah Ankar, about five
kilometers away from the village for bleaching it to white from its original off
white colour. Dhobi was also responsible to prepare food for weddings and other
occasions in his famous ‘Deg’ locally known as ‘Rangan’. The ‘Teli’ produced oil in
his small factory, a ‘Ghaani’ from the local oilseeds like ‘Mustard’ and ‘Tara Mira’.
A potter produced earthen wear of all kinds used in the household through a long,
laborious process requiring considerable skill and aesthetic sense. In fact all the
artisans working in the village had a well developed aesthetic sense related to
their work producing very presentable products. The cobbler ‘Mochi’, apart from
mending shoes would also make new shoes, starting the process from treating
the hides to producing finished shoes of particular patterns for men and women.
In my village a large community of cobblers was concentrated producing fancy
ladies shoes called ‘Khussas’ using golden thread to embellish the tops. This was a
well organised handicraft industry. An elderly man, Haji Noor Muhammad with his
impressive attire including a stylish headdress would collect the pairs of shoes
from the community every evening and would go to Talagang on a ‘Tanga’ a horse
drawn carriage, to deliver the produce to a shop owned by Sheikh Yousuf, a
‘Khoja’. These shoes were then sent to other cities and were quite a famous
variety.
23

The barber ‘Nai’ was an institution in him. Apart from his work of haircutting and
some shaves, a new trend of not growing beards, the barber was the messenger
whose message was considered most important. He was the event manager on
occasions like marriages and funerals. His wife was to assist him in managing the
female side. She was also the matchmaker suggesting matches and
communicating between the parties. The barber’s house was also the beauty
parlour, the women visiting to get their hair done, making plaits and braids of
different patterns for special occasions. Barber also acted as a surgeon, who
would circumcise the children by diverting their attention followed by a quick cut
with a sharp blade. He would apply a self prepared balm to heal the wounds. The
healing process was long and painful. Aulia Nai, an elderly man was expert in such
surgery. In my childhood I had cuts from Baba Aulia twice in his treatment for
some kind of boils on my hands and I carried the scars for a long time.

The medical services were provided by Hakeem Ghulam Muhammad, whose shop
or ‘Matab’ was full of aromas due to preparation of different medicines. He was
good in understanding and diagnosis of ailments by traditional method of holding
a patient’s wrist to check the pulse ‘Nabz’. His medicines were mainly herbal,
prepared by him in his shop. His young assistant was continuously busy in grinding
something in a marble bowl known as ‘Kharl’.

There were a few families of vegetable growers, the ‘Maliars’ who would grow
vegetables on small pieces of land irrigated from nearby wells. These wells were
located on eastern and western sides of the village on the banks of small seasonal
Nullahs. Water from the wells was drawn through ‘Persian Wheel’ using animals
to run the wheel. Main components of the system were ‘Chakli’, ‘Khara’, ‘Mahl’
and ‘Lota’ using wood and local material, later replaced by iron components
brought from other parts of Punjab. Water was brought by women in pitchers
from these wells. On western side of the village a small spring, which dried up
later gave very good quality water used for drinking.

Fetching water was a major work for women, generally done in the afternoon. At
this time there was lot of rush on the wells. Usually they would carry two pitchers
on their heads, an odd one carrying three. In the houses pitchers would be kept
on wooden stands for three to five pitchers known as ‘Gharwanji’. The water
24

being a very scarce commodity and brought to the house with much labour would
be carefully used for drinking and cooking. Men would generally take bath in
bathrooms outside the Mosque; with water taken from the well located inside
mosque premises. From that well, water was taken out with the help of bucket
pulled by rope fixed on a round wooden structure by one person assigned with
this job for which he was compensated by the community. The women would
generally bathe on the wells from where they brought water. Washing of clothes
was mainly done on the wells and on a stream close by the village which had
running water that has dried up now. The present day emphasis on rain water
harvesting was then practiced in the form of water being stored in small
reservoirs known as ‘Bann’ at suitable places in the undulating ground. This water
was used for drinking by animals and the people alike particularly while working
in fields away from the village.

Life in the village was very different from present times. There was no electricity,
main source of light after sunset was earthen lamp filled with locally made oil
from Tara Mira. This lamp, called ‘Diva’ would be placed on a wooden platform
known as ‘Darokha’ with some steps to adjust its position. Lantern had also come
into use and a few Patromax lamps, a novelty used for special occasions like
weddings. The lamps would be used for a short duration because people routinely
consumed evening meals just after Maghrib prayers and would go to sleep after
Isha prayers. This enabled everyone to start the next day early.

The first job of women of the household was to grind flour for the day on their
‘Chakki’, a job done by the morning prayers time, prepare food and deliver to the
men who started their work on the fields after morning prayers. Ploughing and
working the fields was major task spread over most of the year. It was time
consuming and laborious to prepare even a small field with the help of old
instruments pulled by the animals. With introduction of tractors one cannot
conceive the timeframe and effort involved in agricultural activity in those times.

Whole families, brothers and cousins were lodged in rows of adjacent houses.
There were few disputes among men but womenfolk would have many things
against each other that they would take out in the absence of men. Some fertile
minds would invent their own invective according to the situation. Crime was
25

almost nonexistent. One murder in the village in my childhood was that of a


person being thrown in an unused well by his wife with the help of her paramour.
In another incident a party, a small ‘Lashkar’ armed with sticks and ‘Kulharis’ (axe)
attacked the Mohalla of cobblers due to some dispute. In the ensuing battle two
men, one from each side, were killed. Romantic liaisons were discreet and
dangerous but village life was not lacking in these. In this women were more
adventurous and bold.

Overall atmosphere was that of peace and contentment as the limited


requirements of people were being met. The children were a happy lot as there
was plenty of time to play in the fields outside village which would continue till
late during moonlit nights of summer’s months. Marriages were mostly arranged
in summers after harvesting wheat crop which generated income to be spent on
such occasions. Marriage proceedings were quite lengthy, starting about two
weeks before the actual date of marriage. The bridegroom’s friends and male
cousins would get together in the evenings, their main activity singing songs
where everyone was persuaded to sing. Without modern days microphones,
singing taxed the vocal cords but some of the young men could sing very well.
Hafiz Sadiq, apart from reciting the Holy Quran, had melodious voice for songs
and used to remain in great demand on these occasions. Folk dances by men on
the sound of 'Dhol', the drum, were performed with enthusiasm and verve.
Hussain Dholi (called Senu; many of us did not know his real name nor bothered
to find out as distorting names was normal practice) was the only one from village
who remained quite busy and his work was supplemented occasionally by getting
more 'Dholis' from the neighbouring village Akwal when required, particularly on
the occasions of bull races.

Husain Dholi had also to provide his services to the women performing their
dances. Otherwise men were not to be seen around the place where women
would gather to perform 'Gharoli' a set of female folk dances, an important part
of the marriage proceedings. Women would go to the village 'cultural center' in
the afternoon, carrying a small size decorated earthen pitcher, a small 'Ghara' to
perform 'Gharoli', their session ending before sunset. Although that small pitcher
is extinct, the practice has been immortalized by our great singer Aabida Parveen
26

in her popular song 'main yar the Gharoli bhardi' meaning that I dance for my
friend. This 'cultural center' was an open space with a rainwater pond at one
corner of it, located on eastern end of the village under massive 'Pipal' trees.
During Eid days a 'Mela' would be organised at this place. Main entertainments
during the Mela at this spot were competition to carry weights, swings for
children and stalls of various eatables, mainly sweetmeats. Groups of acrobats
would also visit occasionally to display their skills like walking on a rope and other
likewise items.

Occasionally some theatre groups called ‘Nutt’ would be invited to perform in the
villages, a group from village Hamok in Khushab being very popular in the area in
the fifties. They would stage traditional dramas based on the love stories like Heer
Ranjha and Sohni Mahinwal etc. The show would be arranged in the fields during
the nights, particularly around dried water storage ponds called ‘Banns’, because
its layout facilitated the view of spectators. People from adjoining villages would
also come over to enjoy the performance which would last till the time of Fajar
prayers. In late fifties theatre groups of Alam Lohar and Inayat Bhatti started
coming to Talagang to perform, their shows attracting lot of people. Once a story
teller came to the village and was accommodated in ‘Hujra’, a room within
mosque premises. He stayed for quite a few days. At night after Isha prayers, he
would start narrating his stories which were listened to with rapt attention
because of their interesting content. ‘Hujra’ was part of the mosque used as a
guest room for travelers staying for the night. At Maghrib prayers, the prayer
leader would announce that there were so many guests that night for the food to
be provided to them which would be done by different households.

The children like adults were equally enthusiastic viewers and listeners to the
entertainment programmes. Parents were not worried about the children,
knowing that they were in a group and in the company of cousins and some elder,
the overall environments being peaceful without any threat. If some dispute
erupted the worst would be a fist fight or use of sticks. Firearms were
nonexistent. There were only two licensed weapons, 12 gauge shot guns, in the
village; one with my father and another one with Haji Noor Muhammad, the
person I have mentioned earlier. There was no concept of keeping any unlicensed
27

weapon. Police was much feared, a single Police constable appearing in the village
would create a scare.

‘Baithak’ a larger room in the house of some men, who had the charm to attract
audience, was another institution that provided opportunity to communicate and
share experiences. My father’s ‘Baithak’ would come alive after Maghrib prayers,
particularly during the long winter nights when men would gather to share the
day’s proceedings and enjoy smoking tobacco, the ‘Chilam’ taking rounds,the
smoke filled room with frequent bursts of laughter emanating from the company
of people at peace with themselves. During summers, in the absence of
electricity, roof tops were the venue for comparatively shorter meetings, the
gentle breeze providing some relief after the day’s work.

Apart from listening to singers who occasionally staged their performances in the
area, another source of enjoying the music was through Gramophone, a novelty
in the area. My father enjoyed listening to music particularly in his later years
having collected a large number of 78 rpm records. We, the children of our
household became familiar with names like Kallan Khan, Muhhammad Ali Faridi,
Muhammad Hussain Nagina Waley Qawwals and Ghazal singers like Zuhra Bai
Ambale Wali, Shamshad Bai, Akhtari Bai, Master Madan, K L Saigol and others.
Mian Muhammad Hussain from a nearby village ‘Chowkhandi’, who contributed a
good number of records to my father’s stock, would travel considerable distance
from his village to our home for enjoying listening to music in my father’s
company. Mian Muhammad Hussain in his younger days before emergence of
Pakistan had been travelling to Delhi carrying goods on his camels with trading
caravans where he had listened to most of the renowned singers in their famous
abodes. He could differentiate between subtle nuances of ‘Raaga’ and ‘Raagnis’
some names like ‘Kaanra Shahana’ and ‘Mian ki Todi’ coming up apart from
familiar ‘Bhairon’ and ‘Malkaunce’ etc.

When I started going to school, it was a lower middle school housed in a rented
building in one corner of the village in a fairly open area. It had classes from first
to sixth grade. Later during some reorganisation the classes were reduced to five
which remained so for a long period till the school was shifted to a newly
constructed building near the road and classes raised to middle and then high
28

school level. My first teacher was Lal Khan Dali from a nearby hamlet known as
Dhok Dali; an elderly well built man who had served in the Army and after
retirement had taken up teaching. Till old age he taught first grade class and was
expert in developing interest of small children in learning. Headmaster of the
village primary school was Master Abdul Hadi our immediate neighbour in the
village. He was a dedicated teacher who would organise extra classes for students
of class five who had to appear for the examinations at the middle school of
neighbouring village Saghar. These classes were held between the Maghrib and
Isha prayers in a vacant house near the main Mosque. Well prepared for the
examination when I appeared before an elderly teacher Syed Alam Shah at Saghar
School, he asked me a question as to why Mir Anis, the poet was known as Mir
Anis Lakhnavi. In chaste Urdu my reply was that Lakhnow was name of a city and
the people from that city were known as Lakhnavis. My reply and the tone
impressed the old man who asked other teachers present as to whose son I was?
When he was told that I was son of Malik Abdul Razaq, the old man was pleased.

My father, an agriculturist had joined education department during the period


when World War II was attracting young men from our area into Army. He was a
charismatic personality well known for his knowledge, inimitable style of dress
and mannerism. Securing first position in Punjab Province during senior teacher’s
course had given him the recognition he deserved. He held the degree of ‘Fazil e
Farsi’ commonly known as ‘Munshi Faazil’, a graduation in subjects less English.
The names of Persian writers and poets like Qa-ani, Khaaqani, Rumi, Attaar,
Firdosi, Saadi, Hafiz and others, heard in childhood remain imprinted in the
memory. He opted for premature retirement finding the changing environments
in education department not to his liking.

Coming back to Syed Alam Shah, the old man at Saghar School belonged to a
neighbouring village Dher Mond and had been teacher of the then Headmaster of
the School, Malik Karam Ilahi from village ‘Dhulli’. All the old teachers were
dedicated men respected by the society who did great service in inspiring children
of the new nation, preparing them to shoulder their responsibilities in life. It is not
surprising that the product of those ‘Tat’ schools did great service to the nation in
various fields. ‘Tat’ was thick matting woven in length used for small children in
29

primary classes who were to sit on ground. Tables and benches were made
available in secondary level schools. Management of the schools was done at the
District level by the District Boards for Education. An effective inspections system
was in place, the District Inspectors and Assistant District Inspectors at the District
and Tehsil level respectively carrying out regular inspections to check the
standards.

When I joined class sixth in Saghar School, I was told by Syed Alam Shah that
during his period of teaching Persian, I would stand by his chair instead of sitting
on the bench at my assigned place. I would read out the text and the teacher
would explain the meanings. If any of my class fellows was to commit a mistake
and the teacher wanted to punish him, he would ask me to give four blows on the
neck of that student, two on each side. He would ask me to harden my fists by
practicing on stones on my way back home. Promoted to class seventh, I was
given relief of not standing next to the teacher’s chair and did reading from my
bench. My first experience of getting the blows on my neck and how one felt was
in class seventh. While reading the text I committed a mistake and the teacher
told Akbar sitting next to me to give me four blows. Akbar had been frequent
receiver of my blows so he used his full force to do the job. For a short while there
was complete blackout before my eyes. I took some time to recover from the
shock. The teacher realising that Akbar had been extra efficient in obeying the
command, got out of his chair with some difficulty and himself gave Akbar a few
blows with his feeble hands. Akbar one day told me that the famous compendium
of classic tales ‘Alif Laila’ in Urdu was available at their house. I showed my
eagerness to borrow that for some days which I did and got engrossed into
reading the fascinating tales. It took some months to recover from the images of
fairies and princesses floating in imagination and thoughts on a raw mind. May be
such early experiences make a person an incorrigible romantic in life.

The distance between our village and the school at Saghar was about seven
kilometers on a dusty track. It involved crossing of two perennial streams which
would be flooded during rains. We the children from my village, substantial in
number used to move in groups. Going to and coming back from school was fun,
particularly while coming back when there was some spare time to indulge in
30

pranks. Three years in Saghar School passed and after class eighth I moved to
Talagang High School for matriculation, residing in boarding house on the edge of
a seasonal stream on eastern end of the town. This stream with its white
unpolluted sand was arena of a most entertaining game of ‘Kabbadi’ organised by
the local organisation once every week. Players from other parts of the region
would also be invited to participate in the game. Competing teams would come to
the venue with beating of drums and lot of fanfare. It was most enjoyable to see
the whole proceedings. Compounder Shafi was star player whose specialty was to
jump over the opponent, putting one foot on the opponent’s shoulder. For this
Shafi would make his opponent get into a position which facilitated his trick. Every
player knew his technique but would get beaten by his dexterous moves.

There were many other occasions to enjoy witnessing various kinds of sports like
the bulls races, a pair of bulls pulling load of mud. These competitions were
frequently held in different villages and promoted rearing of very good quality
animals of ‘Dhani’ breed, famous for their beauty and agility. The animals reared
by a family of Talagang, the Sabunia Maliks, known as such because of owning a
local 'Desi Sabun' (soap) factory, continued to win first prize in the annual festival
held at Lahore for a number of years. Other significant means of entertainment
were frequent ‘Melas’, the main event being annual three days festival organised
by the local administration at Talagang. One major attraction on this Mela was
the game of 'Pirr Kaudi' for which famous players of area including surrounding
districts would participate. Akbar Niazi from some village in Mianwali district was
a famous player of that game in late fifties. The game was different from 'Kabaddi'
which is played in a confined space and is still being played, the East Punjab
government being its recent patron. 'Pirr Kaudi' is played no more. In this game a
player challenges the opponents to catch him. Two players of the opponent team
accept the challenge. The challenger then starts running away from the start point
being pursued by the two men. The challenger, after running for a few hundred
yards remaining in sight of the audience, turns back to reach the starting point
avoiding being stopped by the two men pursuing him. He scores the point if he
can reach back to starting point without being stopped. This game was played by
tall men of ideal physique and it was a pleasure to watch them running and using
different techniques to score their points. The pursuers would often use a
31

technique called 'Kainchi' (Scissor). This was to use one's legs in a scissor fashion
to drop the challenger entangling his legs. The challenger would mainly use his
better speed, pushing and slapping the pursuers when they tried to come near
him. This whole process was most amusing for the audience.

The overall environment was of contentment, happiness and enjoyment in


outdoor sports and Melas. Almost every man living in the village was self-
employed. The peasants after sowing their wheat crop would go to Karachi in
winters to work in construction industry as labourers till the time of harvesting
their crop in April, earning some cash during the period. The animals would be
looked after by the women and children. Women worked more than men in the
agricultural households. Service in Army was preferred choice as agriculture could
not provide sustainable livelihood to the communities in the arid, rain fed area. As
a young man I started this journey of adventure spanning over three decades.

Looking back at the life as a witness and participant of events, I feel the pain of
distortions, misconception and lies about important events during our short
history as some would get revealed in the subsequent chapters.
32
33

Ayub Khan’s Era

Pakistan, after independence, lost its founder Governor General, Quaid-e-Azam


Muhammad Ali Jinnah just after one year. After another three years the Prime
Minister, Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, a seasoned politician, was assassinated in October
1951 as he was about to address public meeting in Rawalpindi. Former
bureaucrats, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad, Mr. Iskander Ali Mirza, Mr. Muhammad Ali
and others took over control of the country indulging in power games with the
result that no stable government could be formed. From 1951 to 1958 when
Martial Law was imposed in the country, seven Prime Ministers had been
changed in as many years. In 1954 General Ayub Khan, the Commander-in-Chief
(C-inC) of the Pakistan Army was inducted into cabinet as Defense Minister, a
strange decision but in keeping with mindset of rulers bent upon retaining power
regardless of propriety. The country did not have a constitution till 1956. In our
first constitution adopted on 23 March 1956, East and West Pakistan were made
into two equal units, having equal representation in the National Assembly
despite the fact that East Pakistan had more population. After two years and
frequent changes of governments, President of Pakistan, Mr. Iskander Ali Mirza
declared Martial Law in the country on 07 October 1958 taking over control of the
government and appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan as Chief Martial Law
Administrator. In an atmosphere of deceptions and intrigues when Iskandar Mirza
tried to cultivate junior officers bypassing Ayub Khan, he was overthrown. Ayub
Khan assumed control of Pakistan Government on 27 October 1958. Mr. Iskandar
Mirza was exiled to UK where he spent rest of his life.

Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, a graduate of Royal Military Academy


Sandhurst, UK, groomed in British Military tradition was a towering personality, a
very impressive man. He took over leadership role when military men were
heading governments in many other countries of the world after conclusion of
Second World War. Important countries like the US, France, Spain, Yugoslavia and
Egypt were led by former military men i.e. General Dwight D Eisenhower, General
Charles de Gaul, General Franco, Marshal Tito, and Colonel Jamal Abdul-Nassir
respectively.
34

The initial years of President Ayub Khan’s rule witnessed rapid progress in every
field. Right after independence, work on developing very sound and farsighted
policies for making overall progress had been evolved by dedicated and inspired
men of the nascent State institutions. As the political conditions stabilized,
development in agriculture, industry particularly in the textile sector, trading,
commerce, education, science and technology and almost every field became a
model for other third world countries. After resolving water dispute with India
through World Bank in 1960, two major water storage dams, one at Mangla on
River Jhelum and another at Tarbela on River Indus were constructed providing
cheap source of energy. A country, predicted by Indian leaders not to last for long
had become a model of progress, development and stability for developing
countries that got their independence from colonial rule after the Second World
War.

It is educative study to see how swiftly reforms and restructuring work was
carried out in a few years’ time. Ayub Khan gave a new Constitution in 1962, a
presidential form of government that suited our conditions more than British
pattern of parliamentary form. He introduced Basic Democracies System creating
a tier of administration, the Union Councils between village and Tehsil. Offices of
the Union Councils were constructed and made functional all over the country
within a very short time. The members elected for these Union Councils, initially
about eighty thousand in numbers, later increased to one hundred and twenty
thousand also acted as Electoral College for election of the President. Electoral
College thus comprised the people who were not just counted as in adult
franchise but weighed as aptly described by Allama Muhammad Iqbal in his
famous couplet on democracy. Ayub Khan was elected President under the new
Constitution and put off his uniform after about three years of assuming power.
In early 1965 he went for another Presidential election where he was opposed by
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, sister of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The old
lady who was living a retired life after Quaid’s death was persuaded by ‘Combind
Opposition Parties’ that included Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, of Jamat Islami
amongst others to confront Ayub Khan. The Maulana, who’s Party was known to
have US backing, had repeatedly declared that a woman could not hold the highest
office of a Muslim country, yet he joined the band opposing Ayub Khan. Mohtarma
35

Fatima Jinnah or her supporters had no program for reforms or any meaningful
manifesto. Their only agenda was removal of Ayub Khan. The elections created
some heat particularly in East Pakistan where Mohtarma got more support but
overall results were in favour of Ayub Khan.

Pakistan, during Ayub Khan’s rule was a liberal, peaceful, tolerant and relatively
prosperous society. Unemployment was almost zero. There were lot of
employment opportunities in the expanding industries in Karachi, Hyderabad,
Lahore, Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) and other cities. The peasants in rain fed areas
would get seasonal employment in construction industry in the big cities between
the period of sowing winter crops and their harvesting time. Everyone seemed
happy and satisfied with life, having good opportunities of entertainment through
frequent local festivals and sports events of all kinds. The province of West
Pakistan (present day Pakistan) was governed from Lahore, the provincial capital
by a Governor assisted by a small team of ministers. Malik Amir Muhammad
Khan, Nawab of Kalabagh, the Governor for about six years (1960-66) years was a
man of sterling character and outstanding administrative acumen. He ensured
peace in the province. East Pakistan was governed by General Azam Khan who
enjoyed enormous respect because of his hard work in reaching out to the
common man in his own inimitable style, making sincere efforts to solve people’s
problems. It was the golden period of life for a common citizen of Pakistan.

Two incidents will give glimpses of attitude of rulers towards the proprieties and
abiding by rules of law. In a TV programme some years back a retired senior
bureaucrat, late Syed Hashim Raza narrated that as Commissioner Karachi he was
approached by the President House to allot some land in Karachi to a particular
person. Since it was against rules, he refused to make the allotment. When the
President visited Karachi, Syed Hashim Raza apprised him of the reason for his
inability to comply with the demand. The President’s response was that if
something was against the rules, it should not be done. Syed Hashim Raza
remained in his job and was never asked for a favour again. In another incident
told by Mr. Ahmad Hussain Kazi, a senior engineer, one of President Ayub Khan’s
nephews studying at Cadet College Hasan Abdal left College without permission
along with some other students including Mr. Kazi to see a film at Ciroz Cinema in
36

Rawalpindi. Here Gohar Ayub the President’s son, who had also come to see the
film, persuaded his cousin to stay for the night, rejoining college by early morning.
College authorities noticed this absence and the student got rusticated. Requests
to college authorities by Gohar Ayub and then Major General Muhammad Rafi,
the President’s Staff Officer had no effect on college authorities to change their
decision. No one was removed from his post in the College for their refusal.
Comparison with attitude of President Ayub Khan and present ‘democratic’ rulers
will give clear indication of the state of deterioration we have descended into.

On external front relations with India had improved. Water dispute between the
two countries had been resolved by signing Indus Water Treaty in 1960 under the
aegis of World Bank. Punjab, the land of five rivers which extended from River
Indus in the west to River Jumna on the east had been divided. Some of the head-
works of canals irrigating Pakistani Punjab were located in Indian Punjab. When
the waters from head-works located in India were stopped by India, the canals
became dry, adversely affecting Pakistan’s economy and people’s lives. It caused
obvious tension in relations between the two countries. Ayub Khan’s detractors
later would accuse him of selling rivers to India, a most unjust criticism ignoring
the fact that part of Punjab going to India had equal right on the waters of Punjab
rivers. A look into process of prolonged negotitations over the issue would be
educative.

President Ayub Khan also offered India a joint defence pact against external
aggression. This was in line with thinking of British Indian Army High Command at
the time of partition of India as given by Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tucker,
then serving in India in his book. He wrote1;

‘Yet the frontiers were of as deep concern to Hindustan as to Pakistan, for


Hindustan, once they were breached, had no natural frontier left to her. More
than that, Pakistan had kindred peoples and probable allies stretching northward
far over her mountain borders into Asia. If she could be by any means persuaded
to stand beside Hindustan, then the latter would have all the advantage of this
vast cushion of Islam between herself and danger. India could then apply herself

1
‘While Memory Serves’ by Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tuker, Cassell& Company Ltd – London 1950,
Pages: 22 — 27.
37

to her own undisturbed development with a great feeling of security, knowing that
her own men stood far from her borders on the frontier of another State and
shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers of that State’.

In 1962 during the Indo - China skirmishes in the Himalayas; Pakistan remained
neutral and did not create any threat to India. Ayub Khan’s views about relations
with India and his abhorrence from any mention of fighting or use of force is
reflected from his remarks which my friend and fellow unit officer late Khurshid
Ahmad Mallal heard from the President. During an annual Commanding Officer’s
Conference held at the Punjab Regimental Centre Mardan which was followed by
Regimental lunch attended by senior officers of the Regiment, then Lieutenant
Khurshid Mallal heard the President snubbing Major General Akhtar Hussian
Malik, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 12 Division when he said to the
President that ‘Sir if you allow me, I will get you Kashmir in matter of days’. The
President’s response was that ‘don’t talk such nonsense again’. Soon after, the
President was tricked by conspirators into allowing an action which started armed
conflict with India, derailing Pakistan from path of progress.

In 1964, Mr. JawaharLal Nehru sent Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the influential
Kashmiri leader to Pakistan to meet with the Pakistani leadership to work on
negotiated solution of Kashmir dispute. It was great misfortune for people of both
the countries that while Sheikh Abdullah was busy in his meetings in Pakistan, the
tragic news of sudden passing away of Mr. Nehru were received and he had to
return to India immediately. That proved to be a great chance lost when the main
cause of conflict between the two countries could be peacefully resolved.

Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri took over leadership as Prime Minister of India after the
demise of Mr. JawaharLal Nehru in 1964. Mr. Nehru was an important player on
the world scene, a co-initiator of the Non Aligned Movement along with Mr.
Jamal Abdul-ul-Nassir of Egypt and Marshal Joseph Bronze Tito of Yugoslavia.
After his death, India was vulnerable to possible fragmentation into its natural
divisions as a number of secessionist movements were active in different parts of
India, the sub-continent, a geographical term and NOT a country. In the words of
Sir Winston Churchill, the great British leader;
38

“India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the


equator”.2

Mr. Churchill, as young subaltern had served in India, seeing much of the
subcontinent. He took part in operations as part of Malakand Field Force against
tribes in the areas now part of Pakistan. His observation is fully supported by
recorded history because the subcontinent was never ruled from one power
center. Hindustan was a collection of ‘Rajwaras’ (small states) during thousands of
years of its history. The sixth king of great Mughal dynasty died struggling to
conquer South India. Much before that, the mythical king Ashoka became
Buddhist, renouncing conquest southwards after seeing enormous killing in the
battle of Kalinga in present day Indian state of Orissa. The semblance of unity
under British rule is deceptive because when they left India in 1947, there were
five hundred and sixty two states of varying sizes apart from directly ruled parts
and vast independent tribal regions in all parts of India. The states were
independent in all respects except that they could not establish diplomatic
relations with other nations of the world. It was Mr. JawaharLal Nehru’s stature
and leadership and his Interior Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the
Iron Man of India’s acumen that started transformation of a heterogeneous,
divisive, multi religious, multi ethnic India to one united country. Patel’s method
was bribe, coercion and use of force.That Pakistan helped India in transforming
her from a geographical term into a strong country by timely interventions (in
1965 and 1999) to overcome their internal crises at the cost of being
dismembered itself is a painful chapter of history as being explained in the
narrative.

The skirmishes on India-China border initiated by the Indians in 1962 were used
to manage and subdue internal dissentions. At that time the main political party
in southern India, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), representing
Dravidians ethnic population was openly demanding separation from New Delhi.
A number of separatist movements were waging armed struggle in the eastern
parts of India. An external threat, contrived and blown out of proportions helped
Mr. Nehru to suppress internal discord. After his death, it would have been

2
Speech at Royal Albert Hall, 18March 1931.
39

difficult for his successor to maintain unity, had Pakistan not initiated armed
conflict with many times larger neighbor that turned the tide of history.
The 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, Causes and Consequences

After a few months of Mr. Nehru’s death, military forces of Pakistan and India got
involved in border skirmishes in Rann of Kuch, a marshy area in the south near
Arabian Sea, both sides accusing each other of starting the clashes in early 1965.
Cease fire was arranged by June 1965 due to efforts of the government of United
Kingdom (UK) and it was decided to resolve the dispute through arbitration. After
skirmishes in Rann of Kuch subsided, Pakistan infiltrated personnel of Azad
Kashmir forces followed by a group of elite commandos; the Special Service
Group of Pakistan Army into Indian occupied Kashmir. Since the public in Indian
Occupied Kashmir was not privy to plans devised by initiators of this conflict, they
did not provide required support to the infiltrators, who were soon detected,
some of them caught, killed and the rest ex-filtrated. The Indians responded by
artillery shelling and captured some posts on the ceasefire line in Kashmir
including Haji Pir Pass, an important point that could facilitate Indians in making
further advances to capture more areas of Azad Kashmir.

On First September 1965, a brigade of Pakistan Army’s 7 Infantry Division, was


launched across cease fire line in Chamb Sector of Indian Held Kashmir.
Command of the operation was with Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik,
General Officer Commanding 12 Division based at Murree. 7 Infantry Division,
commanded by Major General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan had been hastily
brought from its concentration area in Balloki Headwork where it was located
since Rann of Kuch crisis. The Brigade made rapid progress in capturing area up to
Tawi River within twenty four hours. Another brigade from 7 Division was to go
for next phase across Tawi to capture Akhnur and its bridge over Chinab River.
Here, on 2 September the Army High Command decided to make Major General
Yahya Khan responsible for Chamb Sector. Yahya took his time to proceed further,
causing delay of about thirty six hours thus losing momentum, giving the Indians
time to regain balance and induct more troops into the sector.
40

On 6th September, when Indians crossed International borders in Lahore sector,


Akhnur was just a few kilometers away from Mawanwali Khad, a seasonal nullah
where our troops had reached. According to Brigadier Amjad Choudhry, who was
commanding Corps Artillery allocated to the sector, Gen Yahya confided in him
that Akhnur was not to be captured. He repeated the same to a team of
Command and Staff College that interviewed him at his Harley Street residence in
Rawalpindi before his death in 1980. To the questionon why he did not take
Akhnur, he replied “Because I was ordered not to do it”.

Failure to capture unoccupied Akhnur Bridge over River Chenab during initial
offensive in Chamb Sector of Kashmir, the reasons for change of command and
unnecessary rather deliberate delay breaking momentum of the operation
continues to remain a mystery and subject of debate.

Against expectations of the National and Army leadership, the Indians crossed
international borders on early morning of 6 September 1965 to attack Lahore. The
troops from Chamb-Akhnur Sector were pulled out to counter Indian attacks
launched against Sialkot on 8th September. Shortage of troops had been indicated
by the Army Chief, General Muhammad Musa when operation to send infiltrators
was in planning stage, apprehending escalation of conflict to an all out war. His
demand of raising two more infantry divisions, roughly thirty thousand additional
troops if the country was to go to war, was partially met during the war by raising
one division.

The War of 1965 lasted for seventeen days resulting into a stalemate. A ceasefire
was arranged by the United Nations and negotiations between leadership of both
countries facilitated by the Soviet leadership resulted in Tashkent agreement
restoring status quo ante. Pakistan’s armed forces gave most commendable
performance against greater numbers of the enemy forces, denying them to
achieve their ground objectives. The most remarkable phenomenon however was
the spirit of Pakistani nation to show complete solidarity in facing the Indians. The
streets of Dacca and other cities in East Pakistan saw large scale demonstrations
against India although the Indians focused their effort on West Pakistan with only
an air raid at Lal Munir Hat in East Pakistan. However despite the fact that India
could not cause much damage to Pakistan and its armed forces despite their
41

numerical superiority, the conspirators achieved their aim as Ayub Khan’ position
weakened after the War. In fact he suffered heart attack soon after the war and
never regained health that he had enjoyed earlier. Indian Prime Minister Mr Lal
Bahadur Shastri died of heart attack on conclusion of proceedings at Tashkent,
President Ayub Khan joining USSR Prime Minister Mr Kosygin to shoulder Mr
Shastri’s coffin to the aircraft.

Drifting into war with India in 1965 was Ayub Khan’s Himalayan blunder. The
global forces managing affairs of the region using their tools like CIA and British
intelligence agencies could not tolerate the pace and extent of progress that
Pakistan had started making. They decided to act. Removal of Ayub Khan on the
pattern of Liaqat Ali Khan earlier would not serve their purpose. The whole
structure, not just one man had to be wrapped up. Embedded ‘assets’ like Z A
Bhutto and some key position holders in State structure were activated to start
the act. Pakistan was made to fight a war with six times larger India, a process
that culminated in breakup of Pakistan in 1971. Z A Bhutto assumed power in his
‘New’ Pakistan, replaced 1962 Constitution that suited the Pakistani conditions
and nationalised industries to destroy the work of years by enterprising
Pakistanis, Chinioti Sheikhs, Memons, Valikas, Bawanis, Sehgals and others.
Choudhry Muhammad Latif who had established Batala Engineering Company
(BECO), the largest mechanical complex, spent his last days in Germeny tening to
plants and flowers.

The 1965 War between India and Pakistan effectively sealed Pakistan’s fate as a
strong and prosperous country. Pakistan drifted into this War by machinations of
Mr Zulfiqar Ali (Z A) Bhutto, the young foreign minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet, a
rabidly ambitious man in too much of a hurry. He was used by global capitalist
forces that did not want the largest Islamic country progressing at unprecedented
pace going out of their control. The global forces had found Ayub Khan
obstructive to their dictates when he tried to keep them at the status of FRIENDS
and NOT become MASTERS (The title of his autobiographical account ‘Friends,
Not Masters’). The differences had surfaced a few years earlier. During skirmishes
with Afghan Forces in Bajaur area that occurred in September 1960 and again in
42

May 1961 the US representatives had asked the Government of Pakistan whether
the latter had used “American equipment” in ejecting Afghan elements from her
territory. The President’s reply was that “if our territory is violated we would
spend our time dealing with the enemy rather than putting the American
weapons in cotton wool”.
Z A Bhutto, the man who played leading role in getting Pakistan into war with
India in 1965 was a man armed with Brahamanic intellect, a courtesan’s charm
and a feudal’s duplicity. He was gifted with qualities that are best described by Sir
Maurice James, the British High Commissioner in Pakistan (1961-65) who had
following to say about Bhutto,3

"Bhutto certainly had the right qualities for reaching the heights--drive, charm,
imagination, a quick and penetrating mind, zest for life, eloquence, energy, a
strong constitution, a sense of humour, and a thick skin. Such a blend is rare
anywhere, and Bhutto deserved his swift rise to power…..but there was - how shall
I put it? - a rank odour of hellfire about him. It was a case of CORRUPTO OPTIMA
PESSOMA a flawed angel. I believe that at heart he lacked a sense of dignity and
value of other people; his own self was what counted. I sensed in him ruthlessness
and capacity for ill-doing which went far beyond what is natural.

Except at university abroad, he was surrounded by mediocrities, and all his life, for
want of competition, his triumphs came too easily for his own good. Lacking
humility, he thus came to believe himself infallible, even when yawning gaps his
own experience (e.g. of military matters) laid him---as over the 1965 war--wide
open to disastrous error.

Despite his gifts, I judged that one day Bhutto would destroy himself -- when, I
could not tell. In 1965, I so reported in one of my dispatches from Pakistan as
British High Commissioner. I wrote by way of clinching the point that Bhutto was
born to be hanged. I did not intend this comment as a precise prophecy of what
was going to happen to him, but fourteen years later that was what it turned out
to be".
3
http://www.baaghi.tv/bhutto-in-the-eyes-of-british-high-commissioner-sir-maurice-james/
43

Bhutto was born and brought up in Bombay (Mumbai) in India. At the time of
creation of Pakistan he was studying in USA. After completing his studies, he
came to settle in Karachi. Till early sixties, when he was a minister in the
Pakistan’s cabinet, he claimed to be an Indian citizen in litigation to get his
father’s property in Bombay, India. In Karachi soon after his arrival from USA, he
cultivated contacts with the then President Mr. Iskandar Mirza by befriending
Mirza’s son, Mr. Humayun Mirza. Although already married, he contracted
another marriage with a Persian girl reinforcing his contact with Presidency
through Persian second wife of the President. Sharp, persuasive and articulate, he
soon got inducted in the cabinet as a very young minister. When Ayub Khan took
over from Iskandar Mirza, he retained Mr. Bhutto as a minister in his cabinet first
as Minister for Commerce and then as Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

About his scheming and role in initiating armed conflict with India that led to
breakup of Pakistan, I got a chance of listening to a retired bureaucrat, a veteran
foreign ministry official who reached the highest rank in our Foreign Service.
During conversation with his friend in my presence, he said that;

“Mr. Z A Bhutto, the Foreign Minister used to say that the only way to remove
President Ayub Khan was to initiate war with India. After 1965 War he would use
very derogatory and abusive language against Army”

I asked the bureaucrat's friend if he would say that in public. The response was
that the man would never do that.

Another foreign office veteran had this to say;

“Generally of course everyone in the foreign office would confirm that Bhutto had
a great part in the events that led to the country's breakup”.

The fact that Mr. Bhutto had decisive role in initiating this conflict with the help of
a small group was known in influential circles of that time.

Major General Syed Ali Hamid writes that after about one month of skirmish in
Rann of Kutch, Z A Bhutto suggested to his father, Major General Shahid Hamid
that it was time to attack India. Despite being rebuffed he continued his advocacy
44

of going to war with India. In connection with matters of Kashmir Cell set up in
the Foreign Office “to de-freeze the Kashmir situation”, Z A Bhutto also visited
senior army officers at their residences and General Musa complained to the Field
Marshal that “Bhutto was brainwashing his officers.”

Syed Ali Hamid writes, “There is sufficient evidence to substantiate the fact that
the Field Marshal was reluctant to go to war. After the conflict he told my father,
“Shahid. These people pushed me into the War”.

Who were these people that the Field Marshal was alluding to? According to Ali
Hamid a coterie of bureaucrats including Defense Secretary Nazir Ahmad and
others were supporting Z A Bhutto in his designs. About Major General Akhtar
Hussain Malik’s role he writes;4

“A number of bureaucrats from Rawalpindi used to go to Murree for the weekend,


where they would relax, play cards and chill out. Gen Akhtar, as GOC 12 Division,
would at times attend these sessions. Once he was dared by the bureaucrats that
Pakistan Army had done nothing for Pakistan’s creation or the liberation of
Kashmir. At this Gen Akhtar spoke up that he had a plan and disclosed the
rationale for Operation Gibraltar. The bureaucrats were reportedly quite taken in
and the Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmad went and reported it to the Foreign
Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto”.

To general public Bhutto was projected as a hawk working for Kashmir cause
whereas his real motives were personal. A few years back, US Air Attaché in
Pakistan during the period of 1965 war Colonel (retired) George L Singleton, USAF
wrote in his letter to a Pakistani newspaper that,

“Foreign Minister Bhutto largely engineered the foolish events that caused or
incited the 1965 war. Ayub Khan had to have known what was going on, but his
chief ‘goader’, if you will, into this war was Bhutto”.5

He further wrote,

4
http://pakistanthinktank.org/a-page-from-history-home-truths-of-the-1965-war
5
Dawn – June 14, 2007.
45

“The 1965 war was a monstrously dumb move on the part of Mr. Bhutto and the
Army chief of staff who clearly initiated the whole war”.

Colonel Singleton wrote this while responding to a controversy on the role of Air
Marshal Asghar Khan, the Air Chief at the time of Rann of Kach skirmishes. Asghar
Khan, on his own got in touch with Arjun Singh, his counterpart in India asking
him not to use Air Force to prevent possible escalation. His statement that ‘Mr.
Bhutto and the Army chief of staff clearly initiated the whole war’ is corroborated
by Colonel Syed Ghaffar Mehdi who writesabout his involvement in the 1965 war
(excerpts);
“This writer is a personal witness to the unfolding of this tragedy as I had the
honour to command our Army's Corps de elite, the Special Service Group (SSG) at
this critical juncture. In late May 1965, I was directed by the Vice Chief of General
Staff, (late Major General Abid Bilgrami) to go to Murree and see GOC 12 Division,
Akhtar Hussian Malik. The GOC's briefing of the outline plan of Gibraltar operation
left me stunned. The plan was so childish, so bizarre as to be unacceptable to
logical, competent, professionally sound military persons anywhere in the world.

I frankly told General Akhtar Malik that the Operation was a non starter and that I
would render the same advice to the Chief and Vice Chief of General Staff. At GHQ,
the same day I briefed the CGS and VCGS, who listened to me patiently. The result
of my presentation however was barren of the result. Major General Malik Sher
Bahadur (The CGS) posed only one question. You (Mehdi) say that operation
Gibraltar as planned stands no chance of succeeding, but Akhtar Malik (COG 12
Division) feels confident of its success. My reply to the Chief of the General Staff
was that, the conflicting view point of Mehdi and Akhtar Malik notwithstanding,
as Chief of General Staff of Pakistan Army, he should also have an opinion on this
important matter as we were not playing a peace time war game, but with the
destiny of Pakistan itself. To this date I remember the reaction of the CGS. He went
red right up to his ears, and after a painful pause got up, extended his hand to
shake and brought the interview to an end with the remarks that it is always
interesting to listen to you!!”

He further writes that;


46

“The simple truth emerging from the narrative is, that neither the C-in-C Army nor
General Staff had the guts to stand up to the President, Field Marshal Ayub Khan,
and tell him that his advisers in the ministry of Foreign Affairs supported by GOC
12 Division, Akhtar Malik were taking him on a long ride commencing with
Gibraltar, leading to his downfall via Tashkent, as it eventually proved! The loser
in the final analysis was Pakistan, described so feelingly by General K.M. Arif in an
analysis carried by daily Dawn', 6th September 1990. How and why Pakistan
blundered into war..........
At that time, the policy making in the country was highly personalised. The
institutions were weak and by-passed. Pakistan's Foreign Office with Mr. Aziz
Ahmed as the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Z.A. Bhutto as the Foreign Minister called
the martial tunes. It had miscalculated that despite operation Gibraltar, the
fighting was likely to remain confined inside the disputed state of Jammu and
Kashmir. The Foreign Office is on record to have assessed that India was not in a
position to risk a general war with Pakistan......
For inexplicable reasons the General Headquarters based its operational plan in
Kashmir on a wishful logic. The misplaced ego, the high ambition and the naive
approach of a selected few plunged the country into an armed conflict. The
outcome of the war, or the lack of it, eclipsed Ayub's position”.6

A scholar based in USA writes;


“……..Bhutto and his foreign secretary Aziz Ahmed's role in misguiding Operation
Gibraltar. I have four CD's of declassified CIA documents that I researched last
year at the Lyndon B Johnson archives in the University of Texas at Austin that
point to the role of both Bhutto and Aziz Ahmed……..
…..ZAB was playing his own game to make the generals look idiotic which they
indeed were”
Excerpt from email of Shemeem Burney Abbas, PhD
Author: Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws: From Islamic Empires to the Taliban &
The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India
Website: www.shemeem.com

6
http://www.defencejournal.com/july98/1965war.htm
47

Another writer, Arshad Ahmed, in an article on the 1965 war writes;

‘Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wanted to deprive Ayub Khan of his power, and this was not
possible until the strength, ego and pride of the army was not smashed. This view
was supported by Marxist leader Tariq Ali, who asked Bhutto about the 1965 war,
and Bhutto told him, “Until these generals are not defeated it is not possible to
get in power in Pakistan”.7

It would be interesting to find out exact written directive of the President from
the records of the President House/Foreign Ministry. Reportedly President Ayub
Khan’s gave just a two worded directive; ‘Defreeze Kashmir’. Mr Z A Bhutto the
Foreign Minister had succeeded in convincing the President that it was time to
instigate disturbances in Indian Held Kashmir to bring Kashmir issue to world
focus by sending some infiltrators to start the process. This was done on the false
assurance that problem would remain confined within Kashmir, the disputed
area.

As operation in Chamb Sector across the ceasefire line was in progress, our High
Commissioner in India Mr. Arshad Hussain on 3rd September sent an urgent
communication to our Foreign Office that India had decided to launch attack
across the international border in Lahore sector on 6th September. This vital
information was concealed from the President by the Foreign Minister Mr. Z A
Bhutto and his Foreign Secretary Mr. Aziz Ahmad because they were themselves
working to expand the conflict.

The years between 1965 war with India and that of 1971 war saw lot of
disturbance in the peaceful conditions prevailing before 1965. President Ayub
Khan’s position weakened as a result of an unnecessary and costly war as
intended by its initiators. Soon after the war some armed forces personnel from
East Pakistan were arrested on the charges of conspiracy to break up Pakistan
with Indian help. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, leader of Awami League was also

7
(Excerpt from article Kashmir And The 1965 War By Shabir Choudhry, 1st October 1998.
(http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/shabir/shabir_1998_10_1.html)
48

arrested for being involved. The case, known as ‘Agartala Conspiracy Case’ had to
be withdrawn due to political pressure on Ayub Khan by political parties leaders
from West Pakistan.

Mr. Z A Bhutto parted ways with his benefactor, President Ayub Khan, whom he
used to call 'Daddy', by launching his own political party, named Pakistan People’s
Party (PPP). The party was mainly supported and joined by socialist element of
the society, later sidelined by strong feudal elements when Bhutto came to power
after the 1971 war. The people were promised food, clothes and shelter (Roti,
Kapra aur Makan), ownership of lands and factories thus drawing support from
large illiterate sections of the society who continue to dream of those promises
being fulfilled, giving repeated chance to People’s Party through their votes to
plunder national resources for personal gains.

Soon after 1965 war, ‘Agartala Conspiracy Case’ involving Sheikh Mujibur Rehman
working for creation of Bangladesh came to light and Z A Bhutto left Ayub Khan’s
cabinet to launch agitation against the regime. Both were working in tandem as
tools of global forces for break up of Pakistan. The game was on.

Ayub Khan’s achievements as President of Pakistan are shrouded in vicious


propaganda against him by Bhutto and those who followed him. The people who
enjoyed life of peace and happiness during that time and witnessed the prestige
that our country enjoyed in the comity of nations did not write much of their
experiences. Those born in nineteen sixties and afterwards that make almost
ninety nine per cent of Pakistan’s population today were fed with false facts that
they have been made to believe in. If a person of my age is asked about his
opinion, he will have something like the following to say:

"The Ayub Era was the golden times of Pakistan. We were respected as a nation
across the world. ….

Heads of States would consult Ayub Khan on matters of their foreign policy.
…..American President RF Kennedy asked President Ayub Khan for his advice as to
how they should deal with the Viet Nam. Ayub Khan's advice with its l logic is
recorded in its original handwritten form by Mr M B Khalid who was the President
Ayub's personal secretary. It is available in Mr Khalid's book "Aiwan e Sadr Mein
49

16 saal" (16 years in the Presidency). The book covers a lot about Ayub Khan as a
head of state and as an individual.

I still remember ….his stirring stepping down speech when during the Bhutto's
agitation, one student was killed by an over enthusiastic policeman, He came up
on the national TV and Radio in the morning and said “I cannot preside over the
death of my children." ……Ayub's is the only era when Pakistan experienced real
socio /economic progress on a long term strategic plan.
We had pride in ourselves as Pakistanis and held our heads high. During those
days the maintenance of the Kaaba was paid for by Pakistan (through the Nawab
of Bahawlpur first and later by the Government of Pakistan!) ………

I do remember the sense of peace calm and security during Ayub Khan's era. In
fact security was a given thing, and one did not even think on the subject.
Corruption and safarish were relatively unknown aspects of daily life for common
citizens…… We were free as a bird. There were no price hikes noticeable. A price
hike of four annas (twenty five paisas) per kilo of sugar was what Bhutto
trumpeted and got the student community to rise against Ayub Khan (his
proclaimed 'daddy')…..
There were hardly any complaints with the government which was 'common man
friendly’…A sense of pride and security is what stands out of those golden days….
Ayaz Ahmad"
(Excepts from e mail of a senior citizen)

Some video clips about Ayub Khan’s visits abroad that were very few and his
interaction with heads of states of countries like USA taken from archives of US
Embassy and other records circulating these days are being seen by our young
people with surprise. It gives them a totally different picture than what they have
been made to believe in. However there is nothing much in print to reflect correct
portrayal of the man and his times.
50
51

General Yahya Khan’s Rule

As Ayub Khan’s control over the government weakened due to agitations initiated
by Mr Bhutto, the Commander-in- Chief Pakistan Army, General Agha Muhammad
Yahya Khan assumed powers by declaring Martial Law in March 1969, removing
Ayub Khan. There is misconception created by Ayub Khan’s detractors that
instead of handing over powers to the Speaker National Assembly according to
1962 Constitution, Ayub Khan handed over powers to Generl Yahya. The fact is
General Yahya Khan removed Ayub Khan by declaring Martial Law. Yahya Khan
abrogated Constitution and announced holding of general elections. As events
proved shortly afterwards, Yahya Khan was confidante of US President Richard
Nixon who used Yahya’s services in sending his national security advisor Mr
Henery Kissinger on a top secret visit to China. Conisdering that US was against
Ayub Khan, it is quite likely that General Yahya had blessings from US
adminsteration to assume power.

The results of general elections held in December 1970 were against calculation
of the President and his team who expected a split mandate in both East and
West Pakistan. According to results Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib Ur
Rahman swept elections in East Pakistan based on his six point formula
demanding provincial autonomy. Only two seats were won by others. In West
Pakistan Mr. Bhutto’s PPP won majority of seats in the provinces of Punjab and
Sind. The provinces of Frontier (now KPK) and Baluchistan voted for the
nationalist and religious parties.

General Yahya is credited with holding fair elections in the country but that can
only be said about West Pakistan. In East Pakistan the elections were won by
Awami League because of massive rigging, intimidation and violence. The
opponents of the Awami league were prevented to go to the polling stations. The
government machinery in the province was totally ineffective and could not
prevent Awami League workers who controlled the polling process denying other
parties to exercise vote.
52

A major decision by General Yahya before the polls was to break up 'One Unit'
which had been formed by amalgamating the existing provinces, states and tribal
areas into one Province of West Pakistan according to the first constitution
adopted in 1956. This arrangement was not changed in the second constitution
implemented in 1962. The decision to do away with One Unit was reportedly
taken on behest of Mr Wali Khan who contacted Yahya's brother Agha
Muhammad Ali, a Police officer to ask his brother to dismantle One Unit. This was
not a public demand at that time. The public demand was adult franchise, one
man one vote, to replace the system of about eighty thousand members of Union
Councils electing the President according to 1962 Constitution. This break up was
granted in the Legal Framework Order formulated by Yahya Khan's government
and elections were held accordingly. Yahya Khan with his coterie comprising few
Generals including the infamous ‘General Rani’ and selected bureaucrats was on
way to supervise break up of Pakistan. The forces inimical to Pakistan had found
the characters to play their game.

According to election results, Awami League had an overwhelming majority. It


was in a position to form the government but was not allowed to do so, starting a
chain of events which in a short span of one tumultuous year led to break up of
Pakistan. The National Assembly session, called at Dacca on 03 March 1971, was
boycotted by Mr. Bhutto who stopped his party members to attend the session
and threatened others from West Pakistan of physical violence like breaking their
legs if they tried to attend the session. This development precipitated the crises
causing widespread disturbances leading to virtual anarchy. Military action to
control the situation further aggravated the situation resulting in open rebellion
in East Pakistan, culminating in war with India and break up of Pakistan. Mr.
Bhutto ultimately achieved his objective of ruling a country even if it were only a
part of what was once the largest Muslim country of the world enjoying most
prestigious position in the comity of nations.

General Yahya Khan as President mostly remained in an inebriated state and did
not want to leave the President House. A general impression about him was that
during service he was always hard up in clearing his mess and club bills which
mainly were for drinks he used to consume in large quantities. On reaching the
53

President House he found that the drinks were free so his problem had been
solved. He was enjoying the best quality drinks free of cost. After elections, he
first tried to get assurance from Mr. Mujib to keep him as President even if was to
be without any powers but Mujib could not give him this assurance. Mr. Bhutto
then invited him to Larkana where understanding developed between the two.
After this meeting General Yahya postponed the National Assembly session called
at Dacca on 3 March 1971, precipitating the crisis.

General Yahya, after being released from detention by General Zia ulHaq in 1977
lodged a petition in the Lahore High Court.8 The General made an affidavit
therein. In the said affidavit in paragraph 9, the following is stated,

“That this threat of Mr. Bhutto that whosoever will go to Dacca his legs will be
broken could put at stake the national solidarity. This aggravated the situation in
East Pakistan and was a violation of the legal framework order. This threat from
Mr. Bhutto’s side provided a cause of revolt in East Pakistan. This was no less
dangerous than the six points and clearly meant separation of the two wings of
the country. The deponent times and again used to warn him and it was a matter
of habit with him that he listened patiently but never bothered to act upon any
advice. The speech delivered by Mr. Bhutto in Iqbal Park was tremendously
perilous to the integrity of Pakistan. Rather, it was more suicidal to the integrity of
Pakistan than the six point’s formula ……. but Mr. Z. A. Bhutto was a clever and
venomous toad. Mr. Bhutto was slave to his lust for power so much so that he
proposed the concept of two prime ministers in one country which the deponent
strongly condemned. In answer to Mr. Bhutto’s threatening speech of IDDHER
HAM UDDAR TUM at Karachi, Sheikh Mujib on 12.3.1971 also delivered a public
speech wherein he reiterated the unity and solidarity of Pakistan. It is the opinion
of the deponent that Mujib was patriotic at that time unlike Mr. Bhutto. Had Mr.
Bhutto not been elected to the Assembly he would not have been able to make
such unpatriotic speeches and statements which ultimately contributed to the
breakage of Pakistan.”

8
Petition number 1649, year 1978, The Lahore High Court.
54

If one man is to be held responsible for dismemberment of Pakistan, it is General


Yahya Khan.

 First, he wrongly if not forcibly assumed power. According to the 1962


Constitution that was in place, the Speaker National Assembly was to take
over when President Ayub Khan was made to quit.
 Then Yahya Khan took a decision to break up one unit which had come into
being after detailed deliberations and delay of about nine years when the
First Constitution was adopted in 1956. Even in the Second Constitution
changing the form of government from parliamentary to presidential
system adopted in 1962, the arrangement of one unit was not changed.
West Pakistan under this arrangement had functioned with great efficiency
when the district governments were effective and the Divisional
Commissioners were in support of the district administration. Yahya Khan’s
decree in forming large unequal provinces is cause of continuing political
instability of present day Pakistan. If at all the provinces were to be formed,
the commissionaries existing at that time in both wings should have been
formed into new provinces.
 After holding elections in 1970 he failed to form government and hand over
power to the political party leader who had won majority of seats during
elections. Although people around him like Mr Z A Bhutto were working for
their own interests but it is a fact that he yielded to their devious plans that
caused break of Pakistan.

At another level the events were progressing according to the master plan aimed
at cutting Pakistan to size. This strand was working through Sheikh Mujib and Z A
Bhutto as scripted by their global masters.
55

Call to Arms

After completing training at the Pakistan Military Academy as part of 2nd War
Course in June 1966, I joined 34th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment then part of
the 9 Infantry Division located at Kharian Cantonment. The unit had been raised
on 29 December 1965 at the Punjab Regimental Centre, Mardan and moved to
Jamrud Fort near Peshawar under the newly raised 9 Division. After a few months
the Division was ordered to move to Kharian Cantonment, built with US aid in mid
fifties. On reaching Kharian I found that the unit was deployed on Ceasefire Line,
later termed ‘Line of Control (LOC)’ after the 1971 war. Only a small rear party
was left at Kharian. I joined the Battalion Headquarters located at a small place
named ‘Padhaar’ in Bhimber Sector. The unit was then being commanded by
Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abdul Rashid, who had taken command on
promotion. I was first posted to ‘D’ Company located in area Dewa - Batala. Here
apart from enjoying the ripe mangos falling from the massive old trees, I listened
to interesting accounts from Subedar Abdul Rahman about his journey as part of
6 Jammu and Kashmir Battalion of State Forces from Jammu to Bunji crossing over
Burzil Pass and his company commander Captain Hassan Khan’s role in liberation
of Gilgit and Northern Areas. Subedar Abdul Rahman, a wrestler from Bhimber
area was then a Lance Naik in Hassan’s Company.

I was soon moved to a post named ‘Ban Chihraan’ in ‘C’ Company opposite ‘Lalial’
post occupied by the Indians. These were well known land marks referred to in
the context of fighting during recently concluded 1965 war. My company
commander here, Major Riaz Hussain Javed was a tall, loud and very energetic
person, a good hockey player. He later died of heart attack while commanding a
battalion of Azad Kashmir Regiment at Kharian. Other company commanders
included Majors Razzaq, Raja Asghar, and Captain Shaukat Butt. Captain M Saeed
Azam Khan, a Janjua from the famous village Mator near Rawalpindi who was the
first officer to join the unit on its raising, was holding key appointment of Adjutant
of the unit. Saeed Azam with whom I had long association afterwards was a saint
like person with a subtle sense of humour, never joining dubious activities and
had the grace to tolerate other’s follies without rancor. Major Nisar Muhammad
Khan, also joined the unit as Second-in-Command at Padhaar. The unit reverted
56

back to the Cantonment in September 1966 where an intensive period of training


started. Here in 1967 the unit was converted from normal infantry battalion to
the Reconnaissance and Support (R&S) Battalion, taking over vehicles, weapons
and equipment from 25 FF in swapping roles.

All units of the Division were newly raised comprising two types of manpower.
One category was of skeleton staff taken from old units and some retired
personnel recalled during the September 1965 war with India.The other category
was of young recruits joining after a short period of training at respective
Regimental Centers. The Division was commanded by Major General Bahadur
Sher, a fearsome officer who was an ideal choice to mould raw manpower into an
effective fighting machine. His imposing personality, dedication, hard work and
competence made 9 Division a highly trained, motivated and spirited formation in
just three years of his command. During my later service I did not see any other
general officer who’s orders were obeyed hundred percent. He was the man who
could ensure implementation of his orders by constantly guiding and monitoring,
getting the best out of his command.

Since his methods and approach were unique and never replicated by anyone
later, a little detail would not be out of place. Main points in organising training of
raw manpower of the Division with possible offensive role as Army Reserve were:

 During first year, the scope of training was limited to individual, platoon
and company level training. While in the cantonment, no officer including
Commanding Officers could come to the offices before 10 AM. They had to
remain in the unit training area with the troops. The small arms issued to
the Division were the newly introduced Chinese 7.62 mm caliber series
weapons which included pistols, rifles, sub machine guns, light and heavy
machine guns. Extensive practice on functioning of these weapons was
given enabling the men to dismantle and assemble these weapons in
complete darkness of the nights. The firing results of the units were
genuinely above 80%. A very different approach was adopted to achieve
these results. Every unit would give half of their training grant to the
Engineer Battalion of the Division who would prepare targets and make
these available at firing ranges along with range organisation, the
57

manpower and safety measures laid out. The units just had to take their
weapons and ammunition and start their firing practices without wasting
time on fixing targets and safety flags etc. The firing was done by the
individuals without spoon feeding or being given words of command for
every action, a major deviation from normal practice. After start of firing by
the first detail, there was only one word of command given by the officer in
charge throughout the day i.e. ‘Detail Change’ till the day’s proceedings
were concluded. The men would advance to the firing point, take up
position, fire and clear their weapons, all their actions being watched by an
NCO quietly without speaking a word. He could just tap a man’s shoulder if
there was some mistake but it was very rare. The officer seeing that
everyone had completed the process would order ‘Detail Change’. On this
all waiting details that would be busy in carrying out different practices like
using aiming rests, mirrors to correct their positions, and other musketry
practices would change to next position. It gave tremendous confidence to
soldiers in handling weapons and firing standards improved to a great
degree. The range organisation was a model which unfortunately was not
emulated.

 During the second year scope was expanded to battalion level training. In
outdoor exercises mostly practicing offensive operations, the General
would be present in the battalions at two occasions; the orders by the
battalion commanders and standing on the objective of battalion attacks
that was mostly during the nights. He would get timing of units adjusted to
ensure that he did not miss any battalion event. Prayers for his sickness
never materialised.

 During the third year, progressing to brigade level training, brigade


exercises were held culminating in a divisional exercise. Instead of an
elaborate control organisation to conduct Divisional exercise, the General
assisted by four officers had complete control of the Divisional exercise, the
two brigades advancing on two different axes in ‘advance and encounter
battle’ role. While getting run down on actions by the units on wireless sets
of his small control net, he himself manning his set instead of an operator
58

or staff officer, he would ask for the actions of various company


commanders whom he would refer by name. He knew the company
commanders and their abilities by now having frequent interaction with
them during the last three years. Since he was using wireless sets of my
unit and I had the frequency, it was great education listening to him and his
grasp of continuously changing situation.

 The General would provide guidance for the smallest detail. He had
ordered that the vehicles when stopped or parked must face the direction
in which these had to move out. If the moving column had to stop even for
a very short duration, the vehicles were immediately camouflaged by using
appropriately garnished nets. This appeared cumbersome at first but with
practice it became easier. Once Lieutenant Colonel Saeed Qadir (later
Lieutenant General) commanding officer of Electrical and Mechanical
Engineer (EME) Battalion of the Division came to our Mechanical Transport
Park asking to start up the vehicles. 34 Punjab had about 150 vehicles,
mostly jeeps to carry the recoilless rifles and machine guns detachments.
His purpose of visit was to find out which of the vehicles emitted smoke.
While returning from exercise area, the General has observed our vehicles
emitting smoke and instead of asking our CO, he asked the EME officer as
to why these vehicles had defects. The General knew who was to be made
accountable to get results from his subordinates.

 For physical training apart from the normal routine, a special exercise plan
known as BX Plan was introduced. These exercises of about fifteen minutes
were to be done before the afternoon games period and every individual
was to do these at that time wherever he was located. The cooks carried
out these exercises outside their place of duty i.e. the Cook Houses.

 Almost half of the year was spent outdoors in the exercise area bounded by
Grand Trunk (GT) Road in the west, up to Bhimber in the east and from
Jhelum River down to the Chenab River. There was no dearth of fuel
required for training and we had become familiar with the terrain to the
extent that we could even refer to old trees in the area.
59

 Although every day created some amusing scene, I will quote one such
incident which still brings smile in solitude even after so many years. In
initial phase of training in our new role when most of our weapons were
jeep mounted, one afternoon the General called our Commanding Officer
(CO) to his lonely tent pitched in the area of Daulatnagar on Gujrat –
Bhimber road. We were busy in our platoon level outdoor training, our unit
camping near Daulatnagar. While the Divisional Headquarters was working
at Kharian in normal routine, the General had pitched his tent in the
collective training area, with just a small detachment from the Military
Police and a staff officer with him. Concerned about how the weapons and
equipment were being placed on the jeeps, the General briefed our CO
about his idea and told him that he will see the load tables of different
vehicles. Next morning he came for visit where vehicles of company
headquarters and my platoon were lined up in a nullah bed near
Daulatnagar and started with his usual fault finding and outbursts. We were
all standing beside our vehicles according to seating order, the driver
standing beside the driver’s seat, commander besides his seat and others in
the same pattern. I could hear my driver engrossed in remembering ALLAH
by repeating ‘Ya Allah, Ya Allah’ in whispers which were quite audible to
me. When the General asked a jeep driver that how much tyre pressure
was to be maintained, the driver although aware of the answer and the
limits of pressure also written on the tyre in front of him stammered in his
response. Our CO completely absorbed in the situation shouted at the
driver asking him in Urdu which meant,

‘Jawan, do not get scared, if the General has to eat someone he


will eat me not you’

The General concluded his visit realizing that he had overdone his acting by
getting such response from our CO who was otherwise most deferential
towards him.

A large number of young officers, Second Lieutenants joined the newly


raised units who had sprinkling of seniors officers taken out from the old
units. Officers from short courses were passing out from the Pakistan
60

Military Academy every month so after one year of being raised, each unit
had about ten to twelve Second Lieutenants on its strength. To improve
their professional competence and mould them into effective team, the
General ordered a very comprehensive promotion examination spread over
about two weeks for them to get the next rank, of a Lieutenant. According
to Army rules no such examination is required and the promotion is
granted after completion of short period. It was a very unusual and
interesting activity when about one hundred and twenty young officers
spent about two weeks together in outdoor activities being put through
tests of physical fitness, firing skills, decision making in battle situations,
knowledge about administration, rules and regulations etc. It created very
healthy feelings of comradeship among the officers of different arms and
services in the Division in addition to a concentrated dose of professional
training.

 There is endless tale of interesting incidents. Each day was an exciting day
generating activity stimulated by boundless commitment to achieve
professional excellence by everyone in the Division under an inspiring
commander.

The years between 1966 and 1971 spent at Kharian were full of learning,
adventure and joy. The life and its requirements were very simple. A young
officer’s pay in mid sixties when I joined my unit was less than Rupees 500/- (five
hundred) per month. This was more than enough because the expenses on food
were about one third of pay and rest of the amount was enough for other
expenses i.e. on clothes, travel and entertainment, mainly cinema even if one had
to travel to other cities. The quality and quantity of food was much better than
one can afford these days. The day started with bed tea. Breakfast comprised
porridge, two eggs, bread, butter, jam and tea. After some snacks with tea or
coffee in the offices/unit, lunch in the mess contained two dishes, one a meat
dish and the other vegetable or lintels and fruit. That was followed in due time by
evening tea with biscuits. Dinner again was an elaborate affair in the form of
frequent dinner and guest nights. The expenses on the day's meal, the 'daily
61

messing' was not to exceed Rs 3.5 as laid down in the regulations. However the
messing would exceed that limit at times. A strict check was kept by the officer
detailed as Mess Secretary and further supervised by the second in command of
the units as their duty.

The officer’s messes and the officers clubs served drinks from well stocked bars.
We who had joined in bulk after 1965 War, mostly from the villages were from
different family backgrounds where in our houses and environments we were not
exposed to use of spirits. On joining the units we were initiated into drinks by our
seniors. Some of us started enjoying occasional drinks particularly during the
week ends. Most favourite place was the garrison club where one had the facility
to watch a movie screened on a wall out in the open, a game of ‘Tambola’ and a
bottle of very fine quality Murree Brewery beer in the summers. During winters
Whiskey and Jinn were in demand. The ‘Aabdaar’, a term no more in use, who
poured drinks ordered at the bar remained quite busy on the weekends. Liquor
was freely available throughout the country from particular shops that had the
license from the government to sell it. Even opium was available from specified
shops having license to sell till late nineteen fifties. Sale and consumption of
spirits was banned by Mr. Z A Bhutto in his last days in power to please Mullahs
expecting to save his rule.

The routine of officers in an infantry unit started with physical exercise period in
the morning with the troops. After that we would come back to the mess to
change into uniforms, have breakfast and rush back for training with the troops
which lasted till mid morning. After attending the training in unit training areas
we would come to the company offices located in the residential barracks of
troops to attend to office routine. At lunch time we would go back to the messes,
have some rest after lunch and then come back to units for a sports period with
the troops. This lasted till about sunset after which we would get back to our
rooms in the mess and prepare for the supper in the mess or dinner/guest nights
which were quite frequent. These were attended by senior officers of the unit in
turn basically to ensure propriety and grooming of young officers. All this running
about during the day was done on rented bicycles. Every unit maintained a cycle
shop to cater for the needs of the officers and the soldiers alike. Television was
62

introduced in 1964, a novelty not available at the household level. The life
therefore was mostly spent outdoors in healthy activities.

Cinema was main source of entertainment in those days. There were a number of
cinemas providing entertainment for the whole families. There were different
charges for various classes of seats within the cinema halls; front seats being the
cheapest and galleries at the back costlier. The charges of tickets varied from half
a rupee to about three rupees at the maximum. Whole families could watch
movies together because there was no vulgarity in the films like present times.
Some cinemas screened English films only. In Rawalpindi, Cirose (which is still not
demolished) Plaza and Odeon screened English films. For watching Indian movies
people would travel to Kabul when these got banned to be screened in Pakistan
after 1965 war. Travelling from Kharian to Rawalpindi or Lahore on weekends was
frequent because it was not expensive, the bus fare being about two and half
rupees to both cities as Kharian is almost at equal distance from both major cities.
My roommate Asif Ali Rizvi would make the choice of destination easy. According
to him as we came out on the G T Road, parking our bicycles at the Petrol Station,
the first bus in either direction was to be taken to reach Rawalpindi or Lahore. We
would stay with our fellow officers in the Messes so there was no expense on
lodging. Expenses on food and watching the films were not much burden on the
pocket.

For entertainment of troops, the units would invite singers including singing and
dancing girls to perform in the open on special occasions like raising days or on
some other excuse. Aziz Mian Qawwal had been recently introduced into the
army units and was in great demand. He was once invited by our unit and gave
mesmerizing performance during good part of the night in our unit lines
entertaining the troops, one soldier going into trance oblivious of surroundings
affected by Sufi poetry. On the eve of our departure to East Pakistan, the unit
arranged a function inviting singer Bilqees Khanum, Anokha Ladla fame, along
with a dancing girl from Lahore and another bunch of dancing girls from nearby
Lalamusa. The soldiers would also sing and perform skits particularly targeting the
seniors for their idiosyncrasies.
63

I picked up the habit of some reading, starting with the biographies. On weekends
I would often travel to Rawalpindi and spend a few hours at London Book
Company in Saddar where now a bakery stands. Books in paperback did not cost
much, about five rupees for a Penguin Classic. Libraries were also well stocked
and there was culture of making use of these fine institutions. Reading was a
pleasure which I enjoyed for a few years till I landed into the turmoil in East
Pakistan followed by a period of incarceration. After that I lost energy required to
concentrate on reading books, my reading capacity restricted to magazine and
newspaper articles.
64
65

THE EXPERIENCE
Part – II
66
67

Move to East Pakistan

My unit was required to move to East Pakistan in April 1971 to replace 27 Baluch,
a unit of similar composition, according to orders issued by the General
Headquarters in their annual movement/rotation plans for the units. I, a Captain
then, was doing Martial Law Duties as a member of Special Military Court at
Lyallpur (later renamed Faisalabad). Late one evening I got a message to move
back as the unit was to move in emergency to East Pakistan. 9 Division from
Kharian had been ordered to move immediately. Another division, the 16th
Division from Quetta had also been ordered to move as a consequence of Army
action of 25 March 1971 to overcome unrest in East Pakistan. Before moving
these two divisions, there was only one infantry division; the 14th Division of
Pakistan Army located in East Pakistan. This Division had four brigades instead of
normal three, each brigade comprising three infantry battalions. Out of the total
twelve infantry battalions in these brigades, seven battalions were from the East
Bengal Regiment.9 These units and about thirteen thousand troops of para
military East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) revolted. Bengali troops in the remaining units’
which were up to thirty percent in some of these units had also to be disarmed.
14 Division was thus virtually ineffective till reinforcements arrived from West
Pakistan.

The two divisions moving to East Pakistan were not to take their complete
elements i.e. Armour Regiments, full complement of Artillery, Engineers, Signal
and service units etc. Authorised strength of an infantry division was then about
fifteen thousand persons. Practically these two Divisions moved just with their
infantry battalionsby air to reinforce the troops in East Pakistan. Roughly about

9
Seven regular army Bengali infantry battalions of East Bengal Regiments (EBR) were present in East
Pakistan in March 1971. The 1st EB was in Jessore, attached to the 107th Brigade. The 2nd EB was in
Joydevpur north of Dacca, attached to the 57th Brigade. The 3rd EB was in Saidpur with the 23rd
Brigade, and the 4th EB was in Comilla with the 53rd Brigade. The 8th EB was preparing to ship to West
Pakistan and was at 75% strength in Chittagong. The East Bengal Regimental Center (EBRC) in
Chittagong housed 2,000 Bengali troops including the newly raised 9th EB. The 10th EB, a training unit,
was in the Dacca cantonment attached to the 14th Division. Bengali officers commanded the 1st, 2nd
and the 10th EB, while the rest were under West Pakistani officers.
68

twenty thousand troops were airlifted to reinforce the small garrison trapped in
East Pakistan.

Our move started from Kharian by train up to Karachi and then onward by
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to Dacca on a circuitous route passing over
Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The Indians had stopped our flights over India earlier by
staging a drama of hijacking. A Fokker aircraft, nick named Ganga, was brought to
Lahore by some Kashmiri persons resulting in banning of Pakistan’s flights over
India thus increasing flight time from two hours to almost seven hours. Mr. Z A
Bhutto was prompt in embracing the hijackers praising their action.

It was a most remarkable achievement of our national carrier, the PIA, to move
these troops in a very short time. The airline staff worked tirelessly far beyond
their call of duty. We could genuinely take pride in their performance and
achievement. Otherwise also the PIA was considered one of the best airlines in
the world. Air Marshal Noor Khan, in his younger days when he was Air
Commodore worked in his inimitable style to make our airline one of the top ones
in the world. The motto adopted ‘great people to fly with’ truly reflected their
status. Noor Khan was replaced by Air Martial Asghar Khan, another outstanding
professional. The airline lost its position by induction of political workers which
gradually eroded its efficiency to land it in its present state. Karachi, a city of lights
in those days was hub of air travel east of Suez. Gulf region airports then did not
exist.

I along with my company landed at Dacca Tejgaon Airport by mid day on 6th April,
the unit’s move being completed by 8th April 1971. In the company I had two
more officers, Captain Muhammad Afreen and Lieutenant Muhammad Saeed
Tariq (who embraced SHAHADAT on 13 December 1971 at Panjbibi, District
Bogra). We were just carrying our personal weapons, their ammunition and a
spare pair of uniforms in our backpacks. Our heavier equipment and weapons like
vehicles, recoilless rifles etc were to move by sea from Karachi to Chittagong from
where these were to be collected later. We could get hold of our equipment after
the completion of first phase of operations by end May 1971.
69

It may be difficult to understand for our younger generation, living in the age of
instant communications that we had no clue about situation in East Pakistan
before we landed in Dacca. On reaching Karachi, before undertaking air journey
we got the feelings that something was seriously wrong in that part of our
country. This information was provided by the people coming back from East
Pakistan on return flights from Dacca. It gave very harrowing details of atrocities
being committed by Bengali criminal gangs on non Bengali population because
the State had lost control and had stopped functioning in that part of the country.
It was on reaching Dacca that we learnt about the grave situation and some
details of Army action started on 25 March 1971 to restore State writ in East
Pakistan.
Initial Operations - April 1971

After assembling and doing duties in Dacca for a couple of days, the unit was
given the task to clear area up to Narsinghdi, a small town north east of Dacca.
The unit was placed under 14 Division, losing its affiliation with the 9 Division.
The unit concentrated across a stream by crossing over Demra ferry site in south
east of the city on 10 April and started its move on the morning of 11th April. It
was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hafeez Ur Rahman, Alpha Company
commanded by Major M Saeed Azam Khan, Bravo Company by Major Khurshid
Ahmad Mallal, Charlie Company by Captain Nazir Ahmed (author) and Delta
Company by Captain Nisar Hussain Bukhari. The move towards north started
along Dacca- Narsinghdi- Bhairab Bazar road with Major Mallal’s company
leading. We had mustered a few small civilian vehicles including a Volkswagen
ambulance to make one platoon (about thirty plus strength) mobile. This mobile
platoon commanded by Captain Mian Bux Baloch led the advance movement, rest
of the troops following on foot along the road. We also had the support of four
Artillery guns following behind us under command Major Khurram Jahandur.
As soon as the leading platoon covered a distance of about three kilometers, it
came into a well laid ambush from the both sides of the road through trees
forming a horseshoe pattern. Leading platoon took up position alongside the
road to return fire. According to well practiced drill without losing time, the
following platoon was given code word “Babbar Sher Alpha” by Major Mallal, the
70

company commander ordering the platoon to come behind rebel’s position


moving from the right side, keeping a distance of about one thousand yards from
the rebel’s position. Alpha in our code word meant move from right and Bravo
was for move from the left side depending upon the lay of the ground. The
distance of one thousand yards was considered safe from enemy small arms fire
even if the move had to be in open without any cover available. Naib Subedar
Abbas leading his platoon started moving at quick pace, unmindful of the firing
which he knew could not be effective, to come behind the positions from where
fire was coming.

As the rebels realised that they were being encircled, they started gradually
withdrawing taking advantage of the cover available to them as could be seen
from decreasing intensity of their fire. Their withdrawal was being covered till last
by one light machine gun (LMG) position. To tackle this LMG fire, Naik Amanullah
along with a sepoy (whose name I cannot recollect now) from the platoon trying
71

to encircle rebels, started crawling towards the position. The area in front of the
trees from where fire was coming was open and without any cover except for
slightly raised edges of the fields from where rice crop had been harvested. Naik
Amanullah reached LMG position from behind and physically got hold of the man
firing it. In the process he got a bullet in his thigh. Naik Amanullah, was an
interesting character. He had recently been demoted from Lance Havildar to Naik.
This had happened to him second time. He would always do some funny thing to
deserve a demotion soon after he got promotion because of his seniority. He
rejoined the unit after his wound had healed. The person who was firing the LMG
to cover withdrawal of rebels from ambush site was a stout, well built person.
Despite efforts, he did not speak a word. He did not look like a Bengali. In all
probability he was an Indian working with rebels as we learnt of Indian’s physical
involvement later. During exchange of fire few unoccupied thatched huts caught
fire, most likely torched by retreating rebels which were later shown as evidence
of arson against the Army.

As that position got cleared in about two hours’ time and unit was preparing to
resume advance, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General M Rahim
Khan landed on the roadside in a small helicopter. He had recently taken over
command of 14 Division replacing Major General Khadim Hussain Raja.General
Tikka Khan Commander Eastern Command had also been replaced by Lieutenant
General Amir Abdullah Khan (AAK) Niazi who assumed command on 10 April
1971.

Major General Rahim was briefed by our CO about the situation. The move
restarted with Alpha Company (Major Saeed Azam) leading. Study of the map
indicated a possible rebel’s position about five kilometers ahead in areas of two
road bends. As our leading elements neared first road bend, the CO ordered my
company to move towards a possible escape route of the enemy and take up
position to block that route. I quickly moved in that direction and as soon as
reached the indicated position, fire fight in the road bends area had begun.
During this firing, the unit called for Artillery fire from the four guns following the
column. Captain Muhammad Saleem, my course mate from 2nd War Course was
artillery observer directing the fire. Distance between rebel’s position deployed in
72

tree lines and our troops on the road was about hundred fifty yards apart.
Because of miscalculation, all the four shells landed on our own positions. First
shell landed directly on a LMG being fired by Second Lieutenant Abdul Ghafoor
killing him instantly. Second shell landed near the CO injuring Subedar Major Alam
Badshah, the third wounded Captain Saleem, the artillery observer who had
called for fire and the fourth one also killed and wounded some men. In all, there
were four dead and five wounded from this volley of our own fire.

As I reported to the CO on wireless set that I had taken up position as ordered, he


told me to come behind the enemy positions from a flank. I started to move
keeping about one thousand yards distance from small arms fire that was
ineffective, the bullets landing near us which did not stop our move. As my
company reached behind enemy positions from a flank, darkness of the night had
taken over. Firing had stopped and the rebels, taking advantage of the darkness
and cover available to them from the woods withdrew towards Narsinghdi. I
established contact with the unit and then learnt of casualties suffered by the unit
that day.

Next morning i.e. on 12th April we resumed advance towards Narsinghdi. On


reaching a small stream we found the road bridge demolished. The troops had to
wade through water. By afternoon we approached the town where we saw a
number of people lined up on road, some wearing Jinnah caps and carrying
Pakistan flags raising slogans ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. They informed that the
miscreants had fled (Malaun log bhag gia).

After a day‘s stay at Narsighdi, the unit was ordered to prepare for move further
north towards Bhairab Bazar where rebels were entrenched across Meghna River
at Ashuganj rail/road Bridge blocking movement towards Brahmanbaria in the
east. The position was very difficult to approach and a brigade size operation of
considerable complexity was reportedly being planned. It was to approach the
rebel positions from three directions i.e. frontally over the bridge, through the
river using river craft and from behind the positions landing some Special Services
Group (SSG) troops using few available helicopters. The operation, however, got
swiftly completed when SSG troops commanded by the legendry TM, Major Tariq
Mahmud (later Brigadier who lost his life during a practice para jump in
73

Gujranwala Cantonment) assaulted the positions from behind after heli-landing at


dawn. The rebels, suffering heavy casualties, abandoned their trenches and ran
towards east leaving huge caches of arms in their abandoned positions.

After spending about two days at Bhairab Bazar, the unit moved over the
Ashuganj Bridge towards Brahmanbaria. After covering some distance in that
direction it was ordered to turn back and move north in the direction of
Kishorganj, as part of the Brigade tasked to clear area up to Mymensingh. In this
move there was no opposition encountered but the march to Mymensingh took
us over a week ending on 23 April. As our Brigade approached from the east,
another force supported by some tanks had already reached the city from south a
day earlier as transpired later after some confusion and loss of life. A branch of
River Brahmaputra running east of city separated the two forces. On reaching the
river from east our leading troops were fired upon from across the river. The fire
fight raged for some time when noise of tanks getting started in Mymensingh was
heard. This rumbling of tanks caused alarm. After frantic efforts to establish
contact the confusion got cleared. The Division had failed to coordinate the
movement causing this unfortunate situation resulting in loss of life of two
soldiers of the leading unit of our Brigade. The reason given was that our Brigade
was out of communication with the Division. The elderly Brigadier Zulfiqar Khan
had been marching with us, losing contact due to the distances involved and lack
of appropriate communication equipment.

While marching towards Mymensingh, normal routine was to start the move early
morning and after covering a distance of roughly 30 to 35 kilometers set up camp
for the night. On first day of our march, main problem confronted was from
where to procure meals because there was no system of logistics supporting the
move. When the unit halted for a break at mid day, solution was found in
searching for rice and cooking utensils from abandoned houses. It took lot of time
to prepare a meal of boiled rice and some lentils. Later it became a practice to
prepare meal of boiled rice and meat by slaughtering a goat or even a calf taken
from the abandoned habitats en route. As our column advanced, the local
population living in small villages/hutments on the route vacated their houses and
moved away on sides to avoid contact with the force. As we approached towns
74

the people came out on the road with Pakistan’s flags. This was to assure the
troops that there was no need to take any hostile action. Bulk of the population
from these towns en route had also left to safer areas in the interior avoiding
contact with the forces because of uncertainty and fear caused by Army action in
Dacca.

While marching towards Mymensingh, the unit stayed for a day at Kishorganj, a
small town connected with Dacca on the railway network. Here for the first time
since we started from Narsinghdi, we got some ration supplies through
improvised transportation on the railway track by the efforts of our
quartermaster, Captain Shafiq Sarwar Malik. Leaving one company (Delta,
commanded by Major Nisar Bukhari) at Kishorganj, the unit resumed onward
march towards Mymensingh.

On reaching Mymensingh we came to know of the mass killings of the non


Bengalis in that city. Residents of a colony of non Bengalis (Biharis) had been
killed to the last soul. Some people had taken refuge in the main mosque but they
were also killed. Here the Commanding Officer, made responsible to restore
order, held meeting with the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of
Police, a daily routine every evening to review the situation. Since on arrival of
troops the rebels had left the place withdrawing to India, there was no more
trouble in the area. Normal activity by civil administration was resumed as the
Army reached the areas where anarchy had prevailed for few months that caused
atrocities and killings of the non Bengali population in the district particularly the
city of Mymensingh.

Here, we came under command another brigade, commanded by Brig Noor


Ahmad Hussain. The unit was tasked to secure area up to Durgapur bordering
Indian State of Meghalaya towards north. Two companies, Alpha and Bravo under
the Second in Command (2IC), Major Muhammad Hafeez Raja secured the area
without any resistance.

The unit stayed in Mymensingh/Durgapur area for about a month before it was
ordered to move to Bogra in North Bengal, crossing River Jumna. By this time
railway system had been largely restored and the unit moved by train to
75

Bahadurabad Ghat on river bank. The vast river was crossed by means of a large
ferry; rather a small ship which took more than one hour to cross the great
waterway. On reaching the other bank we were informed that instead of Bogra
we were to proceed to Rangpur in the north.

On reaching Rangpur, coming under command 23 Brigade, the unit was tasked to
clear the area of Bhurangamari across Dharla River. This large salient with its base
on the river was surrounded by India from three sides. One Captain Nawazish, a
Bengali officer had established rebels position across river, covering the main
route and other possible crossings. He had started conducting raids on our thinly
held positions manned by 25 Punjab.

For planning the operation to clear that area, Brigade Commander, Brigadier
Abdullah Malik (later Major General) accompanied by CO 29 Cavalry, took our CO
and the company commanders to the area held by 25 Punjab. Briefing had been
arranged in the Company Headquarters of Major Khalid (25 Punjab) who gave a
rather grim picture of the situation. After his briefing, plan given by CO 29 Cavalry,
Lieutenant Colonel Sagheer Hussain Syed (later Lieutenant General) included
crossing the river frontally with four amphibious tanks (the only ones available in
East Pakistan) and a crossing from a different site by about fifty men of 34 Punjab,
thus bagging the rebels. On this our CO showed reservations on use of such a
small force to capture a large, well entrenched enemy occupying position
stretching over about three to four kilometers on the river astride main route.
Lieutenant Colonel Saghir made a remark that if they (34 Punjab) could not do it,
he would do it with his own troops. On this a very unpleasant exchange of words
took place, Major Khursheed Mallal taking on the Colonel with some harsh words
in a nasty tone. That ended the meeting. Although our CO interjected to reduce
tension but damage was done. Abdullah Malik, visibly annoyed ordered that the
unit should plan and carry out the operation as they like. Sagheer Syed then
showed inability to provide the amphibious tanks.

Major Khurshid Mallal who caused this unpleasant situation had earned some
reputation of being an abrasive person. A ‘Gallian’ who joined 2 Punjab after
passing from the Academy soon got himself inducted in the Special Services
Group (the SSG). While travelling with his platoon for some duty in Sindh, he
76

created a rumpus at Hyderabad Railway Station in which the Station Master got
seriously hurt. Expelled from SSG, he joined an infantry battalion where he had
verbal dual with the CO on parade ground. Placed on ‘Adverse Report’ he joined
34 Punjab at Kharian. Here, given the importance by appointing him as Adjutant, a
key appointment of the unit, his positive side overtook his weaknesses. He proved
a most responsible, competent and hardworking officer. Every day, we the
younger lot would not want to even talk to him because of his harsh attitude and
ticking off on minor faults during duty hours. But off duty hours he would be
jovial, exuberant, reaching out to get everyone out for fun, a most likable
companion. On demand from us his juniors, his blue coloured Vaxhaul, the only
car in our bachelor quarters, used to make frequent evening trips to Lalamusa for
watching the dancing girls singing and dancing in their famous abodes. It was not
considered any crime then.
77

Crossing of Dharla River to proceed further towards Nageshwari and


Bhurangamari was attempted during next night from the place earlier suggested
by Sagheer Syed but it was obviously occupied as was expected. The unit had to
launch a frontal assault wading through water to reach the enemy positions.
During this operation the unit lost two men. After securing enemy position on
river bank, the unit started advance to clear area up to borders which took
another three days. Brigadier Abdullah Malik was so annoyed with the unit due to
above mentioned incident involving Sagheer Syed that when informed about the
unit securing far banks of Dharla River by his Brigade Major Abdul Haq Mirza he
remarked that ‘tell the unit that this operation is failure from my side’.

After clearing that area, 34 Punjab was ordered to relieve 8 Baluch at Thakurgaon
in the extreme northwest, handing over Bhurangamari sector to 25 Punjab.
Starting from Dacca, the unit had changed many formations and ultimately landed
at a place where it had to fight its final battle. It had covered great distances
overcoming opposition in clearing vast areas from rebels, a feat unmatched by
any other unit operating in East Pakistan during that period.

When we were at Mymensingh, the CO (Hafeez Ur Rahman) ordered Captain


Muhammad Afreen of my Company to proceed to Dacca/Chittagong and other
places and bring mechanical transport of the unit which had reached by ship at
Chittagong and some of the vehicles particularly recoilless rifles mounted on jeeps
had been distributed to different units spread all over. Captain Muhammad Jamil
had arrived with the unit’s equipment and stores but he could not manage to
move the equipment upwards. In fact he had no clue as to where the unit was
located because of the continuous movement up to that time as I have narrated.
When Captain Afreen was leaving, he overheard CO telling Major Mallal that we
could write off this officer. In his assessment the officer would take months to
recollect the distributed vehicles from different places because of severely
disrupted communication network and disturbed conditions. When Captain
Afreen, with his indomitable will, unbounded courage and superb improvisation
abilities brought all the vehicles, equipment and stores in less than a month’s
time while we had reached Rangpur; the CO was surprised on this outstanding
78

feat of the officer. Later he would remark that if this officer had been part of the
British Army operating in such like situation, a book making absorbing reading
could have come out on the problems confronted by him and methods adopted
to overcome those problems in completing this task. The officer deserved to be
awarded for his achievement but we in 34 Punjab were working with different
mindset; oblivious of self interest, struggling to overcome difficulties in most
extraordinary conditions prevailing at the time in East Pakistan.
79

Thakurgaon

On reaching Thakurgaon in June 1971, the unit relieved 8 Baluch which was to go
elsewhere; leaving one company commanded by Captain Akbar Niazi at
Pachagarh. The area of responsibility spanned about one hundred and fifty
kilometers of border with India. The unit, with strength of about six hundred men
was responsible for the Thakurgaon sub division of Dinajpur District tasked to
maintain law and order and restore normal living conditions for the disturbed
civilian population besides looking after the borders. This was seemingly
impossible task. A part of the sub division, a finger like area projecting towards
Nepal in the north west named Titulia, had not been cleared from the rebels
because it was difficult to hold, being a thin strip in firing range of Indians from
both flanks. In the deployment made by CO, three companies in addition to 8
Baluch Company were placed along the borders and the remaining one company
placed at Thakurgaon. My company was deployed along the border with India
covering about sixty kilometers length of the border. Company Headquarters(HQ)
with one platoon was located at a place named Rani Shankail, one platoon
commanded by Captain Muhammad Afreen placed at Nek Mard and the third
platoon commanded by Lieutenant Muhammad Saeed Tariq at Pirganj (there
were more than one towns of this name). ‘A’ Company commanded by Major M
Saeed Azam Khan was deployed towards north of my positions in area Balidangi –
Ruhea and ‘D’ Company (Major Bukhari) further north and east to cover the area
of responsibility given to the unit.

We started patrolling the area and contacting people in the villages to restore
their confidence, helping them to overcome fear caused by the events of last few
months. This area had remained comparatively peaceful being away from the
major cities. During the period of lawlessness when there was no government
control all over East Pakistan in the months of Feb, March and April, the non
Bengalis had been killed in large numbers all over the country. Here at Rani
Shankail we found a small group of Pathans who had survived the ordeal. Their
80

business was money lending and they were in the area to collect their dues. They
had survived because this area had not been affected by the hatred rampant in
other areas particularly large cities.

The period from June till August was comparatively peaceful with few incidents by
rebels, the Mukti Bahini conducting a few raids, including one on my Company HQ
during one night and planting mines, coming from across the border.

The fact that rebels could not establish any sanctuary in the Thakurgaon sub
division was due to untiring struggle of the officers and men of our unit. The
efforts were spearheaded by the new CO, Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier)
Amir Muhammad Khan, one of the pioneers of Special Services Group (SSG) who
had replaced Hafeezur Rhaman in July, the later going to Command and Staff
College Quetta as Directing Staff, a prestigious career assignment. Colonel Amir
was nicknamed Governor by the unit officers because of his name, cast, style and
81

manner resembling the redoubtable Malik Amir Muhammad Khan, Nawab of


Kalabagh, ex Governor of West Pakistan during earlier part of Ayub Khan’ era.
Colonel Amir, a courageous man was ideally suited in inspiring his command for
the task assigned to the unit that was responsible for restoring and maintaining
peace in a very vast area, countering Indian sponsored terrorism and finally
fighting the Indians. At all stages his towering personality was source of strength,
contributing to successful outcome of the assigned tasks.

The ‘Governor’ would get hold of Maulvi Tameez ud Din, a local Jamaat Islami
Amir almost every morning and start his tour of the area addressing people
covering different villages according to a systematic plan. His focus was to explain
to the people as to what caused this tragedy and that the army was for their
service and was there to help them. His efforts and that of rest of the officers and
men succeeded in denying sanctuaries to Mukti Bahini formed by Indians in the
vast area of our responsibility. Their attempts remained confined to cross border
activity mainly in laying mines on different tracks in the area near borders which
caused some casualties to our officers and men. In our efforts to reach out to the
people in our areas of responsibility, workers of Jamaat Islami were great help in
organizing meetings with the villagers to restore their confidence, remove fear
and seek help in denying rebel sanctuaries. They were most reliable, honest and
truthful people who later suffered political victimization and continue to do so at
the hands of Sheikh Mujib’s followers.

During one such patrolling mission along the border Lieutenant Abdul Waheed
embraced Shahadat due to Indian mortar fire. Naib Subedar Abbas got his leg
amputated due to mine laid on a track. The CO’s priority was so focused on
continuous touring the area that one day when Commander Eastern Command
Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan (A A K) Niazi landed at the Battalion
Headquarters at Thakurgaon; the CO was out on his normal tour. There was some
lack of coordination between the Brigade Headquarters and the unit, as our
Adjutant, Captain Javed Anwar Cheema claimed ignorance about the visit while
Brigade Major Abdul Haq Mirza insisted that he had informed the unit Adjutant
on telephone. Such incidents further aggravated relations between the unit and
its immediate higher formation. This was one factor because of which no one
82

from our unit got any gallantry award because the citations for awards forwarded
to Brigade were not processed as it transpired later; although performance of the
officers in some actions merited highest gallantry awards.

About awards, Lieutenant Colonel Hafeez Ur Rahman, the CO till mid July 1971 did
not initiate any recommendation. It was suggested to the CO to initiate citations
for awards for the first day’s actions. On that day we had two encounters and
cleared the opposition in a very short time in most audacious manner. In those
actions we had suffered nine casualties including one officer being martyred. The
CO’s response was that we were being paid for the job and should not claim
awards for fighting against rebels. This was faulty logic because the bullets fired
by rebels were equally lethal and acts of bravery merited recognition.

After change of command, the new CO sent some recommendations including


that of Captain Muhammad Afreen for an action in Pachagarh area but because of
unsporting attitude from the Brigade Headquarters as alluded to from the
incidents mentioned earlier, these recommendations were not processed. Later
when the gallantry awards were announced after few months, a large number of
people from other units had been bestowed with gallantry awards. As the awards
were announced, I got in touch with Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Muhammad
Safdar (popularly known as ‘ginger’, a Khattak from Shaidu near Nowshera) of my
unit who was posted at Headquarters Eastern Command as staff officer dealing
with the awards. I asked him as to why 34 Punjab had not received any awards
having lost two officers by then and having achieved some most spectacular
successes in operations. He informed that Eastern Command had not received
any citation/recommendation about any one from 34 Punjab.

The only gallantry award received by the unit was Tamgha e Jurrat (TJ) to Havildar
Muhammad Sharif (retired as Honorary Captain) after repatriation from the
Indian POW camps in 1974. One of our anti tank platoon had been placed under
command 27 Brigade deployed in Brahman Baria area opposite Indian State of
Tripura in the East. This platoon was commanded by the burly Captain Mian Bux,
a Chandio Baloch from Sindh. Brigadier Saadullah, on repatriation made a special
effort to initiate Havildar Sharif’s citation and got him this award for an action
during battle near Aashuganj Bridge on Meghna River in December 1971.
83

Brigadier Saadullah was a very reputed officer for his courage, character and
competence. His Brigade while withdrawing from Brahmanbaria towards Bhairab
Bazaar was being closely followed by advancing Indians from east. On reaching
Meghna River, the Brigadier with a small force carried out a rear guard action to
facilitate his Brigade in crossing the great water obstacle. In this he used Anti Tank
Platoon of 34 Punjab, Havildar Sharif being one of the detachment commanders.
This action caused the Indians to recoil, leaving tanks in running condition. Troops
of the Brigade could thus cross over the River without interference from Indians.
Brigadier Saadullah was impressed by performance of Havildar Sharif in this
action and after repatriation he ensured that the NCO was awarded.

Havildar Sharif’s case is interesting. He was our Officer’s Mess NCO working for
quite some time in that appointment very efficiently. While at Thakurgaon, he
was removed from that task because he was getting meat free of cost but
charging the Mess a nominal amount knowing that the officers would not tolerate
getting anything free of cost from the public. The Officer in Charge of the messing
while checking found that the rates of meat were very low so he probed to find
the facts. This caused Sharif’s removal from mess duty to a task which earned him
his award.

With our experience about gallantry awards, it is evident that distribution of


gallantry awards depends on personal whims of individuals. Deserving men are
mostly left out and those seeking favours with good writing skills who can paint
better picture to the distant higher headquarters are awarded. To eliminate
chances of this injustice we must do away with the gallantry awards. Instead, the
families of those who sacrifice their lives must be supported by the State to live a
life of comfort and dignity, being provided with adequate resources
commensurate with their social standing. Similarly those who become disabled
should also get required support to live the life with maximum facilitation and
ease. This will eliminate the causes of concocting false stories by those seeking
glory through questionable means. This will also put the men going into action at
mental peace knowing that their families are assured of support in any
eventuality.
84

To continue with the narrative, my company remained deployed along the vast
stretch of border for over a month after which it was relieved by B Company
(Major Khurshid Mallal) as another task was awaiting me. During this deployment
period every day was full of surprises and adventure. A few days after arrival at
Rani Shankail, my Company Headquarters was rained with mortar shells during
the night. The attackers were chased up to the borders about ten kilometers
away. This was our first encounter with the Mukti Bahini operating from their
sanctuaries inside India.

Once I, with about ten men, marched out to see the two abandoned border out
posts (BOPs) in my area earlier manned by the former East Pakistan Rifles (EPR)
who had joined the rebels. After visiting one post and then moving along the
border to reach the next one it started to get dark. I decided to stay the night
there. This post was about two hundred meters away from an opposite Indian
post, only a small stream separating the two. As darkness thickened, I realised
that it was very dangerous to stay on the post with just ten men carrying personal
weapons without any other fire support or even communications with any one
because the wireless set, an old PRC-10 was out of range with others in the
Company. I decided to take my men to a clump of trees located about six hundred
yards away from the post along the stream and told them not to make even a
slightest noise which could give away our location. At about 2 a.m. we heard
noise of some vehicles moving towards the Indian post. Obviously it was
additional force coming for some action as I had apprehended. About one hour
after arrival of the vehicles, intense small arms firing started at our post from
which I had moved away.

These were some extremely anxious moments for me because generally our men
are trigger happy in such situations and want to fire back. I had told my men that
if we could see someone coming towards us, only then we will fire and that too
not without my specific orders, myself firing the first bullet. Otherwise they just
had to watch, rather get the feel of the show. As the night was very dark we could
not see the enemy but just their direction of fire through tracer bullets. The firing
continued for about an hour and those were some of the tensest moments of my
life. One mistake by anyone of us, just a bullet fired, could land us in a situation
85

jeopardising our life for no good cause. A familiarisation mission in our own
territory had landed us in precarious position which could be exploited by the
enemy.

As continuous firing by the Indians did not get any response from the post, they
stopped firing. After sometime the noise of vehicles starting and moving away
from Indian post indicated that additional troops were going back to where they
had come from. By now it was dawn. I told my colleagues that we will sneak back
into the post unobserved by the enemy making use of available cover which we
did. At the post we lit fire creating smoke showing our presence with confidence
that since additional enemy troops had gone back, the enemy post could cause us
no harm. We prepared our tea and some breakfast at leisure before leaving the
post for return journey, again using cover so that our leaving the post could not
be observed by the enemy. This morning episode, though unnecessary, was to
keep the enemy guessing about our presence or otherwise on the post during
night and our so effective fire control. On reaching the company headquarters I
was admonished by the CO on telephone for remaining out of communication for
two days. I did not tell him the whole story to escape further rebuke.

At Ranishankail local Police Officer, the Station House Officer (SHO) was an
elderly, mature and wise person. Known as ‘Bara Babu’ as SHOs were known, he
was a great help in bringing peace and normalcy in the area reassuring the
population that Army was there to help restore peace. Our own effort to reach
out to the people and interact with them by addressing small gatherings in
different villages brought positive response from the population who had been
fed with misinformation that Army was ruthlessly killing the local population. The
spread of fear had a genuine reason because at start of the operation in Dacca on
the night of 25th March 1971, the Army in Dacca caused death of civilians by some
indiscriminate firing. Although both Generals responsible for this operation,
Major General Khadim Raja and Lieutenant General Tikka Khan had been replaced
but the damage was done. Bulk of the population fled Dacca to the areas in the
interior of the country spreading the news. When we reached Dacca on 6th April
and were initially deployed inside the city, my company being in the Jaggannath
86

College, the city gave a deserted look. Very few people could be seen on the
streets of Dacca.

As the troops started arriving from West Pakistan, they were formed into columns
and dispatched from Dacca in different directions to clear areas up to the borders
and link up with troops of 14 Division isolated and trapped in certain areas. These
troops met resistance at the initial stages of operations but the people involved in
mass killing of non Bengalis escaped to India, retreating at leisure by blowing up
bridges and culverts in the path of advancing troops to retard movement. While
retreating towards India the rebels kept spreading panic among the population
about the Army coming forward to cause them harm.
Killings and Atrocities

Large scale killings and atrocities were committed in East Pakistan but who were
perpetrators of these crimes and who were the victims will be clear from the
pattern of Army operations explained, at the cost of some repetition, in the
following paragraphs.
On 25 March 1971 when military action was ordered in Dacca, very few troops
were located at the Cantonment in Dacca. The troops of 14 Division, the only
Army formation in East Pakistan were located in small cantonments all over the
country. The force had become ineffective because more than half of its strength
revolted and the remaining force got confined to barracks. West Pakistani officers
and men serving in the units of East Bengal Regiment and East Pakistan Rifles
were brutally killed along with their families including small children. Dead bodies
of officers killed in places like Mymensingh and Thakurgaon were dragged into
bazaars as we came to know on reaching these places. These officers, posted to
East Pakistan Rifles who were located away from the few cantonments, fell prey
to rebels and criminal gangs operating with impunity for those months when the
State had lost control over that part of the country.

About twenty thousand troops were flown by PIA to Dacca in about two weeks’
time to reinforce East Pakistan garrison. As the troops arriving from West Pakistan
started their move outwards from Dacca, each column encountered a number of
blocking positions in the form of well laid out ambushes. The pattern was same on
87

all directions indicating well coordinated plans. As narrated before in the progress
of our column advancing towards north from Dacca, the bridges on streams were
blown off making the vehicular movement impossible. The progress therefore
was slow in accordance with the speed of marching columns which had to
negotiate water obstacles causing further delay. This gave the rebels freedom to
indulge in unspeakable atrocities on non Bengalis before retreating towards
borders at their leisure. The Army columns advancing towards borders thus could
not lay their hands on the people who needed to be killed.

During the initial phase, as the troops advanced on different routes outwards of
Dacca, the civil population of small villages located en route vacated their houses
and moved away to avoid contact with the Army. In the towns, while most of the
population had moved away due to the fear, some people stayed on and came
out on the roads carrying Pakistan flags to avoid firing from the approaching
columns. By the time the columns had reached up to the borders, some civilians
also crossed over to India fearful of the approaching Army. This number was not
as large as claimed by India, making it a justification to invade Pakistan. These
people were put up in temporary camps in the border area and were later used as
recruiting ground for forming of the Mukti Bahini. After few months, the people in
these camps wanted to come back to harvest their paddy crops. By now they
were clear that the Army was helping people to restore normal life, not killing
them. The Indians forcibly detained these people by erecting fences around them
and placing guards to prevent their move back. They were assured that by
December they would be allowed to go back. We, on our part had established
reception camps at different places along the borders for people returning from
India. These camps would receive very few people trickling in. These people
would be registered, given some help in the form of food items and allowed to go
home.

After declaration of war on 3 December, I received over one thousand people at


Panjbibi camp. They informed that the guards had been removed from the camps.
The Indians, apart from taking young men for induction in Mukti Bahini were
indulging in large scale molesting of captive women. Almost all the women of
child bearing age whom I saw returning to the camp after declaration of war were
88

pregnant. Pictures of women in such conditions were printed by the Times


magazine and other publications which we saw in the POW camps attributing
crimes to men of Pakistan Army. I had a Bengali young man working with me as
volunteer who had moved with family to India in the initial days. He had two
wives. Both had been detained by the Indians.

At Hilli railway station the border was demarcated with the help of corrugated
iron sheets placed vertically. The Bengali civilians were being kept in camp
nearby. At night there would be wailing, shrieks and noise when the Indian troops
would comb through the camp, a daily routine to get hold of girls to be taken to
their bunkers for the night. Conversely the Indian propaganda campaign was
supported by the world media to demonise Pakistan Army by attributing acts of
molestation of Bengali women.

Three under strength Divisions of Pakistan Army had been put into a very difficult
situation of overcoming resistance and restoring normal living conditions. The
officers commanding these units were well aware that this task could not be done
by tolerating indiscipline resulting in committing crimes. It was understood that
any such laxity would be most detrimental in keeping the discipline, so essential
for success of the mission. During initial stage of the operation, four persons of
my unit were punished by holding their court martial on charges of trespassing
private premises. They were dismissed from service and sent to jail on receipt of
complaints from the civilians. The prevailing environments of constant danger
subdued carnal desires and passions. Still if someone could afford to indulge in
such thought for some time, particularly in the rear areas, there were facilities
available in almost every small and large town where sex workers in defined
localities would cater to such needs. Given that these army units, operating
without rest or relief for about ten months in most disadvantageous position
could retain their cohesion and fighting spirit is ample proof of a disciplined force
doing its best against great odds.

Similarly the stories of killing of Bengali civilians attributed to Pakistan Army were
exaggerated beyond limits. At the start of operation from Dacca on 25 March
1971, some people had been killed due to indiscriminate firing in the city as we
came to know on reaching Dacca. Main place where people got killed was Dacca
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University where rebels were concentrated. Because of dissatisfaction of High


Command with handling of the operation on that night of 25/26 March, both the
Generals responsible were relieved of command. Major General Khadim Raja the
General Officer Commanding 14 Division was replaced by Major General M Rahim
Khan and Lieutenant General Tikka Khan, Commander Eastern Command was
replaced by Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan (A A K) Niazi who arrived in
East Pakistan in first week of April 1971, assuming command on 10 April 1971. As
the troops arrived from West Pakistan and started moving to reach borders in
different directions from Dacca they did not find the people who deserved to be
killed as explained above.

Large scale killing of non Bengalis, mostly the people who had migrated from
India to East Pakistan and the West Pakistanis working in East Pakistan was done
by Bengali rebels joined by criminal elements during the months of Jan to April
1971 when the government had no control over the situation. Another spree of
large scale killings and atrocities on non Bengalis was unleashed after 16
December 1971 by Bengali armed gangs; like Qadir Bahini in Tangail area north of
Dacca. The Indian occupation Army took some time to control such bands of
criminals operating in other areas where non Bengali population was still left
ultimately confined to ghettos in Dacca.

The scale of this killing can be determined from the numbers of non Bengali
population residing in East Pakistan in January 1971 and those left after the war.
These people were killed in thousands during that period of about four months
from January to end April 1971 which was of complete lawlessness in the whole
country. Criminal gangs in the garb of Awami League activists indulged in
unspeakable atrocities. The hapless non Bengalis would be collected at one place,
their women were gang raped and then killed. As the Army columns were
advancing towards borders on different routes on foot, the bridges and culverts
on the roads having been blown, progress of move was slow and predictable
allowing criminal gangs to indulge in an orgy of killings at their leisure. When a
column led by Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab reached Santahar railway junction in
North Bengal, the place was littered with dead bodies killed moments before
arrival of the Army. Other columns also witnessed signs of similar atrocities. On
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reaching Mymensingh we found people of a whole colony of non Bengalis


butchered; even those who had taken refuge in the mosques had not been spared
and were killed inside the mosques. When our column was moving towards
Brahamanbaria from Aashuganj Bridge and was recalled to move towards
Kishorganj towards the north, lots of dead bodies of freshly killed people were
found lying along the railway line. Recollection of such atrocities becomes more
painful when the lies and false perceptions blaming Pakistan Army have become
an accepted truth.

It is also worth mentioning that although reports of unspeakable atrocities


committed by Bengali gangs started filtering in by word of mouth there was no
incidence of any Bengali being harassed in West Pakistan. According to
Qutubuddin Aziz then heading a press service, instructions by the central
government not to report killings and atrocities committed by Bengali gangs
against Urdu speaking Biharis and West Pakistnis were strictly followed by media.
This step was to avert any revengeful act against a large number of Bengalis then
living in West Pakistan. (Blood and Tears by Qutubuddin Aziz published in 1974).

Dr. Sarmila Bose in her book ‘DEAD RECKONING – Memories of the 1971
Bangladesh War’ published in 2011 is a research study on the subject of killings
and atrocities during that war. She spent some years (2003-6) in her research,
repeatedly travelling to Bangladesh and Pakistan in search of truth. She
completely negates Indo-Bangladesh narrative on these issues, absolving Pakistan
Army to have committed rapes, atrocities and murders.
Raid across Jagdal Hat

Proceeding with my narrative, as my Company was replaced and brought to


Thakurgaon in July, Captain Muhammad Afreen was taken away by the CO to lead
newly formed Commando Platoon. This platoon comprised of about twenty young
soldiers who went into an operation in Pachagarh area. A rebel position of
considerable strength was positioned on the approach from Pachagarh into the
Titulia salient. Since it had been decided not to go into Titulia salient because it
was difficult to hold a narrow strip of land flanked from three sides by Indian
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territory, this rebel position had not been cleared. The rebels, undisturbed since
last so many months has started giving trouble.
Paucity of troops did not allow use of adequate strength to launch a conventional
attack so it was decided to conduct a raid on those positions. Only two platoons
could be made available for the raid. While one platoon from 8 Baluch Company
(Captain Akbar Niazi) took up position to engage the rebels from front, Capt
Afreen with his commandos surprised the rebels by reaching their position from
the rear by a meticulously planned move. It was a swift raid on a well prepared
rebel’s defensive position across a stream opposite Jagdal Hat, a small village
between Amar Khana and Pachagarh. The raid resulted in over sixty rebels killed
and many more injured at a cost of only one of our soldier losing life and four
young soldiers getting injured. The rebels suffered injuries while withdrawing and
fleeing in the open, subjected to our artillery fire using special fuse (high explosive
air burst) which made the shell burst at some height above ground. These shells
would cause great damage to exposed persons who were not under cover in
trenches. Captain Cheema from Artillery, accompanying raiding party told that he
had personally counted fifty five bodies but there were still more in the area
where Lieutenant Qaswar Naseer’s section had gone closer to the Indian border.
The party had to quickly withdraw before any Indian reaction. This raid was classic
combination of audacity, meticulous planning and preparation by Capt Afreen
which was hallmark of all his actions during the prolonged struggle. In at least
three such actions he deserved the highest gallantry awards but as explained
earlier we were not working for worldly honours because of our peculiar
circumstances and attitudes.

A few days’ stay at Thakurgaon was a great relief. Here the Battalion
Headquarters were located in the old East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) Wing’s
accommodation. At the entrance of this complex two Bengal tigers were kept in
cages at the main gate by EPR people. Our unit inherited these from 8 Baluch and
continued to look after these wild animals. As transpired later, most obnoxious
stories were invented of putting people into tiger’s cages. Dr. Sarmila Bose in her
book gives account of those making such allegations which she found false as
explained in her narrative. During her visits to Pakistan during her research work
for her book ‘Dead Reckoning, Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War’, she
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interviewed our then CO, Brigadier Amir Muhammad Khan in connection with this
story.

The Battalion Officer’s Mess was located a little away in a Rest House. ‘Chacha’
Jahan Dad, the head waiter looked after officers with his peculiar patronizing
style. Jahan Dad was a dedicated man who served the unit officers with love and
commitment. As prisoner, he was offered by the Indians to be repatriated earlier
but he preferred to remain with the officers in POW camp. An ex Havildar, retired
from one of the old Punjab battalions, he had got enrolled as Mess Waiter with
the newly raised 34 Punjab in 1966. He died at ripe old age while still serving in
the unit. In those few days when I could enjoy the food in the Mess, Jahan Dad
treated me with most delicious pineapples that he had stocked in the refrigerator.
Those pineapples were recovered from an abandoned field when almost half its
yield had already been consumed by conservancy staff of the unit. Fruit in East
Pakistan was in abundance, particularly coconuts, mangoes, litchi, bananas and
kathal; a fruit with pungent smell and difficult to prepare for eating. Since it was
known to increase potency, the trouble to peel it was considered worth the effort
by the locals. It was said that if some part of its pulp stuck one's beard while
eating carelessly, the pulp could not be removed; rather beard had to be shaved
off. Banana from a place Munshiganj near Dacca had a special fragrance found
nowhere else.
Move to Bogra/ Hilli Sector

One late evening as I was about to go to sleep after day’s work and consuming
dinner, there was a knock at the door of the room. Captain Mian Bux Baloch
informed me that early next morning I was to go to Brigade Headquarters (Bde
HQ) at Rangpur where I had to meet the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16
Division who was visiting the Brigade. Next morning I started for Rangpur. After
travelling for about two hours I reached Bde HQ where I was rushed in to meet
the GOC, Major General Nazar Hussain Shah, a bulky man who knew me from
Kharian where he was commander of one of the brigades of 9 Division. He
welcomed me and told me that my company will be operating under 205 Brigade
and I should start travelling on Road Rangpur – Bogra where somewhere en route
I will find Brigadier Hassan, Commander 205 Brigade, travelling northwards. I
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started travelling further south looking for the Brigade Commander whom I found
meeting a small crowd along the roadside in a school near Plasbari, a small town.
He told me to join him as he was travelling to visit 4 FF located in area Hilli, a
small village and a railway station on the north-south railway line in North Bengal.
We reached 4 Frontier Force (FF) Battalion HQ located at Balahar, a small village
on Hilli-Ghoraghat bricklined track. Here I was briefed by Brigadier Hassan that
there was a possibility of an Indian attack on 14th August, our Independence Day.
Since Hilly offered the shortest approach to Indians in reaching Road Rangpur –
Bogra, main communication artery in North Bengal, my Recce and Support (R&S)
Company had been provided to the Brigade to strengthen 4 FF positions. On a
map, he indicated a track junction which was supposed to be my battle position
and told me to reconnoiter this position before my company arrived.

The Indian border at Hilli ran along the railway line for some distance. In fact the
main entrance of Railway Station Building, built before partition, opened into
India and was now blocked with the help of corrugated iron (CGI) sheets. A look at
alignment of the border would indicate that Hilli town should have been part of
Pakistan but it was learnt that an influential Hindu family owning a factory on that
side got the alignment changed resulting in a very unusual demarcation of the
border. There were some other such travesties in deciding border demarcation in
the northern part of Bengal where some ‘enclaves’ inside Pakistan were Indian
Territory and vice versa.

I did my reconnaissance in heavy rain and on very difficult slushy ‘kachha’ tracks.
The two small American Jeeps, M-38 A1, which I had with me, helped me to
negotiate the torturous terrain. After two days my company started arriving from
Thakurgaon area in groups by train disembarking at Hilli Railway Station. I had
two officers, Captain Afreen and Lieutenant Muhammad Saeed Tariq
commanding two platoons and Subedar Aziz Khan, an experienced, mature JCO,
commanding the third platoon.

The composition of my R&S Company was one anti tank platoon comprising
twelve 106 mm Recoilless Rifles (an anti tank weapon), another platoon with six
Medium Machine Guns and third platoon with twelve Light Machine Guns. All
these weapons were mounted/carried on the jeeps. On reaching East Pakistan
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the number of anti tank guns was reduced from twelve to six in a Company,
considering that the area was not much suitable for use of tanks so there was
lesser need of anti tank weapons. This premise proved wrong particularly in North
Bengal where the Indians used tanks during the winters as area was suitable for
tank movement. An interesting conversation in this regard took place between CO
25 Punjab, Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Hussain, SJ (called ‘Dora” because he
was a little hard of hearing) and Major Abdul Haq Mirza, Brigade Major (BM) 23
Bde. As the Indians, on declaration of war in December started their move from
the border advancing into area occupied by 25 Punjab, the CO reported to
Brigade on wireless net that Indian tanks were moving towards his positions. The
BM responded that it could not be tanks because the area was not suitable for
tank movement. After some argument over wireless net, the CO concluded
conversation saying that,

“OK may be those are buffalos but they seem to be carrying gun barrels
on their back”.10

We in our unit were following flexible drill on employment of these weapons.


Where required, and mostly this was the case, we had formed composite
platoons, each platoon having all the three weapons. Each infantry division had
nine infantry battalions and one R & S Battalion. The R&S unit was authorised
about 150 vehicles, mostly jeeps as major weapons were all jeep mounted. I, in
my company was authorised to have 35 vehicles. But in East Pakistan the unit
operated as normal infantry battalion carrying out operations at the initial stage
of reaching the borders on foot, the vehicles reaching the unit much later. After
that it was given vast areas of responsibility during the counter insurgency phase
which needed constant vigil, by establishing posts and foot patrolling.

As my company was detached to 205 Brigade in first week of August, an anti tank
platoon under command Captain Mian Bux Baloch was also detached to Comilla
Brigade commanded by the Brigadier Saadullah, a commander reputed for
courage and competence. 34 Punjab was left with less than three companies of its

10
Spoken in Punjabi, (Hala ay Majhee hosan par lagna’e utte baerralan ladian hoian ne) this sentence
gives a real taste of satire it contains.
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own and with an additional company from 8 Baluch at Pachagarh which was later
replaced by a company from 48 Punjab.
Battle in Thakurgaon Sector

The happenings in Thakurgaon Sector after I had left in first week of August are
described from the information gathered initially from Major Sajid Jalal Mazari, 48
Field Regiment, Artillery, Battery Commander with the unit who came to
Prisoners of War (POW) Camp Number 25 at Ramgarh and later from the unit
officers after repatriation.

The Indians, a task force of about a divisional strength, 1971 Mountain Brigade
Group, having four regular infantry battalions i.e.12 Rajputana Rifles, 21 Rajputs,
12 Garhwal Rifles and 7 Maraths, with additional force placed under command for
operations comprising five battalions of the Border Security Force, one battalion
of Territorial Army, an armour squadron, a mountain regiment, two field
companies of engineers, and seven companies of Mukti Fauj was commanded by
Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) Pran Nath Kathpalia who after the war
expanded his ‘after mission report’ into a book titled “Mission With a Difference”.
The objective of Indian task force was to capture Dinajpur operating on axis
Pachagargh- Thakurgaon- Dinajpur. A very detailed account by him on the
progress of his operations opposed by a small force, less than three companies of
34 Punjab, a company of 48 Punjab located at Pachagargh placed under command
34 Punjab with artillery support by ‘P’ Battery of 48 Field Regiment Artillery (just
four guns instead of normal six guns that a Battery was supposed to have) is a
very interesting study about performance of 34 Punjab during war.

The Indians started their operation on 21/22 November, putting an attack by an


infantry battalion on Amar Khana, the border outpost located about sixteen
kilometers north of Pachagarh. This post, manned by about fifteen persons was
vacated about a month before start of Indian offensive due to paucity of troops.
Capture of that unoccupied post by using an infantry battalion was celebrated as
great victory as narrated by the Indian force commander in his book. After
savouring the fruits of victory for some days and gaining some much needed
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confidence, the next move against occupied positions at Pachagarh came on 26


November.

Pachagarh, a town just about three kilometers from Indian border towards its
west was held by a company of 48 Punjab commanded by Major Khurshid (name
sake of our Bravo Company Commander, Khurshid Mallal) with Captain Lal Khan
as his Company officer. This Company had recently replaced 8 Baluch Company
(Captain Akbar Niazi) deployed at Pachagarh earlier under command 34 Punjab.
The Indians after capture of unoccupied Amarkhana post took about five days to
approach Pachagargh positions. Their attack came from three directions; using
one battalion from north astride Amar Khan-Pachagarh Road, the other battalion
from North West and the third battalion to encircle the positions from the south.
An intense battle ensued, one company of 48 Punjab under command 34 Punjab
denying the Indian to overcome resistance and capture our positions. The battle
raged for two days. ‘P’ Battery, 48 Field regiment commanded by Major Sajid Jalal
Mazari with four guns brought very effective fire at critical times using High
Explosive Air Burst ammunition, that burst at thirty feet above ground with
devastative effect on attacking troops who were in the open. Here Captain
Mansoor as observer who called for fire and Lieutenant Muhammad Hanif
(retired as Colonel) as gun position officer played crucial role in preventing a large
force, three Indian infantry battalions supported by tanks to overcome position of
just one of our company. The guns had been deployed very close to our
defensive position and at one stage Lieutenant Hanif, in great excitement was
preparing his guns for direct fire on Indian tank closing in on his gun position. The
Indian tanks however stopped a few hundred yards away from his position out of
sight masked by sugarcane field, not giving Hanif the chance to take on the tanks
with direct fire from his guns.

The Indian move from west made holding Pachagarh untenable. The positions
were almost surrounded when Colonel Amir Muhammad Khan reaching the site
and assessing situation ordered Major Khurshid, the Company Commander to
extricate from the positions supervising the withdrawal operation himself. This
was on night 27/28 November. The company was ordered to rejoin its unit 48
Punjab in Khansama/Saidpur sector.
97

To counter Indian move from Pachagarh towards Thakurgaon, 34 Punjab was now
left with less than three companies supported by ‘P’ Battery, 48 Field Regiment.
Confronted with seemingly impossible task, the unit deployed its small force with
great skill to delay the Indian advance before they could contact Thakurgaon; the
town which had been prepared as strong point and was to be occupied after
fighting the delaying battles.

After clearing Pachagarh, the Indians resumed their advance on Pachagargh-


Boda-Thakurgaon-Dinajpur axis served by a good road. Their move was resisted
by skillful deployment of vastly outnumbered troops. Confronting the advancing
Indians was a very small force that could not have delayed them for more than 48
to 72 hours. However from Pachagarh, the Indians took almost six days to cover a
distance of about thirty kilometers, mostly empty spaces to contact our main
defensive position at Thakurgaon on 2 December 1971.

The delaying battle between Pachagarh to Boda, a distance of about fifteen


kilometers astride the road was fought by ‘D’ Company commanded by Major
Nisar Hussain Bukhari with Lieutenant Qaswar Naseer as one of his platoon
commanders. At Boda ‘A’ Company with some EPCAF elements commanded by
Major M Saeed Azam Khan was deployed in the role of Advance Position. Both
these companies fought to delay the Indians for about four days before they
could move forward from Boda towards Thakurgaon a distance of about sixteen
kilometers.

Between Boda and Thakurgaon, Captain Jamil from ‘B’ Company with about fifty
men was tasked by the CO to delay the Indians while ‘A’ and ‘D’ companies were
falling back to occupy Thakurgaon positions. As narrated by Captain (later
Lieutenant Colonel) Muhammad Jamil, he deployed his group accordingly. During
night he saw an enemy patrol comprising about a dozen men approaching
towards his position at a bridge on main road. Instead of engaging that patrol,
Jamil surreptitiously left his position at the bridge for the enemy probing men to
see that the bridge was unoccupied. When next morning the enemy started
advancing astride road with confidence that the place was unoccupied, all hell
was let loose on them with available weapons fired from close range for
maximum effect causing them large casualties, making them to recoil, thus
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delaying their move to Thakurgaon. Such actions and tactics used by the officers
and men enabled them to accomplish their tasks with remarkable success.

The town of Thakurgaon had been converted into a strong point by laying
minefields and creating other obstacles. Indians took so much time to contact
Thakurgaon positions speaks volumes about stiff resistance skillfully offered by 34
Punjab. Considering the size of Indian force, it was remarkable achievement made
possible by the indomitable will of the officers and men using innovative tactics
with their jeep mounted weapons. Adroit use of weapons, delaying tactics and
our inherent mobility provided the capability to occupy, adjust and readjust
positions with considerable ease and was fully exploited by daring officers and
men who accomplished a seemingly impossible task of resisting advance of such a
large Indian force for so long.

These troops after fighting delaying battles fell back to rejoin the main defensive
positions at Thakurgaon which the Indians contacted by 2 December 1971. ‘P’
Battery, 48 Field Regiment, by frequent redeployments of gun positions of its four
guns played crucial role by bringing effective fire to force delay on the advancing
enemy.

As the war was formally declared by Pakistan on 3 December 1971, the CO was
told to vacate Thakurgaon and take up position on River Karatoya some distance
south of Birganj, a town located about thirty five kilometers south of Thakurgaon.
The message was passed by the Brigade Major, Abdul Haq Mirza on 3 December
in the late evening. Our CO tried to contest and argue that he had not seen the
new position and that his defenses at Thakurgaon were ready. But he was told
that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) had ordered this move and it had to
be complied immediately. The Brigade Commander was not available, confusion
prevailing because of change of command, Brigadiers Ansari and Shafi both being
present in the Brigade area. This order was a complete surprise as CO or any one
from the unit had not seen the position because no such contingency had been
planned. All effort was to convert Thakurgaon town into a strong point by laying
minefield and creating other obstacles. Withdrawal from Thakurgaon became a
controversial decision and the CO had to do some explaining after repatriation to
clear his position. After repatriation from India, I came across late Abdul Haq
99

Mirza and asked him about his passing on that withdrawal message. He told me
that as war was declared on 3 December, the GOC Major General Nazar Hussain
Shah told him to convey directly to CO 34 Punjab to take up position on Karatoya
River south of Birganj. As he was taking time to encode the message using slidex
keys, the GOC was getting impatient. Since both of them belonged to same area,
District Chakwal, General Nazar told Major Mirza in typical Chakwali dialect
something like,

‘Mirzia unj ta toon Bara efficient ban Na ain, hun wela aaya ae tan teri
khoti khub gai ay'.11

Abdul Haq Mirza was an enthusiastic man whose cheerfulness was infectious. He
radiated vitality affecting all those around him. Alas, he, a man of great potential
got wasted away retiring soon after repatriation in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel,
a casualty of adverse circumstances.

With commendable organisational acumen, unit broke contact with enemy to


complete the move during night 3/4 December 1971. By morning of 4 December
the unit was busy in preparing defensive positions astride bridge on River
Karatoya south of Birganj. All its ammunition and essential stores had been taken
out during the night due to meticulous work of our Quartermaster, Captain Shafiq
Sarwar Malik, an officer of outstanding abilities. On reaching the new position
south of Birganj it was realised that Thakurgaon thermal power station had not
been disabled before withdrawal. Captain Zahid Nawaz Janjua was told to go back
and disable the power station. Despite presence of the Indians in Thakurgaon,
Captain Zahid with his party completed the assigned mission and rejoined unit
when fighting at the new position was going on.

The Indians started their move southwards from Thakurgaon and made contact
with our small detachments placed successively astride the main road to delay
their advance These detachments delayed the Indians for about two days before
the Indians contacted our new position by 6 December. The Indians started their
attacks while the unit was still working to develop the defensive positions. Next
11
Translation would be (You claim to be very efficient but in a time of crisis you seem to have bogged
down in a quagmire).
100

three days tested the mettle of 34 Punjabis in fighting from a hastily prepared
position against almost a divisional size enemy force under Brigadier Kathpalia.
The Indians at one point reached our trenches astride the bridge. This position
was held by a platoon led by Second Lieutenant Ghulam Abbas, Bravo Company
commanded by Major Khurshid Mallal. The attack was beaten back with heavy
losses to 7 Marhatta. Since their wireless transmissions could be monitored, the
CO of 7 Marhatta was being exhorted by his force commander to exert more
pressure to capture the bridge with promise of a Vir Chakkar of high order. The
CO was heard saying that his unit had been butchered and he was not in a
position to do any more fighting.

At one stage the situation became so precarious that our CO, Colonel Amir had to
get hold of washer men, barbers and sanitary workers to plug a gap. All these
people had been given arms and had been trained to fight. In fact barber
contractor Khuda Bakhsh, affectionately called ‘Bakhshoo Nai’, was quite trigger
happy and a problem to control. After three days of intense fighting, the Indian
force commander asked for more troops to proceed further towards his objective
of reaching Dinajpur. He was told to abandon the effort on this axis and was
redirected to join forces operating towards Khansama /Saidpur. Thus 34 Punjab
stayed in the positions they had occupied on night 3/4 December 1971 till
ceasefire was announced on 16 December. Captain Shafiq Sarwar Malik had saved
some photographs which he gave to the unit on re-raising in 1975. These pictures
included four Indian tanks destroyed in front of the unit’s positions.

After announcement of ceasefire when ordered to hand over weapons, the unit
destroyed its major weapons like recoilless rifles and equipment including
vehicles to avoid these being handed over to Indians.

Brigadier Kathpalia, while giving details of troops opposing him makes a very
unusual mistake. May be he does it deliberately to show that he was confronted
to overcome a large force. While listing the troops opposing him he gives 48
Punjab to protect areas Thakurgaon, Pachagargh and 85 Punjab (Reconnaissance
and support battalion) to deny areas Boda, Thakurgaon and Nilphamari. In actual
fact, our troops opposing Kathpalia’s task force as described above were; a
company of 48 Punjab at Pachagarh, which was withdrawn when being encircled
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on night 27/28 November. This company had given very tough fight for forty eight
hour to the Indians attacking Pachagarh with three units from different directions.
The company after withdrawal from Pachagarh rejoined its own unit, 48 Punjab
deployed in Khansama/Saidpur area in the south east of Thakurgaon. South of
Pachagarh, 34 Punjab was left with its A Company, B Company (less its anti tank
platoon) and D company. There was no unit by the designation of 85 Punjab on
the Order of Battle (ORBAT) of Pakistan Army till then.

The officers and men of 34 Punjab were remarkable people. Although the
Battalion performed assigned tasks with outstanding success, overall result of the
conflict washed away all good deeds. The officers were a valiant lot of young
leaders who, led by wise and inspiring COs performed their role with
extraordinary dedication, motivation, unbounded courage and selflessness. With
fond memories of respect and honour, I have always felt privileged to be part of
that lot (List of officers with the unit is given at annex A)
Looking back at performance of the Battalion in three distinct phases of the
conflict;
 During initial phase of clearing operations, 34 Punjab, starting its march
from Dacca on 11 April 1971 carried out its assigned tasks in areas
Narsinghdi, Bhairab Bazaar, Ashuganj, Kishorganj, Mymensingh, and
Nitrakona, reaching Durgapur on borders with the State of Meghalaya in
India. Then crossing over River Brahmaputra/Jumna to Rangpur, the unit
cleared area Nageshwari, Bhurangamari from entrenched rebels up to the
borders with the State of Assam in India, finally reaching Thakurgaon –
Pachagarh in the extreme north western corner of the country bordering
the State of West Bengal in India by Jun 71. A perusal of Bangladesh map
will show that this was a very long journey and an enormous
undertaking.The unit covered largest distances marching through a good
part of the country, overcoming opposition en route and clearing areas up
to the borders a feat unmatched by any other unit in that phase of
operations.
 In the next phase of restoring normalcy, the unit was responsible for a very
vast area, restoring peace and normal living conditions in Thakurgaon sub
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division of Dinajpur district bordering the State of West Bengal in India with
one of its companies in Panjbibi area (District Bogra) under 205 Brigade and
one anti tank platoon detached to 27 Brigade (Brigadier Saadullah) in area
Brahmanbaria in the east. The unit did not allow rebels to establish
sanctuaries in their area of responsibility.
 During the war as Indians started invasion from different directions, 34
Punjab was only unit in the whole of East Pakistan which could not be
dislodged by Indians from its hastily prepared defensive position south of
Birganj. These positions were defended against heavy attacks by about a
division size task force commanded by Brigadier (later Lieutenant General)
P N Kathpalia till ceasefire was ordered on 16 December 1971. The task
force could not pursue their further move towards its objective Dinajpur.
Having suffered heavy casualties this Indian force was ordered to shift
direction to join another force directed against Khansama/Saidpur.
 In Hilli sector, my Company, detached from the unit in August 71 fought
intense battles in Hilli-Panjbibi sector as narrated in detail in following
chapter.
 The Anti Tank Platoon detached to 27 Brigade fought a rearguard action to
facilitate the Brigade’s withdrawal west of Meghna River. In this action the
Platoon’s effective fire on Indian tanks pursuing the Brigade made them
recoil, allowing the Brigade to cross Meghna River Bridge at Ashuganj-
Bhairab Bazar unhindered. Brigadier Saadullah on repatriation made special
efforts to find Havildar Sharif and got him gallantry reward for that action
which the Brigadier had witnessed.
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The unit, having fought battles over very vast areas in different sectors suffered
over eighty casualties, sixteen dead and sixty five wounded. Three officers
embraced ‘SHAHADAT’; Second Lieutenant Abdul Ghafoor on 11 April, first day of
starting our move towards east from Dacca, Lieutenant Abdul Waheed by mortar
fire from across the Indian border in October 1971 and Lieutenant Mohammad
Saeed Tariq, the last person from unit to make the ultimate sacrifice on 13
December 1971. Our first ‘SHAHEED’ on start of operations and the last one to
lay down his life were officers leading their men from front, a tradition Pakistan
Army is carrying on.
104
105

Panjbibi

After spending sometime in 4 FF area, patrolling places which had not been
visited by the troops earlier like Dhupchanchia, I was ordered by the Brigade to
relieve 8 Baluch Company at Panjbibi, the railway station south of Hilli. I was to
leave one composite platoon comprising two recoilless rifles detachments, two
machine gun detachments and four LMG detachments to strengthen 4 FF
defensive positions. Three more recoilless detachments were added to reinforce
these positions as soon as the Indian attacks started on 21 Nov 1971. At this time
the deployment of 205 Brigade was, Brigade HQ at Bogra, 4 FF in area Hilli
covering the shortest approach to main Rangpur – Bogra Road, 8 Baluch located
in area Jaipur Hat and 13 FF in area Patnitola. 32 Baluch joined the Brigade after
declaration of war and was used to fight the Indians moving on Rangpur - Bogra
road. The Brigade was covering a vast area in its counterinsurgency role as well as
covering the most threatened approach in case of Indian attack.
106

I took over the area of responsibility from 8 Baluch Company commanded by


Major Mujtaba spanning border area of over fifty kilometers. To cover the area in
counter insurgency role with the aim of denying insurgents any sanctuary for
carrying out sabotage activities, three posts were established along the border.
One post was manned by EPCAF Company covering a track coming to Panjbibi
from the west. This Company was commanded by Captain (later Brigadier) Badar
Munir, (Armoured Corps). He was replaced by Captain Muhammad Aashiq,
(Punjab Regiment). North of it another post was established by a Platoon
commanded by Lieutenant M Saeed Tariq to cover the gap between Hilli and
EPCAF post. This platoon was later shifted to astride the railway line north of
Panjbibi. South of EPCAF post a party of sixteen civilian Bengali volunteers were
given the responsibility to establish a post. They were provided with old 3.3 rifles.
Although they did not get any other benefit like pay or rations or any other facility
yet they did commendable job by not allowing any intrusion into their area.
Another Platoon commanded by Captain Muhammad Afreen was employed to
carry out patrolling and additional tasks assigned by the Brigade which were
frequent like going for a raid in the area of other units thus supplementing their
strength. Company HQ was located in the Panjbibi village.

Panjbibi is situated south of Hilli on both sides of the railway line running north to
south in the north-western part of East Pakistan. Like other large villages, Panjbibi
had a weekly bazaar called ‘HAT’ in local language. It was very interesting to see
barter trade going on in the bazaar, large gathering of people and haggling on
prices, the day full of vibrant activity. The Bazaar was organised on an open piece
of land on one side of the village. Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani’s first wife
belonged to this place. I called on his brother’s in law, very decent peopleliving in
joint family compound. Maulana Bhashani who relocated to India after start of
Army operation on 25 March, was a coulourful character known to have one wife
in each city, although an exaggeration but reflecting upon polygamous nature of
Mao-lana, the title some people used for him because of his leaning towards
Chinese Communist Party. Once asked to suggest solutions to the problems he
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was agitating for, his reply was that finding solutions was Governments job; his
job was to organize protests and agitation.

Most vital factor in keeping the area peaceful was public support cultivated
through our conduct in dealing with the population, not interfering in functioning
of local administration. One day when I was travelling towards EPCAF border post
on the ‘Katcha’ track, two civilian young men waived to stop me before I could
reach the place they were standing. On reaching them, they pointed to freshly
dug earth on the track. As we removed the earth from surface, we found an anti
tank mine placed there. Bara Babu, the Police officer in charge of the area was
informed. Within two days he found the men who had planted that mine. They
were locals who had remained in refugee camp across the border in India and
were cultivated to perform acts of sabotage. The civilian population wanted to
live in peace and was against any activity which could disturb peace in the area.
The Police played very important role in having their informer system in the
villages in place to detect any unusual activity.

One afternoon while I was returning from a routine visit of EPCAF post to my
Company HQ, I heard firing in vicinity of our post manned by civilians some
distance south of EPCAF post. Travelling in a small jeep which carried only four
persons, Captain Afreen was driving whereas driver and another soldier carrying
light machine gun were sitting behind. Rest of us carried our rifles. We
immediately turned south on dirt tracks to reach the post and found that firing
had stopped, our civilian party having repulsed a Mukti Bahini raid coming from
across the border. We formed two groups one led by me and the other by Captain
Afreen and pursued miscreants who ran back into India. We could see a large
crowd of civilians sitting across border watching the show. These posts were
about fifteen to twenty kilometers away from my Company HQ and I used to
frequently travel in the area without any apprehension of threat from civil
population. We were not facing any hostility from general population of East
Pakistan. It was a myth created and propagated in the world media.

At Panjbibi, a reception camp was established to receive people who wanted to


come back from camps on Indian side of the border. Such camps had been
established all along the border at suitable places where returning people were
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registered and provided with some food and clothing before being sent to their
homes. At our camp about a dozen people would be received daily. As elsewhere
mentioned, people in Indian camps wanted to come back because they wanted to
harvest crops knowing by then that they had nothing to fear from the Army. But
the Indians forcibly detained them with the assurance that if nothing happened
till December they would be allowed to go back. It was on 3rd December when
guards were removed from their detention camp that they came across in bulk,
about one thousand of them. I had got some leaflets printed in Bengali language
urging people who had gone across to India at the beginning of Army operations
out of fear to return home. These leaflets were sent to the camp opposite our
area through our Bengali volunteers who were working with us. Such measures
and the general peaceful atmosphere in the area encouraged displaced persons
to return home.

Since the month of June, Indians were using artillery fire on our border posts all
along the border. This was used to help Mukti Bahini persons in crossing the
borders. From our side there was no response to this firing as we were already
spread thin on ground because of lack of adequate resources. After spending
these months in a state of perpetual tension when we felt that situation was
under control, the country side peaceful except few acts of sabotage confined to
the border areas, Indians started their next move with the Indian Army
undertaking ground operations across the international borders.

Indian attack on Hilli started on 22 November 1971, on the day of Eid. The Indians
first attacked positions around Hilli railway station. 4 FF had prepared defensive
positions covering Hilli-Ghoraghat approach, about three kilometers away from
the border on a small nullah, creating an artificial obstacle by raising a bund. The
trenches were very well sited covering the approaches on that axis. General Niazi,
Commander Eastern Command, was so impressed with the well sited positions
that he ordered unit commanders of other formations to visit 4 FF to see their
defenses. However, shortly before start of Indian attack, command of brigade had
changed. Brigadier Hassan had been replaced by Brigadier Tajammal Husain
Malik, an energetic man who had been awarded for gallantry as unit commander
in 1965 War. He did not allow 4 FF to occupy the prepared positions without
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giving a fight from outposts along the borders. The unit fought from those
positions with unmatched valour causing heavy casualties to the Indians. In the
process they lost some very good officers and JCOs, including Major Muhammad
Akram who was awarded Nishan-e-Haider posthumously for his gallant fight.
Source of strength and inspiration to his command, Major Akram was a mature
and brave man unruffled in the tumult of fighting. I had met him on my arrival in
their area when his company was deployed at the Hilli railway station. Later his
company was shifted a little north and Major (later Major General) Julian Peter’s
company placed at Hilli. During the intense fighting Major Akram tried to
approach an Indian tank with a 40mm anti tank rocket launcher but before he
could hit the tank, he was spotted and engaged. He embraced ‘Shahadat’, the
ultimate sacrifice one can offer in line of duty.

Out of three platoons of my company, one composite platoon comprising two 106
mm recoilless rifle (RR), two machine gun and four light machine gun
detachments was deployed to strengthen 4 FF defensive positions. The platoon
(number 9) was commanded by Subedar Aziz Khan, a mature and courageous
JCO. As the Indian attack started at Hilli, the Brigade asked me to send remaining
anti tank recoilless rifle detachments to further reinforce 4 FF positions.
Complying with the orders I sent three RR detachments that played crucial role in
blunting initial Indian attack at Hilli. According to redoubtable Mian Muzaffar Gul
the then Adjutant of 4 FF, Havildar Mohabbat Khan, a highly spirited and
audacious detachment commander of my company was recommednded for
gallentry award by 4 FF.

During the fighting I received a message from the Brigade that Havildar Haq
Nawaz of my Company, a detachment commander of one of the recoilless rifles
had embraced ‘Shahadat’ (martyrdom). As the fighting was going on, I took a jeep
and drove from Panjbibi to Hilli railway station post taking a circuitous route to
avoid enemy fire but still received a volley of artillery fire which luckily landed a
few yards away from my moving jeep. At Hilli post I met Major Julian Peter, the
company commander, Subedar Aziz Khan and the men of my company deployed
there. I saw the work of RR detachments in three Indian tanks destroyed in front
110

of that position. After spending some time with them I returned to my post at
Panjbibi.

When the War was formally declared by Pakistan on 3 December, a message was
received from the Brigade that Pakistan Army had captured Jammu by afternoon
of 3rd December. We forgot about our own travails and everyone was filled with
great joy to hear such good news. Alas; the joy was short lived as the news was
false resulting in greater disappointment. Earlier, since the months of August we
had heard rumours that people in GHQ considered these three Divisions in East
Pakistan as written off. At that time we took this as a joke but it proved true. The
ruling junta, a coterie of callous, insensitive Generals in connivance with Z A
Bhutto seemed bent upon break up of Pakistan in a humiliating manner.

As fighting in Hilli area increased in intensity after declaration of War, the Brigade
Commander wanted me to exert pressure on Indians from the southern side. To
reinforce Lieutenant Saeed Tariq’s platoon deployed north of Panjbibi, I deployed
Captain Afreen’s Platoon further north, just south of Hilli to bring effective fire on
the Indians attacking Hilli. The Indians abandoned their effort to attack Hilli and
shifted their focus further north towards Badhuria. Captain Afreen’s Platoon was
then withdrawn to organize a raid inside India in the rear of Indian troops in
contact with 4 FF positions. With great audacity this raid was conducted in area
Balurghat, a few miles deep into India resulting in killing of fourteen Indian
soldiers caught asleep during night. On our side there was one person, Lance Naik
Ajaib Shah wounded. The party safely withdrew back to own positions. For some
time I had two artillery field guns placed at Panjbibi. To cause some damage in the
rear areas of the advancing Indians, I sent these guns to the EPCAF border post
from where they could target Balurghat area well in depth of Indian forward line.
These guns were soon taken away from my area.

The Indian Air force was targeting our positions unhindered as the lone PAF
squadron deployed at Dacca had been made ineffective by continuous bombing
of Dacca air field. On their first day of attack on my positions, Havildar Ajun Khan
from Lieutenant Saeed Tariq’s Platoon embraced ‘Shahadat’. A bomb landed on
his trench located on the railway line causing a deep crater burying Ajun Khan
under a heap of earth. A pair of Indian fighter aircrafts made a routine of
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targeting my unoccupied trenches around Panjbibi three times during day. These
trenches had been prepared to be occupied on withdrawal of my men deployed
forward on the posts and were occupied on night 11/12 December. The Indian
aircrafts would come in the morning apparently after consuming their breakfast,
then by noon before their lunch and during late afternoon before sunset. In one
of their sortie they used some incendiary bomb, instantly burning a large
sugarcane field. One afternoon as I was returning from visit of the EPCAF post, the
two aircraft came strafing for my single jeep moving on the track. The jeep
driver’s presence of mind in getting the jeep off track into woods in time saved us.
Our efforts to engage these aircrafts with our machine guns did not prove
effective.

As the Indians did not make any progress on Hilli-Ghoraghat track, they tried to
move on a parallel track further north. On this track a company of 8 Baluch,
commanded by Major Ashraf was deployed in a small village called Badhuria. As
fighting intensified, Brigade Commander, Brig Tajammal ordered a company from
13 FF deployed towards south in Patnitola area, to reinforce Badhuria positions.
The company had to pass through Panjbibi, where they halted for a short while.
The company commander Major Sabir Kamal Meyer had just returned from leave
in Spain, having married the daughter of our Ambassador, Major General (retired)
Bilgirami. After honeymoon in paradise like environments of Spain, he obviously
felt the conditions on the battle field most depressing. A suave and stylish officer,
he left a very good impression. After two days the tragic news of his Shahadat was
most saddening. He himself fired a recoilless rifle round to hit a tank but received
a volley of tank fire from Indian tank squadron opposite his position. His JCO
Subedar Sher Afzal, positioned next to him also embraced ‘Shahadat’ in the
process and the weapon destroyed.

When the Indians got stuck on this route also due to fierce resistance at Badhuria,
they tried yet another track further north. It was on this track that I had been
tasked by Brigadier Hassan in August to take up position in case of the Indian
attack. However because of change of command and my company getting
deployed elsewhere as explained, this track was left unoccupied. The Indians kept
moving on that approach unopposed and finally emerged at Pirganj (different
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town from one mentioned earlier) on road Rangpur-Bogra on 7 December. As the


Indians were adjusting their positions, by dusk a convoy of jeeps carrying Major
General Nazar Hussain Shah, (GOC 16 Div) Brigadier Tajammal (Commander 205
Bde) and others travelling from Rangpur to Bogra, arrived at Pirganj. The surprise
encounter startled both parties. The GOC, a bulky man had some difficulty in
dismounting from the jeep but despite that the party was quickly provided shelter
by the local civilians, hiding them from the searching Indians. Only one jeep could
turn back that reached Rangpur to tell the tale. The civilians who provided shelter
to the General and his party, arranged for their safe passage to Bogra during the
night on a different route.

On reaching Bogra, Brigadier Tajammal’s response to deal with this situation was
ordering 32 Baloch to evict Indians from that area. When CO 32 Baloch tried to
tell him that an infantry battalion could not evict tanks from the area, he was
rebuked. The CO Lieutenant Colonel Raja Sultan conveyed these orders to his
officers who also showed reservation in undertaking the mission. After some
discussion the CO told them that he was moving as ordered, the officers and men
then followed. In the ensuing battle in Pirganj area, CO lost his life and the unit
suffered over thirty dead, besides many persons wounded. Next morning the
Indians started advance towards Bogra. 32 Baloch took up delaying positions at
two different places between Pirganj and Bogra but each time they were
bypassed, the Indians going behind their positions.

There was no Lord Tennyson to describe 32 Baluch's attack on Indian Armour


Regiment that could eternalize obeying suicidal order and not to reason why. CO
Raja Sultan lost his life along with over thirty men in one go, the overall casualties
over one hundred in ensuing battle the next day. The unit was 'ordered' to clear
the area from Indian armour by Brig Tajammal Malik. It was not wrong passing of
order but the order itself was wrong.

In the words of French Marshal Pierre Bosquet on The Charge of the Light Brigade
of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the
Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War "It is magnificent, but
it is not war." He continued, in a rarely quoted phrase "it is madness." There could
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not be more apt description of Brigadier Tajammal’s act on the night of 8


December 1971.

Brigadier Tajammal had his tactical headquarters (Tac HQ) in 4 FF area. When
Indians started moving from Pirganj astride main road towards Bogra, they
decided to clear 4 FF position from the rear. The GOC told Brigadier Tajammal to
relocate 4 FF to face Indians at a place called Mahaasthan north of Bogra. This
message was carried by CO 8 Baloch, Lieutenant Colonel Mirza Moazzam Ali Beg
who, passing through my position at Panjbibi told me about it. A short while
afterwards he came back with the reply from Brigadier Tajammal that he would
not relocate 4 FF, as his Brigade had stopped the advance of an Indian Corps and
that the Indians behind 4 FF positions could be bagged. It was most unrealistic
assessment of the situation. The Indian 33 Corps was operating against 16
Division covering North Bengal Sector and could not be stopped by just blocking
one approach.

On early morning of 11 December, Brigade Commander with his Tac HQ arrived at


my Company HQ. I was told that Indians had started moving towards 4 FF
positions from their rear. In the process they had ejected Brigade Tac HQ and
artillery gun positions supporting the unit. He told me that he was establishing his
Tac HQ at my location and that, I accompanied by Major Muhammad Anis Ahmad,
Engineers, his outgoing Brigade Major(BM), should contact Commanding Officer
(CO) 4 FF to find out his latest situation. He told us that we should change into
local dress while proceeding towards 4 FF positions. Major Anis, the first Pakistani
award winner from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK told me to forget
about donning ‘Dhotis’ the local Bengali dress and instead to proceed as we were,
in uniforms. Both of us moved towards Hilli along the railway line. I had a post on
the railway track manned by Lieutenant Mohammad Saeed Tariq from where 4 FF
positions were visible. From this post we sent a young Bengali volunteer with a
written message from Major Anis to Lieutenant Colonel Akhlaq Abbasi, CO 4 FF,
asking about the latest situation. The Bengali young man started his move taking
suitable cover to avoid detection and fire. This was a slow process and we kept
waiting for his return till about 3 p.m. As we were observing the happenings
towards north in 4 FF area, my runner (called ‘batman’ during peacetime) Sepoy
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Raza told me on field telephone that Brigade people had left and the new BM,
Major (later Brigadier) Mazhar ul Haq, Baloch Regiment, had left a message asking
me to take care of myself. I had known Major Mazhar from Kharian days as our
units were located in the same block. He was a very cheerful and energetic
officer. I did not understand what it meant and was rather surprised at the move
of Brigade Tac HQ. After waiting for considerable time, Major Anis wanted to
leave to find out where the Brigade Commander had gone.

We came back to my company HQ and as we were having a cup of tea, our


Bengali friend reached back with a beautifully handwritten message from
Lieutenant Colonel Akhlaq Abbasi. Its essence was that till the ammunition lasted,
he would be holding on. Major Anis very carefully put that small piece of paper in
his pocket and left the place to rejoin Brigade HQ that had gone towards Bogra via
Jaipurhat where 8 Baloch, with its Battalion HQ and two companies was located.
The Brigade Commander ordered the unit to withdraw from Jaipurhat and take up
position at Khetlal, about ten kilometres from Jaipurhat towards Bogra.

Brigadier Tajammal, on repatriation was the only Brigadier from returning POWs
to be promoted a Major General instead of being punished for his following
actions:

 He made 4 FF to fight from scattered border posts instead of very well sited
defensive positions that the unit had prepared a little away from the
border. This position had clear fields of fire that would have caused large
casualties to attacking Indians instead of 4 FF suffering heavy losses.
 He refused to take action when told that the Indians were moving with
tanks on a track north of Badhuria positions. His pretext was that it was not
through his area that Indians were moving. (It was very much his Brigade’s
area because when I with my R&S Company joined the Brigade in 1st week
of August, the then Brigade Commander, Brigadier Hassan assigned me the
task to occupy position on that track north of Badhuria).
 When the unopposed Indians reached Pirganj on Rangpur-Bogra Road, he
ordered 32 Baluch, an infantry battalion, to attack and evict the Indian tank
regiment from the area. 32 Baluch in this attack suffered large number of
deaths including their CO.
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 He refused to readjust positions as required by the GOC to face the Indian


advancing towards Bogra from north.

Later as Major General he was court martialed and jailed for planning a coup.
Strange are ways the fate plays with destiny of people.

After darkness on night 11/12 December, troops of 4 FF stared withdrawing from


their positions, moving through my location towards Bogra. This movement
continued throughout the night. By morning of 12 December 1971, 4 FF positions
had been vacated. Indians having failed to make any progress from the front had
bypassed these positions and landed up in their rear. Paucity of troops to man all
approaches caused this unfavourable development. A total of three under
strength Divisions totalling about thirty thousand troops could not defend the
whole country, particularly when these were deployed in penny packets for
counter insurgency operations. To counter the Indian invasion, which had become
obvious by concentration of Indian forces by October 1971, there was a need to
redeploy available troops to defend the core area around Dacca according to our
capacity. Orders to defend every inch of the land led to dissipation of forces all
over the country. This lack of clarity at the national level or wilful neglect of
established principles of war caused defeat in detail.

On the morning of 12 December, I could see Indian tanks, part of the force which
had cleared 4 FF positions; about one thousand yards away from my location.
Expecting their further advance to clear Panjbibi, I recalled my detachments to
take up positions around the village in trenches which had been prepared earlier
but had remained unoccupied. By now, my platoon with additional anti tank
detachments commanded by Subedar Aziz Khan; which had undergone intense
fighting with 4 FF for almost twenty days, had rejoined the company on night
11/12 while 4 FF was passing through my position on their move to Bogra. I could
clearly see that spirit of these men was not affected by the hardships caused
during intense battle for such a long period of time. Subedar Aziz Khan was the
same calm and confident man and his subordinates equally cool and unruffled.
One of them acted with unmatched valour being narrated in succeeding paras.
116

Since on the previous day while going towards Bogra, Brigade Commander had
told 8 Baloch to vacate Jaipurhat to occupy positions on a small nullah in area
Khetlal, my company was left on its own without any support from own troops
who were now about twenty kilometres away from my location. I, being on
Brigade wireless communication network (using GRC-9 Sets) tried to contact the
Brigade for fresh orders, but there was no response to my calls. It was only 8
Baloch who responded with the message that I was to remain in position at
Panjbibi. The day passed without any activity from the Indian side. The eerie
silence after deafening noise of battle raging in the area for so many days was
unusual and depressive.

On night 12/13 Dec, Lieutenant Mohammad Saeed Tariq, occupying position


north of village between a nullah and the railway line reported noises of possible
troops movement some distance away from his positions. Since I had no artillery
support to engage the enemy, there was no option but to wait for them to
approach our positions. This was unexpected direction of enemy move because
Indian troops who had cleared 4 FF positions were on eastern side of the village,
their tanks visible at a distance. By about 4 A.M. intense artillery fire started on
my positions. Although my troops and I had gone through enough battle
inoculation, this was the worst we had to endure. Intense shelling continued for
about an hour during which the Indian attack came on the positions of Lieutenant
Saeed Tariq’s platoon. The fire fight continued for about one hour, the Indians
trying to get closer to our positions. Suddenly there was a lull in the fire fight,
meaning that first Indian attack was beaten back. Indian artillery fire however
continued unabated. After a break of about an hour, Indians resumed their attack
with greater intensity, overrunning part of the positions of Lieutenant Tariq’s
platoon. In the process Lieutenant Mohammad Saeed Tariq embraced Shahadat
and his platoon JCO Naib Subedar Abdul Aziz was injured. I had two JCOs by the
name of Aziz. One was SubedarAziz Khan commanding No 9 Platoon that had re-
joined the company on night 11/12 December after fighting the battle at Hilli and
the other Naib Subedar Abdul Aziz, a Platoon JCO with Lieutenant Saeed Tariq.

Realising that the position had become untenable, I told my men to withdraw,
covering the withdrawal myself with six men including Subedar Aziz Khan, Naik
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Nawaz and an LMG detachment providing covering fire. Sepoy Raza, my runner,
pulling my arm from the trench I was standing in, wanted me to come out and
leave but I told my detachment; the jeep driver, signalman with GRC-9 Set and
the runner to leave and wait for me outside the village in the south. Our small
party of six men with one LMG covered the withdrawal of remaining men in the
Company HQ and cook house area. By now I had lost communication with EPCAF
elements under Captain Aashiq deployed on the western side of the village, so I
almost ran towards their position to find out if they had known about the decision
to withdraw. As I was moving towards their position, I found my jeep standing in
middle of the village waiting for me. I shouted at them to move out of the village
and wait for me as told to them earlier. On reaching EPCAF positions, I found that
they were in the process of moving out. Becoming satisfied, I started moving back
and found that the bunker on a crossroad where my jeep was standing only
minutes ago had been obliterated by artillery fire. It was a close call for my
detachment, had they not moved few moments earlier on my shouting at them,
they also would have gone with the bunker.

After getting out of built-up area of Panjbibi, I collected men of my Company on


southern edge of the village, and once again tried to contact the Brigade on
wireless net. The only response was from 8 Baloch who had nothing to tell me in
this new situation. Asking my company to wait for me, I drove towards Khetlal to
physically contact someone responsible to find out what was to be done. As I was
driving towards Khetlal, via Jaipurhat, I could hear tank movement on a parallel
track on my eastern side. These were same tanks which had been positioned east
of Panjbibi and were visible from my positions on 12 December. On reaching
Khetlal, I found 8 Baloch withdrawing from those positions having been ordered
to move towards Bogra. I was told that I should join 13 FF in Patnitola area
towards west, as Indian tanks by now were nearing 8 Baloch positions at Khetlal.
By the time 8 Baloch column got on track for move, the Indian tank column
reached them, forcing them to disperse and move helter-skelter reaching Bogra in
disarray.

I drove back to Panjbibi where my company was waiting for me. I told them about
the new situation and started moving towards 13 FF positions about 30
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kilometres away towards west, part of the track passing very close to the Indian
border from where we received fire while passing through that area.

By late afternoon on 13 December, we reached 13 FF positions on the border in


Patnitola area. Their CO, Lieutenant Colonel Amir Nawaz Khan and his Adjutant
Captain Akram Panwar were waiting for my company. Fortunately, a bridge in
Jaipur Hat area, prepared for demolition, was not blown up by 13 FF Company
that had crossed it in order to rejoin the unit before me, otherwise I could not
have reached their positions that day. The next two days were without much
activity. 13 FF positions had been prepared with great foresight. Bunkers were
very well sited, covering entire area turning it to an ideal killing ground for enemy
approaching those positions. However, Indians did not approach these positions
as their focus was to reach the main communication artery i.e. Rangpur-Bogra
road.

Lieutenant Muhammad Saeed Tariq, hailing from Sahiwal City had lost his father
as a child. He and his sister were brought up by their mother. He was far mature
than his years, a wise man amongst us. In early June when we had taken over the
Thakurgaon area from 8 Baloch and my Company was deployed in Ranishankail
area, Lieutenant Tariq’s assessment was that we had landed up in a Vietnam like
situation and it would be difficult to get out from here. Captain Afreen and I, due
to lack of understanding and maturity scolded him on his pessimism but his words
were prophetic. He would say that if something happened to him, his mother
would not be able to bear it. He died of bullets fired at close range by Indians.
When Light Machine Gun (LMG) position on his Platoon’s extreme left stopped
firing, he first sent his Platoon JCO, Naib Subedar Abdul Aziz to find out. As the
JCO did not return for some time, he himself moved out of his trench in that
direction. Ensuing moments are a tale of unmatched courage demonstrated by
Sepoy Muhammad Durez. Hailing from some village near Chakwal he had
rejoined the company on night 11/12 Dec after withdrawal from 4 FF positions.
Seeing that the Indians were closing in on their Platoon HQ trenches, he started a
jeep standing nearby and drove through fields towards the direction where
Platoon Commander had gone. As he approached the officer, a hail of bullets hit
Saeed Tariq. Instead of caring for his own life and withdrawing, Sepoy Durez put
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Lieutenant Saeed Tariq in the jeep with help of Naib Subedar Abdul Aziz. In the
process the JCO also got wounded. Despite intense firing from close range, he
drove the jeep carrying both the injured to my position. I, standing in my trench,
shouted at him to move straight to 8 Baluch location at Khetlal about twenty
kilometres back where doctor was available. Lieutenant Saeed Tariq embraced
Shahadat before reaching 8 Baluch position and was buried at Khetlal. The
boundless courage and selflessness shown by Sepoy Durez cannot be captured in
words.

There were countless incidents of tests of bravery which will take much more
effort to record. After a prolonged struggle and seemingly hopeless situation, the
men of Pakistan Army had not lost the nerve which is quite possible in such
circumstances. Some men who during the peacetime were not rated favourably,
proved their mettle during this prolonged conflict. One such NCO, Havildar Azam
from a village, Pira Jangla near Talagang proved to be a most reliable person.
When given independent tasks, he performed with admirable sense of
responsibility, courage and competence.

One unassuming young boy, Sepoy Akram from Shakargargh area performed a
great act of valour by enabling a patrol surrounded by the Mukti Bahini in border
area to extricate safely. In 4 FF area, a young artillery officer was sent to a border
post which had about twenty people, a mixed lot from the army and EPCAF. The
officer took out a small party to patrol along the border. As the party reached
open area from where paddy crop had been cut, it was fired upon from three
sides, fire coming from tree tops. Two men from the party were injured. The
officer asked for help from the Company Commander located at Charkai. As
reinforcement party carrying two mortor guns moved towards the border, they
were intercepted midway at a small place named Chintamin and not allowed to
proceed ahead.

The patrol leader with his party pinned down decided to wait till night when they
could undertake withdrawal in cover of darkness. Main impediment in
withdrawing under fire was taking the wounded out. Here, Sepoy Akram from the
platoon of my company deployed with 4 FF, who was part of that patrol
volunteered to perform an act of unmatched courage which saved the party from
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more casualties. He took the two wounded men one by one, carried them on his
shoulders crawling a distance of about two hundred yards to reach a small cover
provided by some trees. He had to traverse this distance four times which he did
with admirable skill to avoid detection. Thus the party was able to extricate from
that precarious situation where longer stay could have resulted in more
casualties.

In one incident when I was asked to reoccupy a post on the border, I along with
Captain Afreen’s platoon approached that post from a flank. Mukti Bahinis
persons occupying the post got unnerved and started withdrawing using covering
fire. When Captain Afreen saw a few men running back towards the border, he
along with another man started chasing the running enemy. After covering a short
distance, Afreen because of his speed, found himself chasing the rebels alone.
One of the rebels carrying light machine gun (LMG) dropped his weapon to run
faster. Afreen brought that LMG and a few rifles dropped by rebels who ran away
crossing over into India.

Captain Afreen from village Guliana, near Kharian Cantonment in Gujrat district
performed the tasks assigned to him with remarkable combination of courage and
wisdom. He planned his actions meticulously to cause maximum damage to the
enemy without incurring casualties to own troops and achieved success in all his
undertakings with remarkable results. During the operations, at least in three
actions at different times, he deserved the highest gallantry award. He was
recommended for an award after raid in Pachagargh area but as mentioned
earlier none of our citations ever reached Eastern Command. A lively, outspoken
and witty man, he claimed to have excelled in the game of ‘Kabbaddi’ in his native
district before joining Army. Nimble in footwork, despite his small frame he never
lost a point in the game, be it catching the opponent or avoiding being caught.
Even after spending over two years as POW in India, his Kabbadi skill was
incredible. For some years Kabbadi had been played in the Army and officers were
allowed to play in the team. After repatriation in 1974, I witnessed his remarkable
talent in the game during 17 Division final matches at Kharian won by 2 Punjab
team led by him.
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On 16 December, we received a wireless message that a CEASE FIRE had been


agreed to between India and Pakistan ending the fighting. By now the Indians in
Bogra area were in contact with our positions in Bogra city. 13 FF deployed in
Patnitola was ordered to concentrate at Naogaon near Santahar railway junction,
about 50 kilometres towards south. CO 13 FF ordered my Company to cover the
withdrawal. There was a gloomy silence in nearby villages. As I was collecting my
men and preparing to withdraw my Company in late afternoon, I saw a middle
aged man coming towards me at brisk pace. I can never forget the way he
embraced me and cried, saying that he remembered Ayub Khan’s time and that
this is not what they had wanted (Hum ne yeh to nahin chaha tha). It was very
emotional moment for both of us knowing that we will not meet again.

We concentrated at Naogaon, where EPCAF Wing HQ was located. Since no Indian


troops were nearby, an Indian unit, 22 Marhatta along with their Brigade
Commander came from Bogra to Naogaon on 21 December. The Indians were
very nice in their attitude and conduct. They told us that war having ended; we
will be in transit through India to Pakistan so we could not carry our weapons
along. Therefore the weapons had to be deposited with them. Being detained in
India as prisoner of war was not mentioned by Indians nor expected by us.

My experience with local Bengali population as reflected in few incidents that I


have mentioned earlier, the Bengali volunteer braving fire to get reply of a
message from CO 4 FF, the person embracing me and crying at Patnitola, local
boys warning me of mine laid on the track is entirely different from general
perception about attitude of Bengalis in this tragic chapter of our history. The
general population in interior areas, as we witnessed during our contact with the
people of almost one third part of East Pakistan, did not want turmoil and were
not involved in any movement for breakup of Pakistan. During our travel from
Dacca to Bhairab Bazar, Kishoreganj, Mymesingh, Durgapur and then onwards to
Rangpur, Nageshwari, Bhurangamari and Thakurgaon, a good part of it on foot
and later traversing vast areas of North Bengal during about eight months, we
found that the general population was cooperative and not hostile towards
Pakistan Army. They wanted peace. There was no popular insurgency as viciously
propagated by India. The local population was supportive of the Army’s efforts to
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stop intrusion from India and denying shelter to terrorists launched from India. At
Panjbibi I was responsible to cover a very vast area along the borders. As narrated
earlier at one post covering a part of border area, responsibility was given to a
small group comprising sixteen persons from local Bengali civilians, giving them
old .303 rifles and ammunition. They, being independent and away from other
posts, performed their task exceptionally well, not allowing any intrusion from
that side.

The protection provided by civilians to General Nazar, Brigadier Tajammal and


party at Pirganj during thick of war, saving them from searching Indians, amply
negates the false propaganda of portraying Bengali population against Pakistan
Army.

The epic Battle at Hilli is a saga of unparalleled valour by our soldiers who were
faced to fight a much superior force. Each one of them acquitted himself
remarkably well. I have mentioned about the spirit of my men who after fighting
at Hilli rejoined me at Panjbibi. The two Indian tanks destroyed at initial stage of
the battle at Hilli were by men of my Company deployed in 4 FF positions. From
my position at Panjbibi, the southern flank of positions at Hilli were being
protected and supported. Captains Afreen’s actions made the Indians to shift
their effort away from Hilli towards Badhuria on the northern tracks.

4 FF was initially reinforced by men of my Company, the ‘Charlie’ Company 34


Punjab (R&S). Additional troops inducted into the battle in Hilli Sector were; one
Company from 8 Blauch commanded by Major Ashraf and another Company from
13 FF commanded by Major Sabir Kamal Mayer at Badhuria. The Brigade
Commander, Brigadier Tajammal Hussain Malik remained present in the area with
his Tactical HQ located with 4 FF. One Battery of 80 Field Regiment Artillery
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Anis was supporting the battle. Major (later
Brigadier) Anwar Khan, Battery Commander with 4 FF was ever available to the
CO 4 FF Lieutenant Colonel Akhlaq Abbasi (later Brigadier). Both got injured in one
incident, were evacuated for treatment but they rejoined the fight after a few
days. When Lieutenant Colonel Abbasi was away from the unit recovering from
injuries, Lieutenant Colonel Mumtaz Malik (later Brigadier) of the same unit
serving at HQ Eastern Command rushed to join the unit for those few days during
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fighting. Such was the spirit and sense of responsibility of soldiers and officers in
those critical times.
124
125

Prisoner of War

22 Marhatta accompanied by Brigadier Bhatti, the Indian Brigade Commander,


came to Naogaon on 21 Dec 1971. The Indians conveyed that since the war had
eneded and we were to go back to Pakistan travelling through India, we had to
deposit our weapons with them, not giving any impression that we were to be
detained in India. They conducted themselves with utmost propriety, giving due
respect to our officers and men. After staying in Naogaon till 1st Jan 1972, we
were made to move on military trucks to Malda in West Bengal. The Indian unit
bid us farewell in a very respectable manner. On exchanging notes with officers
coming from different places into the prisoner camp, the attitude of Indians was
generally found to be similar at other places.

Indians took about fifteen days to shift prisoners from different parts of East
Pakistan, placing them in various cantonments of their three provinces, i.e. Bihar,
Uttar Pradesh and Madhia Pradesh, by 15 Jan 1972. Taking into account the
number of forces fielded and considerable attrition in about ten months of
fighting, the total number of armed forces persons (Army, Navy, and Air Force)
who surrendered in East Pakistan was about thirty four thousands. In addition to
that there were about eight to ten thousand other people in different categories
like Scouts, Police, Mujahids and some civilians with us. A local force, raised to
replace East Pakistan Rifles; the East Pakistan Civil Armed Forces (EPCAF),
comprised of locals mainly non Bengalis who rejoined their families as war ended.
Among civilians, there were only a small number of senior bureaucrats, as junior
lot was mostly locals. As far as civilian families are concerned there were hardly
any because they had shifted earlier during the turmoil. Total number of people
of all categories including some civilians incarcerated India was about forty five
thousands and not what has been propagated so far. Although exact number of
armed forces personnel was available in the Strength Returns sent to GHQ from
HQ Eastern Command but it was never used to challenge the false figures
propagated to malign the Army.
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The confusion about the number of prisoners will continue to prevail because Mr
Z A Bhutto appointed Lieutenant General Gul Hasan as Army Chief who helped
Bhutto in getting into power. After about three months he was replaced by
General Tikka Khan. This General had been removed from command for
mishandling operation in Dacca on 25 March 1971. He remained blackmailed of
being handed over to Bengalis demanding him for war crimes trial and after
retirement was made Secretary General of Pakistan People’s Party as reward for
his services to Bhutto.

The number of armed forces personnel could also be easily worked out from
Order of Battle of formations and units in East Pakistan as on 3 December 1971
(annexed with this narrative-Annex C). It is ironic that Pakistani media did not
bring out facts even after so many years of the tragic events. The stalwarts
associated with the media, writing scathing columns against the Army were
blinded by their prejudice, not bothering to give a reality check. Details of
formations and units could have been taken from numerous Indian publications
available soon after the war to calculate correct figures and give accurate picture
about the number of armed forces personnel incarcerated in India. Pakistani
academia also made failed to find facts.

While India took just two weeks to pick up these prisoners from different parts of
East Pakistan and placed them in vast expanse of their cantonments located in
‘Cow belt’ provinces, their widely publicized repatriation,after keeping them in
India for a prolonged period, was spread over eight months (September 1973 to
April 1974). This was by design to give an impression that apparently a very large
force that failed in combating insurgency and lost the war was made prisoners by
India. This falsehood of giving exaggerated numbers made prisoners continues to
stick to this day.

Our column started from Naogaon on Indian military trucks on 01 Jan 1972 and
reached Malda, a District Headquarters in West Bengal the same evening. Here
we found that other units in our sector were also coming in to a temporary camp
before boarding trains for different destinations in India. Our train was formed
and before moving, the Indian officer in charge pleaded with us not to attempt
escapes en route. His main argument was that we were in transit for going to
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Pakistan and any such attempt would be futile. He promised not to close shutters
of train compartments and not causing us any discomfort. Most of us believed the
Indians because it seemed so logical. The war having ended, apparently there was
no need to keep the prisoners in India. Move to Pakistan through India by trains
also seemed most practical. It was after about three months when we realised
that we were in for a long time.

Our group was brought to Ranchi, in Bihar Province of India. As we detrained at


railway station, we found the attitude of Indian officers completely different from
what we had experienced in East Pakistan. On reflection we realised that the
Indians’ exemplary conduct in East Pakistan was a deliberate effort to save them
of any problem during our transit which their hostile attitude would have
provoked. They were very sweet and nice till we reached India. All of that
appeared to be so well planned by our enemies down to minute detail.

After staying at Ranchi camp for about two days, some prisoners were moved to
another camp at Ramgargh, about forty kilometres away from Ranchi. I along with
Captain Afreen was part of this group. Our request that we should be allowed to
meet with and stay with officers of our unit who were also brought to Ranchi was
not met by the Indians.

Camp No 25 at Ramgarh, as at other places, was made by converting barracks of


other ranks of the Indian Army into prisoner cages. Barbed wire was erected
around a group of three to four barracks to make a cage. The whole cantonment
was converted into prisoner camp. There were about three hundred officers at
Ramgargh camp No 25, kept in two cages each comprising three/ four barracks. A
few senior officers above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel were kept in a separate
cage. Junior Commissioned Officers and other ranks were kept in separate cages.
Initially we were provided with tubular cots which the Indians kept withdrawing
as punishment and reissuing, a continuous process for over two years. Cook
houses were established inside the cages where our unit cooks were employed,
provided with rations authorised to soldiers. It was Dall and chapatti during day
and meat/ vegetables with chapatti in the evening, apart from morning and
afternoon tea. Life in the camp started with recounting the events and
exchanging notes with other officers. Major Sajid Jalal Mazari, who was Artillery
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Battery Commander with 34 Punjab at Thakurgaon also landed in this camp and
through him we came to know the details of actions of our unit.

The reality of losing half of the country weighed heavy on everyone’s mind
particularly when every unit that encountered the enemy fought with
determination, grit and courage. The incidents of unparalleled gallantry were
many but it all went to waste. The units of the three under strength Divisions
deployed to defend every inch of East Pakistan had soon got isolated and by
passed, the Indians reaching undefended Dacca in less than two weeks. The
available troops, if deployed according to the strength and capacity, could have
defended Dacca and its surroundings for considerable length of time, giving
adequate chance to the international community to work out a ceasefire but that
was not planned by our conspirators sitting in Islamabad.

It was after about three months that we realised that we were not in transit to
Pakistan as initially told by Indians. As the events unfolded later, our new ruler in
remaining Pakistan wanted to consolidate his power before he could get the
prisoners back. It was very frustrating, considering that there was no justification
for Indians to keep us because war had ended and we, upon release could not
participate in any on going operations. The uncertainty was causing great anxiety
to everyone. Those who were married and had been away from their families and
children since March 1971 and even earlier were in a more difficult situation. We
all took it with fortitude and exceptional grace not giving Indians any feelings of
being low on morale, denying enemy the pleasure of seeing us in low spirits.
Indian administrative staff of the camp would make all possible efforts to
maintain a calm and peaceful atmosphere but an overall attitude of defiance by
the prisoners would result in frequent tension.

During early months when we still believed the Indians about us being in transit,
two officers from our camp made good their escape and reached Pakistan. Major
Arjmand Malik (Artillery) and Major Abdul Qadir (Armoured Corps) both serving
with the Special Services Group (SSG) made use of fog one early morning to cross
over the barbed wire fences. On reaching Pakistan they wrote a letter that they
had taken five days to reach Pakistan. By now the other prisoners also started
considering escape realising that our repatriation was uncertain and we were in
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for a long time. The Indians had marked all our clothes with thick black lines for
distinction but some of us succeeded in keeping a pair without marking in case we
could get away. Organised into pairs, those who were keen to escape started their
preparation by physical fitness routine. My company officer, Captain Muhammad
Afreen paired himself with Captain Akbar Niazi, 8 Baloch, with whom he had
affiliation since their joint raid on rebels’ positions at the base of Titulia salient in
Pachagarh area in July 1971. Captain Akbar Niazi was a courageous person
inclined to rashness while Afreen had a remarkable sense of balancing courage
with prudence. During operations he always strived to kill the enemy without
causing casualties to own men. Careful planning and audacious execution always
got us intended results.

After a few months in the camp, an underground tunnel was started using some
improvised tools of digging and concealing the excavated earth. It was a slow
process. In our camp, the tunnel was detected by Indians after a few weeks of
work. As we later learnt that almost during same time period tunnels had been
started in most other camps but all except one were detected. The one successful
was at Fatehgarh Camp from where Major Nadir Pervez awarded SJ as 2nd
Lieutenant during Rann of Kutch skirmishes in April 1965, his cousin Major Tariq
Pervez (later Lieutenant General) and some of their colleagues escaped and
reached Pakistan. The other option of escape was to jump over barbed wires
when visibility was poor due to fog. Majors Arjmand and Qadir had done it when
we were thinking of being in transit. It was intriguing as to how they had thought
of escaping at that time. Later on Major Qadir was caught spying for India. After
doing his Staff Course at Quetta, he was posted to one of the Brigades as Brigade
Major but was caught while still on joining time as he was already under
surveillance. Major Arjmand reportedly left the Army and went to USA or
somewhere out of the country.

It so happened that during the whole year there was no fog despite changing
seasons since last time that enabled escape of two officers from our camp. The
escape party would prepare themselves every evening and keep waiting
throughout the night if visibility conditions permitted approaching the barbed
wires. After initial couple of months, the Indians, constantly working to improve
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security arrangements had erected more strands of wire around the cages.
Anyone making escape attempt had to negotiate three to four strands of wire
obstacles. One of these was more formidable in height and strength. In extreme
frustration, Captains Niazi and Afreen attempted to throw an improvised weight
on electric wires expecting to cause electricity failure thus creating opportunity
for escape. For doing it, they had to cross two strands of barbed wire which they
did in the early part of one night in full view of other prisoners who helped them
by engaging the guards into petty talk. But their attempt to cause electricity
failure did not succeed and they had to cross back the barbed wire strands
causing great anxiety for every one of us about their safety.

Another escape attempt was made on 28 November 1972 when a light fog
appeared in the early morning on that day. Eight officers that included the
impatient pair of Niazi and Afreen attempted escape. Working in pairs, they
crossed the first two strands of wire to enter into adjacent empty space. From
here they had to cross the high wire posing main obstacle. Niazi and Afreen were
first ones to cross that obstacle at one point. As they approached the last strand,
they were suddenly confronted by two Indian guards, an NCO carrying a sub
machine gun and a sepoy carrying rifle. Despite raising hands and shouting not to
fire, the Indians opened fire killing Captain Akbar Niazi at the spot. Captain Afreen
ran sideways between the two strands of wire followed by Indian rifleman firing
from outside the wire. One had experienced many unusual happenings during
long struggle in East Pakistan but this was most extraordinary. Afreen, being fired
at from such a close range, crossed back over the main wire with some difficulty
but was not hit except a very minor bruise on his thumb. One of the bullets being
fired at him hit and killed one of our NCOs who was looking out from barracks’
window. Indians, alerted by firing came in strength and got hold of all those who
had crossed over the two strands of wire. Captain Afreen was caught and was
being taken to the spot where Niazi’s body was lying to be shot when an Indian
officer ordered to hold him for questioning. This fortuitous intervention again
saved Afreen’s life.

Apart from Captains Akbar Niazi and Afreen, the others attempting escape
included Major Naqvi, a stout, highly spirited officer from the Army Service Corps
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(ASC), Major Latif also from ASC, Major Yousuf 32 Baluch, my course mate from
PMA and very dear friend, a most pleasant man whose company I enjoyed at
Kharian earlier for few years spending most of our free time together. Yousuf
hailing from Haripur, had spent his teen age years in Karachi, having very
interesting stories to tell about life in Karachi in those days. He thought of an
effective way to save himself from being roughed up when the Indians got hold of
them. As the Indians got few boxers to give some punches to this group
attempting escape, Yousuf kept his one hand at his head and kept reciting
Quranic verse ‘Ayat ul Kursi’ inaudible to tormentors. While others got their
share of punches, he was not touched. Remaining in this group were Captains
Anwar Alam, Artillery, Zulfiqar, 8 Punjab and Parvez Akmal, Engineers. All of them
were given 28 days rigorous imprisonment and put in small dungeons in solitary
confinement for that period. After completing punishment they rejoined the
camp. Parvez Akmal in due course reached the rank of a two star General, holding
important assignments including about three years as Managing Director of Oil
and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) enjoying reputation of an
honest, upright and visionary leader. Getting married to his sister soon after
repatriation from India, I have enjoyed a pleasant personal relationship with him
during all these years. Thus Camp 25 left lasting imprint on my life.

Some of the detainees at Camp 25 later rose to high ranks in the Army, three of
them, Ghulam Mustafa, Athar Ali Shah and Shahid Trimzi as three stars and two,
Parvez Akmal and Iftikhar Shah as two star Generals. Ghulam Mustafa is active in
media these days expressing his rational views with clarity. Overall it was spirited
lot with some of the senior officers being a source of inspiration and strength for
us. There was Muhammad Hussian SJ, a bit hard of hearing and witty about whom
I have mentioned earlier of his saying buffalos carrying gun barrels. There was
Chaudhry Qadir Bakhsh Mela from whom we listened with keen interest about his
romantic liaison with Melody Queen Noor Jahan in her prime. There was Saleem
Zia with perpetual thoughtful gaze, a handsome ex SSG man gracefully supporting
a large moustache. There was Jabbar Jahan Khan (JJK) Tajik a harsh senior but
very competent gunner. From his name and clan it was little surprising to know
that he was Christian of faith. He did explain how his father converted. His
daughter Naween Tajik made a short appearance in films later. Col Basit,
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Armoured Corps organised preparatory classes for professional grooming of


young officers. Along with some naval officers there were some officers from
Merchant Navy, crew of two ships. Memories of people and the time spent
remains fresh even after so many decades past.

Some notable visitors who came to visit us in our camp were Mr. Younus Khan
'special' advisor to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.This man from Charsadda was
related to our Sarhadi Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. He tried to talk to us on
relations between our countries but we were not prepared to listen to him and he
had to leave without giving us his lecture. Another visitor was Major General Shah
Beg Singh, who being in charge of the Mukti Bahini force was responsible to
organise, train and launch that force into East Pakistan. He, after retirement, had
associated himself with Sanat Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and was killed during
storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army that he had served.

Repatriation of prisoners, started in September 1973 spread over a period of


eight months, was completed by April 1974. About fifty persons would be taken
from one camp and equal number from other camps in the area forming a train of
about three hundred people. A great hype was created in Pakistan by Bhutto’s
government about its achievement in getting the prisoners released. This
repatriation was delayed to help Mr Bhutto in consolidating his hold in New
Pakistan and it was deliberately and unnecessarily spread over eight months. This
was part of grand deception to project that a very large number of Army persons
were made prisoners that took great effort on Bhutto’s part to bring them home.

With lot of fanfare arranged at Wahga border, these prisoners would be received
and after brief questioning for a couple of days at Lahore sent on leave for two
months. After expiry of leave, they would assemble at one of the reassembly
camps established at Kharian and Quetta. They would be interrogated for their
stay in India and also asked to record their accounts of actions in East Pakistan.
After about six weeks they would be posted to different units of their groups
because their own units were yet to reform, being re-raised in 1975 after a gap of
one year on completion of the repatriation. The rank structure and service
brackets laid down for units being re-raised made sure that the personnel of
original fighting units could not get together.
133

When I was posted back to 34 Punjab in June 1975 afte its re-raising, I found that
only about thirty people from the unit who were serving in East Pakistan were
posted back. Rest got scattered all over Pakistan in different units and had no
chance to serve together again. Some of them had been sent home with alacrity.
The policy was that anyone asking for release should not be given time to
reconsider his decision and should be packed off very next day of his making the
request. A special term, ‘returnees’ had been coined for us. Sarcastic comments
from men like ‘you have come back after giving away half of the country’ were
enough for an already traumatized ‘returnee’ to ask for release. There was no
arrangement for providing psychological assistance, so essential to cope with
changed environments. General Tikka Khan, future Secretary General of Z A
Bhutto’s Pakistan People Party was head of the Army supervising return of the
prisoners, covering lies and implementing devious plans of his master. Pakistan
Army lost some of its best experienced war veterans, tested and tried during a
prolonged war, due to deliberate mishandling intended to get rid of them. On my
return to 34 Punjab, I learnt that Sepoy Durez and Sepoy Akram of my Company
that I have mentioned earlier were posted to different units and had gone home
on pre mature retirement.

The main characters who had staged this tragic drama causing large number of
deaths and destruction, met violent deaths. While General Yahya remained in
confinement before his death, Mr. Z A Bhutto was hanged by his chosen
subordinate after being kept in prison’s death cell for quite some time increasing
his agony. One of his sons, Shah Nawaz, died in mysterious circumstances in
France. The whole family had gathered there and all of them were present in the
house where they found Shah Nawaz dead in a room. Bhutto’s elder son Murtaza
was killed by police in front of his house in Karachi when his sister Benazir was
prime minister of Pakistan. Benazir, twice removed from the office of prime
minister on charges of corruption, got killed causing so many deaths first in
Karachi blast which she survived and then in Rawalpindi when she was aspiring to
assume power once more. In Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujib was brutally murdered by
his own Army along with his entire family except one daughter in his Dacca home.
In India, Mrs Indira Gandhi had to bear the pain of her son Sanjey’s death in a
plane crash, and then she herself as prime minister was murdered by her own
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guards. Later her other son Rajiv, as prime minister while visiting Tamil Nadu
province, was assassinated in a blast by a female suicide bomber.

Some people in Pakistan keep demanding official apology from the Government
of Pakistan to the people of Bangladesh for atrocities committed by Pakistan
Army in 1971. Such demands reinforce the lies created and propagated by
Pakistan’s enemies. At one time Mr. Imran Khan, our cricketer hero of yester
years also asked for similar apology. In his statement he said that while in England
in 1971 he was ‘told’ by his friends about the atrocities of Pakistan Army but
when he went to Bangladesh in 1989 he experienced love and affection of
Bangladeshis. That is the reality. One must believe what one experiences and not
necessarily what one is told. If anyone is interested to know about atrocities
committed during 1971, he should start with finding out the number of non
Bengalis living in East Pakistan on 1 Jan 1971, how many were left after one year
i.e. on 01 Jan 1972 and what happened to the rest. Pakistan Army, tasked to
restore normalcy, was too disciplined a force to have committed atrocities. In her
book titled ‘DEAD RECKONING, Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War’ published
in 2011 Dr. Sarmila Bose, a Bengali Hindu scholar has explored the facts by
adopting credible research methodology. Earlier in one of her articles titled “The
Courageous Pakistan Army Stand on the Eastern Front: An Untold Story of 1971
Indo-Pak War” (annex ‘D’) she exposed falsity of Indo-Bangladesh narrative. In her
book she refutes that narrative completely and most convincingly.

Summary

Main points of the appalling tragedy could be summarised as:

 Bengal was a different country in all respects. Its language, culture and the
distance, over one thousand miles of hostile India’s territory separating it
from West Pakistan were important factors in creation of Bangladesh.

 The decision to dismember Pakistan, however, was not taken by Bengalis.


The decision was taken and implemented by West Pakistani rulers of
Pakistan.
135

 The people of Bengal had gone more than half way to remain part of united
Pakistan. In the first constitution adopted in 1956 after deliberations spread
over a period of about nine years since creation of Pakistan, Bengalis
accepted the arrangement of parity despite being more in numbers.

 The Constitutions of Pakistan (of 1956 and 1962) did not provide sound
provisions between the two wings to keep the country united in which both
wings could enjoy considerable freedom in internal matters and in
distribution of resources. The differences however could be bridged by
arriving at a solution through negotiations, avoiding a crisis of that
magnitude, involving India invasion if our leadership was sincere with
interests of the State and the people of Pakistan.

 Although 1970 Elections gave clear overall majority to Sheikh Mujib’s


Awami League, 160 seats out of total 300 seats, he could not form the
government. Mr. Z A Bhutto who’s newly formed Pakistan People’s Party
had won 81 seats mainly from Punjab and Sind, stopped his party members
from attending the National Assembly Session called at Dacca on 3 March
1971. He threatened other members from West Pakistan with physical
violence (breaking their legs) preventing them to do so.

 This act of the elected members of National Assembly from West Pakistan
refusing to attend National Assembly session called in Dacca on 3 March
1971 created the crisis that led to break up of Pakistan. This was deliberate
step according to the scheme for dismemberment of Pakistan as it became
evident later.

 Apart from many other factors, a major cause why West Pakistan’s ruling
elite could not afford majority of East Pakistani legislators in National
Parliament was the system of land management. Soon after independence
East Pakistan Assembly had passed a bill that abolished Zamindari system,
the lands becoming State property. This bill, The East Bengal State
Acquisition and Tenancy Act of 1950 (also known as the East Pakistan
Estate Acquisition Act 1950), drafted on 31 March 1948 was passed on 16
May 1951. India adopted a similar law in 1953. In West Pakistan such
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reforms were never carried out. A Bengali dominated parliament was


threat to feudalism prevailing in national politics and governance.

 Elections were held in December 1970/ January 1971 and after


considerable delay Assembly session was called for 03 March 1971. These
elections were initially scheduled in Oct 1970 but were postponed due to a
cyclone that badly affected coastal areas in East Pakistan. Delay in holding
elections caused unrest and further delay in calling Assembly session after
the elections resulted in large scale agitation and disturbances in East
Pakistan. This turmoil turned into lawlessness, anarchy and loss of State
writ in the province, particularly when the Assembly session scheduled on 3
March at Dacca was called off without giving fresh date.

 Calling off Assembly Session without giving fresh date by the President,
General Yahya Khan, supposedly made after developing some
understanding with Z A Bhutto at Larkana, makes Yahya Khan solely
responsible for subsequent events leading to break up of Pakistan. Had he
stuck to his decision on holding the Assembly session irrespective of
Bhutto’s stance of attending or not attending the session, the events could
have taken different turn.

 After yet another costly delay, military action to overcome virtual anarchy
was taken on 25 March 1971, starting in Dacca and later expanded to other
areas as the troops arrived from West Pakistan to restore order. This action
resulted in open rebellion. Agitation turning into anarchy was followed by
open rebellion in distinct phases.

 It was a political problem for which military action was no solution. The
military commander in East Pakistan, Lieutenant General Sahibzada Yaqoob
Khan refused to undertake the operation. He was removed and replaced by
Lieutenant General Tikka Khan who was willing to take orders.

 In East Pakistan there was one Infantry Division (No 14 Division) comprising
four brigades, instead of normal three brigades of Pakistan Army.
Authorized strength of a Division in those times was about fifteen thousand
all ranks. Out of twelve infantry battalions of this Division, seven batallions
137

were from the East Bengal Regiment (EBR) who joined the rebels. EBR
Training Centre located at Chittagong had about two thousand people who
revolted. About thirteen thousand men of the para military force, the East
Pakistan Rifles (EPR) also revolted. Substantial number of Bengali soldiers in
other units had to be disarmed, downgrading effectiveness of the
remaining few units located in East Pakistan at the start of the crisis.

 Troops of 14 Division were scattered all over East Pakistan confined to their
locations since the start of non-cooperation movement in 1st week of
February 1971. Their supplies had been cut off and they were virtually
prisoners living in great tension and hardship. At Rangpur an officer of 29
Cavalry with escort of Bengali troops of his unit was sent to get some fresh
rations from Bazar for the unit. He was killed by the mob, his escort
deprived of weapons returned to unit.

 When military action was ordered, the troops from Dacca Cantonment
started with indiscriminate firing in the city of Dacca on night 25/26 March
1971. This caused unnecessary casualties. Over three hundred people were
reported killed, about half of them in the Dacca University campus. The
General Officers, Tikka Khan and Khadim Raja responsible for this action
were relieved of command; their place taken over by Amir Abdullah Khan
Niazi and M Rahim Khan respectively. Interestingly later when Bhutto came
to power Tikka Khan and Khadim Raja were rewarded in his ‘new’ Pakistan,
making Tikka Khan the Army Chief and after retirement Secretary General
of his Party, the PPP. Khadim Raja was given diplomatic assignments.

 After action in Dacca, two Infantry Divisions (No 9 from Kharian and No 16
from Quetta) less their heavier elements like the armour regiments,
artillery and some other integral elements were flown from West Pakistan
to undertake further operations. Basically infantry units of these two
Divisions, roughly about twenty thousand persons were flown in by
Pakistan International Airline (PIA) to reinforce severely depleted East
Pakistan garrison. On arrival of fresh troops in Dacca, these were organised
into columns and despatched in different directions to clear areas up to the
borders.
138

 There were three distinct phases of events after operation was launched on
25 March 1971; clearing areas up to the borders, restoring normalcy and
Indian invasion. The initial phase of operation starting from Dacca to reach
the borders in different directions was completed by fourth week of April
1971. In this phase, all the columns starting from Dacca were opposed by
well sited ambushes at successive positions. This pattern suggested Indian
involvement in planning and presence of some of their men physically
supporting the rebels comprising units of East Bengal Regiment (EBR) and
the men from the para military East Pakistan Rifles (EPR).

 The pace of movement of troops moving outwards from Dacca was


severely restricted due to blowing up of small bridges and culverts on
numerous streams on the routes. Vehicles were not available to expedite
movement nor could be used due to the obstacles thus created. It was
marching on foot right up to the borders which took time. This phase ended
by last week of April 1971 with few pockets left that were cleared later.

 During the period between January and April 1971 when there was no State
control in the province, atrocities and massacre of non Bengali population
was committed by criminal gangs at massive scale in different parts of the
country. Hundreds of thousands of people were brutally killed, the women
gang raped before being killed.

 Allegations of this kind of mass murder and molestation of women were


soon levelled against the Army which is the greatest falsehood; the main
point of vicious propaganda campaign by Indians during the conflict. As
would be evident from the narrative, the worst case of causing civilians
death by Army was at the start of Army action in Dacca. After that the Army
did not find those people who needed to be killed as they escaped to India
retreating before the Army’s movement towards borders.

 The civil population along the routes of movement of Army’s marching


columns moving from Dacca towards borders avoided contact with Army
except when a town was reached. In the towns, people came out on the
roads waving Pakistani flags and informed that "Malaoon log bhag gia” (the
139

cursed lot had run away). Those people involved in mass killings and rape of
non Bengalis safely reached India, keeping about twelve hour time gap
from the Army columns marching towards borders. The general population
was not opposing the Army that could evoke violent response.

 After reaching the borders, express orders constantly hammered were to


"restore normalcy". Formations and units were given vast areas of
responsibility to restore peace and normal conditions. Focus of the Army
was to restore confidence of the population to resume normal activity. The
local administration and Police were in place and continuing with normal
functions.

 The period from end of April up to June passed peacefully. By the month of
June, rebels, organised by Indians into a force called Mukti Bahini started
their sabotage activity, planting mines on the tracks, blowing up small
bridges/ culverts in areas close to the borders. Also by this time Indians
started shelling our posts in the border areas.

 Rebel’s operations did not escalate to a scale that could disrupt normal
activity of the civilian population. The common people were not supportive
of insurrection seeing that the Army was not interfering in their routine
affairs and was striving to restore peaceful living conditions.

 The people of East Pakistan had voted for Awami League who promised to
get them maximum autonomy based on a six point formula. The people
had not voted for breakup of Pakistan. A large number of Bengali young
men were working as volunteers with the Army to counter sabotage
activities by rebels and to deny them sanctuaries.

 Movement in an area afflicted with insurgency environments needs special


arrangements like moving in groups to deal with possible attacks and
ambushes. No such need was ever felt throughout the period after
clearance of opposition in the initial phase ending by last week of April
1971. Till 16 December 1971 we could move in single vehicles never fearing
or facing any threat from the population. On 7 December during thick of
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battle in Bogra Sector the civilians saved Major General Nazar Hussain
Shah, GOC 16 Division and his party from being captured by Indians.

 The Army’s main concern was to ensure that rebels/ Mukti Bahini were
denied establishing sanctuaries within our respective areas of
responsibilities. To that end there was constant effort to reach out to the
people, hold meetings to reassure the population that they had support of
troops against any threat or intimidation from rebels. Because of these
efforts, which kept us on the move most of the time, rebel’s activity
remained confined to areas near the borders in acts like laying mines on
Katcha tracks, blowing up small culverts etc. Main threat while moving in
the area was from land mines laid by rebels on tracks along borders.

 Government writ restored by end of April 1971 in East Pakistan created


conditions for resuming political process. Unfortunately the Government of
Pakistan under General Yahya Khan was in a state of paralysis and had no
intention to solve the problem. People around him like Z A Bhutto who saw
no chance of coming to power in united Pakistan were working for breakup
of the country to secure chance of ruling left over part of Pakistan.

 Rumours or ‘langar gup’ since August 1971 was that GHQ considered these
three Divisions in East Pakistan as written off. It was taken as a joke by
naive junior officers like us but it proved true.

 On declaration of war by Pakistan on 3 December, news was deliberately


spread through command channels that Pakistan Army had captured
Jammu. This joyful news proved wrong resulting in greater disappointment.
Such cheap tactics by callous rulers caused unnecessary frustration.

 Indian invasion in November 1971 came from three directions i.e. west,
east and north. From south, the sea was completely dominated by Indians
and the ports of East Pakistan effectively blockaded. Lieutenant General A A
K Niazi, the commander of troops in East Pakistan acted on orders of GHQ
to defend every inch of land, a most unrealistic directive. This directive did
not allow him to deploy available troops to counter invasion which had
141

become very clear when Indian troops had completed their concentrations
on three sides of the borders by October 1971.

 Disobeying orders is a dilemma at the time of crises. I have two examples


which will elaborate the point. During war Chittagong was to be defended
as fortress by withdrawing troops deployed in the sector for counter
insurgency role. Special Service Group (SSG) troops deployed in Chittagong
Hill Tracts area had a chance to cross over to Burma when they were
ordered to come back to Chittagong for fortress defence. These highly
trained troops are not meant to be used for static defences. In our POW
Camp No 25, Major Mohammad Saeed (later DIG Police) a restless
commando would repent on not availing the chance of escaping to Burma.
He blamed his fellow company commander Major Mohammad Iqbal (later
Brigadier, Punjab Regt) on persuading him to obey the command.
Conforming to norms of service, Lieutenant Colonel Hanif Malik,
commanding the SSG troops followed orders given by Brigadier Atta Malik,
getting his troops to fall back to Chittagong. Conversely Major Asif Ali Rizvi
of my unit posted to EPCAF at Cox’s Bazar on the border with Burma
crossed over to Burma when he felt isolated from Chittagong. He reached
Pakistan and was awarded with gallantry award of Tamgha-e-Jurrat (TJ).
Later, when POWs came back, Brigadier Atta made it a point that the
officer be punished for disobeying orders to reach Chittagong and so Major
Rizvi was deprived of the award.

 In hindsight one can say that a man of General Niazi’s rank should have
taken decisions according to the situation confronting him, particularly
when nobody at GHQ was listening to him and his problems as he has
written in his book titled ‘The Betrayal of East Pakistan’. Nevertheless the
way he was singled out, demonized, punished and deprived of earned
pension was part of the plot to put entire blame on him and the Army by
Mr Bhutto and his team. The man who after taking over command of
troops on 10th April 1971, had restored State’s control over the country in
just three weeks, creating conditions to resume political process was held
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responsible for horrendous crimes of Yahya–Bhutto combine, who were the


real culprits.

 The Indian invasion came through our deployment for the counter
insurgency operations, our troops scattered in penny packets all over East
Pakistan. Like water flows through terrain avoiding high ground, the
Indians, containing our positions where confronted, bypassed these
positions and reached undefended Dacca. Eastern Command plans to fight
from ‘strong points’ and ‘fortresses’ did not materialise as readjustment of
positions to occupy and convert towns and cities into defensive positions
could not be carried out.

 The Indians had complete mastery of the skies which facilitated their move
to a great extent.

 Indians mostly avoided fighting to clear defensive positions wherever they


came across, bypassing such positions to continue with their move.
Wherever they tried to fight through the defensive positions, they suffered
heavy casualties and failed to overcome resistance. I have given example of
34 Punjab positions south of Birganj on Thakurgaon – Dinajpur road and of
fighting in the area of 205 Brigade in Hilli Sector that I know as a participant
of that battle.

 The doctrine that defence of East Pakistan laid in West Pakistan never
materialised. The offensive planned from West Pakistan to capture vital
space in Indian Punjab, thus relieving pressure on East Pakistan was never
launched.

 Had the positions of available troops in East Pakistan been adjusted to


counter Indian invasion, Dacca could have been strongly defended by
taking up positions north of it between the two rivers. Besides that,
Chittagong area could also be effectively defended because of its layout, its
long border with Burma and the mountainous tribal areas inhabited by
friendly tribes. In this scenario the extended line of communications of
Indians reaching to contact our defences could be severely disrupted by the
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Bengali young men working with the Army as volunteers. Such a situation
would have resulted in a totally different outcome.

 Chittagong area could still be part of Pakistan if bulk of non Bengali


population, now languishing in slums of Dacca for so long, was shifted to
the area in the months of September to November 1971. With friendly
tribes and common Bengali people not supporting break up of Pakistan, this
was a viable option even if rest of East Pakistan had to become Bangladesh.
But men at the helm of affairs even at Eastern Command lacked that vision.

 On 16 December 1971 the message received on wireless nets by the units


scattered all over the country, was that of ceasefire. The units were told to
concentrate at specified locations.

 As we concentrated at different locations after the 'ceasefire' and came in


contact with Indians, we were conveyed by the Indians that since we will be
in transit for move to Pakistan through India, we were to hand over our
weapons to them. The Indians did not give any indication that we were to
be detained in India. It was after sometime on reaching India that we
realised that we were not ‘in transit’ but in captivity for an uncertain
period.

 The Indians treated us with utmost propriety till we landed inside India in
their camps, a calculated step on their part to complete move without
trouble. After we reached their camps, we found them mean and ruthless,
killing anyone trying to escape as it happened in Camp 25.

 To sabotage UN role in arranging ceasefire, Mr Z A Bhutto along with his


delegation stormed out of UN Security Council session instead of discussing
a Polish Resolution which asked for ceasefire and transfer of power to
elected representatives in East Pakistan. He had delayed his arrival in New
York to attend crucial Security Council proceedings by two days when he
stayed in CIA headquarters in Switzerland feigning to be 'indisposed'. He
delayed his move to New York, waiting for progress of Indian troops closing
in on undefended Dacca.
144

 Polish Resolution would have averted surrender and its consequences but
Mr Bhutto was not sure of his position when orderly transfer of power to
Bangladesh by a political settlement was done by Yahya’s government.
Bhutto wanted to ensure surrender of troops in East Pakistan to get Yahya
dislodged from power making room for him. His long cherished goal to
‘defeat the Generals’ that would enable him to come to power was now to
materialise in Indians capturing Dacca. His efforts in getting Pakistan into
armed conflict with India in 1965 had not produced results desired by him
then. It had taken six more years to reach that goal.

 In his article published in Criterion Quarterly (April-June 2012 issue) Mr. A G


Noorani observed that had the Security Council resolution come into force,
it would have resulted in the withdrawal of troops to the status quo ante
bellum, not a single prisoner of war would have been taken, there would
have been no surrender of Pakistani troops to the Indian command, there
would have been no Shimla Accord, and the Ceasefire Line in Kashmir
would have stayed put. Similar views were expressed by Sardar Sherbaz
Khan Mazari in his book ‘A Journey to Disillusionment’ as well as in the May
25, 1974 issue of a Karachi based weekly Outlook.

 Z A Bhutto’s dramatic walkout from Security Council was welcomed with a


sigh of relief in New Delhi. In their study titled ‘War and Secession:
Pakistan, India and the Creation of Bangladesh’ professors Richard Sisson
and Leo E. Rose wrote: “Several key figures in India could not understand
why Pakistan did not readily agree to the proposal, since it would have left
India in a most difficult and compromising position.”

 Earlier in November just before the War, Mr Z A Bhutto led a delegation to


China where the Chinese Prime Minister Mr Chou En Lai, after detailed
deliberations spreading over two days and in consultation with Chairman
Mao Tze Tung gave specific line of action for Pakistan in these words,
"DO NOT PRECIPITATE WAR AS THE WORLD OPINION IS TURNING
AGAINST INDIA. IF NECESSARY, TRADE TERRITORY FOR TIME."
145

Mr Bhutto in his briefing to President Yahya Khan after the visit did not
convey this specific advice by the Chinese leaders. (Details in Air Marshal
Inamul Haq Khan's account at annex B). Pakistan did the opposite to
escalate conflict by declaring war with India, launching air raids on 3
December 1971.
 Total strength of the prisoners of all categories including civilians was about
forty five thousands. About thirty four thousand were from the Pakistan
Army, Navy and Air Force, the rest from the civil armed forces i.e. three
wings of Scouts, four Rangers Wings, some Mujahids, Policemen and very
few civilians. Amongst the Army troops there were only about twenty
three thousands infantry soldiers fighting against insurgents and the
invading Indians, supported by the remaining elements. The Order of Battle
of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan as on 3 December 1971, the locations of
formations and units is given at the end of this narrative (Annex C).
 The figure of ninety three thousands prisoners of war was concocted to
malign, degrade and vilify Pakistan Army. The prisoners were kept in India
till Mr Bhutto could consolidate his hold in his New Pakistan. General Gul
Hassan, the C-in-C of Army for few months, who helped in bringing Mr
Bhutto to power, did not contest these figures. His successor General Tikka
Khan remained intimidated by Bhutto to be handed over for war crimes
trial demanded by Bangladesh in the list of 195 persons. Tikka Khan was
succeeded by Zia ul Haq, who with different priorities ruled for a long time
to obscure the picture of past events.
 Repatriation of Pakistani POWs was deliberately spread over about eight
months, from September 1973 to April 1974, whereas Indians had taken
just two weeks to collect these troops from all over East Pakistan to place
them in various camps over vastly spread areas. Repatriation was arranged
in a manner that gave an impression of a very large force having
surrendered to the Indians. It was also ensured that the personnel of those
units who served in East Pakistan could not get together. The prisoners
were not treated well, referred to as ‘returnees’ with a policy that anyone
desiring to leave the service should not be given a chance to rethink and
146

should be promptly sent home. Many fine and experienced soldiers were
thus got wasted out.
 Repatriation of prisoners was trumpeted to be a very big achievement of
Mr Bhutto to deceive the people. But those of us affected knew and some
thought of doing something to get him. They were apprehended and
punished through a court martial conducted by Major General Zia ul Haq
(later President). After Z A Bhutto was hanged by Zia, reportedly one of
those punished told Zia that this was what they wanted earlier and that Zia
had realised it late.
 To cover up the tragedy, a commission headed by Justice Hamood Ur
Rahman was formed with limited mandate. Like all commissions, it served
Bhutto’s purpose by assuaging public sentiment at the time. Statements
recorded by the Commission were in conflict with facts narrated by
prisoners on their repatriation after over two years. Their statements
exposed Bhutto’s role, hence the Commission’s proceeding were never
made public. By then Bhutto was firmly in power.
 Mr Yuri Bezmenov, a former agent of USSR’s spy agency, the KGB, in his
interview gave details of the plan for breakup of Pakistan, creating Mukti
Bahini gangs; admitting that there was no popular Bengali uprising but an
orchestrated terrorist subversive plan by Indian spy agency, RAW and KGB.
According to him Pakistan was dismembered due to a massive conspiracy
by India, Russia and the US where terrorist gangs were used for subversion
to stage a rebellion. According to him the traitors who sided with the KGB
and RAW were to be killed in the end once their usefulness was over. This
interview is available at12;
Yuri Bezmenov - Soviet Subversion of Western Society 7/9
 Dismemberment of Pakistan, once the largest Muslim country of the world
which made rapid economic and overall progress in a very short period of
time and enjoyed great prestige in the comity of nations is a very tragic
story. The breakup was orchestrated by global powers through India

12
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY4al5PyeNE&feature=youtu.b
147

supporting Mujeeb, Bhutto and their accomplices. Even now the common
people in remaining Pakistan continue to suffer at the hand of rulers, who
are pawns of global corporate interests, crippling country’s economy,
threatening our survival as a state.
148
149

THE EXPERIENCE

Part – III
150
151

Back Home to a ‘New’ Pakistan

The process of repatriation of prisoners started in September 1973 and was


spread over a period of eight months concluding in April 1974. Prisoners were
picked up from different camps to form a train for repatriation on a certain date.
Announcements of names of prisoners who were to be part of next train taking
the prisoners home was keenly awaited. Not being included was cause of
disappointment and I felt this many times as my name came in the second last
train in April 1974. Our journey was planned in a manner that travel through
Indian Punjab was during night reaching Attari by early morning. The train
compartment’s windows were also kept shut so that we could not see the
countryside during day part of the journey. De-training at Attari and move to
Wahga border post was arranged in the mornings. Elaborate reception
arrangements were laid out at Wahga by Pakistan Army, Corps Commander
Lahore receiving returning prisoners.

I landed on the soil of ‘New’ Pakistan one morning in second week of April 1974.
On crossing the border I got strange feelings of being in a different world. After
having suffered hardships and humiliation for so long, a sudden change of being
liberated and welcomed was rather difficult to absorb. After spending about three
days at reception camp in Lahore Cantonment I, like others, was given leave for
two months. On reaching home in the village, people there and from surrounding
areas kept visiting to congratulate on my safe return. They seemed genuinely
happy and showed lot of love and affection. This continued for a couple of days.
All those who returned home were given very affectionate welcome, people
gathering at bus stands hours before expected arrival of returning prisoners. The
respect and affection shown by people of the area may seem strange to readers
of younger generations, fed with false picture of the tragic happenings by rulers
of ‘New’ Pakistan. Despite false propaganda against the troops trapped in East
Pakistan people at that time understood the role played by rulers who had put a
small force in an untenable position. In spite of acts of unparalleled gallantry at
unit and individual level, the outcome could not be any different. Prolonged stay
152

as prisoners in India also increased concern creating compassionate feelings for


the prisoners.

After spending two months leave, I reported at re-assembly camp established at


Quetta for detailed debriefing and further disposal. Another such camp had been
established at Kharian. Here we were made to write detailed account of our
actions. Adjusting to changed environments was taking time as long detention
had taken its toll. For example crossing a road became an ordeal. It seemed as if
while crossing the road one would be crushed by approaching vehicles. The
judgments of time and space had gone wrong. Market prices of various items of
daily use seemed unrealistic. At Quetta I went to a shop to buy an ash tray. I could
not reconcile to the price demanded for a plastic ash tray and came back without
buying it. Since it was a necessity item for me then, I went again next day to buy it
at the asking price. We took time to become normal without any professional
help from the State and the Army.

After a few weeks at re-assembly camp we were given movement orders to join
different units where we were posted. I was posted to 53 Punjab located at
Kharian, the old station from where I had gone to East Pakistan. Since my unit, 34
Punjab did not exist at that time because units that were in East Pakistan were
not immediately re-raised, we the ‘returnees’ were posted to different units. Two
of my other unit officers, Majors Khurshid Ahmad Mallal and Nisar Hussain
Bukhari were also posted to 53 Punjab. My company officer Captain Afreen was
posted to 2 Punjab, also located at Kharian.
Move to Dera Bugti

As I was trying to adjust to the routine of cantonment life, an unexpected order


disturbed that process. The Brigade, of which 53 Punjab was a part, was ordered
to move to Dera Bugti in Balochistan. Here at Kharian we the ‘returnees’ were
provided with the opportunity to appear for Staff College Entrance Examination
and promotion examinations that we has missed during last about four years.
Special examinations were arranged during the month of August 1974. As we
were going through these examinations, Major M Saeed Azam Khan of our unit
who on return had been posted to 29 Punjab located at Kahan, Marri Agency in
153

Balochistan and was with us in Kharian for the examinations got the news that his
Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Colonel Mumtaz had lost his life in an
ambush near Kahan. Major Saeed Azam was required to immediately join the
unit. He reached Kahan and found that a person named Sher Muhammad from
nearby hamlet; a regular visitor of the CO was involved in laying that ambush
based on his information about Colonel Mumtaz’s movement. Major Saeed Azam
caught up with the criminal getting him killed when next firing incident took place
near Kahan soon after. Lot of hue and cry was raised by terrorists’ sympathisers in
the National Assembly and Major Saeed Azam had to face inquiries and
punishment. His Unit apparently was going through a bad spell because after a
few months the next CO Lieutenant Colonel Rao Muhammad Iqbal also got killed
when while travelling he made his escort to practice anti ambush drill during
move. The man firing Light Machine Gun could not hold the gun in position and
his firing resulted in CO’s death and injuries to other persons. Iqbal Rao, hailing
from Okara was gem of a person. He had been my Company Commander in 34
Punjab at Kharian during 1967-68. He had been posted to 34 Punjab after serving
in Pakistan Rangers deployed in Tharparker area and would narrate the harsh
conditions of life around Mithi, Diplo and other places in Tharparker area.
In September 1974, we moved to Dera Bugti via Guddu, Kashmore and Sui. One of
the units was placed at Kahan in Marri tribal area and two units in Bugti tribal
area. 53 Punjab with its headquarters at Dera Bugti, located in an old abandoned
dilapidated fort which only had mud walls standing, placed my company along
with another company commanded by Captain Muhammad Javed (later Major
General) at Pathar Nullah on the route Dera Bugti – Kahan. This place was close to
the boundary between Bugti and Marri tribal areas, a place called Doi Wadh. Near
the company location was a nullah with two to three feet running water. During
operations inside Marri tribal area, we found perennial streams with crystal clear
water full of fish. We learnt that tribal people were under the impression that fish
in those streams was not an edible item. Our mosquito nets became a convenient
gear to catch the fish easily that we ate with relish during our stay.

My company was tasked to provide protection to Oil and Gas Development


Corporation (OGDC) people working on a site called Muhammad Lath, about
fifteen kilometers west of Pathar Nullah. For their movement, Road Opening Day
154

(ROD) procedures had to be followed every day by deploying troops on a defile


and some other places on the route to avoid any hostile action against OGDC
workers. One day when Brigade Commander, Brigadier Jalal, nicknamed ‘Baba
Thand’ visited Pathar Nullah, I suggested that my company and the OGDC workers
should be moved onto the site to avoid considerable effort and resources on daily
movement. The suggestion was accepted and I was ordered to move to the work
site. The OGDC people were waiting for the oil rig to be brought to the site and
had no work except some digging to pitch tents for living. They had good quality
tents, larger in size as compared to those of ours. We had bivouacs, one each for
two men and small forty-pounder tents for officers. Initially the OGDC workers
had problem in shifting to the site because at Pathar Nullah camp they were
indulging in small business. Their vehicles made frequent trips to Kashmor,
bringing necessary provisions for sale to the local people. They resorted to writing
applications against me and I had to give explanations for things like arresting and
detaining their men. Gradually they adjusted to the new realties. My company
officer Captain Shahid Mehmud organised the work of erecting boundary walls
around our small compound with stones available in the area. This place is now
known as Pir Koh Gas Field after drilling operations succeeded in discovering gas
reserves. The name has been chosen because a holy man is buried in that area at
the place known as Ziarat Pir Suri.

After sometime, my company was shifted to Sangsila west of Dera Bugti, a small
mud fort located in a wider valley. A stream of considerable size made its way
through a low hill north of the fort. Here, the water had made a pool; where
according to local tradition the depth of water was said to be unfathomable.
Anyway, the water was abundant but unfortunately was wasted, not being used
for irrigation. There were remnants of an unsuccessful effort to build a small dam
for irrigation during the Ayub Khan era when Nawab Akbar Bugti was under
detention but the project was abandoned as soon as he was released, obviously
he never wanted that kind of development in his area. In fact the tribal people
were also not keen to raise crops, nor had much knowhow about agriculture
which demanded some hard work. They were content on grazing goats and sheep
which did not demand labour and they had ample time for playing some musical
instrument and asking Hal Ahwal, with anyone passing through the area.
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According to their custom, this Hal Ahwal had an elaborate procedure. The men
had to narrate all the happenings which they had gone through or heard about
since their last meeting with each other which could be after a long time.
Obviously there was a lot to talk about and they had ample time at their disposal
to spend on such activities. I had observed that the population was very sparse
and their living and requirements were very simple. Despite availability of water
in some streams which could be harnessed, vast tracts of cultivable lands were
lying unutilised except for grazing purposes.

We undertook search adequate operations deep into mountains following Sartaf


Nullah in Marri tribe’s area north east of Kahan. Here also we found some
perennial streams but the water was not utilised for irrigating the fertile virgin
lands.

Bugti tribe had seven sub-tribes headed by their ‘Waderas’. Nawab Akbar Bugti
was from Raheja branch settled in and around Dera Bugti. One of the sub tribes,
the Massuri’s did not accept Akbar Bugti as their tribal head; they had differences
since the time of his father. Another sub tribe, the Kalpars settled around Sui
were also not under any influence of Nawab Bugti, mainly because they had jobs
with the Sui Gas installations thus becoming economically independent and
getting out of shackles of tribal system. In fact at that time (1973-74) it was only
about forty households supporting the Nawab that would obey his commands.
His position got strengthened when successive governments gave large amounts
of royalty for the newly developed Pir Koh Gas field, the money which he never
used for welfare of his tribe. Earlier, the royalty from Sui gas fields was also used
by Bugti brothers in patronizing vibrant night life of Karachi in fifties and sixties.

Akbar Bugti, who claimed to have killed his first man at the age of twelve, died a
violent death in a cave in Marri tribal area in August 2006. Proclaimed as
Commander-in-Chief of a terrorist group known as Balochistan Liberation Army,
waging war against the State of Pakistan, his force was firing rockets on gas
installations and carrying out sabotage activities like blowing up railway and
power lines. When his position was detected and a party comprising four officers
led by a Lieutenant Colonel of the Pakistan Army approached him to persuade
him to come out of the cave, an explosion resulted in instant death of those
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officers. Akbar Bugti also got killed. A man who had enjoyed a prestigious
position in Pakistan in various capacities should not have succumbed to
machinations of such terrorist groups sponsored by foreign powers working
against the interests of the State. May be his old age blurred his judgment. In any
case it was a most tragic event. I vividly recollect memories of having conducted
him on a tour of Cooli Camp in Quetta Cantonment. One afternoon, when I was
Colonel Staff of 41 Division, I got a message that the Governor, Mr. Akbar Bugti
wanted to visit Cooli Camp to see the barrack where he had been detained during
Ayub Khan’s rule. I met his party at Seven Streams (Pani Taqseem) roundabout, a
famous landmark in the cantonment and conducted him to the area. Although
Cooli camp was still largely in the same dilapidated shape, he could not exactly
locate the barrack where he remained in confinement. He departed after having a
cup of tea in the Divisional Officers Mess located on Staff College Road. His voice
was surprisingly meek compared to his large frame. He had other peculiarities
which I noticed at different occasions, for example while sitting at a large dinner
table in Quetta Club, instead of sharing prescribed menu, he got his own food
served to him comprising Dall and Chapattis with lot of green chilies as his salad.
At another occasion, while listening to Farida Khanum the famous Ghazal Singer
of the time, at Serena Hotel Quetta, he sat good part of the night without getting
up even once although he was consuming a lot of water from a jug placed before
him. People like me, much younger to him, could not continue sitting unmoved
like him. He was a remarkable man who regrettably lost his bearings in old age,
and his tragic end was indeed sad news.

Coming back to events of 1974, sitting in wilderness at Sangsila I began to have


very disturbing thoughts. Although the unrest, for which Army had been deployed
in Baluchistan at that time, was confined to two very small pockets, the Marri
tribal area and some area around Wadh/ Khuzdar, the impression given
throughout Pakistan and the world was that province of Balochistan, almost forty
five percent land mass of Pakistan, was in revolt against the State of Pakistan.
Because of my recent catastrophic experience in erstwhile East Pakistan, I knew
how a small group with support from outside powers could achieve objectives far
beyond their capabilities as it had led to break up of Pakistan. The solution I
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contemplated was to replace large unequal provinces of Pakistan with about


thirty almost equal size provinces named after principal cities.

In about eight years of duty in the province of Balochistan at different times


between the years 1967 to 1990, I had the chance of traversing whole length and
breadth of this vast land. My observation is that Pashtuns, living in areas east and
northeast of Quetta have utilised the land and available water resources to the
optimum level because of their hard work. The areas inhabited by non Pashtun
communities and tribes are vast tracts of unutilised lands except some pockets
like Mastung, Qalat, Khuzdar and Panjgur/ Turbat, the later known for very good
quality dates. The Province is wrongly named if ethnicity is the consideration of
naming it. Pushtunes, Brahavis, Mekranis, Iranians, Jats, Hazaras combined are
much more in numbers than Balochs living in the Province. There are more
Balochs in Punjab and Sindh than in Balochistan. The province itself is populated
by tribes and communities other than Balochs in Balochistan. Brahavis are
concentrated in Kalat plateau, Medes (like Nausherwanis having affinity with
Siestan in Iran) mainly inhabiting Kharan, Jats and Lassi living in Las Bela and
surroundings and people of Arab and African origin in coastal areas of Makran.
Population in all these areas would not total up to be more than three million
people. The hinterland is devoid of population, the habitations mainly
concentrated in small towns.

In April 1975, 53 Punjab was ordered to move back to Kharian as it had come
under a scheme where its manpower had to be shed to other units, keeping only
a skeleton staff as an economy measure.

53 Punjab, later re-designated as 18 Sind, had very well trained and competent
junior leaders, the JCOs and NCOs. Raised by Lieutenant Colonel Hafeez Ur
Rahman, my CO in East Pakistan in earlier part of 1971, this unit was now being
commanded by Major Jamil Masud (later Brigadier) as an officiating CO. The unit
performed assigned tasks most successfully without suffering casualties except
four people wounded in a road accident. The unit used to provide food to poor
people from its unit cook houses wherever it moved and established its camps.
This and other practices like sacrificing animals before undertaking any move or
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operation seeking Allah’s blessings contributed to safety and success of the unit’s
actions which of course were undertaken with meticulous planning.
Re-Raising of 34 Punjab at Okara Cantonment

After coming back from Baluchistan, I was posted to my parent unit, 34 Punjab, as
it was re-raised in April 1975 at Okara, a new cantonment still under construction.
I joined the unit in June 1975. Out of the manpower we had in East Pakistan, only
about thirty people rejoined, the rest readjusted in other units during the
preceding year while a good number had gone home. Training to integrate
manpower from other units, introducing them to the drills and procedures of an
R&S unit was started in earnest under the officiating CO Major (later Lieutenant
Colonel) Mohammad Saeed Azam Khan, who was a Company Commander with
the unit during the 1971 War.
Re-raising of 14 Division at under construction cantonment posed serious
accommodation and allied problems. Officer’s accommodation being last priority
after the completion of barracks for the troops was most inadequate. Only one
house was made available to the unit that was occupied by the officiating CO. I
rented portion of a house in Okara City courtesy Captain Ali Shan, a local from
Okara serving in the unit. For attending to duties in an infantry battalion, it was a
most inconvenient arrangement, travelling considerable distance between the
city and cantonment on motor cycle. Briefly I moved to a private under
construction house in the Cantonment but that was again a very unsatisfactory
arrangement. After some time, I got a house allotted in very unusual manner.
Major General Naseer Ullah Khan Babar was in command of this Division in its
process of re-raising. General Babar had been awarded for gallantry during 1965
War. Flying a small helicopter in Chamb area when our forces were advancing into
the salient, he mistakenly landed at a place where he found a group of Indian
soldiers. Using his presence of mind and enormous confidence, he herded them
to nearby Pakistani unit. While in command of the Division, he made it a practice
to address all officers of the garrison at frequent intervals asking them of their
problems. He offered his availability to everyone at any time even while during his
walk or in his house. He was living in one of the newly constructed Bawani type
houses located in a row without any protocol or guards etc. Frustrated by
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inconvenience that I was suffering from, I decided to avail of his offer when one
evening I just walked into his house unannounced. There I found a couple of
senior officers with families visiting him. After enjoying the hospitality, I begged
my leave.The General, leaving his guests seated came out with me and asked if I
had some problem for which I had come to him. I told him of my problem and
suggesting the solution that my unit had been given only one house as compared
to two houses given to other major units and if allotted a house to the unit my
problem will get solved. He told me to come to his office next day when in my
presence after getting details of houses available or likely to be available, he told
his staff to allot a house to my unit. I was allotted a newly constructed house out
of four houses built for Ordnance Depot at the end of cantonment about six miles
away from entrance to the cantonment on main Lahore Multan road. Around the
houses we had sugarcane fields, where we could watch the process of turning
sugarcane into ‘Rowh’ that after adequate heating turning into ‘gur’ during the
winters. Fresh milk and vegetables were taken from nearby ‘Dera’ in close vicinity.
It was like living in a village enjoying benefits of village life.

After collecting weapons, vehicles and equipment authorized to the unit from
different places and completing individual level training, the unit went to Field
Firing ranges north of Muzaffargarh to carry out live firing from major weapons
like the recoilless rifles and machine guns. Move from Okara to the ranges with
over one hundred vehicles mostly jeeps collected from other users became a
difficult logistic exercise when the vehicles got stranded due to mechanical faults
all along the road travelled. The capacity and patience of our recovery team was
fully tested and the unit ultimately reached the ranges to undertake firing
practices.

Here a most unfortunate and tragic incident occurred. We lost six men when a
106 mm recoilless rifle bust into pieces. I was conducting the fire standing in half
dug foxhole on one side of four recoilless rifles placed in a row at appropriate
distances. I was assisted by Battalion Havildar Major (BHM) Muhammad Sadiq
who was with the unit in East Pakistan. A very handsome man and most effective
professional, he had been approved for promotion and was to put on the rank of
Naib Subedar shortly. A few minutes before the incident, he was exhorting a little
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unsteady young soldier carrying the heavy round from stock towards gun
position, not to be scared. He told the man ‘do not get scared, you will not die, I
have done so much firing of this weapon, nothing happens’ Alas those words
were not true that day.

After some rounds had been fired in turn one by one from the rifles, when I
ordered ‘fire’ to the crew of number three gun placed away from me, a loud bang,
hissing sound of flying something in the air and smoke engulfed the site. After
some moments as the smoke got cleared we found that projectile of the round,
which should have gone to the target placed at eight hundred yards away from
weapon, was lying unexploded in front of the position. The rifle itself had broken
into three pieces, its front and breach lying on the site, its middle portion about
one meter length disintegrated into pieces spread in the area. Six people had lost
their lives including BHM Sadiq. After East Pakistan, particularly at Panjbibi on 13
December 1971, for me this was again a close call. A small piece of barrel flying in
the area could have been fatal. I had undergone training course at the Infantry
School and conducted lots of fire from this weapon but could not understand
what caused the accident.

The news was immediately passed to the Division. General Babar dispatched
Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Jan commanding Supply and Transport Battalion of the
Division as president court of inquiry. As the inquiry progressed involving a team
from Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) reaching site and referring the matter to
manufacturers in the US, it transpired that the particular type of gun, Type ‘A’ had
been considered unsafe and withdrawn from inventory by manufacturers. We
had collected this used gun from Ordnance Depot Drigh Road, Karachi from the
old stock deposited with the Depot some years back. According to inspection
procedures, the inspection team at the Depot gave remarks ‘visually inspected,
barrel pitted, serviceable Class One’. On arrival in the unit when presented to
technical team for initial inspection, same remarks were repeated on the record
book. As users we had no clue of the extent of damage by ‘pitting’ of inside
surface. Declared ‘serviceable Class One’ we had clearance to use the weapon.
The reason for withdrawal of this type of rifles given by the manufacturers was
that riveting of spotting rifle fixed on the main barrel had gone deeper into the
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rifle making it weak and thus unsafe. Combined with pitting due to earlier use,
this rifle could only fire six rounds and exploded at seventh round on that day
causing us an avoidable tragedy if we knew better. The force of ignited propellant
charge required to push the projectile towards target caused blowing up the rifle
itself because of weakened barrel.

General Babar, while sending the Inquiry team, instructed Lieutenant Colonel
Ahmad Jan that he should conduct the inquiry without causing unnecessary
harassment to the unit. Here again it reflects upon the character of the man
commanding the Division. The Generals of that time inspired confidence in
subordinates and commanded deep respect due to their conduct. They accepted
mistakes and were not afflicted with ‘zero error syndromes’.

General Babar was picked up by Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto to become Governor
of the NWFP, now KPK. During his farewell visit to our unit I asked him about his
feelings. He replied that for the present job in the Army he had been trained for
years. He was being pushed into a new field of which he was unsure about the
future.

After spending about a year with the unit I was posted to South Waziristan Scouts
(SWS) at Wana, the Agency HQ of South Waziristan.
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163

South Waziristan

By early autumn 1976, I reached Wana via Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Jandola and
Sarwakai. Wana is located in a wide fertile valley with pleasant summers and cold
winters. The South Waziristan Scouts (SWS) camp was spread over a vast area.
Enclosed in its about five-feet high walls were offices, barracks for troops, Officers
Mess, officers’ family accommodation, some family quarters for the troops and
horse stables etc. Life in Scouts was much different than the regular Army. The
dress was baggy trousers and long shirt of a special rough cloth of dark grey
colour known as ‘militia’. Because of this dress the whole force is called ‘militia’
by general public. The footwear was of local design, a ‘chappal’ of brown colour
and the headgear a beret in normal use. For ceremonial occasions a very colourful
‘Pugree’, starched cloth woven around a cap in particular way, was worn. The
organizational structure was made up of Wings comprising different platoons.
These platoons were formed on tribal basis. Each platoon had its Tribe (Qoum)
Commander responsible for the administration and discipline of his platoon. If
someone lost a rifle or some piece of equipment, the Platoon Commander was
responsible to make good that loss on the principle of collective responsibility.
Thus the job of officers posted from Army for about two years was mainly in
operational role. Overall it was a very effective force.

The SWS Officers Mess had a small library containing some old books. One of the
books I found was ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ donated by its author, T E Lawrence,
the famous Lawrence of Arabia. He was employed by British intelligence to
instigate Sharif Hussain ruling Hijaz to revolt against the Ottoman Caliph during
First World War, consequently redrawing the map of Middle East. That signed
copy of his book was presented by him to the Mess library when he visited the
Mess. After completion of his mission in Middle East, he had been sent to these
tribal areas with a different identity as Corporal T E Shaw serving with the Royal
Indian Air Force. The library also had a set of Thousand and One Nights (Alif Laila)
comprising many volumes translated by Sir Richard Burton, a soldier, adventurer,
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orientalist who served in Sindh during the period of invasion of Sindh by Charles
Napier in mid nineteenth century. He had also compiled a report giving very
graphic details of activity in some areas of Karachi that are declared ‘out of
bounds’ for troops.

Governance in the tribal areas was based on a very simple structure. Overall in
charge of the Agency was the Political Agent (PA), an officer of the central
government carefully selected for his experience, maturity and suitability, to
manage the unruly tribes. He worked through tribal elders known as Maliks
representing their sub tribes. The affairs were decided in meetings known as Jirga
of these tribal Maliks presided over by the PA. He had his assistants to help in
administration and the Levis Force, enrolled from local tribesmen, performed
normal police functions. Scouts were a backup force for the PA to enforce his
decisions when use of such force became indispensable.

I served with the Scouts for a short period of about three months. Before joining
them I had appeared in the Staff Course Entrance Examination. Its result was
announced in late October or November and having qualified I was required to
join the course at Quetta by mid December 1976. During this brief period my stay
with SWS a significant event was the visit of Prime Minister Mr. Z A Bhutto to the
Agency. He had started his tour of the tribal areas from the north, most
inauspiciously. The Assistant Political Agent overseeing his reception
arrangements at the helipad got killed in a bomb blast on the first day of his
extended tour. In South Waziristan, coming from the north, he was first to land at
Ladha, in the heart of Mehsudribe’s territory, have lunch there and then move to
Wana for night stay. At both places he was to address selected group of people.
As Second-in-Command of the SWS, I along with five platoons of Scouts was to
provide security at Ladha. A couple of days before the event I moved to Ladha
Fort located on the edge of a flat area. This small strongly built fort during British
period overlooked a fertile valley below to the east and had a low ridge running
west of the flat area. In mountainous terrains, such pieces of flat land are few.
The fort was occupied by a small detachment of Scouts for its care and
maintenance.
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On the morning of the appointed day lot of people started gathering on the ridge
overlooking helipad area and the venue for lunch. Although political staff had
conveyed that no one will carry weapons and only invited people will come to the
lunch arranged in an open ground outside the fort, all of them were armed
against instructions. Scouts deployed on the ridge tried to stop them leading to
exchange of heated arguments and some scuffles. Here the Political Agent, Mr.
Abdullah, astutely intervened and made the tribesmen to agree that only those
invited may come down to the venue after depositing their weapons with Scouts
deployed at the ridgeline while rest of the people were to remain seated on the
ridge if they did not want to go back home. It was a very tense situation but
admirably well handled by the PA, a wise and courageous man well respected for
his honesty and simple living. He later rose to higher ranks in bureaucracy working
as Chief Secretary of the Frontier Province (NWFP), now KPK.
Around noon two large helicopters arrived at the helipad. Mr. Abdullah, the PA
and I received Mr. Bhutto and brought him to the lunch site where tables and
chairs had been laid out under a Shamiana. Mr Bhutto made a brief address to the
invitees, had a chat with few people and in quite a relaxed mood had his lunch
followed by deep puffs at his cigar. Major General (retired) Naseerullah Khan
Babar, the Governor was nudging him to depart but he took his time to enjoy his
cigar. After he left the place, tribesmen watching the proceedings from the ridge,
could not be controlled anymore by Scouts. They rushed to lunch site raising very
loud shrieks and took away whatever was left of the meal along with some
utensils. My troops packed up and returned to Wana by the evening.
Before Mr. Bhutto’s arrival the instruction given to us about one of his
idiosyncrasies was that in his presence no one will stand with his back turned
towards Mr. Bhutto for up to at least one hundred yards because he gets annoyed
otherwise. Here his behaviour was akin to despotic Kings of old times and
certainly not of one claiming to work for poor people of Pakistan.
At Wana, the dinner arranged in open ground in southeast corner of Wana Camp
started with a bang. As soon as Mr. Bhutto got out of his room moving towards
the venue for dinner, a rebel group started firing towards the camp from nearby
hills. It was promptly retaliated from our towers and posts in the area and it soon
subsided. Although it was no real threat but it created quite a stir, underscoring
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that things were not normal in the Agency. It was learnt that firing had been done
by brother of Maulvi Noor Muhammad, leading a small group who had taken to
the hills against incarceration of Maulvi Noor Muhammad. This person had
entrenched himself as a prayer-leader in a mosque in the Bazar outside the Camp
and was causing trouble by his instigative sermons against the administration
during congregational prayers. When he was considered too troublesome, for
making the locals his ardent followers, the whole bazaar was demolished after
proper warnings and time given to vacate the area. Noor Muhammad was tried
and as per the decision of Jirga, he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment.
His brother, with a small band had become an outlaw thereafter.
Mr. Bhutto left Wana next morning and we resumed our normal routine after
some excitement generated by the visit. The Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel
Faqir Gul Khattak, an artillery officer was a mysterious character. He was a soft
spoken person but exceptionally vindictive. To avenge some earlier grudge
against one of the Wing Commanders commanding Sarwakai Wing, Major Allah
Bakhsh Piracha, he constituted an inquiry on very frivolous charges like the officer
not attending parade on time, using official jeep for fishing trips to a nearby
stream etc. The Commandant spent good part of a day consulting a JCO and a
Sepoy from that Wing in his office making up the story based upon which that
Sepoy gave an application against the officer. I was detailed to conduct an inquiry.
Seeing the charges, I suggested to the Commandant to call the officer and ask him
about these charges which he may otherwise admit and there may be no need of
any inquiry. He was reluctant to do that initially. Anyway, Allah Bakhsh was called
to explain his position. Although it did not merit inquiry, I was told to move to
Sarwakai along with other members to conduct the inquiry. It was during
proceedings of this inquiry at Sarwakai Fort that I was given the good news of
being selected for the staff course. I was filled with joy in finding an escape from
such intrigues. Of course our findings cleared the officer from all charges and I left
without meeting the Commandant who was on his usual extended tour of
Peshawar.
Since my services were seconded to Scouts, a force of Ministry of Interior, orders
were received for my posting to 9 Punjab located at Quetta. I had to report to 9
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Punjab from where I would be given movement orders to join Command and Staff
College Quetta.
168
169

Reverting Back to Khakis

Quetta

I reached Quetta by second week of December 1976 and reported to 9 Punjab


where I remained for a few days before joining the course starting 16 December
1976. This course is the first filter separating officers who have to progress in their
careers or otherwise. First is the entrance examination held every year to select a
specified number of officers from the 8-12 years’ service bracket. Those who go
through the course are graded in different shades which are taken as a yardstick
for their further postings to career or non career appointments affecting their
further progress in the army. I did the course without exerting much despite
frequent advice of some of my peers. At the end I was posted to the best
operational appointment for a Major in the Army, Brigade Major of an infantry
brigade. Overall it was a good time well spent in enjoying the facilities which the
College provided. Families also remained engaged in different activities and the
weekly cinema screening some good films. Giving evening motorcycle ride to little
Yaman, my son, was another pleasurable activity which I would enjoy even at the
cost of studies which otherwise I wanted an excuse to avoid.

Sialkot

After completing the staff course at Command and Staff College Quetta, I joined
104 Brigade at Sialkot as Brigade Major (BM) in January 1978. The Brigade was
being commanded by Brigadier Javed Majid, an Armoured Corps officer (20
Lancers). When postings were announced in the main hall of the college by
Military Secretary Branch representative, I was told by some of my peers that I
was in for a big trouble. They informed me that Brigadier Javed Majid had put
four officers, Platoon Commanders at PMA, on adverse report when he was a
Battalion Commander at the Academy, a very unusual happening. That he was
very demanding, arrogant and a harsh person. On joining the Brigade at Sialkot I
told the Commander about my lack of experience in staff duties having remained
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away from normal routine since 1971. Contrary to what I was told, he was very
patient to guide me initially about the ongoing work, after which I made sure that
he does not find any cause of concern or complaint. Other two staff officers of the
Brigade were, Major Javed Iqbal, Punjab/Sind my platoon mate from PMA as
Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General (DAA&QMG) and Captain
Sajjad Akram, Baluch, General Staff Officer Grade-III (GSO-3) who rose to the
exalted rank of Lieutenant General in the Army. This young officer was sharp,
energetic and assertive to the extent that staff of Brigade units felt uncomfortable
in dealing with him. The level of trouble can be gauged when in an eighteen-
paged redress of grievances against Brigade Commander by Lieutenant Colonel
Salahuddin CO 44 FF, half of the pages contained references to GSO-3 as a cause
of complaint. However, in senior ranks I found the officer to be a forceful and
successful commander.
Brigadier Javed Majid was an officer of the old school, that class which was
becoming rare even in those days when Army was still not afflicted with viruses
introduced by General Zial ul Haq who had started his misrule just recently i.e. in
1977. The Brigadier, a clear headed, smart, sharp and exceptionally confident
person was an epitome of a model army officer. He would come to the office in
his own car, an old Volkswagen and would use the official vehicle, mainly jeep
when visiting units on official duties. He would not use any extra manpower in his
house. If his batman went on leave for some days he would not ask for his relief,
doing without a batman for that period. On his posting out from Brigade at the
end of 1978, I asked him for his needs for the packing etc. He told me to give him
one man from Brigade HQ, not getting any help from under command units. One
evening, as I visited him at his house, he was engaged in packing a hold-all with
help of the person provided to him, pressing the hold-all from one side with his
knee. A stylish, well groomed officer from a respectable family, he had no
inhibitions in doing physical work himself unlike most others. I had the chance of
serving with this team for one year i.e.1978 after which there were changes due
to normal postings on completion of tenures.

Brigadier Javed Majid was replaced by Brigadier Nafees Ahmad, an artillery officer
who unfortunately died due to a heatstroke during a march back to cantonment
on conclusion of summer collective training in 1979. He had been in command for
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just about six months. A refined, decent and well groomed officer, he had served
on the best career appointments including a stint at the Staff College as Directing
Staff. During about six week’s summer collective training near Sialkot, he was
exposed to heat which he did not seem to have suffered earlier. The accumulative
effect of those six weeks of exposure resulted in his getting a heatstroke while
marching in company of the GOC, Major General Shah Rafi Alam leading a column
of 28 AK, a unit in our Brigade. It was late evening when during march Captain
Ayub Uppal, GSO-3 accompanying Brigadier Nafees noticed signs of attack and
called for an ambulance. He became unconscious while en route to CMH and died
by next morning. His tragic and unexpected death left a very depressing effect
from which I recovered after considerable period of time.

Major Javed Iqbal, who was a great company, platoon mate and friend from PMA,
was replaced by Major Abdul Qayyum Qureshi, AK. Captain Sajjad Akram was
replaced by Captain Ayub Uppal, Baluch, another very fine officer, diligent and
methodical in his work. After the demise of Brigadier Nafees, Lieutenant Colonel
Zafar Dogar, CO 44 FF became acting Commander. He had transformed 44 FF
from a lethargic, inefficient set up to a very efficient unit within a very short span
of time. I once asked him as to how he had done that? His recipe was to go
around the whole area of the unit first thing in the morning, pulling up people for
any lapse on their part. He was man full of energy and enthusiasm. Alas he also
died later due to a heart attack while commanding a Brigade at Landikotal.
Service in the Brigade with three different commanders was a valuable
experience and a very pleasant one. In September 1979, I was posted back to 34
Punjab at Okara.
Back to Okara

When I rejoined the unit at Okara after my tenure at Sialkot with 104 Brigade, 34
Punjab was being commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Hameed, popularly
known as Hameed Jan. The unit was performing border duties at Sulemanki
Headwork where during winters it was a very enjoyable stay. As the CO, still a
bachelor, was fond of ‘shikar’, we would spend lot of time in duck shooting over
the vast reservoir of water attracting lot of migratory birds. I saw a flock of
'Surkhabs' for the first time. The officer in charge of Rangers Wing located at the
172

Headwork was also a keen ‘shikari’. The area around the headwork was kept as
game reserve for senior officers and guests of the Ranger officer.
On coming back to Okara Cantonment, I got leave during summers of 1980 for a
trip to Northern Areas where Major (later Major General) Parvez Akmal, my
brother-in-law was posted. Along with my family I reached Gilgit. Pervez had
arranged our trip to Hunza which on first sight was a disappointment because my
concept of beautiful mountains lay in their being lush green while in these high
mountains the sight was entirely different. The mountains were devoid of
vegetation and the valleys had trees like poplar which do not provide much
aesthetic satisfaction when you have seen better forests like those in Murree and
Galiat. I took some time to appreciate the beauty of snow on the mountains like
Rakaposhi and other peaks. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant change from the hot
weather of Okara.

On promotion to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel in September 1980, I took over


command of 34 Punjab. It was a singular honour to command a unit which one
had joined as a young officer and had fought counter insurgency operations in
East Pakistan and 1971 War. Being a Reconnaissance and Support (R&S) unit, it
was part of Divisional Troops and not under any brigade like standard infantry
battalions. 14 Division, re-raised at Okara, was then being commanded by Major
General Tassawar Hussain Shah, an Armoured Corps officer. While I had settled
down in command and the unit was coming into a well knit and efficient set up,
orders for move to Quetta were received.
Quetta – for a longer stay

The unit moved to Quetta, as part of 16 Division re-raised at Quetta, by a special


military train travelling at leisure given least priority by Railways in their
movement plans. Some of our families were also travelling with us, the children
enjoying the journey, observing hustle and bustle at the railway stations and
seeing exotic places like the Lansdowne Bridge on Indus connecting Rohri and
Sukker, and dark tunnels through Bolan Pass. On reaching Quetta, the unit was
lodged in dilapidated barracks of Cooli Camp. The officers’ accommodation was
most inadequate causing administrative difficulties.
173

The Division was being commanded by Major General Fahim Haider Rizvi, who
had commanded 32 Punjab in East Pakistan during the 1971 war. He was a very
hardworking and diligent officer who would stretch things to undesirable limits
most of the times. His honesty and hard work came to fruition after retirement
when he was employed to head the Army Welfare Trust (AWT). Starting from
scratch with very limited means, he made the Trust into a large profitable
organisation.

At Quetta, the unit got into routine training as part of the Division in a possible
offensive role. Training area for field exercises extended from the field firing
ranges north of Samungli to across Ghazaband Pass in the north and towards
Shiekh Wasil – Kanak towards west from the field firing ranges. Across Ghazaband
Pass a wide valley between two mountain ranges provided ideal ground for joint
exercise with the armour regiment of the Division, then 20 Lancers, commanded
by Lieutenant Colonel Jamshed. On conclusion of one such exercise it was a great
spectacle to watch 44 tanks of 20 Lancers rushing through the wide valley in a
simultaneous dash to assigned objective. Even in those days there were
instructions not to go near the large village of Gulistan, the ancestral place of late
Abdul Samad Achakzai and his clan.

During this period of command of 34 Punjab at Quetta I was once detailed as


President of a Special Military Court constituted to try a high profile murder case.
A man had been killed in the Bazaar of Dalbandin town in broad daylight. His case
was brought to the notice of President General Zia ul Haq during his visit to
Dalbandin who directed that the case to be tried by a military court. The Court
comprised of three persons. Besides myself, there was one Major Khalid Usmani,
Signals from the Army and one civilian Magistrate, Mr. Jogizai. The accused was
being defended by an able lawyer Mr. Munawwar Mirza who later served as
Advocate General of Baluchistan and then as a judge in the Supreme Court of
Pakistan. The government side was represented by Mr. Sardar Dur-e-Yemen a
senior police prosecutor. As the proceedings progressed, evidence against the
accused was inconsequential despite the fact that the man had been murdered in
broad daylight in a bazaar with dozens of the people present. Only one person
came out with statement that he had seen the man stabbing the deceased but
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stabbing man’s back was towards him (the witness) and face towards the other
side. On such evidence no court would give a sentence to the accused because
the prevailing law gives befit of doubt to the accused. In this case doubt was
created by the witness in stating that the man’s back was towards him so he could
not see the face. The accused was given life imprisonment as the three of us
constituting Court did not agree on death penalty that was mandatory according
to law for a court comprising three persons. The decision, before promulgation
was sent to the convening authority, the Corps Headquarters in this case for
approval as required. It came back for revision as the sentence given was not to
the liking of convening authority. They were expecting death sentence. The
proceedings were sent back again without change in sentence because the three
of us still could not agree on changing the sentence. As a result I and Major Khalid
were awarded punishment ‘severe displeasure’, and the court dissolved.
Sentence to the accused in cases had to be according to requirement of the
convening authority otherwise could not be announced and promulgated.

My brush with the judicial system left me deeply distressed over its inherent flaws
and flagrant manipulation by its practitioners who flout the whole system in
favour of criminals using its many loopholes.

Another earlier encounter had only served to reinforce this recent experience
when in 1970, during General Yahya’s Martial Law period I was a member of a
Special Military Court. Our court convened at Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) was to try
a horrible case of rape. Some policemen of the Khurrianwala Police Station had
raped a girl in the premises of the Police Station. The case was thoroughly
publicised in the national newspapers and was thus given to the military court. As
the hearing progressed we found that there was no evidence except one
unconvincing witness. His statement was that while he was sitting behind a fence,
he heard cries of the girl being raped in the open space marked for offering
prayers in the Police Station. Even the affected girl remained quite when called to
the Court. The Court’s President, my CO, Lieutenant Colonel Hafeezur Rahman,
facing a dilemma, decided to take the court to girl’s house to ascertain the truth.
There the poor girl came out with the story of how she was taken to the Police
Station and raped by five policemen throughout the night. Our Court
175

recommended fourteen years Rigorous Imprisonment to each policeman and sent


the proceedings to the convening authority for confirmation as per rules. We
were shocked when the proceedings were received back for promulgation of
sentence. Lieut General Tikka Khan, the Punjab Martial Law Administrator had
mitigated the sentence to just two years simple imprisonment for each criminal.

The existing judicial system is criminal friendly and needs basic changes where the
judges should be tasked to ensure provision of justice instead of merely disposing
of cases as presented before them and avoid hiding behind devious and crafty
clauses of law to let off obvious offenders.

On completing over two years in command, I stayed on in Quetta being posted as


staff officer, GSO-1 (Training) at Headquarters 12 Corps. Lieutenant Colonel
Ghulam Abbas Awan (later Brigadier) serving in the unit took over command on
promotion. Under him the unit soon moved to Nawabshah in Sindh for anti dacoit
campaign which it did with remarkable success, keeping its traditions alive under
the dynamic leadership of the CO, reputed for courage, initiative and unbounded
energy. Ghulam Abbas is younger brother of Brigadier Amir Muhammad Khan the
unit’s CO in East Pakistan. Brigadier’s Amir’s son Lieutenant Colonel Alam Amir
also joined the unit on being commissioned and got its command, a singular
hounour; his father and uncle having commanded the unit earlier.

With experience of staff work at the Brigade earlier, I felt most comfortable in
working at the Corps Headquarters. Brigadier (later Major General) Zahoor Malik
a most competent, firm and demanding officer was Chief of Staff, the Corps being
then commanded by Lieutenant General Khushdil Khan (KK) Afridi. Baluchistan
during that period was most peaceful province. The troops were doing their
routine peacetime training located in small cantonments at Zhob, Khuzdar and
Sibi apart from the main cantonment of Quetta.

Army Hajj Contingent 1984

While serving at Headquarters 12 Corps, I got the chance of performing Hajj, a


religious obligation, as part of Army Hajj Contingent in 1984. The Army had
introduced a scheme of sending a small contingent of the Pakistan Army to
176

perform Hajj travelling by road, a facility which got discontinued after few years.
A contingent of about one hundred and forty persons comprised all ranks of the
Pakistan Army including about fifteen officers. It was a unique experience of road
travel, enjoying hospitality of the Armies of Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan that no
amount of spending money could provide. It merits narration.

Our contingent assembled at Rawalpindi and after necessary preparations started


its journey on 29 July 1984. The route to be taken was through Iran, Turkey, Syria
and Jordan to reach Saudi Arabia. The shorter route i.e. from Iran to Iraq and
Saudi Arabia was not available because of ongoing war between Iran and Iraq
during that period. Our convoy consisted of four large buses, a jeep and a small
ambulance vehicle. Elaborate reception arrangements had been made at every
place where we were to stay, senior officers of the garrison receiving the
contingent with usual military fanfare, the bands in attendance. This special
treatment continued throughout the journey in Pakistan as well as the countries
through which it passed. The convoy was escorted by the civil and military police
of host countries from Rawalpindi to Tabuk in Saudi Arabia. Travelling at leisure
and visiting shrines and places of interest enroute we reached Tabuk in Saudi
Arabia on 18 August 1984. After stay in Saudi Arabia and performing Hajj we
resumed our return journey on 12 September, reaching Rawalpindi on 09 October
1984.

Some impressions while travelling through Iran were that after the fall of Raza
Shah Pahlavi as a result of a revolutionary movement led by a religious leader
Ayatollah Imam Khomeini in 1979, Iran was going through difficult times. A war
with Iraq was causing lot of casualties to the young men. The economy was
suffering due to war and the hostility of western world. As we entered Iran from
Zahidan we found the roads very good with parking places made at frequent
intervals. From Zahidan to Kirman the road passes through hot, arid region with
hardly any vegetation. This area, the province of Iranian Baluchistan-Siestan is
sparsely populated. The terrain is just like our area of Naukundi – Taftan. From
Kirman onwards to Isfahan climate was a bit cooler. There were fruit gardens
particularly of Pistacho along the route to Isfahan. This region is like our Quetta
but the valleys are more open and the mountains not so high. The whole areas
177

seem under populated with vast stretches of land lying waste. The revolution had
one most visible effect that women were wearing ‘chadors’ a large piece of cloth
covering the women from head to tows. We did not see any woman with her
head uncovered. This was a complete change from the period of Shah when the
dress code particularly in the cities was known to be largely western. People like
to get out in the open places and parks. In fact on our first day of entering Iran as
we travelled northwards from Taftan in the afternoon we saw a few families
enjoying picnic in a clump of poplar trees. They had spread mats under the thin
shade of these trees. To us it was a strange site because we do not consider
poplar trees shady and suitable to serve as picnic point. But as we moved on we
found that the area up to Kirman was devoid of vegetation and such clumps of
poplar trees provided whatever shade they could. North of Kirman the terrain
changed and as we progressed in our journey towards north and North West
there was abundant vegetation and orchards particularly in the valleys around
Tabriz. Overall impression is that the war was causing large casualties of young
men and the adverse effect on economy had taken away the happiness and
affluence from the Iranian society. One could see large number of incomplete
building structures waiting for better times to be completed.

In Iran, as a routine the contingent on arrival at the destinations for the night stay
was first addressed by the local authority figures; mostly religious leaders. Their
main thrust was the justification of their cause to fight Iraqi aggression. Our
leader, Brig Akram in his reply would always dilate upon the need of stopping the
fight between the two brotherly Muslim countries. This stance of not condemning
the Iraqi aggression was somewhat frustrating to our hosts but that was
Pakistan’s official line.

Went to Bazar for a short while but it was mostly closed because of their weekly
off day. The shopkeepers of the few shops which were open did not seem to like
us as was evident from their attitude. In the evening we were taken to witness a
demonstration about the war. This was arranged by the ‘Pasdaran’ who are real
strength of the Iranian Revolution. At the site of demonstration a model of the
battle of ‘Majnun’ island was depicted which the Iranians had taken back from
178

Iraqis recently. It was very impressive demonstration of use of fire power and
skills to overcome different kinds of obstacles.

In Turkey we travelled through the south eastern part of the country which is not
very well developed. Some parts of the roads we traversed were just dusty tracks.
The area is inhabited by mainly Kurds an ethnic group spread over, rather divided
in three countries i.e. Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The people were very friendly
towards us particularly the older lot as we experienced when we had the chance
to visit the Market in Diyarbakir. For the first time I saw the Olive trees.

Travelling through Syria was journey through history, the old historical cities like
Aleppo, Hamas and particularly Damascus, the oldest inhabited city of the world.
The countryside is fertile and well populated. The main road we travelled on was
in fairly good condition. Jordan again was very rich in the historical sites
particularly the Jordan River Valley that we visited on our return journey.

In Saudi Arabia the marked difference was condition of the roads. Broad multi
lane roads facilitated travel to great extent. We spent about three weeks in Saudi
Arabia. Haj is a tough physical exercise particularly during the summers because
of intense heat. However with the spirit of a sacred undertaking it becomes
easier to go through the physical discomfort particularly for the younger and fit
people as we were at that time. If one considers the difficulties of people
performing Haj in earlier times when they had to travel on foot, on horses and
camels' one can appreciate the changes and comforts brought into our journeys
and facilities which are improving with passage of time. However there is always
room for comment. Our accommodation at Medina was very near the Mosque
but not very clean. The person responsible for maintaining the building was
stubborn and mean. General attitude observed was that the local people were
arrogant towards Pakistanis but were scared of the Iranians who came for Hajj in
more organized manner. At Mecca the accommodation was clean and the owner
very cooperative but the place was away from Harram and we could not offer all
our prayers in Harram. The overall arrangements by the Saudi Government were
elaborate to manage about 2.5 million people performing Haj.
179

It was a great spiritual uplifting experience facilitated by comfortable and


educative road travel that has left lasting pleasant memories. Date wise progress
of the journey is given at annex E.
180
181

Shikarpur and Thereafter

After serving in Headquarters 12 Corps for about two and a half years, I received
posting orders in May 1985 to command 27 Punjab, deployed in Sind. This was an
unexpected posting for me. As I learnt later, I had been picked by Lieutenant
General Muhammad Aslam Shah, Commander 4 Corps to command this unit with
which he had strong affiliation having commanded it on promotion from Major to
Lieutenant Colonel’s rank. As Chief of Staff of 10 Corps Rawalpindi, at the time of
coup by General Zia ul Haq against Bhutto’s government, he got 27 Punjab at
Rawalpindi as part of 111 Brigade. The unit was made responsible to guard
Rawalpindi Jail where Mr. Bhutto was detained and ultimately hanged.

In 1985, the unit was deployed in upper Sind, with its Headquarters (HQ) at
Larkana. In an unfortunate incident, the unit lost five of its officers at the hands of
dacoits. The officers were travelling in a vehicle from Dokri, a place about 20
kilometers away from Larkana to have dinner at the Battalion HQ. Moving
unarmed against instructions and laid down procedures they got stuck in a
roadblock laid by dacoits who were busy in looting vehicles on the road. Not
realising the danger, they got into a situation where dacoits opened fire on them
and killed them. Because of this tragic incident it was decided to replace the CO.

I joined 27 Punjab in first week of May 1985 at Shikarpur where Battalion HQ had
been moved from Larkana. An interesting, rather comic situation came up when I
tried to take bath after arrival to freshen up after train journey from Quetta to
reach the unit. As I poured water from the bucket it was unbearably hot.
Wrapping towel I came out of bathroom and asked the staff that probably geyser
was on and they should put it off. Enjoying my ignorance they advised me that it
was not the geyser but the sun which caused my discomfiture. I was to fill up the
bucket and wait for at least one hour for the water to become bearable.

Companies of the Battalion were widely spread, deployed in Garhi Khairo and
Kandhkot. The Battalion HQ was moved from Shikarpur to Jacobabad shortly after
182

my joining the unit. Here I had a chance of seeing the residence of Brigadier
General John Jacob who gave present name to a small town Khangarh from where
he operated to secure the newly established borders of British India in mid
nineteenth century. He was a remarkable man who despite his very busy life of
fighting skirmishes on the frontier which included raids right up to Dera Bugti,
could also spare time to think of inventions like a large clock which was still
surviving and functional at his residence now in use as the Deputy Commissioner’s
House. Having lived without getting married and raising a family, he is buried in
the city alongside the main road leading towards Quetta.

I undertook visits of different places in the unit’s area of responsibility meeting


deployed troops, getting the feel of conditions in interior Sind, the Province I was
to serve in again later.

Lahore

In the meantime orders were received for the unit to move to Lahore as part of
10 Division/ 4 Corps. By August 1985 the unit moved to Lahore. It did not take
much time for the unit to regain its élan due to change of command and posting
of some of its officers serving elsewhere back to the unit. With Major Raja Haider
as Second in Command (2 IC), Majors Javed Iqbal, Waqar Raja, Javed Manj, Ibrar
as company commanders and Captain Asif Alvi as Adjutant, I did not have much
problem in getting the unit back to its very high standard of competence level in
training and sports. Ibrar, a national level sportsman in his younger days, was
instrumental in winning a number of Divisional level competitions. Australian
Army Chief visited the unit busy in carrying out training and was impressed by the
standards.

The unit was made responsible to maintain Lahore Garrison Golf Club, its course,
the fairways and greens yet in initial stage of development which required lot of
work to be done. Just a few weeks after this task was assigned, the President,
General M Zia ul Haq decided to play golf on this course along with the Corps
Commanders on their dispersal after a conference at GHQ. For me as Secretary of
the club, it was an unfamiliar task. In this I was greatly helped by CO 23 FF,
183

Lieutenant Colonel Mansur Hamid (later Brig), who earned my everlasting


respect.

Once a Bara Khana, (meal on special occasions for all ranks of the units together
at one place) was arranged by the unit on the occasion of 6 th Sep celebrated as
Defense Day. The meal was arranged for all the Punjab Battalions stationed at
Lahore Cantonment which at that time were six in number, making a fairly large
gathering. Just before start of the evening, I was informed that the Governor of
Punjab, Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain Qureshi was also to join on the occasion.
During get together at Garrison Club in the afternoon, the Governor had been
invited by Punjab Regiment’s senior retired officers, who among others included
redoubtable Lieutenant General Azam Khan, former Governor of East Pakistan to
attend the function. The function lasted till quite late in the evening, everyone
enjoying the occasion. I was greatly impressed with pleasant small talk by the
Governor in his chaste Seraeki, music to the ears.

Quetta, once again

By end of 1987, I received posting order as officiating Colonel Staff of 19 Division


at Mangla. Before I could move out, this order was cancelled and instead I was to
move to 41 Division located at Quetta on the same appointment. Brigadier Bilal
Ahmad, FF, who was Chief of Staff 4 Corps at Lahore, was posted on promotion to
command the newly raised 41 Division. He had known me in command of 27
Punjab at Lahore and wanted me to be his principal staff officer. He got my
posting to Mangla cancelled and instead I had to move to Quetta.

I reached Quetta and assumed new responsibilities. The Division was in its raising
process. Basically the HQ and some of supporting arms and service units were
being newly raised. Two existing brigades and some artillery units were placed
under command of the Division and later a new Brigade HQ was raised. The
Division was lodged in the accommodation vacated by 16 Division that moved to a
newly established cantonment at Pano Aqil. Soon our new Division was to
participate in the largest exercise with troops held by the Army under General
Aslam Beg. The exercise named ‘Zarb e Momin’ was held during winter months of
1989 in Thal desert, area between Rivers Indus and Jhelum. A few months after
184

the exercise, the Division was again moved to upper Sindh for a special task
assigned by the Army. Within a span of about eight months the Division had to
move through Bolan Pass thrice which is a very taxing exercise for staff in
coordinating those moves.

The Division was moved to upper Sind in first week of June 1990 to counter a
grave internal security situation. One day, when the General Officer Commanding
(GOC) was away, I received a call from General Headquarters (GHQ), Military
Operations Directorate that the Division was to move on training to upper Sind
immediately. This was an unusual order because the Division was not planning to
do any training during that summer having recently participated in the large scale
Army exercise spanning over couple of months. I got in contact with the GOC to
apprise him and discuss employment scheme of troops in different places.
Brigadiers Imtiaz Shaheen and Nisar were sent to Larkana and Sukkur respectively
using small aircrafts for liaison with civil authorities. The troops started moving
out by trains the next day and move was completed most swiftly in about three
days’ time, our railways rising to the challenge as always on such occasions. Out
of the two Brigades available, one commanded by Brigadier Imtiaz Shaheen was
placed in Larkana Division, the other commanded by Brigadier Nisar placed in
Sukkur Division and the Divisional Artillery (Brigadier Baqir Shah) placed at Nawab
Shah, thus covering the area which was the responsibility of 16 Division for
internal security duties. Because of tension with India, 16 Division had been
deployed on the border and was not available for dealing with unrest in its rear
areas. We placed our Division HQ at Sukkur.

Reason for sudden move of our Division was revealed on arrival in the area. The
day our troops started reaching their assigned areas, residents of a village
comprising about forty houses of non Sindhis in Khairpur district had been forced
to vacate their houses. A day before, a number of shops had been burned in
Jacobabad/Shikarpur districts. It was Benazir’s first government when there were
complaints of Punjabis being evicted from the Province. Press reports indicated
opening of camp for such people by district administration of Rahim Yar Khan. As
troops arrived in the area, this practice stopped. An officer, Major Nadeem,
Officer Commanding (OC) our Field Security Section was sent to confirm the
185

report about camp in Rahim Yar Khan. He came back with information that at the
check post located on the boundaries of Sind and Punjab, district administration
Rahim Yar Khan was maintaining record about the evicted people coming by road
using trucks loaded with their luggage. Since 1st January of that year (1990) till 1st
week of June, over twenty thousand families had been forced to leave Sind.
Photocopy of a page from the record showed details like the number of people,
from where they were coming and where they intended to go, the truck number
etc.

The civil administration was at a loss on arrival of troops because they had not
asked for troops in aid of civil power as is the practice in dealing with unrest
beyond control of other law enforcing agencies. Mr Kamran Lashari, the Deputy
Commissioner (DC) Sukker did take some days to call on the GOC after getting
clearance from his superiors. In fact the administration and the provincial
government were involved in ethnic cleansing, which had started gaining
momentum. Having evicted such families who were living scattered in upper
Sindh, now the attacks on settlements of ethnic non Sindhis were started. Had it
been allowed to continue, the settlements in lower Sindh, in districts like Sanghar
and Badin would also have been evicted. Reportedly when General Aslam Beg the
COAS was asked by Prime Minister as to why troops had been moved in the area,
his reply was that since 16 Division, responsible for internal security duties in the
area was deployed in their battle locations on borders because of tension with
India, there was a need to keep the lines of communications and logistic bases
secure which were getting disturbed by increasing unrest.

On arrival in the area, Headquarters (HQ) 5 Corps at Karachi started asking for the
situation report. Since the GHQ had moved us on training, there being no request
from the civil government for troops in aid of civil power, it created confusion
initially as the Division was part of 12 Corps at Quetta. HQ 5 Corps responsible for
the internal security duties for the province of Sindh provided us with the three
types of lists. One was regarding the dacoit gangs operating in different areas, a
fairly comprehensive list with names of gang leaders, gang members and their
areas of operations. From the list one could make out that it was a very elaborate
set up covering whole of upper Sindh which in the names of dacoits was actually a
186

force capable of converting into insurgent force. The second list given was that of
‘Patharidars’ a term used for protectors of these dacoit gangs. This included all big
landlords like Jatois, Pagaras, Mahars, Mumtaz Bhutto and others. It was a well
known fact that these big landlords were patronizing criminals for use against
their disobedient and unmanageable tenants, the ‘Haris’, a tool used to terrorize
people in the area. The third list was that of the Al Zulfikar (terrorist) organization.
This list included names of people, the leaders in different areas and members of
their teams. This again was an elaborate set up mainly comprising young,
educated Sindhis, some of whom had got training in India for sabotage activities.
Our intelligence officer had succeeded in getting the picture, revealing that
groups of ten to twelve people would travel in boat from Karachi, disembark at
nearest point on the Indian coast from where they were taken to a small town
named Bhoj in area opposite Tharparkar. There, in a training course of six weeks
they were trained in sabotage activities like blowing up railway lines, oil and gas
pipelines, and target killings etc. According to information, thousands of Sindhi
young men had got the training and they were waiting for weapons to be given
and the tasks assigned. This information was also reported in the press after few
months when some members of the organization were caught near the borders
and interrogated. As revealed by the informant, Benazir’s instructions to the party
workers during her visits to Larkana were not to cooperate with the Army.

While the move of our Division thwarted Benazir’s government plans of ethnic
cleansing, driving out non Sindhi families from Sind, her government was also
under pressure due to rampant corruption. Although not brought out in public,
the fact that her government was involved in ethnic cleansing and she was privy
to the plans of Al Zulfikar fully supported by India contributed to her
government’s removal. It was most ironic that the people of Pakistan were
looking up to Benazir to make Pakistan a politically stable and economically
prosperous country but she was found wanting in her capacity to provide that
leadership rather conversely, she was working against interests of the State. Her
government was soon removed and fresh elections resulted in change at the
center as well as Sind where new provincial government was formed by Jam Sadiq
Ali. The government under President Ishaq Khan helped political parties with
funds to defeat PPP in elections. Later Air Marshal (Retired) Asghar Khan who had
187

gone into election alliance with Benazir’s PPP got a case registered against the
Army Chief for distributing funds to political parties. The real reasons for
removing PPP government and efforts to deny Benazir’s Party in winning
following elections were not made public even by the Supreme Court who
disposed of Asghar Khan’s case many years later. A retired Brigadier called to give
his statement was told by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhri led Supreme Court to
read only first three paragraphs of his eleven paragraphs statement. The rest
eight must have been found too hot to handle by the Court.

Stay in Sukker during summers becomes quite uncomfortable despite extensive


use of air conditioners in offices and residential quarters of senior staff. The DC,
Mr Kamran Lashari would occasionally invite us for dinner followed by local
musicians playing their traditional instruments while singing folk songs. I had
earlier spent some time in Sind in command of 27 Punjab and had seen conditions
of poor people of the area. This stay of about seven months from May to
December 1990 gave me further insight. The poor people of Sind, particularly the
‘Haris’, tilling lands were being exploited by three different categories of
oppressors. The first one was ‘Wadera’ the landlord, the other class was Police
and yet another group was the ‘dacoits’ who could do anything with the lives of
poor people, their womenfolk and their meager resources. Dacoits were living off
the land in control of vast area on both side of the Indus River, known as Kacha
bounded by flood protection bunds. During a chance to fly low level in a small
military aircraft from Sukker to Karachi, I observed that these bunds were placed
at considerable distance from the water line, encompassing very large tracts of
fertile land. This land had been distributed to big landlords in the form of
Shikargahs, the private game reserves. The chunks of lands spreading in
kilometers were known as Ketis, like Keti Jatoi, Keti Bugheo, Keti Bhutto etc. The
meaning of the Keti, I was told by the locals, was that the land which could not be
measured. It was true that these chunks of land could not be measured because
of periodic changes in course of water running through the area.

The landlords owning these vast lands would do a very small investment on the
rulers by inviting them in winters for ‘shikar’ (hunting). Generally two such parties
were arranged during the season; one for the top men of civil bureaucracy and
188

another for top generals of the armed forces. The hunting party would start in the
morning in an area where partridges or other birds were preserved and most of
the time placed after procuring from other areas. The shikaris (hunters) would
move in a linear formation towards the direction where birds were expected to
be. Another party of workers, Haris of the landlord, would move to drive the birds
towards direction of Shikaris. A very sumptuous lunch would be arranged on the
site. By evening the party would wrap up and disperse. This arrangement was
enough for the host to enjoy patronage of most influential people in the
government.

The vast lands bounded by flood protection bunds formed at unreasonably wider
distance are a great asset which if used purposefully, can bring prosperity to the
poor people tilling these lands and overall increase in national wealth. In 1991
from Bunji I wrote to Mr. Mushahid Hussain Syed, advisor to then Prime Minister
Mr. Nawaz Sharif to distribute lands to poor Haris if Muslum League wanted to
get ingress into interior Sindh. I assume it was on this suggestion that soon a
scheme was launched to distribute land measuring twelve acres to landless
‘Haris’. Major General Sikandar Hayat, a serving Army officer, was made in charge
of the scheme which was later discontinued with the fall of Nawaz Sharif’s first
government.

In the politics of Sindh Province, Mr. Altaf Hussain led Party Muhajir Quami
Movement (MQM) later replacing the word ‘Muhajir’ with ‘Mutahidda’, had
considerable presence in Sukker. This Party emerged as major political force in
the cities of Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukker and some other cities in Sindh. A general
perception that the party was created by the ‘Establishment’ is not correct.
Transforming from a student’s union to a political Party, its leader Mr. Altaf
Hussain was first brought to notice of the President, General Zia ul Haq when
large numbers of Pushtuns in Karachi were massacred in 1985 after Ms Bushra
Zaidi a college student, died in traffic accident. Late Brigadier Mian Arshad Iqbal,
AC, hailing from Nowshera, who was then Brigade Major of the Armoured Brigade
responsible for Internal Security duties in Karachi, narrated the incident during a
sitting at his house in Quetta during 1990. According to him on that tragic day the
President was in Karachi and had to be briefed by Brigade Commander on the
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situation before leaving for Islamabad. During briefing when the President was
shown pictures of mutilated bodies of the people killed, he delayed his departure
and asked for Haji Hanif Tayyub of JUI to be called. It took a couple of hours to
trace Haji Hanif and bring him to meet the waiting President. Haji Hanif Tayyub
after discussion told the President that a boy, Altaf Hussian could control this
situation. Thus Mr. Altaf Hussian came to the notice of ‘Establishment’ when he
was already a known player in Karachi’s deteriorating situation.

In mid 1990, while deployed in upper Sindh, 41 Division had change of command.
Major General Bilal Ahmad’s frequent trips back to Quetta were not liked by
senior leadership and he was replaced by Major General (later Lieutenant
General) Muhammad Akram considering the sensitive nature of the job which
required a serious and dedicated professional.

By end of the year 1990, having spent three years with 41 Division as its first
Colonel Staff and passed over for further promotion, I was posted as
Commandant Northern Light Infantry (NLI) Regimental Centre located at Bunji
near Gilgit. I joined the Centre in first week of December 1990.
190
191

Lure of Mountains

Bunji

Northern Light Infantry Centre is located at Bunji, about 55 kilometres south of


Gilgit. Bunji, a small place on eastern bank of Indus River, was the last outpost of
the State of Jammu and Kashmir till mid nineteenth century. From then on it
served as staging point for launching further incursions by Kashmiri forces
towards Gilgit. By mid nineteenth century the Kashmiri forces after some struggle
succeeded in wresting control of Gilgit. After sometime the British decided to
occupy this area to counter possible Russian incursions into this region. The
British abandoned their first attempt of establishing residency (1877-1880) at
Gilgit but again towards the end of nineteenth century (1889) British Residency at
Gilgit was re-established. Gilgit was taken on lease from Maharaja of Kashmir
from where the British expanded their control over Hunza and Nagar after some
tough fighting. Apart from Gilgit, other small states and principalities in those
inaccessible mountainous areas, like Nagar and Hunza towards east of Gilgit
bordering China, Punial, Gupis, Ashkoman, Yaseen towards west and Chilas
towards south of Gilgit were administered by the British Resident in Gilgit. While
Hunza and Nagar were ruled by hereditary rulers titled as ‘Mirs’, others
principalities were ruled by governors titled as ‘Rajas’ appointed by the British.
The lease period of British was yet to be completed when the momentous event
of Independence of the sub continent from British rule took place in 1947.

I recollected the tale of Subedar Abdul Rahman; senior JCO of my company when I
joined 34 Punjab deployed on the ceasefire line in Dewa - Batala opposite Chamb
Sector in June 1966, who marched from Jammu to Bunji as a young man, a Lance
Naik in 6 J&K Regiment. I had listened to his adventures which seemed so distant,
evoking romance of his exciting journey through difficulties and travails of
traversing snow clad high mountain passes on foot. There was no mechanical
transport in use in those days on the route taken by their unit to cross Burzil Pass
and ultimately reach Bunji. His unit 6 J&K had its Headquarters and two
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companies, a Muslim Company commanded by Captain Hassan Khan and a Sikh


Company comprising mostly recruits, located at Bunji. Its other companies were
deployed at Skardu and elsewhere in Baltistan.

It was from Bunji that Muslim Company of 6 J&K commanded by Captain Hassan
Khan marched towards Gilgit to join Gilgit Scouts who had started liberation
movement in Northern Areas. This Company was stopped by Gilgit Scouts mid
way between Bunji and Gilgit to determine its intentions and after confirmation
was allowed to reach Gilgit. The Scouts numbering a little less than six hundred
were being led by their Subedar Major Babar Khan from Nagar. The Scouts were
commanded by Major Brown, a young British officer who was made ineffective if
not complicit. Babar Khan along with six Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) of
the Scouts arrested Brigadier Ghansara Singh; the Governor sent by Maharaja of
Kashmir to take over control of Gilgit from the British, declared independence and
started their campaign to liberate Northern Areas from Dogra rule. The Scouts
JCOs, Babar Khan and Shah Khan from the States of Nagar and Hunza respectively
were influential men in the area being from the ruling families.

Major Brown was replaced by Major Aslam Khan (later Brigadier) as commandant
Gilgit scouts who established himself at Bunji where he raised more forces and
organized the liberation campaign sending forces to Baltistan, Astore and Kargil-
Zoji La sectors. A man with exceptional organizational abilities and drive he made
vital contribution in liberating vast areas from Dogra rule. His role although is not
given due recognition in the local lore. His memory however, remains preserved
in the form of ‘Shangri-La’ a holiday resort near Skardu where he is buried along
with his wife. He had selected this spot where he could form a small artificial lake
by blocking a stream and then moved a crashed aircraft laying over sand dunes
near Skardu Airport. He used wooden logs as rollers to move this aircraft for
about twenty kilometres on a dusty track and then furnished it into a two
bedroom lodging facility. Remaining infrastructure was built around that aircraft
later.

Reaching Bunji in the month of December was an adventure. An officer from the
Centre, Captain Ghulam Muhammad Awan, had been sent by outgoing
Commandant, Colonel Ashraf Hussain Shah to Rear Headquarters Force Command
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Northern Areas (FCNA) at Chaklala to contact and accompany me in my travel to


the Centre. First we tried to travel by air but the flights were not operating
because of bad weather. For air travel one had to get up early in the morning and
reach the airport before sunrise. There, as it happened often, after waiting for a
couple of hours one was told that flight would not operate because clouds had
appeared in area of Nanga Parbat blocking the valley through which PIA Fokker
aircraft, with maximum ceiling of about eighteen thousands feet, had to pass
through. The adverse weather conditions would develop suddenly making air
travel most uncertain. Going to the airport and coming back disappointed was a
routine exercise. It happened with me twice during that tenure in Northern Areas
that our aircraft took off, flew for some time and then had to land back at
Islamabad airport because of unexpected cloud cover around Chilas.

Abandoning the option of air travel after some unsuccessful efforts, we started by
road on the Karakorum Highway (KKH). It was last week of December and before
leaving Chaklala we did check up the road condition ahead which was reportedly
clear. During the travel it started raining and by the time we reached Chattar Plain
we found that we could not go any further because of heavy snowfall blocking the
road. We had to abandon this effort and came back to where we had started. Yet
another option was to travel by helicopter going to Gilgit if one could arrange a
seat in it. Ultimately this option worked and we landed at the helipad of NLI
Centre Bunji one fine morning in late December 1990.

Colonel Ashraf Hussain Shah, a Punjab Regiment officer and a course mate from
PMA briefed me about the organization. He had worked hard to improve
conditions at the Centre. During his tenure, Chief of the Army Staff, General Mirza
Aslam Beg and some other senior officers visited the Centre. Before that hardly
any senior person would visit the place because of it being on the wrong side of
Indus River across KKH, linked through a suspension bridge. Another reason was
the Commandants who were mostly passed over for promotion like me were
hardly interested in receiving any visitors. Colonel Ashraf had been posted to the
Centre with a special consideration. Before him Colonel Muhammad Aziz had
gathered around him few officers who like him were active participants in
activities of the Tablighi Jamaat. Unfortunately during that period sectarian
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tension had developed in Gilgit resulting in clashes between Sunnis and Shias. A
private force, a ‘Lashkar’ comprising Sunnis marched from Kohistan district
towards Gilgit causing destruction of several houses of Shias in villages along the
way before it was stopped just south of Gilgit. Word spread that while passing
through Bunji, the Lashkar had been provided with weapons and ammunition by
NLI Centre and some thought that Commandant had actually joined the Lashkar.
Although untrue, this was a very negative perception. Colonel Aziz was posted out
and replaced by Colonel Ashraf Hussain Shah.

The sectarian tension between predominant Sunni population of Pakistan and the
Shias exacerbated during the period of Zia ul Haq when religious seminaries were
funded and used to recruit fighters for war against the Russians in Afghanistan.
There was no state control over the movement on our western borders, nor any
restriction on movement of Afghan nationals within the country. Although
refugee camps had been established but very large number of Afghan nationals of
every ethnic and sectarian dispensation were free to move anywhere they liked. A
large number had got them registered as Pakistani nationals due to lax
procedures in giving national identity cards. In Northern Areas, external forces
were involved using their local agents to disturb peace in the strategically
important area on our borders with China. According to reports, posters
distributed in the area by rival groups to fan hatred using abusive and derogatory
language against each other were printed at faraway Multan in the same press, a
clear indication on the common source of funding and people involved in
fomenting trouble being the same. One important player in this game got killed in
Gilgit due to personal enmity during my tenure. His removal from the scene and
simultaneously our efforts in reaching out to motivate ex-servicemen and the
common people helped in reducing intensity of the trouble for quite a few years
afterwards.

With this sectarian background, my posting created ripples in the concerned


circles, a Sunni replacing a Shia Commandant, of which I learnt a little later. In
Pakistan Army, sect of a person was never a consideration. Before Pakistan’s
involvement in the fight against Russians in Afghanistan, there was hardly ever a
case of sectarian dispute in the country, the Sunnis facilitating Shia’s annual
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Muharram processions by making arrangement for provision of milk and


‘sharbats’ on well defined routes from where processions had to pass through the
towns and cities. In Northern Areas, there were four different sects i.e. Shias,
Ismailis, Sunnis and Nur Bakhshis living peacefully for ages. The Sunnis were
mainly in Chilas District, the Shia’s predominantly in Baltistan and Nagar, the
Ismailis in Hunza and Punial and Nur Bakhsi’s, small in number in some parts of
Baltistan. In Gilgit, people of every sect were residing in the town. During the
years of sectarian tension, at start of summers every year a vehicle would
suddenly appear in the main bazaar spraying bullets resulting in killing of some
persons. That was enough to spread terror and the whole tourist season would go
without much business because of the effects it created nationwide. The
terrorists were never caught by local police.

Winter months were generally a lull period, when except for essential training
activities and routine there was nothing much to do. It was a good opportunity to
get acquainted with the place, environment and problems before summers which
was a busy period. On the occasion of Eid, I asked Subedar Major (SM) about
arrangements for Eid prayers. He told me that there was no such practice in the
Centre of offering Eid prayers; Sunnis joined the villagers of Bunji in their village
mosque and the Shias and Ismailies went mostly to Gilgit. I told the SM to make
arrangements for offering Eid prayers centrally at one place, an unprecedented
event hitherto. It was most satisfying that persons of all four sects prayed
together and continued to do so on all subsequent occasions of Eid during my
stay there. In my monthly address to troops during Durbar, I would conclude the
proceedings by a word of advice to all that sects were created because of political
reasons and not due to any religious consideration, and sectarian differences
were always exploited for political reasons.

Centre Commandant enjoyed a prestigious position in the entire area because he


could give employment to a large number of young men each year. Being
successor of the Scouts, the Centre was also responsible to look after interests of
retired persons of Gilgit Scouts, Northern Scouts and Karakorum Scouts which had
merged to form the NLI Regt. These people, advanced in age, were quite
influential in their communities. They proved very useful in joining our effort to
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overcome sectarian tensions in the area. The Centre, under the direction of Major
General Zahir ul Islam Abbasi, Commander FCNA, organized nine ex-servicemen
rallies in different valleys ending with a grand rally at Gilgit. The aim of holding
these rallies was to go to the people, listen to them, exchange views and explain
to them that violence in the name of religion was un-Islamic and most
undesirable. These rallies were very well attended and would last for a whole day.
General Abbasi with his vast knowledge and patience to listen was very good at
arguing the case and would convince the audience about his point of view. The
people from Darel and Tangir valleys who joined the rally at Chilas were most
difficult to convince. They were adamant in sticking to their point of view. At the
end of these rallies, committees would be formed to counter the menace of
sectarianism in their respective areas. This proved successful and for a number of
years the area remained peaceful till new factors and new players emerged on
the scene later.

The Centre was otherwise having a very close contact with the ex-servicemen of
the old Scouts and the NLI Regiment. They were invited to the Centre for annual
functions and provided with expenses on these trips. They were also provided
with financial assistance whenever someone applied for it in a dire need. Such
applications were quite frequent and were always attended to.

During my tenure of two and a half years at the Centre from January 1991 to July
1993, I had a chance of serving under the command of three General Officers, as
Commander FCNA is also the Inspector General (IG) of NLI Regiment. When I
joined the Centre, Major General Irshadullah Tarar was the IGFC. He had very
practical approach to deal with problems of his operational area particularly the
Siachin Sector. He laid emphasis to hold and maintain already established posts
on those heights and avoid establishing more posts which were difficult to
maintain and could not provide any tactical advantage. According to him
additional posts would serve no purpose as the Indians, already in advantageous
positions, were adequately blocked to come down further west into our area
from their heights.

Major General Zahir ul Islam Abbasi replaced General Tarar during second half of
1991. General Abbasi, as a Brigadier had worked as our Defence Attaché at
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Pakistan Embassy in India. He was roughed up by Indian intelligence people and


got injured when according to them he was meeting with some persons in Delhi
city to obtain documents from them. He was prematurely reverted to Pakistan.
Having strong Jehadi inclinations, he supported a plan worked out by Brigadier
Masood Naveed Anwari to establish a new post in Siachin Sector. This was against
the policy of previous Commander FCNA who was for maintaining the existing
posts. A reconnaissance party under command an officer was sent to explore the
route and determine location of establishing the post. The officer, a Captain, on
return told that establishing a post in that area was not feasible because the route
to it would be passing in front of Indian posts. He was dubbed a pessimist and the
plan was not abandoned.

One morning I was picked up from Bunji helipad to travel along with General
Abbasi in connection with the ex-servicemen rally I had arranged at Skardu. The
General had to first visit forward troops and then join the rally. I was dropped at
Gamba helipad in Skardu and the General proceeded ahead. About mid day he
returned visibly shaken and dejected. It transpired that he had gone to address
the troops of 1 Azad Kashmir (AK) Battalion before they were launched to secure
a height for establishing the post. The route to reach the height where post was
to be established was in effective firing range of Indian posts dominating the
approach. As 1 AK reached within range of Indian weapons, it came under intense
fire resulting in large scale casualties to the unit, its eight officers killed. Brigadier
Anwari tried to find out progress in his helicopter. Although before that day the
helicopters were considered safe because no weapon had been found effective
due to peculiar weather conditions, Brigadier Anwari’s helicopter was hit by the
Indians, causing his instant death besides the two pilots. In all eleven officers
including the Brigadier lost their lives. Total casualties of the unit were over one
hundred persons killed and wounded including their CO being wounded. All this
happened within just about one hour’s time; the catastrophic result of misplaced
ambitions and follies of senior commanders. General Abbasi was removed from
command and posted at GHQ, from where he reportedly planned to kill all the
Corps Commanders during their periodic conference. He was tried along with
some army officers and sentenced to imprisonment.
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General Abbasi was replaced by Major General Fazal e Ghafoor, known for his
diligence and hard work. Having served in the area earlier as Brigade Commander
at Astore, he had good understanding of problems in the area and focused to
address those with considerable success. Basic requirement was to maintain
troops deployed on the front in most abnormal and trying conditions.

The debilitating struggle in Siachin area is a great tragedy for troops of both the
countries being deployed on those heights. Troops are deployed at altitudes
which the mountaineers consider as their life time achievement to scale, spend
few moments to raise flags and get photographed. Long term deployment of
troops has caused tremendous hardships and miseries resulting in loss of limbs
and damaged health of so many people. How this conflict started is a sad
reflection on Indian decision making process. This episode was narrated to me by
Lieutenant Colonel Manzoor Hussain, Engineers, associated with the Alpine Club
of Pakistan for a long time. I was told that one Indian tour operator dealing with
trekking expeditions in the mountains in Laddakh area, asked his brother serving
as commandant of the Indian Army High Altitude Training School, near Leh to
explore Saltoro Range, the western side of the Siachin Glacier using trainees at
the school to see if trekking expeditions could be taken to that area. That is how
the Indians started coming in this area during summers in late nineteen seventies.
Since this area was left un-demarcated beyond a certain point considered to be
uninhabitable, there was no presence of Indian or Pakistani forces in the area. On
some indications of Indians movement into the area, a Pakistan Army SSG team
was sent to confirm reports of Indian incursions. In 1980 while on a visit to Gilgit I
met the team leader staying in the NLI Officers Mess on his return from the
expedition. The team confirmed reports of Indians visiting the area, as they saw
signs of their presence through litter, used tin food cans etc.

The Indians in their seasonal expeditions started descending the Saltoro Range
and came in contact with our civilian population, the local police being informed
with proof of Indian currency. This created alarm and it was decided to place
troops on the passes on Saltoro Range.

In 1984, before start of summers, Director Military Operations (DMO) at the GHQ,
Brigadier Ghulam Muhammad Malik along with Brigadier Ajmal, Commander 62
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Brigade at Skardu went up in a helicopter to have a look over Saltoro Range to


determine places where troops could be deployed. As they reached the area,
their helicopter was fired upon by Indians who had occupied the passes much
before start of normal movement season in that area. This was utter surprise, a
most unexpected happening and an indication that the Indians had access to
information of our plan, thus pre-empting Pakistan Army in occupying the area. In
haste, our Army totally unprepared to operate on those heights placed few units
of the NLI Regiment and regular infantry units opposite Indians posts, obviously at
disadvantageous positions. Since troops were not equipped for the climatic
conditions, nor trained or acclimatized, we suffered lot of casualties because of
frost bite and other adverse effects of high altitude, till appropriate clothing and
equipment was provided and operating procedures streamlined which took time.

Bunji was very hot in summers particularly for those who would approach it from
the Astore valley; the only route to Gilgit region from the Indian sub continent till
a route was opened through Babusar Pass and later making of the Karakoram
Highway (KKH). The old route started from Kashmir valley passing over Kamri and
Burzil passes to descend into Bunji Das. ‘Das’ is plain areas on banks of rivers as
known in local parlance. British officers who wrote their accounts described this
heat very explicitly in catchy phrases, some of these I would use in opening of my
briefings to visitors with desired effect to create interest in what I had to say
subsequently.

The Centre had created lot of attraction for visitors which was fully exploited by
FCNA to impress the Army Chiefs. In 1992, General Asif Nawaz visited. After
seeing the training and administrative facilities, he decided to bring the Prime
Minister for a visit. All our preparations to receive the Prime Minister on 17
August 92 were wasted because weather remained blocked for that whole week.
Next year i.e. in 1993, General Abdul Waheed, the new Army Chief visited the
Centre with his family. When I started to brief him in my office, he interrupted me
to call his young son for listening to interesting quotations of the British about
Bunji upon their descent from Astor valley to the place.

Chief Instructor, Lieutenant Colonel Riaz Mahmood Bajwa, Punjab Regt, had spent
about seven years in the Northern Areas, first as Commandant of FCNA’s Battle
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School at Kalandarchi (KD) Fort and then a long inning at the Centre from where
he ultimately retired. He had developed a training facility on mountain craft
techniques for the recruits which included among other things, Australian style
rappelling in which a man would be seen quickly descending facedown towards
the ground. Since the rope he was using was not visible from a distance, this sight
was most exciting, rather frightening. For visitors, the demonstration was laid on
a side of a mountain close to firing ranges of the Centre. General Asif Nawaz
initially did not seem interested to see the demonstration after lunch but once he
was persuaded to witness it, he was so impressed that he wanted to bring the
Prime Minister to visit the Centre.

Other attraction was Centre’s Officers Mess, a small old Rest House, with well
maintained lawns covered by a clump of old and majestic Chinar trees. It was a
treat to spend moments of leisure under their dense shade. The lawns were
bordered with fruit trees including peaches, plums, apples, pomegranates,
apricots and very fine quality almonds. I experimented with introduction of fine
quality black cherry which was not planted earlier considering the climate
unsuitable. The quality of cherry from village Nomal northeast of Gilgit is
considered to be the best which we planted at the Centre and the project proved
to be a success. Construction of the new officer’s mess on a parallel spur was
started during my tenure. We planned wide terraces planted with fruit trees and
Chinars for shade around the new Mess building. The building and guest rooms
were almost complete when I left in July 1993.

Meetings of the Mountains

Opposite Bunji across the River Indus is Jaglot, a flat area at two different levels,
the KKH passing through the lower plain and village located at higher elevation.
Area Bunji – Jaglot forms a bowl surrounded by mountains. One day looking at
mountains while sitting in the mess lawns, I realized that I was looking at three
different mountain ranges, a unique phenomenon only possible to witness from
this, Bunji – Jaglot, area. The mountain range east and south of Bunji was western
end of the Himalayas, which culminated on the eastern bank of Indus River. The
cliffs we were using for training on the mountain craft techniques at the NLI
Centre were the western end of that great mountain range. Nanga Parbat, the
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“killer mountain” in western Himalayas rose to its majestic peak south of Bunji.
Looking towards north one could see the southern end of Karakorum Range
confined between the confluence of Indus and Gilgit Rivers just north of lower
Jaglot. Looking towards west across the Indus River one could see the eastern end
of Hindu Kush range that rising from the western bank of Indus River, crossed
parts of northern Pakistan before entering Afghanistan. The thought of witnessing

such a unique geographical phenomenon was very exciting. I formed a team of


officers comprising Lieutenant Colonel Riaz Mahmood Bajwa, Captain Tariq, our
Medical officer who belonged to Bunji village and Captain Aurangzeb, our
Education Officer to select a suitable site on the KKH from where this unique
geographical phenomenon could be conveniently witnessed by travellers. Colonel
Bajwa’s team selected a site where a properly worded plaque was erected. One
consideration for selecting the present site was to enable travellers to physically
see waters of both rivers, Indus and Gilgit at their confluence, separating the
three mountain ranges. This spot does not have very large space for parking
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vehicles but the waters of both rivers cannot be seen from any other point where
the plaque could be fixed. It attracts the attention of tourists en route to Gilgit
and discerning travellers find it a compelling stop.

This team also erected a monument at the site of a battle about midway between
Jaglot and Gilgit titled Ambush Site. This place, known as ‘Bhup Singh Ki Parri’ was
a narrow path between the mountain and Gilgit River where an invading Sikh
force of about twelve hundred men under Bhup Singh was ambushed by the Ruler
of Gilgit in mid nineteenth century. According to local lore only two persons
escaped by jumping into the Gilgit River and reached Bunji, the last post of the
State of Kashmir.

The team of officers at the Centre, about twenty two in all from different infantry
regimental groups jelled well as a team. Luckily I was assisted by Lieutenant
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Colonel Bajwa, living in the Mess without family, who out of twenty four hours
would hardly spend about six hours in his room. He was always up and available
to everyone. We could organize big functions smoothly; our main strength in this
was the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Captain Ghulam Muhammad Awan. He
had exceptional abilities in administrative planning, attention to detail and ability
to motivate people to work long hours cheerfully, producing admirable results. I
have mentioned about the visits of the two Army Chiefs that went very well due
to meticulous work by such officers.
The annual Commanding Officers (COs) conferences were major events when the
ex-servicemen would also be invited to join the gathering. Another event which
evokes pleasant memories was Installation Ceremony of Colonel of the Battalion
of 27 Punjab at Gilgit. This unit which I had commanded earlier was located at
Gilgit, then being commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Waqar Ahmad Raja. The unit
decided to hold installation ceremony of their new Colonel of the Battalion,
Lieutenant General (retired) Muhammad Aslam Shah at Gilgit. I being an ex CO
sought permission from FCNA to invite unit’s guests to the Centre for an evening.
The programme included a game of Golf, dinner and a cultural show displaying
folk dances of different valleys of Northern Areas. The permission was granted
with some reservations about move of the VIPs during night. Lieutenant General
Naseer Akhtar, Comd 5 Corps was also amongst the guests, being Colonel of the
Punjab Regiment at that time. It was one of the most pleasant evenings where all
participants enjoyed every moment of their short stay. The graceful regional
dances performed by handsome men, attired in traditional dresses, moving to the
exquisite local tunes were a treat to see. Folk dance practice among soldiers of
NLI was a daily routine. After having completed the day’s work, men would be
free to enjoy their leisure time, the musicians playing their instruments, a morale
booster for the troops relaxing after day’s work.

Polo is played in Northern Area with its own rules which are different from the
rules applied elsewhere. This game of kings and king of games is a passion in
those areas. The game lasts for one hour divided into two equal halves with a
short break. There are six players on each side who cannot be replaced. Gilgit had
a polo ground, known as Shahi Polo Ground on western end of the main bazaar.
At that time three departments were patronizing this expensive game in Gilgit.
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They were NLI Centre which had two teams, the seniors and the juniors, the
Police and the Northern Areas Public Works Department (NAPWD). Every year
two tournaments were organized by the local administration. During my stay at
Gilgit the NLI senior team remained unbeaten. Our players like Bulbul Jan were
heroes in the areas. Polo tournament at Shandhur between Gilgit and Chitral
teams started during that period. In this tournament Gilgit Team remained winner
during the initial years. Playing polo at that high altitude would sometime result in
death of horses during play.

In early 1991, when my family was lodged in Gilgit Mess upon arrival there, my
sons decided to do some horse riding. They went to stables and asked for the
ride. The attendants, without realizing that the boys could be novices, allowed the
eldest, Ahmed Yaman to ride a horse called Lahori, the naughtiest of all. As soon
as Yaman took the seat, the horse went into gallop jumping over the wall. Yaman
hit a tree and fell down with bruises on his face and arms. However this did not
deter the boys and they later enjoyed the facility learning to control horses.
In 1991, the Centre had only few barracks in the training wing to accommodate
about four hundred recruits against the authorization of twelve hundred. These
barracks were also constructed on self help basis. Due to procedural impediments
the budget allocation for construction would lapse because the paper work like
project estimates etc by concerned offices at HQ FCNA Gilgit would not be
completed and approved in time. For two years I had to send an officer to
Defence Ministry in the last week of June to save lapse of funds, getting special
permission to carry forward the allocations. These efforts initiated the process of
construction which continued after I left. Mechanical transport was also a
problem and we did not get any vehicles against the deficiency. Considering that
lot of senior officers had started visiting the Centre for whom arranging suitable
vehicles was difficult, I relocated the Helipads near the monument/offices and
planned events in such a way that the need to use vehicles was minimized.
Another feature added was laying out a Golf Course, the first in Northern Areas.
Before my arrival at the Centre, Lieutenant Colonel Bajwa, a keen golfer, had laid
out a mini course of three holes to remain in practice. With experience of
maintaining Lahore Garrison Golf Course as its Secretary while commanding 27
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Punjab in 1985 -87, I developed a nine hole course, a massive work done by
recruits of the Centre over a period of about six months. According to Bajwa,
when Lord Curzon visited Gilgit as a member of the British Parliament much
before becoming the famous Viceroy of India, he carried his golf kit to enjoy a few
shots in exquisite surroundings of Gilgit area, the first man to do so.
The Centre was sharing irrigation water from the nullah coming from mountain on
our east with the villagers of Bunji. As water channel passed through the village,
water theft by villagers was a continuous complaint. The problem was minimized
by effective monitoring arrangements and constructing few large size reservoirs/
ponds through manual labour on self help basis for storing water for use
according to needs.
I had to undertake lot of travelling during these two and a half years. Whenever
there was a need to come to Rawalpindi in connection with official duties, I never
had the luxury of availing air travel facility because invariably the weather would
not permit that. I had to take road journey a number of times on the KKH which at
that time was not in a bad shape as it deteriorated later. The time taken from
Bunji to Rawalpindi would be about twelve hours. I was told by the drivers that
my predecessor, Colonel Ashraf once took about nine hours from Bunji to
Rawalpindi when the road had just been completed and road conditions were at
their best.

I had started a project of converting some NLI properties in the area into tourist
resorts. A few places were identified and some work started before I was posted
out. The places were Naltar, where two barracks were made usable for living by
the visiting families. At Passu a few existing rooms were converted into guest
rooms. Another place was Rattu where a small old rest house was located near
the High Altitude School. I had planned to convert the Gupis and Kalandarchi
Forts into tourist complexes but these ambitious, although workable plans did not
materialize as I was posted out on completion of my tenure. This idea of creating
tourist facilities had come a little late when I had about one year left of my
tenure.
I undertook a tour of Azad Kashmir to visit NLI units deployed on Line of control.
This took me to Nosehri in the Neelam valley, could not go beyond because of
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blockage of road due to Indian firing, the Pandu peak, Sankh, Kailler and Rakh
Chikri, the whole trip lasting about ten days. This was my first visit to these areas
of Azad Kashmir. Earlier I had stayed and travelled in Bhimber sector and Samani
valley area which climatically were no different than the Pothohar region.
Travelling in Kashmir during the summers was a pleasant experience particularly
when one was on the heights and roads reasonably good.
In July 1993 after spending about two and half years at Bunji, a very busy and
eventful time at the Centre, I was posted to Adjutant General’s Branch, GHQ as
Deputy Director, Personnel Administration Directorate. Something I really missed
was visit to Deosai Plains in summers although I flew over the area in helicopter
during winters when a thick layer of snow covered the whole area. I have very
fond memories of the people of Northern Areas whom I found hardworking,
honest and dedicated soldiers. Their only requirement was to be recognized and
owned. On direction of the FCNA, General Zaheer ul Islam Abbasi, I wrote a paper
on converting the NLI Regiment into a regular regiment of the Pakistan Army. The
units deployed against Indians were being commanded by the officers who did
not belong to those units and would not come back to them after completing
their two year tenures. This was a most undesirable arrangement for the units
facing the enemy. The paper was presented by me at HQ 10 Corps. This matter
remained dormant till the Kargil misadventure of 1999, when decision to form NLI
Regiment as sixth infantry group of Pakistan Army was taken.
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Retirement and Post Retirement Years

A Year at GHQ

At the time of posting to GHQ that I joined in the first week of August 1994, I was
expecting three years tenure at the last leg of my military service. This was for the
first time in my service that I had been posted in Rawalpindi. It was an unpleasant
surprise when I received a letter that I will be retiring within one year because the
relaxation of two years in service previously granted to officers of my rank had
been withdrawn. Working in the Personal Administration Directorate (PA Dte) in
the Adjutant General Branch as Deputy Director Personnel Administration, the
year was mostly spent in visiting some Recruiting Offices and the Records Offices
for their periodic inspections.

It was interesting to have a glimpse of working in the GHQ. Notes and summaries
for major decisions could be initiated from the lowest level. I came to know from
the old civilian staff working since long in the Directorate that they were
instrumental in scrapping short term induction scheme which was introduced
after the 1965 war. In this scheme soldiers in General Duty trades in the Army
were enrolled for four years after which some selected men were retained and
the rest were discharged. This was an excellent scheme which provided the Army
with young manpower. After some years it would have reduced pension budget
to a great extent. The flimsy reason given by the staff at GHQ was that they were
faced with lot of paper work in regularizing cases which occurred due to oversight
at the regimental centers and needed GHQ approval. This scheme which had
tremendous benefits in educating and grooming young men at the national level,
creating jobs, a young looking army and many overall benefits for the society
ended for very petty reasons.

I also initiated a proposal that the Army Corps of Clerks (ACC) should be
disbanded. A large number of postings of the personal assistants of senior officers
ordered by the Directorate were not being implemented. My reason for doing
away with a separate organization was that personal assistants (PAs) could be
provided by respective Regiments and Corps to their senior officers; hence there
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was no need to keep a separate set up. The point was taken up at appropriate
forums and the clerical corps, a legacy of the British Indian Army was disbanded.

I finally retired from the Army on 1 August 1994 after completing age and service
limits, fifty two years and twenty eight years respectively. Looking back it seemed
a long journey covering mostly hard and difficult times. But overall it was a great
life of adventure lived by an infantry officer of the Pakistan Army in turbulent
times with zest and a sense of satisfaction to have done one’s duty with
dedication and honour.

Experience with MES

Just before retirement I applied for jobs in the Army administered organizations
according to laid down procedures but found that the jobs were not easy to get.
After remaining without some job for over a year, I landed up getting a contract
from Military Engineering Service (MES) for construction of a building at Shinkiari.
This project, which was a block of family quarters for soldiers, resulted in
considerable financial loss to me apart from wasting two years in extensive travel
between Rawalpindi and Shinkiari. On completion, the local SDO of MES in charge
of that project asked me that ‘Colonel were you not aware of such matters? Did
those who were giving you this contract not know what they were doing to you?’
The contract was given at low rates and my inexperience compounded the loss.

Dealing with the MES gave insight into deep routed corruption in the department.
Every paper had to go through about nine hands and all were to be given
envelopes containing their share of commission on payment of bills. The amount
was between fifteen to thirty percent of the total contract amount depending on
type of contracts, the maintenance contracts paying more commission/ bribe.
While interacting with the department I found that yearly budget for pay and
allowances of the staff of Garrison Engineer (GE) Abbottabad was more than
annual maintenance budget. This was a huge wastage of funds at the cost of
maintenance.

In early eighties a study was carried out at the Army level asking comments from
formations about MES department. Almost every field formation recommended
doing away with the department, but nothing changed. The system at that time
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was so centralized that all contracts worth a reasonable amount were awarded by
the GHQ, forcing travel for the contractors from Karachi, Quetta and other far off
places.

Since construction and maintenance work is done by the contractors, there is no


need to have an elaborate MES set up throughout the country. The garrison
commanders with the help of staff at Station Headquarters can manage the
requirements of construction and maintenance according the designs suitable for
local climatic conditions instead of forcing a design all over the country
irrespective of peculiar local needs. This department is causing considerable
damage to the State and providing sub standard services to end users, but apathy
and inertia at the decision making level continues retention of this wasteful
department.

Visit to UK

9 August 2002 was a very special day for my family. On this day my youngest son
Ahmad Omar graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK with
singular honour of getting the ‘Overseas Sword of Honour’ and ‘Best in Academics
and Military Subjects Award’, first Pakistani to get the two coveted awards. I
along with my wife had been specially invited to attend the occasion and we
stayed in UK for two weeks. On reaching Heathrow Airport we found Omar with
his civilian friends Dr. Noman and Hamza waiting for us. Another party, Mr.
Waqar Abbasi with his brother had also come to receive as recommended by
General Pervez Akmal. One of his subordinates in OGDCL, Mr. Iftikhar Abbasi had
his family in London were informed of our visit. We stayed one night with them
and next day moved to a hotel in Camberley where Omar could meet us
conveniently from the Academy.

Our Hotel booking ended a day before passing out parade day and we could not
find accommodation in the few hotels in that small town. We were told that
available lodgings were booked by people who were coming from other places to
attend the ceremony, their main attraction being evening function in the mess.
We contacted Dr Noman who took us to his home in London suburbs and next
morning along with Hamza drove us to the Academy.
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On the day of passing out parade we were first invited to ‘Governor House’,
residence of the Commandant in Academy premises. At the Commandant’s house
after having tea and small chat with chief guest for the occasion and few selected
guests, that included our High Commissioner, invited because a Pakistani cadet
was getting the coveted awards, we were conducted to our seats on the parade
ground. The parade was quite a lengthy affair, main difference from our parade
being that chief guest took lot of time reviewing the parade which included his
talking to some cadets. When called for the award, Omar gracefully walked up to
the chief guest who had a brief chat with him before handing over the prestigious
sword. Our feelings of elation and happiness at that moment are beyond words to
describe.

After the parade and award ceremony we were conducted inside their main
building for lunch. Sitting opposite the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg on the dining
table with our Ambassador on my left and the Chief Guests’ wife Lady Sam Cowan
on my right, I was wondering on how from the dusty environs of Kufri (Bilalabad),
I had landed up in that company. I was in a state of euphoria and I still savour the
feelings of that memorable day. The Commandant Major General Peter Trousdell
was profuse in his praise for Omar. So was his Company Commander who was
very keen to meet us to convey his feelings. It was a matter of great delight and
pride for us; with Allah’s blessings our son made that possible with his dedication
and hard work.

After dispersal from the Academy in the afternoon on 9 August, we were taken to
Birmingham by Mr. Afzal, a British Army cadet at the Academy. His family hailing
from Gujar Khan was settled in UK. We stayed with his family for about three days
and then returned to London for taking our flight back along with Omar. At
London, Iftikhar Abbasi and his mother Mrs. Surayya Abbasi were our hosts.
Iftikhar took us around London showing important landmarks of the great city.
Earlier Dr. Noman and Hamza had taken me to visit some places, including
Edgware Road where I enjoyed large puffs of ‘Shisha’ for the first time.

As we landed at Islamabad Airport early morning, a pleasant surprise awaited us.


Major General Pervez Akmal had arranged an elaborate reception in VIP lounge of
the Airport where whole family had gathered.
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My other sons, Ahmad Yaman and Ahmad Adnan, both elder to Omar have also
given me great pleasure and pride. They stand out for their ability, integrity and
achievements in their selected fields. Yaman the eldest joined my unit, 34 Punjab
after graduating from PMA. A ‘thinking’ soldier, he used innovative tactics to clear
terrorists positions at the start of operation in South Waziristan during 2009 and
continues to play key role in important assignments. At present he is commanding
34 Punjab, the unit he was born in when I was serving at Okara after the unit’s re-
raising. Like me he joined 34 Punjab upon commissioning. Ahmad Adnan, sharp
and aggressive is a fighter pilot in Pakistan air Force, flying the latest F-16 fighter
jets. His dictum is that without being aggressive one cannot become ‘good’ fighter
pilot. He has recently been awarded with Tamgha e Basalat (T Bt) for his role
during operations to eliminate terrorist’s hideouts. All three have done
courses/assignments abroad where they have earned respect and honour for
themselves and Pakistan. Adnan, as a small child got fascinated by the fighter
pilot’s gear which my younger brothers, Muhammad Anwar Awan and Ahmad
Sher Awan, his ‘Chachas’ wore. He nurtured ambition to emulate them. Both my
brothers had joined Pakistan Air Force as pilots, a singular achievement
considering that starting life in that small village was not conducive to aspire for
higher goals. I also tried flying by joining Army Aviation basic training course (P-
12) in 1969 but was not successful in completing the course and reverted back to
unit. Aamna my daughter, busy in studies is keen to emulate her brothers.
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Captain (now Lieutenant Colonel) Ahmed Yaman

At United States Army Infantry School

Fort Benning, Ga. USA


213

Wing Commander Ahmed Adnan Awan, Tamghe-e-Basalat

With his F-16 at Jacobabad


214
215

Aamna Ahmad at COMSATS Islamabad


216

Kirghizstan

First few years of the twenty first century saw a boom in the property market. I
also met my expenses through small investments in property. Another venture
which I undertook was an investment in Kirghizstan. My brother-in-law, late Ejaz
Akmal suggested that doing investment in that country with smaller amount as
compared to Pakistan would give better returns. He had visited Bishkek, the
capital, stayed a couple of months with a Pakistani acquaintance. The project
decided to be established was opening a restaurant in partnership with a
Pakistani, Mr Zahid who was already established in restaurant business. He, in
partnership with others was running two restaurants, one named Golden Bull
situated near the Presidency and another at a main road nearby.

Named ‘Pizza Inn’, our small restaurant with about forty seats started business in
the winters of 2004/ 2005. It was a success from day one. The restaurant served
about five selected dishes and did not serve or allow consumption of alcohol in it.
It was second such restaurant in the city, the other being a Turkish one. In this
connection I visited Bishkek in the summers of 2004 and after assessment and
discussion provided the required amount. Again in February 2005 I visited to see
the functioning of the restaurant. On these visits I stayed in that country for two
weeks each time.

During the first visit I undertook a trip to Issyk- Kul Lake, the famous landmark on
the old Silk Route linking Chinese Turkistan with Central Asian region. It is well
developed and most visited holiday resort of the country stretching along the
western side of the vast lake, the facilities mostly owned by the people from
Turkey who also have big share in the restaurant business in Bishkek.

Kirghizstan, out of the five Central Asian States that became independent after
break up of USSR, is smallest in size and poorer in resources. Its south eastern
part is mountainous and rest of the country plain, suitable for agriculture. During
meeting with our Ambassador in Bishkek, he suggested investment in livestock in
Karakul region of the country towards east which had good potential. Road link
with Pakistan is available through China linking our Northern Areas. Although a
transit agreement on road link exists since 1995 but it is not functional because of
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difficulties reportedly created by the Chinese authorities in transporting goods


through their area. The people are apprehensive of China’s domination replacing
the Russians. The Russians had largely left the country with some people still
residing in Bishkek. Large gathering on Friday’s congregational prayers indicated
revival of religious character of the country after prolonged Soviet Union’s
Godless rule.

Since there was no direct flight from Pakistan to Bishkek, for the first trip I had to
use the services of China Airline. This required a visa for China because two days
stay was forced at Urumchi before boarding another plane from there to Bishkek.
The return journey also involved same arrangements of staying at Urumchi the
capital of Sinkiang province before reaching Islamabad. During stay at Urumchi I
took a guided tour to visit the city particularly down town area where most of the
local Muslim populations, the Uyghur’s are concentrated.

During the second visit, I boarded a cargo plane from Karachi to reach Bishkek.
This service was being operated by a Kyrgyz national on bi-weekly basis from
Karachi. Since Mr Zahid had come to Pakistan and was using this flight, he had
arranged for my travel with him. It took us about four hours to reach Bishkek. On
return journey I came via New Delhi, staying within the airport premises for about
five hours before boarding Air India flight for Lahore which took about forty
minutes of flight time. During those hours of prime activity at the main airport of
Indian Capital, I could not find a single attractive female to look at approvingly.
The only consolation was somewhat tolerable Air India hostess during the short
flight. Bollywood projects deceptive image of India.

After successful running of the restaurant for about three years, differences
developed between Ejaz Akmal and Mr Zahid ending the partnership and the
business. Ejaz Akmal came back to Pakistan and died shortly afterwards.

Working with ERRA

On 8 October 2005 an earthquake of 7.62 magnitudes on the Richter scale caused


extensive damage to life and property in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KPK) and
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K). It virtually paralyzed the organisational
structure of nine districts; five in KPK i.e. Abbotabad, Mansehra, Battagram,
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Shangla, Kohistan and four districts i.e. Muzaffarabad, Neelum, Bagh and
Rawalakot in AJ&K.

An area roughly 30,000 Sq Km was affected leaving 73,338 people dead and
128,304 severely injured. Three million people were rendered homeless and
about 600,000 houses destroyed. Road infrastructure, educational and health
facilities and government buildings were extensively damaged. As immediate
response, the Pakistan Army was inducted into the area to start relief operations.

The people of Pakistan, overawed with the scale of this tragedy responded with
overwhelming support, eager to help in whatever way they could, reaching out to
the area to help the Army busy in recovery and relief work. Pakistan, at the time
was providing vital assistance to the US and NATO countries in their war in
Afghanistan. It was mainly for this reason that the country got prompt response
from international community to deal with calamity. Loads of materials, expert
teams and fleets of helicopters started arriving to help organise the relief work.
Although an organisation at the national level, the National Disaster Management
Authority (NDMA) existed, a new organisation Earthquake Reconstruction and
Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) was established to deal with consequences of the
disaster.

ERRA developed into a very elaborate organisation. Work was divided into
different sectors categorised into clusters like direct outreach to the
communities (Rural Housing, Livelihood and Social Protection sectors) Social
Services (Health, Education and Water and Sanitation sectors) Public
Infrastructure (Governance, Power, Telecommunications, Transport andTourism
sectors)and Cross Cutting Themes (Disaster Risk Reduction,Environmental
Safeguards and Gender Equality). A total of nearly 13000 (thirteen thousand)
projects were identified to be repaired and rebuilt.

The manpower was gathered from the government departments, the Army and
mostly from the private sector. A large number of consultants, both local and
international, were hired at exorbitant remunerations to assist in working out
strategies and provide technical assistance to the organisation. Apart from the
organisation at the national level, similar organisations were created at the
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Province level as implementing agencies. At the districts level District


Reconstruction Units (DRUs) were created to undertake the work. It all required
large expenditure on the administration provided with Land Cruisers, Prado’s and
other expensive vehicles to numerous Director Generals looking after their
sectors at different tiers and other appointment holders. An elaborate set up for
monitoring and evaluation was created to monitor construction progress and
measure the outcomes and impact of ERRA interventions.

The flagship program which met outstanding success was in the Rural Housing
Sector. With the ‘owner driven approach’; the owner of a destroyed house was
provided with funds at four different stages of construction. His work was
checked by the Army teams at every stage to make him eligible for next payment.
Thus six hundred thousand small two room houses were completed in a
comparatively short period all over the affected area. Work on remaining sectors
particularly the construction of Education and Health facilities progressed at low
pace according to the normal government procedures of the respective line
departments.

Considering the slow pace of construction through normal procedures, I


suggested to the Deputy Chairman, Lieutenant General Sajjad Akram, a dynamic
commander who achieved good progress despite severe impediments, that the
schools in the villages should be constructed by adopting ‘Community Driven
Approach’. My reason was that if the villagers could construct their two room
houses, they could also construct five to eight rooms’ primary and middle schools
in their villages within very short time and with very less money as compared to
construction by government departments. This proposal was vehemently
opposed by the bureaucracy during ERRA board meetings for obvious vested
interests.

The concept of ‘District Government Complexes’ was introduced where all the
departmental offices of district administration and their residential quarters of
the staff were to be housed in one building complex. One such complex was
completed at Muzaffarabad with the help from Government of Turkey, a Turkish
company completing the work in a short span of about two years. Work on such
projects in other districts was abandoned for lack of funds/ interest.
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I worked in the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Wing of the Authority for over
two years (June 2008 – Sep 2010) in the social survey group measuring the
outcomes and impact of ERRA’s interventions in the affected area. During the
period I along with our group, attended two short courses; one for five days and
another for three days at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
concerning the M&E processes and technical report writing. Results of surveys
conducted by survey teams were reflected in the periodic/ annual reports and the
impact assessment reports. It was a very good experience to learn about the
working in the development sector.

Frequent travel by the international community experts and the US Helicopter’s


extensive flying was good familiarization experience with the area for them. This
perhaps helped the US aviators in conducting successful navigation and operation
deep inside Pakistan during the night on 2 May 2011 reaching Abbottabad to raid
a house supposed to be Osama bin Laden’s hideout.

One very obvious fact was that the reconstruction and rehabilitation work which
should have been done through the normal working procedures of the respective
provincial, state and district governments, a new organization was created
substantially increasing overhead expenditure. It was duplication of efforts and
expenses. In addition a large number of consultants, including international
consultants were hired at very high remunerations who only contributed in
writing voluminous reports portraying rosy picture of various interventions
although results on ground were not as good as reflected except for the rural
housing programme.

Another aspect which came to light was that work of non government
organisations (NGOs) was below par, most of them doing sub standard work and
leaving the projects incomplete.

About foreign consultants I had an observation earlier. Some years back I had
invested money with a contractor responsible to carry out some repair work on
Sohawa-Chakwal road. The contract was worth 2.5 million rupees to repair small
patches of the road. To identify those small patches for repair a foreign consultant
was working with his office located in a house in Islamabad. He had further hired
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the services of a retired senior officer, a Lieutenant Colonel of Pakistan Army


Engineer’s Corps to assist him along with the support staff and transport etc. His
emoluments and expenditure during a year was six times more than the cost of
projects he was supposed to provide services for. That year he had only two
projects; each worth 2.5 million Pak rupees. Actual identification and marking of
the patches to be repaired, which was the job of overseer of concerned
department, were done by the contractor himself. The Consultants’
representative visited only once and felt satisfied with the work. This consultant
was working in Pakistan for more than nine years by then and must have
continued afterwards also. He had spent eight years in Sind before coming to
Punjab to offer his services. I asked the Punjab Government Secretary of
Communications, Brigadier Shadab Ali Khan, a course mate of mine from the
Pakistan Military Academy about this consultant. He replied that the Punjab
government had not asked for him. He had been imposed on the department.
This I feel is a small example of how our country is being exploited by the so called
donors who get ingress deep into our affairs by employing their people who keep
stashing millions into their own accounts out of the allocated funds. Most
foreigners so deeply embedded work for international spy agencies providing
information and data required by those agencies.

Some observations on working with ERRA are;

 The plans for dealing with natural disasters adopting measures for disaster
prevention, risk reduction and mitigation of effects should be worked out at
the district level as each district has peculiar conditions prone to different
kinds of disasters.

 The Provinces should coordinate and supervise the works to ensure that
workable plans are in place and in case of disaster the district governments
are supported in their needs.

 At the Central government level, organisation like the NDMA should mainly
focus on funds allocation from central government to the districts and
coordination with international donor organisations and international
NGOs.
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 Ad-hoc organisations tend to convert into permanent features as it is


evident from the fact that ERRA is still functional (2015) although its
mandate was for three years. This is despite the fact that another national
level organisation, the NDMA is in place and actual work on ground is being
done according to normal government procedures with full involvement of
respective government departments. This is not duplication but triplication
resulting in wastage of efforts and resources.

 International agencies should not be given unlimited access to sensitive


areas for obvious security concerns. The extensive helicopter flying by US
Army in the area and combing of the area by persons of western countries
accessing large data on different aspects collected by our survey teams was
undesirable to say the least. The area affected by the earthquake was of
special interest to the US looking for our nuclear assets related installations
and India for alleged training camps for the Kashmiri Mujahideen. Although
nothing was found but it certainly was questionable to give unlimited
access to foreign forces. Targeting a house by US helicopters deep inside
Pakistan would not have been that easy had the US helicopter pilots not
done flying in the area earlier.

I have shared some of the experiences of my life. Like every concerned citizen I
find enough reasons to be perturbed considering the scale of mismanagement
and malice of our ruling class. I sanguinely await divine intervention for providing
us with better leadership to steer the course of our nation on road to progress,
prosperity and peaceful living. Our unique variety of terrain, climate, abundant
resources and above all very important geo-strategic location makes the task
much easier. My views on various issues are reflected in the following chapters.
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OPINIONS
Part – IV
224

Conflict with India

In 1947 when British left the Indian Sub Continent divided into two independent
states of India and Pakistan, the question of over five hundred and sixty princely
states spread over half of the Indian sub continent was left to the discretion of
their rulers; to join either of the new states or to remain independent. This
caused conflict between India and Pakistan over the question of states of Jammu
and Kashmir, Hyderabad (Deccan), Junagarh and Manavadar. Both countries
went to war in 1947-48 in Kashmir which resulted in a stalemate. The matter was
taken to the United Nations by India where it is still waiting to be resolved.

Relations between the two countries started gradually improving till 1965 war
reversed that process. This war changed the fate of our rapidly progressing
country to that of failures, defeats, dismemberment and a continuing struggle for
existence as a state.

Pakistan, after experimenting with parliamentary system in the nineteen fifties


resulting in unstable short lived governments had stabilized under the
presidential form of governance. The country, under the leadership of President,
Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan was making rapid progress in
industrialization, building of infrastructure, multipurpose large dams and overall
peace and prosperity for the people of Pakistan. Our country enjoyed
unprecedented respect amongst nations of the world. Efforts towards regional
cooperation were successful in reaching agreements, like Regional Cooperation
for Development (RCD) between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

Because of this internal strength, relations with India had improved to an extent
that President Ayub Khan offered India for a joint defense treaty against any
external aggression to the sub continent. Contentious issue of sharing of waters
of the Indus Basin had been resolved in 1960. During the India- China skirmishes
on their borders in 1962, Pakistan did not pose any threat to India. In 1964, Mr.
Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister sent prominent Kashmiri leader
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Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, to discuss the possibility of resolving Kashmir


dispute with Pakistani leadership. Unfortunately while Sheikh Abdullah was
holding talks in Pakistan, Mr. Nehru died. Sheikh Abdullah had to abandon his
talks and returned to India.

Just after few months of Mr. Nehru’s death the devilish game of initiating conflict
with India was started by machinations of Mr. Z A Bhutto, the foreign minister in
Ayub Khan’s cabinet. His plot that he would share with some top men in his
ministry was to remove Ayub Khan by fighting a war with much larger neighbour
India which obviously would result in a defeat. That, he claimed was the only way
to get rid of Ayub Khan as a first step to reach his goal of grabbing power. The
plan as it unfolded was; first there were skirmishes in the Rann of Kuch in the
south in April 1965. At that time there was only one Division (about fifteen
thousand all ranks) in Sind and Baluchistan with its brigades located one each at
Quetta, Karachi and Hyderabad. This spread and paucity of troops precluded
taking any offensive action against India. However, the Brigade located at
Hyderabad then being commanded by Brigadier Iftikhar Janjua (later Major
General who died in a helicopter crash in Chamb area during 1971 War) was used
to conduct an operation on the borders with India in Rann of Kutch area. This
small scale operation was given a great hype of a resounding victory and it
resulted in mobilization by both the countries, moving their forces close to the
borders.

Having succeeded in creating conditions, Mr. Bhutto persuaded the President to


allow sending some infiltrators into Kashmir Valley to help initiate an uprising
which will force the UN to take up this dormant issue. The President was assured
that Kashmiri people were ready for an uprising and that the problem will not
escalate beyond the confines of Kashmir, a disputed area. The President gave his
consent to “Defreeze Kashmir”. Once this move was initiated, the events gained
their own momentum to disastrous results. Pakistan Army was under strength
and not ready for war with India. General Musa, then Commander-in-Chief of
Pakistan Army, wanted at least two more divisions raised if the country was to go
to war with India but he was assured of a limited involvement confined within
Kashmir. While Pakistan never recovered from the effects of this war in a slide
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towards the abyss, India got timely support from Pakistan to prevent a leadership
crisis that could have developed after about seventeen years rule of India by
Jawahar Lal Nehru. External threat helped India to manage internal discords.

The man who initiated this conflict ultimately succeeded in grabbing power in
1971 after another war with India and dismemberment of Pakistan of 1947. His
plans to rule for long were disrupted due to his own follies although his daughter
and son-in-law did rule new Pakistan at different intervals putting the people in
greater difficulties due to their unbounded corruption and misrule.

Pakistan’s Role in Strengthening India as a State

India is a geographical term and was never a country as aptly described by Mr.
Winston Churchill in one of his speeches in 1931 in these words, “India is a
geographical term. It is no more a country than the Equator”. The largest empire
created by the legendary Asoka did not extend south of the Ganges valley, the
‘cow belt’. His efforts to venture south ended at the battle of Kalinga in present
day Orissa State where seeing the scale of killings he renounced further conquest
and converted to Buddhism. Later on great ruling dynasties including the
formidable Mughals ruled only part of the sub continent. Emperor Aurangzeb,
sixth in line of the Mughal dynasty, after whom Mughal rule started collapsing,
died fighting in his quest to conquer South India.

The British created a semblance of unity after they consolidated their hold on the
Indian sub continent, but their system of control was ingenious and benevolent.
The sub continent was part of their global empire ruled from London. When the
British left India in 1947, apart from the areas directly under British control, there
were five hundred and sixty two states of varying sizes covering more than half of
the total area of the sub continent. These were ruled by hereditary rulers,
independent in all respects except that they could not establish diplomatic
relations with other countries. Also there were vast tribal areas spread all over
the subcontinent enjoying autonomy (see the Map below). The sub continent was
never one country. It was collection of ‘Rajwaras’ (small states) in frequent
conflicts with each other prone to be subdued and dominated by external
powers. Muslim invaders from west established their rule over a good part of
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India for about one thousand years till replaced by the British in nineteenth
century as part of their global empire.
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In 1947 when the British left, India had leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Jawahar
Lal Nehru, Sardar Willabh Bhai Patel and other experienced men on the Indian
scene during the ensuing period. A man of great caliber and charisma, Mr.
Jawahar Lal Nehru as Prime Minister fully exploited the semblance of Indian unity
created by the British to form the modern Indian state. All India Congress Party,
well organised all over the sub continent striving to get independence from British
rule was Nehru’s tool to wield political power. In the euphoria of evicting the
British from Indian sub-continent, the leadership of Indian National Congress,
used every ploy to subdue the states to be ruled from New Delhi. The main
character in achieveing this success was Sardar Willabh Bhai Patel who as Interior
Minister succeded in integrating about five hundred and sixty two princely states
covering almost half of the Sub-Continent. That got him the sobriquet of ‘Iron
Man'. Patel did not hesitate in using the policy of ‘Saam-Daam-Dand-Bhed'
(friendship, give-and-take, punishment, and divide-and-rule) for achieving his
objective.That is how India, a geographical term, was coerced, bribed, forced and
outrightly invaded in some cases to form present day India.

Soon after independence large parts of the new country, particularly the eastern
parts like Assam, Nagaland, and Mizoram started their struggle for independence
from Delhi. Assam and the areas east of Bengal were never part of the Indian sub
continent. Assam, an independent country was invaded by Burma (1817) and
occupied for a few years when as result of First Anglo-Burmese war Assam,
Manipur, Arakan and some other area was ceded to British by the Burmese in
1826. Burma itself came under the British rule as a province of British India in
1886 after Third Anglo-Burmese War and later declared a separate colony in
1937. Assam and areas east of Bengal were never part of India geographically or
politically at any time in history.

At one time there were strong separatist movements including armed resistance
in twelve different regions against the central authority. In Southern India the
main regional political party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was demanding
an independent nation for Dravidians called Dravida Nadu consisting of areas that
were covered under Madras Presidency during British rule. The movement was
gaining momentum in late nineteen fifties. This increasing internal turmoil was
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managed by the Indian rulers in diverting the public attension through initiating
skirmishes on the Sino-Indian borders in 1962. After a short period of having very
good relations with China with oft repeated slogans of ‘Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai’
(Indian and Chinese are brothers) this was complete reversal in policy. The actions
on both extremities of the long mountainous borders were initiated by the
Indians and a great hype of external threat created with the basic aim of
managing internal conflicts. The DMK changed its stance with this contrived
threat from China in 1962, suspended its demand for independence and
supported Indian government in raising funds for the war. When the war ended,
nationalistic feelings were so strong that DMK gave up the separate Dravida
nation demand altogether. India also managed to get substantial material support
from the western powers led by US who were eager to get ingress into this vast
country.

After Nehru’s death in 1964, when our disputes with India were well on the way
to resolution, Pakistan got into skirmishes with India in Rann of Kach area in lower
Sind during the month of April 1965. As mentioned above this was followed by
sending infiltrators in the Indian Occupied Kashmir which resulted in September
1965 War with India. This war was initiated by the machinations of rabidly
ambitious Mr Z A Bhutto, the Foreign Minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet who was
working to weaken and remove Ayub Khan in his efforts to gain power; aim that
he ultimately achieved after another war with India in 1971 and separation of
East Pakistan. The outcome of our wars helped India to overcome internal
problems suppressing resistance to manageable levels. India also used brute force
with impunity to suppress discontent by killing thousands of its own people. As
narrated by the Indians in their casual talk during our stay as prisoners of war in
India (1972-4), about five to six thousand people had been killed in one of the
state agitating during that period, an average in dissenting regions/states. Later
the scale of killing went up; about twenty five thousands in Punjab and nearly one
hundred thousand in Kashmir.

Jawar Lal Nehru ruled India for seventeen years. After a gap of some years his
daughter Indira Gandhi assumed power in India. During her rule Pakistan was
dismembered, the eastern part becoming Bangladesh when the Indian forces
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invaded East Pakistan in December 1971. She met violent death at the hands of
her own guards. Her son Rajiv Gandhi, following her as prime minister also met
similar fate, meeting a brutal death while holding the throne. The dynastic rule of
Nehru family for a long duration gave India the much needed political stability for
some decades.

It was after 1996 general elections in India, that the Indians could not form a
government at the Centre as no political party could get even single majority in
the parliament. The coalition of political parties cobbled together could not stay
together for long. As a result another general election was announced to be held
in February 1998. This election again produced same result as no stable
government could be formed and the country had to go once again into general
elections to be held in Sep-Oct 1999.

Holding general elections in India is not an easy exercise considering the size of
population, geographical expanse and enormity of effort. The need for going into
elections after about every eighteen months without positive results was grave
political crisis for India.

Here again Pakistan came to India’s rescue by launching the Kargil misadventure
in 1999, a few months before general election in India. General Pervez Musharraf,
the Pakistani Army Chief without permission from the Government, not even
consulting senior commanders ordered occupation of some vacant Indian posts
on the mountain peaks overlooking Kargil in occupied Kashmir. These peaks were
occupied by Indian troops during summers and vacated during winters as their
normal seasonal routine. The skirmishes brought both countries to the brink of an
all out war. Although it was a localised affair confined to a small section of the
Line of Control in Kashmir, it was given great hype by India as a major war with
Pakistan. The war hysteria created by India helped them in overcoming internal
discords. Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had been ousted earlier just after 13 days
as Prime Minister, again formed the government and could now complete his full
tenure.Their system was back on the rails. General Musharraf’s ‘inspiration’ or
was it direction from outside powers becomes clear when we see his role as
facilitator in US invasion of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Af-Pak theater of their
operations) followed by invasion of Iraq and creating turmoil in Muslim world. A
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stable India was need of the invaders. For Pakistan, as a result of Kargil’s after
effects the civilian elected government with two third majority headed by Mr.
Nawaz Sharif was replaced by Musharraf’s rule for over eight years causing severe
damage to Pakistan’s progress as a democratic country. While the Kargil episode
destabilised and weakened Pakistan morally, materially and diplomatically, it
helped India to manage its internal discord thus resuming the road to political
stability and economic progress.

The results of General elections in India held during 2014 are an interesting study.
In a country with population of well over one billion people of different
nationalities, languages, religions, use of money and means of modern
communications have manipulated electoral results to desired ends. After about
twenty five years i.e. after assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 a single Party, the
Hindu fundamentalist Bhartaia Janata Party (BJP) has been brought into position
of forming government at the Centre without need of seeking coalitions. In a year
long election campaign involving unprecedentedly large amounts of money Mr
Naredera Modi, projected as a strong leader has been brought to power in India
by global capitalist to serve their interests. Mr Modi, the longest serving Chief
Minister of Gujrat State i.e. since 2001 till these elections, is responsible for
genocide of Muslims in Gujrat’s capital Ahmadabad in 2002. Muslims in India and
other minority religious groups are apprehensive of his Hindu extremist
credentials, a cause of real concern. Recent incidents of communal tensions, ban
on cow slaughter causing deaths of Muslims at the hands of Hindu mobs are
ominous signs pointing towards more violence and unrest in a large nuclear
armed country.

It is evident that the Zionist driven Capitalism juggernaut to control the world is
rolling on, the Indian tycoons now important players as partners of the Global
Capitalists cabal. Will India overcome its divisive fissures and progress as a strong
united country or revert back to 1996 situation is the question that will be
answered in coming years.

Had there been no war in 1965 between India and Pakistan, there was strong
possibility of India being fragmented into its natural divisions that have existed
since thousands of years. That war initiated by some characters holding important
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positions in Pakistan was followed by events that led to break up of Pakistan in


1971. Since confrontation with Pakistan has helped India to manage and
overcome its internal problems it is imperative for Pakistan to adopt policies and
take measure to ensure that India cannot use external threat card from Pakistan
any more. India’s propensity and practice to ‘invent’ events blaming Pakistan of
terrorist attacks that gave it excuse for mobilising and moving forces on the
borders more than once during the past must be vigorously exposed through
forceful diplomatic efforts and effective media campaigns.

India’s nuclear explosion on Pakistan’s borders in 1974 forced Pakistan to adopt


nuclear weapons option turning South Asia into a high risk region, a serious threat
to regional peace. Pakistan’s proposes to establish a Strategic Restraint Regime in
South Asia. That is only possible if India gets fragmented into its natural parts.
About thirty States in the Indian sub-continent will be more concerned about
catering to essential needs of their population than nurturing hegemonic
ambitions to dominate the region. If the Global Capitalists who are managing the
Global Village can be made to understand that fragmented India is better playing
field for them, India could revert to its natural divisions that have existed since
ages.

India is a geographical term and not a country. Its unity is artificial and deceptive.
Pakistan has helped India to overcome serious internal crises by initiating war of
1965 and launching Kargil misadventure. That must not happen again. India
should be allowed to fragment into its natural parts instead of its public being
enslaved by use of brute force to keep it united as one State.
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The Stranglehold

United States of America (USA or simply US) is vast country with abundant
resources and a vibrant, enterprising population gathered from all over the world
during last few centuries since this country was accidentally found by the
Europeans. The country is being run under a unique system nowhere practiced in
any other country of the world. Money supply to the US government is controlled
by the Federal Reserve, a private Bank owned by small elite who have forcefully
guarded this control. US Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, James A Garfield,
William McKinley and John F Kennedy who tried to get the country out of their
stranglehold were physically eliminated. The Capitalist elite, which can be termed
as ‘Global Capitalists Establishment (GCE)’, the owners of banks, oil and gas
companies, armament industries and other global mega businesses have effective
control over decision making by the US government.These decisions are meant to
create more money by acquiring and controlling material resources of the world
even if it needs to waging wars. To serve their needs, US forces have been used
during last one hundred years all over the world including two world wars.
Occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq are recent examples. ‘Occupy Wall Street’
Movement started in September 2011 manifests frustration of US citizens against
large multinational corporation’s influence over decision making in the US but
their voices remains feeble and ineffective. The US administration and its spy
agency work as the tools of global capitalists interests. The US government is thus
involved in shaping events to benefit their masters.

The pattern adopted by US, working for capitalist's interests to control resources
in different regions of the world is to place chosen men at the helm of affairs in
countries of their interests. The US administration thus gains very deep, all
pervasive influence in the target countries which they cultivate through overt and
covert means. In his book ‘Confession of an Economic Hit Man’ published in
November 2004 and his interviews John Perkins has explained the methodology
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adopted to control ruling elites of the target countries which otherwise is no


secret as we can see in our own country.

US Influence over Pakistan’s Policies

As Pakistan emerged on the world map soon after culmination of the Second
World War, the pre war pattern of global controls by imperialist forces was
changing into a bipolar world. While the Soviet Union expanded its influence in
Eastern Europe and some African and Asian countries, USA replaced the British in
assuming leading role in other parts of the world. Communist China was another
force aligned with the Communist bloc. As the US, after Second World War was
striving to contain Communist threat, the newly established state of Pakistan
landed into its fold against spread of Communist influence in the region.
Pakistan’s geographic position was most important to contain the Communist
bloc, its western wing being in the proximity of China and Russia and the eastern
wing located in the South East Asian region under threat of the Chinese influence.

The first Pakistani Prime Minister Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan chose to visit distant USA
instead of availing invitation from the USSR. It was a step in wrong direction that
proved fatal to our existence in 1971. Prime Minister Liaqat was assassinated on
16 October 1951 in Rawalpindi when he was about to address a public meeting.
His murder case remains unresolved to this day. After him the bureaucrats like
Ghulam Muhammad and Iskandar Mirza assumed control of the country. They
developed deep links with US government functionaries to the extent of
contracting matrimonial relationships, the US Ambassador’s daughter marrying a
son of Mr. Iskandar Mirza in 1954. Ghulam Muhammad, the Governor General
was a paralyzed man whose spoken words could only be interpreted by his British
female secretary and accordingly passed on as orders according to her
understanding.

Pakistan’s interests were fundamentally at odds with those of the US interests.


Pakistan’s geographical location was important for regional linkages to promote
trade and commerce between Eurasian landmass and Indian sub continent
whereas US policies were to block and isolate USSR and China. By following
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American policies in the region the Pakistani rulers caused great damage to
Pakistan’s interests.

After removal of Ayub Khan in 1969 and dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971


under General Yahya’s Khan’s short, destructive rule of about two years, the US
influence and controls intensified, turning Pakistan into a weak and pliable State.
The role of main characters working for US interest and controls leading to our
present situation is briefly given in succeeding paragraphs.

Zulfikar Ali (ZA) Bhutto

After having overcome teething problems of earlier years when Pakistan was well
on the road to rapid overall progress in all fields, the 1965 War with India derailed
that process putting Pakistan into a tailspin from which it never recovered. The
initiator of this derailment was Mr. Z A Bhutto who influenced events in the short
history of this country resulting in disasters. Born in Bombay and educated in US,
he came to Karachi after Pakistan came into being and started cultivating contacts
with rulers. He soon succeeded in courting favour with Mr. Iskandar Mirza who
inducted him into the cabinet as minister, where he survived and progressed
during Ayub Khan’s rule. His burning ambition was to rule a country irrespective
of its size.

American intelligence agency CIA, the main tool of capitalist interests works on
talented people who undertake their studies in the US. This includes armed forces
personnel who attend courses in US institutions as brought out by Lieutenant
General Shahid Aziz in his recently published memoirs in Urdu ‘Yeh Khamoshi Kab
Tak’. They use such persons to pursue their global agenda. Mr. Z A Bhutto having
been educated in American universities was one such man with unbounded
ambition, gifted with ability to agitate and arouse masses. Since he could not
foresee his success in united Pakistan because Bengal having larger population
where he could not get ingress, he worked to weaken Pakistan and ultimately to
dismember it creating space for himself in a part of Pakistan. His first target was
to remove Ayub Khan from power. Acting on a lesson from Kutalia’s Earthshastra
that if the minister wants his ruler to be weakened he should get the state into
war with a strong neighbouring state, Mr. Bhutto was prime mover in initiating
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armed conflict with India in 1965 as narrated in some detail in earlier chapters. He
was the man who remained with the President General Yahya Khan in Dacca till
the orders to take military action were issued on 25 March 1971. He moved out of
Dacca after the President had left, seeing that the action by the Army had started
on the night of 25 March 1971 that would lead to break up of Pakistan.

As Foreign Minister he would stay in CIA facilities in Switzerland during his visits
abroad. Tasked to attend UN proceedproceeding during the 1971 war, he broke
his journey in Switzerland. Here while his delegation stayed in a hotel, he himself
stayed for two days in the CIA’s castle, away in the mountains on the excuse of
being indisposed. Here, he waited for the progress of Indian forces moving
towards Dacca about which the CIA could provide him precise information. He
moved to New York at his leisure and stormed out of Security Council proceedings
which were suggesting ceasefire. He made sure that ceasefire is not agreed to and
the troops in East Pakistan are made to surrender.

Z A Bhutto ultimately became ruler of a dismembered Pakistan that was once a


strong, prosperous, liberal and peaceful country enjoying great prestige in the
comity of nations as the largest Muslim country of the world.

After taking over the country Z A Bhutto destroyed a vibrant and thriving industry
by nationalising it, weakened the civil services by introducing parallel induction of
Party workers in the civil services. Overall he created an atmosphere of fear and
intimidation through a special force created for the purpose. A despicable
character in his personal life, a few shades uglier than his predecessor Yahya
Khan, he indulged in immoral conduct with vengeance that was attributed to his
background, the details then in circulation being unprintable. Despite his decisive
role in breakup of Pakistan he is eulogized as a great hero by a section of Pakistani
population, some beneficiaries of his corrupting the systems and the others
mostly poor and down trodden people who got exploited by a false slogan
believing that instead of ALLAH rewarding their efforts, a man could provide them
food, clothing and shelter (‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ the Bhutto’s slogan to attract
voters during elections).
237

Most of his supporters project him an honest person who did not indulge in
financial corruption. That is not true. Planning to rule for a long time, his method
was different. He was the first Pakistani ruler to open account in Swiss banks for
stashing away money taken as commission from weapons purchase deals and
other external sources. In his article about Iranian Intelligence, Dr Shahid Qureshi,
writing in The London Post (6th January 2016) referres to a chance meeting at a
hotel in Paris quoting General Imtiaz (Military Secretary to Z A Bhutto) as;

“…….General Imtiaz told that “Begum Bhutto and Mrs Heriri (her Iranian sister)
with her husband were going to meet the son of a Jewish friend of Z A Bhutto
who kept the money approximately over US $1.5 million received in commission
due to the arms and air force jet sale to Pakistan”. ……..It was the same time when
‘Bhuttos’ bought villas in France and their lifestyle changed….”

His followers also credit him with starting Nuclear Weapon programme
conveniently ignoring that after India exploded nuclear device at Pokharan near
Pakistan’s borders in 1974, any ruler in Pakistan was bound to go for nuclear
option. Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission was working since 1956 when
Bhutto was still a non entity. India forced Pakistan to go for nuclear option. There
was no other choice for Pakistan.

Z A Bhutto was removed from the political scene and physically eliminated when
no longer required as is the fate of such persons working for the powerful forces.
His descendants and followers continued to plunder the country, the Party rightly
being called Pakistan Plundering Party. For those who continue to refer to Z A
Bhutto as a great leader should reflect upon the fact that if zenith of leadership is
to be hanged by a subordinate, leadership needs fresh definition.

General Zia ul Haq

Mr. Bhutto’s successor, General Zia ul Haq also worked for US interests. When he
was elevated to the slot of Army Chief by Prime Minister Z A Bhutto, it came as
complete surprise. He was at seventh position in order of seniority. The general
expectation in the Army was that either General Akbar or Majid Malik would be
the next Army Chief considering their seniority and merit. But Zia, an unknown
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figure in the Army was most unexpected. Earlier in 1970 when seconded to
Jordan in the rank of Brigadier, he was given command of a Jordanian brigade
deployed on Syrian border when Jordanian forces carried out operations to
dislodge the Palestinians from Jordan. Major General Nawazish, the mission
leader in Jordan gave adverse report that could end his career in Brigadier’s rank
but he was saved by Guide’s Cavalry seniors Colonel Pir Abdullah Shah and
General Gul Hassan in quashing the report.

Ziaul Haq ruled the country for about eleven years. During this period the USSR
invaded and occupied Afghanistan in December 1979, a few months after Iranian
Revolution led by Imam Khomeini replacing Shah of Iran in April that year.
Resistance against Russian occupation was organized using Pakistan’s tribal areas
as bases. The US and rulers of some Arab countries provided support with
weapons and funds to help Afghan resistance movement. Young men from other
Muslim countries like Osama bin Laden from a very rich family of Saudi Arabia
also joined ‘Mujahideen’ fighting against the Russians who were forced to vacate
Afghanistan after about ten years of their occupation, paying very heavy price as
this war resulted in disintegration of the USSR. General Zia was disposed of on 17
August 1988 when his very safe and stable American made military aircraft, a C-
130 crashed near Bahawalpur. He died along with the American Ambassador and
a number of senior military officers including General Akhtar Abdul Rahman the
ex ISI boss responsible to conduct the war against Russians.

Pakistan, under firm rule of General Ziaul Haq blunted USSR’s thrust towards
Arabian Sea that could have further disintegrated Pakistan by Soviet occupation
of Balochistan where the USSR had their agents working since decades. This was a
great achievement that dwarfs Zia ul Haq’s inadequacies in managing internal
affairs of the State. For want of sound policies during his long rule, the internal
situation of the country worsened in terms of institutional corruption in politics
and the military, spread of narcotics and illegal sophisticated weapons. Over five
million Afghans crossed over to Pakistan, some of them were provided shelter in
the camps established for them but there was no control of their movement. This
caused enormous multifaceted problems which continue to aggravate our
internal security situation to this day.
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Ten Years of Musical Chairs

After Zia’s death Pakistan went through political instability as no civilian


government could complete their normal tenure. Benazir’s and Nawaz Sharif’s
governments were removed twice in turn on charges of corruption and misrule in
a decade of civilian rule. The American and Saudi Ambassadors were deeply
involved in making and breaking the governments.

While my assessment of Mr Nawaz Sharif as a leader follows in succeeding


paragraphs, about late Benazir Bhutto less said the better. Her actions to
sabotage national interests like increased Indian involvement and ethnic cleansing
from Sindh as mentioned in a previous chapter and her husband’s collecting
commissions in deals at the State’s expense were obvious reasons for removal of
her government. Her judgment of people is manifest in her selecting Asif Ali
Zardari as her husband. Before marriage Asif Zardari was involved in petty
financial crimes to make a living. To escape arrest in some cases, he left Pakistan.
He came back with help from Brigadier Amir Muhammad Khan, my CO in East
Pakistan who was posted at important position in Karachi. Later Brigadier Amir’s
brother Brigadier Ghulam Abbas who was at Nawab Shah commanding 34 Punjab
during 1984-5 would recall about the conditions Asif Zardari’s was in, an
insignificant non entity mired in petty affairs. By choosing him as her spouse,
Benazir Bhutto, aspiring to rule Pakistan failed to make prudent decision on such
vital personal matter. Or maybe she wanted it that way.

Benazir and Zardari duo put Pakistan into deep crises through their shady deals at
the cost of country’s interests. Changing the ratio of electricity generation from
cheap hydro power to expensive imported furnace oil through Independent
Power projects (IPPs), presumably extracting huge amounts as kickbacks was one
such action by the duo that has put Pakistan in deep economic crises. The terms
decided unduly favoured private power producers, the State paying huge
amounts to these companies as capacity charges as well as very high rates per
unit that deprived the country of affordable energy.
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General Pervez Musharraf (1999-2008)

On 12 October 1999, General Musharraf removed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif


and took over government declaring martial law. During his about eight year’s
rule the Americans occupied Afghanistan. Musharraf provided them all the
facilities they asked for like air bases, air corridors and logistic support through
the country using road network from Karachi port to Afghanistan.

Earlier in 1999 as Army Chief he had launched Kargil operation without consulting
even the Corps Commanders. This operation helped the Indians to overcome
grave political crisis, enabling them to form stable government which they were
unable to do since 1996 even after repeated elections. The results of this
operation in Pakistan were disastrous. Kargil strengthened India and eroded
Pakistan’s image as a stable nuclear state weakening its position in the world as
subsequent events unfolded.

It may not be mere coincidence that before momentous events of the Iranian
Revolution and Russian occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 General Zia ul Haq had
been placed in position. Similarly before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2011,
General Musharraf had taken over the country removing the civilian government.
Placing their men in control of Pakistan before predictable changes, the US
indulged in playing its game successfully in this region. Zia, with religious
pretensions was chosen to confront the Godless Russians. Later on Musharraf, a
‘liberal’, was engaged to facilitate US in dismantling Mujahideen networks after
removing religious ‘Taliban’ government in Kabul.

Asif Ali Zardari (2008-2013)

After Musharraf, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and his group came to power through a
formula, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) worked out by the US in
consultation with UK and some Arab rulers. While Mr Asif Ali Zardari was made
the President, the appointment of Yousuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister took some
time in discussions and was finalized at the US embassy in Islamabad. The best
qualifications of the new rulers were their being convicted on crimes of financial
misappropriation and dishonest practices. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the President of
Pakistan had been convicted by a Swiss Court for financial crime and was in
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appeal against that decision. Mr Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister had spent a
few years in jail after conviction on charges of enrolling people in government
service against rules. Our political class endorsed these appointments
unanimously, putting the best amongst them at the top positions.

In their five years term completed in 2013, Zardari group robbed the country of
prosperity and the common citizen of whatever comfort one enjoyed earlier.
Severe shortages of electricity and gas resulted in closing of industries. The
elaborate rail network almost stopped functioning, the national airline near
collapse and other state enterprises under heavy debts and defaults. The rulers
plundered the country unabashedly accumulating and increasing their assets in
foreign countries. It is the culture of Pakistan People’s Party as evidenced during
their two earlier short tenures led by late Benazir Bhutto to make quick buck, get
booted out and exploit that sentiment of their being victims who could not deliver
because of being removed before completing their terms. Zardar’s government
did its best to get forced out of power so that they could again go to the public as
victims. However measures like giving a full term (three years) extention to
General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, the Army Chief who as ISI Chief earlier was part of
the negotiations on NRO, the forces that brought this team into power allowed
them to continue for full tenure of five years. Due to their misdeeds and
corruption the country was put in oxygen tent, at the mercy of international
financial institutions.

Nawaz Sharif (2013-17)

The general elections held in May 2013 brought Pakistan Muslim league (Nawaz
Group) into power at the Centre, retaining government in Punjab as well. Asif
Zardari led Pakistan People’s Party formed Government in Sindh, its strength
reduced to rural areas of Sindh. Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) retained its
position in urban areas of Karachi and Hyderabad joining Sindh Government
initially but soon both Parties fell apart. Pakistan Tehrik e Insaaf (PTI) formed
government is KPK with support from Jamat e Islami. In Balochistan the
nationalist parties formed government with Dr Abdul Malik as Chief Minister,
replaced after two and a half years by Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, a PML (N) man
according to an agreement between the concerned parties.
242

A family actively involved in mega businesses working with international partners


and also ruling a country is lethal combination against resources of that country
and its people. Sharif family that came into power at the centre as result of these
elections is actively involved in business in Pakistan as well in other countries.
Their method to run the government is also on the pattern of dynastic rule. No
country in today’s world claiming some kind of democratic credentials will be
ruled by a man as head of the national government, his brother as head of a
province large enough to contain more than half of the country’s population, and
a daughter’s father- in- law as finance minister. To top it all, other important
portfolios have been given to a particular clan from Lahore and surroundings.
Even the dictators in Pakistan could not match such arrangement.

About Nawaz Sharif, my observations although from short encounters in late


nineteen eighties remain unchanged; rather get reinforced due to his conduct
during later years. On 6 September 1985, when he had taken over as Chief
Minister of Punjab few months back, he was to lay floral wreath at the monument
of Major Aziz Bhatti, Shaheed, Nishan- e- Haider at BRB Canal east of Lahore. I
was to host him on that short military function. Before his arrival, a car load of his
cronies arrived. From their conversation in exchanging notes I could make out
that each of them had made a few Crore rupees in some deals in those few
months of their being close to the new Chief Minister. (Crore rupees was a very
big amount in those days). Nawaz Sharif arrived and was straightaway conducted
to lay wreath, a short ceremony, over in about fifteen minute’s time. Those
cronies got closer to him when he was leaving. He was barely audible while
talking to them, giving impression of an insecure person, unsure about himself
and his position. On another occasion he was brought along to Lahore Garrison
Golf Club by the President, General M Zia ul Haq who took him around the course
trying to teach him golf. My unit, 27 Punjab was responsible to develop the newly
laid golf course, and I, as Secretary of the Club was to remain closer to them. I was
amazed at the patience of General Zia ul Haq who made Nawaz Sharif hit the balls
a number of times from one spot before moving forward to take next shot. I could
not make out what was real purpose of undertaking such seemingly useless
exercise by the President. Being in the profession of dealing with men, my
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observation was that Nawaz Sharif was a dumb person, easy to exploit, a perilous
weakness in a person leading government of a nuclear armed country.

Jokes invented, although not true, reflect the bent of mind of target persons. In
the backdrop of reports of getting huge kickbacks and commissions in mega
projects by the ruling elite, a famous joke invented some years back goes as
follows. On inauguration ceremony of a major road completed with lot of fanfare,
a sycophant suggested that the chief guest performing opening ceremony should
be given the title of ‘Sher Shah Suri Sani’ (Sher Shah Suri, the Second). Curious,
the chief guest asked, “Who was Sher Shah Suri?” When he was told that Sher
Shah Suri was a King of India who laid the Grand Trunk Road covering his Kingdom
from Peshawar to Bengal spanning thousands of kilometers; spontaneous
remarks attributed to the chief guest were that “He must have made lot of
money”.

Nawaz Sharif was picked up during General Zia ul Haq’s rule when Lieutenant
General Ghulam Gilani Khan who had been heading the Inter-Services Intelligence
Agency (ISI) during Z A Bhutto’s period was Governor of Punjab. When Mian
Muhammad Sharif, a business man from Lahore was approached to get his family
into political field, he spared Nawaz Sharif to be inducted into politics being of no
use to him in running his business. Shahbaz Sharif joined his brother later to use
political positions in expanding their businesses by robbing banks and state
resources. They have become enormously rich with properties and businesses in
UK, Saudi Arabia and other places. On Mr Nawaz Sharif becoming prime minister
of Pakistan, someone asked Mian Sharif to cap their business activities. Mian
Sharif reportedly told the interlocutor that for them the time of doing business
had come now.

Mr Shahbaz Sharif is projected as man of action doing great service to the people
of Punjab. It is a big farce. In initial years he started with a very harsh attitude
towards the government servants, insulting them in public and threatening them
of punishments. Leaders are supposed to inspire people, not scare them. Over the
years he has developed the system run by pliable cronies and criminals in police
and administration. He can hardly be placed in the category of a leader and has
lost his charm long time back especially when he put his sons into poultry and
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milk business, robbing the poor people. Before getting into poultry business,
prices of chicken were around fifty to sixty rupees per kilogram which suddenly
jumped to one hundred and fifty rupees per kilogram when Hamza Shahbaz Sharif
came into business with his controlled sheds. His other son’s ventures have
increased prices of milk in the market. This is apart from what they are doing at
mega ventures in collaboration with international players.

The law and order situation and Punjab government’s writ can be easily judged
from the fact that the day Benazir was murdered in Rawalpindi on 27 October
2007; a number of persons moving with Nawaz Sharif’s convoy were killed on
Islamabad Highway where a posse of Kalashnikov carrying criminals is stationed at
Khokhar Hotel right in Rawalpindi suburbs. Nothing happened to Khokhars.
Emboldened to gross limits, one of this land grabbing mafia boss killed a woman
in presence of police provided for her protection on a small piece of her land
under litigation. Still nothing moved till recently when Chaudhry Nisar Ali as
Minister of Interior has intervened to settle score with Malik Riaz of Bahria Town
who is in cahoots with Khokhars in land grabbing ventures. People of Punjab are
at the mercy of criminals and mafia bosses after Shahbaz Sharif’s long rule over
the province.

In June 2014 fourteen persons including a pregnant woman was killed and over
eighty people injured when Shahbaz Sharif’s controlled Punjab Police opened fire
on unarmed supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town Lahore in broad day
light. Nothing happened to perpetrators of the crime. The governance systems
have been effectively converted to serve personal whims of rulers and mafia
bosses, not working to serve the ordinary citizen.

No country in today’s world claiming some kind of democratic credentials will be


ruled by a business family, distributing various portfolios within the family and a
select group from within their clan.

Panama Papers –Nawaz Sharif’s Waterloo

At the beginning of 2015, an anonymous source began sending the Süddeutsche


Zeitung a German newspaper, data from Mossack Fonseca, a provider of offshore
companies. Mossack Fonseca is a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous
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offshore companies around the world. These shell companies enable their owners
to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady, aiding and abetting tax
evasion and money laundering.

The data covering a period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016 was
analysed in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative
Journalists (ICIJ). Around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations
in over 80 countries took part in researching the documents.

The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive
offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders including Nawaz Sharif from
Pakistan are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from
around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.

Nawaz Sharif and his cronies’ intitially brushed aside the charges. His children in
various TV interviews gave contradictory statements about their properties in
London and elsewhere. The issue was brought up in the National Assembly but to
no avail. The main person who pursued the case relentlessly was Imran Khan
leading Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI). Unable to get response from Parliament, he
approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan but the request was rejected as
firolous. He then mobilised his Party threatening blockade of Islamabad that
created a situation where the Chief Minister of KPK with his followers were
stopped to enter Punjab where they were shelled and teargassed. Islamabad-
Peshawar Motorway was blocked between the two provinces. Two Army officers
on duty trying to proceed to Peshawar got killed in negotiating the blockade. It
was then that the Supreme Court decided to intervene and took up the case.

After prolonged hearing on daily basis for 126 days, two judges out of five
constituting the Bench disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding office, declaring
him dishonest. The other three judges wanted more evidence, constituted a Joint
Investigation Team (JIT) to probe and report within a time limit of sixty days. JIT
completed the task in time and the five members Bench of Supreme Court gave
unanimous verdict on 28 July 2017 declaring Nawaz Sharif dishonest and ineligible
to hold public office. Seeing the evidence, words like Godfather and Sicilian mafia
were used for Nawaz Sharif group by Judges during the proceedings.
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Imran Khan

After remaining in political wilderness for about sixteen years, Imran Khan led
party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf suddenly got a very enthusiastic response from the
public. On the day of polls, people old and young who had never bothered to vote
earlier got out of their homes early in the morning to polling stations. New voters
particularly in the cities mostly cast their votes for Imran Khan’s party who
claimed to bring about fundamental changes in the system of governance,
provision of justice and involving people to make decisions by empowering the
local governments. After 2013 general elections his Party has formed government
in the province of Khyber Pakhtun Khaw (KPK) and has enough seats in the
National Assembly to act as effective opposition.

The reasons for sudden surge in Imran Khan’s political fortunes which became
evident when his political meeting in Lahore held on 30 Oct 2011 got
unprecedented response were due to five years misrule of Zardari group at the
Centre and Sharif brothers in Punjab.People were highly scared of their retaining
power if they did not get out voting against them. Zardari’s Party was chanting
fearful slogans like “Next turn, again Zardari” (Translated in Urdu it is much more
frightening ‘AGLI BARI, PHIR ZARDARI’). It was fear of Zardari’s Party and Sharifs,
not merely love for Imran Khan that his Party got so many votes.

Sit-in (Dharna) at Islamabad

Simmering discontent against the rigged 2013 elections surfaced in a massive


agitation organized by Imran Khan’s Party in the form of sit-in (Dharna) opposite
Parliament building in Islamabad that lasted for over four months during summers
of 2014. The sit in was joined by Dr Tahir ul Qadri with his followers. Dr Qadri, a
religious scholar based in Canada gave a strong call for change outlining his
programme that addresses some basic issues and need of restructuring the
present administrative and judicial systems. Before he arrived in Pakistan from
Canada, Just a few weeks before sit- in at Islamabad, Punjab Police opened fire on
his unarmed followers outside his house in Model Town Lahore killing about
fourteen persons including a pregnant woman and injuring about eighty people.
This was done in broad day light, the event covered by the TV channels, senior
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police officers present on the scene and embracing a character called ‘Gullu But’
who with a stick undertook the operation of breaking cars windscreens and
damaging the vehicles parked outside Dr Qadri’s home. The sit-in ended when
terrorists attack in Peshawar caused death to about one hundred and fifty
students and staff forcing the county’s political leadership to get together to deal
with the terrorists menace in earnest.

Imran Khan’s stand and his unrelenting struggle on Panama Papers resulted in
Nawaz Sharif’s removal from office ignominiously. 28 July 2017 was Imran Khan’s
finest hour in his struggle against corrupt ruling mafia. While the Supreme Court
Judges and the members of JIT deserve effusive praise in not succumbing to mafia
tactics, a section of electronic media played pivotal role in exposing the mafia and
standing with the cause of justice. On the other hand a strong section of
electronic and print media, with Geo/Jang and Dawn groups leading, stood with
the corrupt rulers. Imran Khan has vowed to continue his struggle against other
mafias, declaring Asif Zardari as his next target.

Imran Khan, due to his charisma and appeal to the masses is a man on the
country’s political scene who has the potential to lead our nation back to path of
progress and stability if he understands his limitations and can correct course. He
has some very able persons from different fields ready to work with him. He
needs to organize his party making best use of available assets. His success would
lie in taking bold decisions on some fundamental issues like restructuring judicial
system, delegating power, resources and responsibilities to the local
governments, taking up question of replacing present unequal provinces with
smaller almost equal size administrative units, integrating tribal areas into
mainstream, water resources management plans, harnessing hydro power
potential for affordable energy etc.

So far, Imran Khan does not have a clear program and implementing
methodologies. Despite his glitzy antics he has failed to convert his massive public
support into electoral strength. He has to reinvent himself. He should exploit his
strength in giving vision and motivating people, leaving implementation to a
dedicated team. If he can not or does not undertake serious work on organization
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of the party and its programme, he will be massive failure, a tragic end of hopes
of so many people who want him to succeed.

At the Brink

Continuous rule by corrupt rulers have brought our resource rich country to a
state where bulk of its population is living below poverty line. The country has
been almost paralysed due to extreme shortage of electricity created due to
policies adopted during last so many years. Planning a wrong energy mix by
Benazir Bhutto’s government put our country on wrong path in meeting its
energy needs. Her government signed fourteen agreements in one go during her
second tenure for installation of independent power projects (IPPs) based on
imported furnace oil and natural gas. The terms of these agreements were most
detrimental to Pakistan’s interests. Whereas one unit of electricity was being
produced by our Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) from hydro
sources at the rate of less than one rupee, the agreements with private
companies were made at the rates going up to fifteen rupees per unit. Other
terms like even if the project did not produce electricity, government was to make
payments for a certain generation capacity of the plant. Thus IPPs had no
compulsion to generate electricity as they would get state funds even without it.
Although overall installed capacity for generating electricity was more than needs,
shortage of electricity was created by keeping a good part of the IPP plants idle
putting the public to extreme hardship. The excuse of shortage was used to make
fresh deals. The sharply increased cost of available energy severely reduced
industrial production making it uncompetitive in the international markets
because of increased cost of production, forcing most of the industries to close
down resulting in large scale unemployment.

Developing hydro power by effective management of water resources that had


multiple benefits like controlling floods, bringing more lands under irrigation
system particularly deserts has great potential in providing cheap electricity. But
this aspect was completely ignored politicizing projects like Kalabagh Dam that
was easiest and cheapest to build and had been planned some decades earlier.
Similarly utilising indigenous coal resources to produce energy was also
completely disregarded. Domestic oil and gas exploration was stalled, some areas
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in Balochistan made unsafe for working of exploration companies. Substantial


quantities of natural gas available in the existing fields were also not added into
the system. All this was in the interest of international oil cartels and the
government’s new plans for making agreements like the infamous Rental Power
Projects, importing liquefied gas from abroad and other such ventures, making
deals that provided hefty commissions easily stashed away in foreign banks.

In the last days of Zardari government gas pipeline agreement with Iran was
signed at much higher rates. India opted out of the project mainly because of
higher price of gas being demanded. Unless these rates are reduced, our future
domestic production of gas will also not balance the gas rates. It seems a repeat
of the IPPs agreements signed by Peoples Party governments which they made
some decades earlier.

Enormous amounts of loans were taken from international financial institutions


as well as domestic banking sector during these five years, more than
accumulated amount taken during the past. There is nothing on ground to show
where these huge funds have been spent. It appears that these are paper
transactions to put Pakistan into permanent slavery. The country is spending
almost half of its annual budget in paying interest to these institutions. Global
Capitalist’s interference and bankruptcy of our political class is manifest in
throwing up convicted persons to rule our country as stated earlier.
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251

11 Sep 2001 and its Aftermath

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the world saw an awfully bizarre scene
on their TV screens. Two commercial airliners were shown colliding with the
upper portion of two tall building in Manhattan, New York and the buildings
falling down; the whole process being covered by cameras. Witnessing the
pattern of collapse, it seemed to be a clear case of controlled demolition of those
buildings. Another less tall building adjacent to the two towers also collapsed
after few hours without any external force being applied which is clear indication
that these buildings had been prepared for controlled demolition by placing
explosives at appropriate points. There was news of four large passenger aircraft
having been being hijacked, two of those used for attacks on these buildings
known as Twin Towers and other two for attack/collision with Pentagon and the
White House. The Pentagon building was shown being attacked. The attacks were
blamed to have been carried out by hitherto unknown organization ‘Al Qaida’ led
by Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Arab living in Afghanistan. There were number of
questions on the version being given by the Bush Administration and it looked like
inside job a ‘false flag’ operation, making an excuse to go for control of energy
resources of the Central Asia and Middle East as it transpired later.

This incident commonly known as 9/11 resulted in US occupation of Afghanistan


followed by her occupation of Iraq. The set of rulers in the US at that time were
led by Mr. George W Bush as President and Mr. Dick Cheney as Vice President.
They were working for the interests of Wall Street establishment, keen to have
control of energy resources of the Middle East, particularly Central Asian region
which had recently come out of the Russian control. Earlier the elder Bush, father
of George Bush in his four year term as US President had brought US forces in
Middle East by initiating the Gulf War. To start this war services of Iraqi president,
Mr. Saddam Husain were used. This man had earlier been used against Iran when
he ordered Iraqi forces to invade Iran starting a prolonged war between the two
countries causing large number of deaths on both sides. The Iranians ultimately
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threw out the Iraqis from their territories at great cost. The purpose of checking
possible spread of influence of the Iranian revolution was successfully achieved.

Mr. Saddam was now instigated to invade Kuwait. His action provided the US,
then ruled by elder Bush to bring in US forces to occupy Arabian Peninsula. He
however could not win his second term in office. After a gap of eight years of Bill
Clinton’s presidency, George W Bush became president of the US resuming the
programme that his father had left unfinished.

Af-Pak Theatre

After 9/11, the US occupation of Afghanistan supported by contingents from the


NATO forces caused tremendous hardships for Pakistan. General Musharraf, who
had usurped power by removing Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif, easily gave in
to US demands. The US got all the support in using Pakistan’s territory, its roads,
air bases and air corridors for their occupation of land locked Afghanistan. The so
called US war against terrorism, which actually has different objectives took
Pakistan into its fold.

Although no one from Pakistan was accused of involvement in the 9/11 incident,
Pakistan came under attack by the US using drones and organisations like Tehrik -
e - Taliban Pakistan (TTP) supported from US occupied Afghanistan. Using the
derogatory term Af-Pak, Pakistan was bracketed with Afghanistan as a theatre of
war. Pakistan had earlier supported the US against USSR occupation of
Afghanistan suffering considerable losses in the process. The general public in
Pakistan did not nurture any anti US feelings till Pakistan came under attack from
the US drones and terrorist organisations mushrooming after the US occupied
Afghanistan.

Pakistan has so far suffered about seventy thousand of its people including over
six thousand soldiers killed in bomb blasts by the terrorists operating from their
bases in tribal areas, Balochistan and from Afghanistan. The numbers of injured
persons with permanent disabilities is much more. The economic losses to our
nation are incalculable.
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The terrorists, called Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) actually ‘Terrorists Targeting
Pakistan’ are being provided organizational, logistic and financial support mostly
by the Indians who established numerous consulates for this purpose in
Afghanistan near our borders after US occupation of the country. At one stage
theterrorists established parallel government in vast areas of Malakand region
with threats to reach Islamabad. The Pakistan Army dislodged them from the vast
mountainous areas in 2009 in a swift operation carried out with great skill,
audacity and sacrifices to remove the threat. This feat, which no Army of the
present day world can match surprised our enemies and overturned the whole
game the US was playing with Pakistan. Their aim to take out Pakistan’s nuclear
assets on the pretext of Islamabad going into the hands of Taliban was effectively
checked. The US was reported to have kept their force ready in the Gulf area to
act in such eventuality when Pakistani Taliban posed threat to take over
Islamabad. The plan to denuclearize Pakistan was averted for the present, for
which the TTP was being relied upon to provide an excuse for direct US
intervention with their forces to occupy Islamabad. A large area in our Capital has
been occupied by the US Embassy, very unusual for any Embassy in the world that
can provide residential facilities for thousands of people/troops.

Mission Achieved

US military intervention in our region starting with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and
resulting chain of events was based on deceit and unabashed lies. The propagated
cause of this intervention had no relevance to actual agenda i.e. twin goals of
controlling energy resources of Iraq and Central Asia as well as eliminating
possible threats to the State of Israel. After decades of bloody conflict US, rather
the powers launching US forces have achieved success. The Iraqi Army, first
strengthened by US to contain spread of influence of revolutionary Iran in early
nineteen eighties that could pose threat to Israel has been completely destroyed.
Iraq has been destabilised to an extent that there are more chances of its
fragmentation than recovery towards a normal functional state. Other countries
of the region already having made peace with the State of Israel, possible threats
to Israel have been effectively eliminated. Long term contracts on extremely
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favourable conditions have been secured to exploit the vast oil resources of Iraq
creating a monopoly to exclude other competitors.

The US, Israel and the western powers allied to US in fomenting trouble have
escalated the conflict and turmoil in Muslim region by dismantling Libya and
creating a fresh force calling itself Daish/ISIS operating in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and in
Arabian Peninsula. Afghanistan continues to remain unstable and disturbed. The
source of turmoil emanates from US as stated by Ms. Clare Boothe Luce, one who
knew. She says;

“There existed a relatively small group of wealthy Jews who met once a year in the
greatest secrecy and planned the strategy of world Jewry for the future.”

“Did you know all the mischief in the world was caused by five Jewish men?”13

Gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan to India is next phase of the plan that is at
implementation stage now.

Efforts to denuclearise Pakistan have failed so far but the country has been put
into serious economic and internal security problems.

After the 9/11 incident when the Americans occupied Afghanistan, Lieutenant
General Hamid Gul, an ex DG ISI gave a statement that,

"9/11 is an excuse, Afghanistan is staging point and Pakistan is the target".

In Urdu language it reads like,

"9/11 bahana hai, Afghanistan thikana hai our Pakistan nishana hai'

After over a decade this has proved to be the case. The only impediment in US
designs is the tenacity and resilience of the Pakistani nation in facing adversities
and a volunteer National Army spearheading the fight against forces unleashed
on Pakistan from the US occupied Afghanistan. The Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
an umbrella for groups of criminals is being supported by the CIA, Mossad, and
some other western powers, assisted by the Indians encamped in Afghanistan. In

13
Clare Boothe Luce (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/books/review/price-of-fame-by-sylvia-
jukes-morris.html?_r=0)
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Baluchistan another set of organisations with their leaders in London and bases in
Afghanistan are carrying out terrorist activities. A consistent effort is being made
to malign our intelligence agencies, Army and other law enforcing agencies like
the Frontier Corps in Baluchistan and Rangers in Karachi to demonise them and
downgrade their effectiveness.

As a sequel to earlier operations by the security forces in tribal areas and


Malakand Division to eliminate terrorists sanctuaries, the on-going operation
‘Zarb e Azb’ to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan according to National Action
Plan is making good progress, reviving hopes of bringing peaceful living conditions
in the country. Linkages between different forces working against integrity of
Pakistan are getting exposed and being dealt with. Although MQM leader Mr Altaf
Hussian under shelter of British intelligence in London has been absolved of
money laundering charges by UK authorities, the money trail of extorted money
from Karachi leads to MQM Headquarters in London is no more a secret.The
terror network headed by MQM Headquarter in UK spread over many countries
like India, South Africa, Malaysia and its modus operandi in engaging targets in
Karachi has been exposed. Killers living abroad fly over to Karachi, engage targets
and fly back safely being facilitated by concerned staff at Karachi airport. This has
been going on for years.

In Balochistan, apart from persuading Marri and Bugti gangs to come down from
their ‘ferrai camps’, considerable progress has been made to dismantle
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) operating in Mekran and coastal areas of
Balochistan. BLA was being funded through extortion money from Karachi apart
from external sources.

Overall the situation is improving due to intelligence based targeted operations by


the law enforcing agencies in all parts of Pakistan. However elimination of the
menace of terrorism will only be possible when all concerned plat their role in the
fight according to National Action Plan worked out through consensus by political
leadership of Pakistan.
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257

Taliban

Afghan Taliban

The term ‘Taliban’ mischievously coined to malign religious seminaries is being


wrongly used for mainly the ethnic majority Pushtuns in Afghanistan resisting
occupation of their country by US and NATO forces who installed a minority non-
Pushtun group in Kabul after invasion of Afghanistan. Mullah Omar was not a
Talib, which means a student in religious seminary, but a veteran of resistance
against the Russian occupation of his country in earlier decades. Those who joined
him were also no more Tailbs or Taliban, plural of Talib, a term used for students
of religious seminaries. These people had long past the stage of getting religious
education that they would have completed as children and young boys.

The oft repeated claim, rather allegation by western powers that Pakistan
through its intelligence agency, the ISI, created a new force in Afghanistan called
‘Taliban’ who established government in Afghanistan is simply not true. The
movement started when Mullah Omar removed check posts established by the
petty warlords in suburbs of Qandahar.The intelligence agencies people in
Pakistan had no knowledge of who was Mullah Omar and what was happening. It
was after some time that the cause of uprising against the criminal warlords,
controlling small fiefdoms after Russians withdrawal from the country came to
light. I now cannot recollect the name of the gang leader in Qandahar (they were
so many) who was openly parading boys he was keeping to cater for his
despicable unnatural carnal desire. One day Mullah Omar, prayer leader in a small
mosque was approached by a man lamenting that his two daughters had been
picked up by a warlord. Mullah Omar accompanied by the girl’s father went to the
ruffian’s place, admonished his guards and persuaded them to rescue the girls.
With the help of those guards Mullah removed check post on the road where they
were collecting money from those passing by. As the people were in great distress
at the hands of warlords, they joined Mullah Omar as he started to clear the
check posts around Qandahar first and then gradually moved on till he wrested
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control of Kabul.That is how the movement led by Mullah Omar labeled as


‘Taliban’ started.

'Tourist' or Terrorist

The understanding by Mullah Omar of the world around him can be judged from
an interesting quote by Lieutenant General Zia ud Din during a TV interview on a
private Pakistani channel. According to the General when he, as head of ISI, the
premier Pakistani Intelligence Agency met Mullah Omar on the eve of impending
US invasion of Afghanistan, Mullah Omar told him that the western media was
calling him ‘Tourist’. The General then clarified that they were calling him
‘Terrorist’ which was very dangerous and derogatory.

Mullah Omar’s government which came to be known as The Taliban Government


was recognised by only three countries i.e. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Pakistan had done so; rather it could not have done otherwise, because of its long
and porous border with Afghanistan. Pakistan had recognised every government
in Kabul, starting with that of King Zahir Shah, precisely for this reason because
the country could not afford disputes on its western borders when its long
eastern border with India was not secure. Afghanistan under Zahir Shah was the
only country that opposed Pakistan’s entry into the United Nation Organisation.
Despite that attitude Pakistan remained focused to maintain workable relations
with Kabul.

‘Taliban’ Government brought a semblance of order eliminating infighting among


numerous warlords, effective drug control and end of crime through harsh and
deterrent punishments. They were being cultivated by the Americans to allow oil
and gas pipelines to pass through Afghanistan, giving contracts to a group of
companies led by UNOCAL. For this the US authorities hosted some Taliban
leaders in Washington but the deal could not get through due to intransigent
attitude of the Afghan leaders. Apprehending failure to exploit energy resources
due to Taliban government in Kabul, alternative plans to remove them were
initiated which resulted in US occupation of Afghanistan. It was failure of Taliban
leaders to understand the implications of denying capitalist’s interests which
caused turmoil in our region resulting in widespread destruction. Had they
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accommodated the demands of western oil cartels, we could have been saved of
our present travails. But Taliban leaders were men with very limited abilities who
lacked understanding of the consequences of their intransigence.

Pakistan’s influence over Taliban Government was very limited, if any at all. Some
people like one notorious Riaz Basra and his group committed crimes and
murders in Pakistan and fled to Afghanistan. Taliban government did not
apprehend them to hand over to Pakistan. After 9/11 Pakistan did try to persuade
Taliban leaders to agree with US demands but they were adamant and
uncompromising on their stand. A participant of one such meeting narrated that
when pressed to see the consequences of such defiance, Mullah Omar told that
for Afghans half loaf of bread (which they were eating at the time) was enough to
survive and if there was any problem for Pakistan they could do nothing about it.

Taliban Government despite many objections to their way of functioning by the


western world brought peaceful conditions, eliminating crime in the area under
their control. They effectively stopped cultivation of poppy, a feat never achieved
by any other government in Afghanistan. Their resistance to hand over Osama
Bin Laden to US without proof of his involvement in 9/11 tragedy, gave the US
excuse to occupy Afghanistan; replacing Taliban government with that of
Northern Alliance, a group of non-Pashtun tribes mainly living in northern parts of
the country.

After over a decade of occupation, causing great miseries to the people of the
region including Pakistan, the US has succeeded in effectively blocking
exploitation of energy resources by rivals. Americans have withdrawn bulk of their
forces in 2014 leaving a small contingent ostensibly to train Afghan Army. The
country remains in turmoil, about forty percent under control of ‘Taliban’. The
Americans want permanent presence in Afghanistan that is being resisted by
Taliban who want complete withdrawl of foreign forces from their country.

Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TPP)

After US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 a new force emerged in the tribal areas
of Pakistan that established its effective control over the tribal agencies by
replacing the system of governance that Pakistan was exercising in the areas since
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independence. Most of the tribal notables called Maliks heading their clans who
used to interact with the Political Agent, the State’s representative in each tribal
agency, were killed. These criminals, aptly described as ‘Terrorists Targeting
Pakistan (TTP)’ started their operations by conducting suicide attacks and
explosions on multiple targets in Pakistan. They established ‘human bomb
factories’ in mountainous areas using teen age boys. They were supported by
American and Indian intelligence agencies as the Indians established a number of
facilities on Afghan side of Pak-Afghan border on the pretext of diplomatic
consulates. Besides foreign funding, they generated funds by carrying out
abductions for ransom, looting banks, extortions to carry out their activities.

There was no presence of Pakistan Army in the tribal areas prior to 2004. The
focal person exercising State powers in the tribal agencies was Political Agent who
had local Levy’s as his force supplemented with Frontier Corps if and when
required by him. The Army troops were moved in Waziristan in 2004 for the first
time after independence. Negotiations with the tribes in disassociating
themselves from the terrorist’s outfits were conducted but these efforts did not
result in resuming control of the tribal areas. Rather the terrorists expanded their
influence into settled areas of Swat and other areas of Malakand Division.

To deal with menace, a major operation against TPP was carried out during 2009
when the terrorists established their rule in Malakand Division threatening
occupation of Islamabad. In a swift, wisely planned and audaciously executed
operation by Pakistan’s armed forces, the terrorists entrenched on vast
mountainous areas were dislodged, dashing all hopes, expectations and plans of
our enemies to cause serious harm to Pakistan. Terrorist’s dens housing ‘Human
Bomb Factories’ mainly in Mehsud tribes areas of South Waziristan were also
dismantled during 2009. The modern day followers of ‘Hasan bin Sabah’, like Qari
Hussain Mahsud and others involved in preparing teen age boys as suicide
bombers to explode against selected targets had to close shop.

Pakistan has evolved appropriate response to deal with this serious threat after
the tragic incident of Army Public School Peshawar where about one hundred and
fifty children and their teachers were brutally murdered on 16 December 2014. A
National Action Plan has been worked out that needs to be implemented by using
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all elements of State power. Earlier it was mainly left to the law enforcing
agencies (LEAs) to deal with threat, the forces deployed on road check posts
waiting for attacks by terrorists, the initiative with them rather than being with
the State of Pakistan. Operation ‘Zarb e Azb’ started in 2014, conducted in all
parts of Pakistan made steady progress to achieve the desired targets. In the
subsequent phase ‘Operation Rad ul Fasad’ is being carried out to eliminate the
terrorists on the run, seeking shelter in major cities and the countryside.
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263

The Regional Context

Reviewing our journey since Independence in 1947, one gets amazed as to how
our early rulers formed alliances with the west against the Soviet Union and
China. A cursory look at the map would suggest otherwise. Whether it was due to
existing personal contacts with the British and the ease in communicating
with British and Americans in English, this policy of preferring whiskey over vodka
resulted in breakup of Pakistan even before the country had completed its first
twenty five years of existence. Ignoring regional realties and shying away from the
communists, we harboured Masonic Lodges, preferring to be enslaved by the
rapacious practitioners of western capitalism. Pakistan despite its abundant
resources and enviable geographical position remains at the mercy of World
Bank, IMF etc. Pakistani rulers have acted as pawns in the hands of Global
Capitalist’s Establishment through their agents, the American administration. Our
finances are controlled by their nominees and employees.

Our geographical location, which gives us a unique opportunity to act as trade


and energy corridor between the vast expanses of the Eurasian land mass, most
populous regions on earth i.e. India and China, the oil rich gulf region and the
emerging markets of the African continent, have not been exploited.
Russia, spreading over vast expanses of Eurasia, always needed all weather warm
water ports in the open seas. Her earlier efforts to reach the Arabian Sea by
applying force failed. While the Czarist Russia got exhausted north of Aamu
Darya, its successor, the Soviet Union, after lapse of considerable years invaded
Afghanistan but had to retreat with disastrous consequences. With this
experience of application of force having failed, it is time to forge relationships on
the basis of mutual benefits which are there for everyone in the region.

Today's Russia, asserting her influence in the region can take the lead in carving
out a corridor of trade and commerce through the Central Asian states,
Afghanistan and Pakistan to reach the resource rich South Asia and emerging
markets of the African continent. China and Pakistan are already working to
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develop a trade corridor between Western China and Pakistan’s coast on Arabian
Sea.

Pakistan was made to play major role in creating ‘New World Order’, paying very
heavy price in the process. The global powers manipulating world events first
arrested Pakistan’s unprecedented progress in early years by getting the country
into war with India in 1965, using their most effective operative, Mr Z A Bhutto
and his associates. While this conflict helped India to manage internal dissentions
and unrest, Pakistan got dismembered. Strategically located New Pakistan was
then used to dismantle USSR and the alternative system of economy. While
General Zia was installed to facilitate Global Capitalist interests in dismantling
Soviet Empire, General Musharraf was brought in to facilitate occupation of
Afghanistan to consolidate those gains. Pakistan became a battleground and
continues to remain so till now. War, the mother of all big businesses was
unleashed in the region for material gains. Example of just one item, OIL prices
before the war and later will suffice to explain the point. Who made colossal gains
from war and turmoil in the region?

The managers of global capitalist system owning banks, oil companies, armament
industries and all big businesses in the world have used US power to their purpose
for over a hundred years having effective control over US policies and decisions.
With expanding influence all over the world, they will be no more dependent
exclusively on the US power in coming times. Till recent years the Capitalist
system had limited access to a good part of the world aligned with
Communist/Socialist system of economy. Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries,
China and India were out of the Capitalists hold. This has changed with the
demise of Soviet Union, China opening up to corporate influences and India
converting from Socialist to Capitalist mode.

The Capitalist’s increased reach calls for greater volume of trade between
different regions. Pakistan with its present boundaries facilitates movement in all
directions. If Pakistan Government formulates and pursues a policy of providing
energy and trade corridors through its territory, the country will get ready
support from the interested powers to stabilize and overcome unrest. Plans to
create ‘international strategic corridor’ through Baloch inhabited areas of
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Balochistan would be one dimensional venture leaving Indian Sub-Continent out


of the loop of rail and road links. Any effort to further dismember Pakistan will
thus obstruct inter region movement creating conflicts and impediments in
conducting global businesses which the interested powers would want to avert.

The differences and conflicts between the countries of the region will get resolved
if an effective mechanism of drawing mutual benefits through trade and
commerce can be put in place. Basically US presence in the region is also to
eliminate resistance in creating trade and energy corridors for the capitalist world
that control US policies. Their interests demand peace in the region. As we can
recollect, had Taliban government in Kabul agreed to the terms of UNOCAL,
representing global energy cartel, US physical occupation of the country could
have been avoided. Taliban representatives, who were invited and entertained in
the US, failed to understand impact of their refusal, inviting war to soften up
Afghanistan for implementing plans without opposition. Key element at this stage
is to have an effective government in Afghanistan that can ensure peace to
facilitate trade routes through the country.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

The Chinese thrust to gain access to Arabian Sea through Pakistan is manifest in
form of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The work is slowly gaining
momentum, overcoming resistance from various quarters. The vital factor for
Pakistan is the terms and conditions decided for providing the facilities. Hopefully
Pakistan will not be exploited through incompetence or criminal collusion of our
rulers in signing contracts that are against the interests of the State and the
people of Pakistan. Agreements with the Chinese will be precursors to more such
agreements with other countries like Russia, Central Asian States and Afghanistan
using the facilities of Gwadar and other ports on our Arabian Sea coast in coming
times. The agreements with the Chinese, therefore, need to be made with deep
deliberation and special care. A few points that need to be considered are;

• Agreements with Chinese should be first approved by a Parliamentary


Committee. That includes the terms of loans being secured.
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• Fifty one agreements have already been signed so far including the Orange
Line Train in Lahore that has nothing to do with CPEC. The terms of these
agreements should be scrutinized by a Parliamentary Committee and terms
revised if found unfavourable to our State’s interests.
 Ownership of land used in the projects must remain with the State of
Pakistan. No piece of land should be sold to any foreign industrial or
commercial concern. The land can be given on lease/rent for specific
period.

• No armed persons from China should be allowed to be stationed in


Pakistan in any manner.
• Minimum number of Chinese citizen should be allowed to work in Pakistan
for specific jobs that cannot be performed by Pakistani Staff. (These jobs
will be very few).
• The sites of Economic Zones should be carefully selected for setting up
industries by Pakistani industrialists utilizing local raw material to produce
exportable goods.

• Imports from China should be restricted to items that cannot be produced


in Pakistan. The Chinese should basically use the corridor for exports to
other countries.
• Toll rates for transit trade must be decided with care with provision of
periodic review.

Pakistan, a nuclear armed state, the sixth largest country in size of population in
the world that is more than combined population of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq,
Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf States to its west, should not continue to be a
battle ground of global forces playing games as being done since last four
decades. Pakistan is in a very strong position to benefit from emerging global and
regional re-alignments by facilitating inter region and global trade. Vital economic
interests of the global and regional powers will help in resolving conflicts between
countries of our region like Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India to
facilitate smooth operations of trade routes and energy pipelines from Central
Asia to India.
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Pakistan’s rulers must cultivate the vision to understand and capacity to


formulate and pursue policies commensurate with the country’s strength to
realize our true potential; playing active role towards regional stability that will
bring peace and prosperity for the people of Pakistan and the region. In the
recent tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia Pakistan’s role should be that of a
facilitator in resolving the issues instead of givin any impression of taking sides
that Pakistani leadership must avoid.
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269

The Fallacy of Army’s Rule

Pakistan Army remains under criticism for its role in assuming power in Pakistan,
not allowing political governments to function, disrupting political process. The
term ‘Army’s Rule’ though is grossly misleading. It does not reflect true
disposition of the governance structure when Army Chiefs assume power and
their inspiration to do so. Decisions to remove civilian governments by Army
Chiefs were personal, incited, goaded and facilitated by politicians and welcomed
by general public at the times when these decisions have been taken during the
past. Role of Army as institution in governance of the country under Army
generals who assumed power at different times in the country was very limited at
the initial stages of these take over’s; a small force used to occupy a few buildings
in the Capital. The Generals soon consolidated their position; getting
overwhelmingly positive response from public, politicians, bureaucracy and the
judiciary.

A general impression among the public which has considerable weight is that our
rulers, civilians or military are appointed by the US to facilitate implementation of
their policies in the region. The examples of picking up a quasi fundamentalist
General Zia ul Haq to confront Godless Russians and later ‘liberal’ General
Musharraf to dismantle Jihadist network formed to fight against the Russians
illustrates the point. The latest example is that of 2008 elections, when name of
Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani was finalised during meetings at the US Embassy in
Islamabad, ignoring much expected Mr. Amin Fahim then heading Pakistan
People’s Party. So it would be more appropriate to say that civilians or military,
our rulers are appointed by the US, rather the Global Capitalists Establishment.

In the presence of retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul who was well versed
with the influence of external forces in our State affairs because of his experience
as head of our premier spy agency, I uttered the words about the period of
‘General’s rule’. He promptly corrected me that it is American Agent’s rule not
General’s rule. If any proof was ever required, one can refer to Lieutenant
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General Shahid Aziz’s book where he narrates American’s methods to cultivate


officers detailed on career courses in USA. So the Army’s rule is a gross
misnomer. Civilians or Military, we are actually being ruled by the agents of
Global Capitalists Establishment, appointed through the US Administration to
implement their plans.

Briefly reviewing the past, when President Ayub Khan took over control of the
Government of Pakistan, the country was already under martial law imposed by
Mr Iskandar Ali Mirza, the President of Pakistan; soon removed because of his
continuing intrigues. Ayub Khan ruled for over ten years, putting off his uniform s
after about three years of assuming power and ruled as a civilian, elected Head of
State for rest of the period. Except for a few senior officers inducted in his
government, the Army had nothing to do with governance of the country. A new
constitution was adopted replacing parliamentary system with the presidential
system. While the national and provincial parliaments played their role of
essential law making, the central and provincial bureaucracy played pivotal role in
administration, the task which they performed effectively.

If a test of good governance is the level of comfort and ease in lives of common
people, Ayub Khan’s era was the best period for people of Pakistan during the last
seven decades since creation of Pakistan. His Himalayan blunder of drifting into
war with India due to machinations of small group led by his foreign minister
adversely affected his control over affairs of the State. During his last months in
office he was virtually a prisoner, isolated and made ineffective by General Yahya
Khan who took over the Government in 1969.

General Yahya, in his two tumultuous years organised general elections which
resulted in breakup of the country when a major group of elected members from
West Pakistan led by Mr. Z A Bhutto refused to accept election results and
declined to attend National Assembly session.

After getting the country dismembered in December 1971, Z A Bhutto assumed


power as Civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator in his New Pakistan, an
unparalleled mockery. In about seven years of his rule he went after everything
good the country had achieved till then. He nationalised the thriving industries,
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putting government officials to run industries with obvious results. He severely


eroded the prestige and efficiency of civil services by inducting his party workers
in the services in his parallel entry scheme. He created a new internal security
force, the Federal Security Force (FSF) putting people of dubious character in
forming this force that was used to harass his opponents. He created conditions
where the Army’s one star generals came to a stage of refusing to obey orders
given by Army High Command. In Lahore three Brigadiers refused to use troops
under their command in dealing with agitation triggered by rigging in elections by
Bhutto’s Party.

In the Armed forces he upgraded posts of Naval and Air Force Chiefs to four star
ranks equal to that of the Army, ignoring the fact that ranks in the armed forces
are based on the force they command. The Navy, with about twenty thousand
personnel was rightly being commanded by a two star Admiral and the Air Force
with about forty thousand strength commanded by a three star Air Marshal. The
Army comprising about three hundred thousand persons then was commanded
by a four star General. A new post, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee was
created along with its headquarters, the post required to be rotated between the
three services in turn. This was basically to downgrade importance of Army
Chief’s position. It is to the credit of services chiefs during all these years that the
armed forces are working in harmony despite efforts to cause dissentions in
creating an unnecessary organisational structure.

After about seven years misrule of Mr. Z A Bhutto, General Zia ul Haq assumed
power in Pakistan. In hindsight it becomes evident that Zia ul Haq was brought in
by global capitalist interests to confront the Russians in Afghanistan and block
expansion of Iranian revolution, both events happening in 1979, about one and
half year after the man chosen to deal with the outfall was put in place. Pakistan
provided critical support to Afghans in their fight against Russian occupation of
their country. As a result Pakistan had to face multiple threats, series of
devastative explosions resulting in large scale deaths and destruction. Pakistan
had also to support a very large number of Afghan refugees, at one time
estimated to be over five millions, aggravating the country’s economic, law and
order, drugs and illegal weapons problems which have become endemic, defying
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control even after passage of over three decades. Zia initiated financial
malpractices. Like bribing legislators by placing large funds at their disposal in the
name of development projects which was not their job, he placed unaccountable
funds at the disposal of senior Generals of the Army, smearing clean and honest
working within Army. Generals like scholarly E H Dar and some others quietly left
prematurely finding the change stifling.The corrosive effect of Zia’s policy
adversely affected the image of the Army. Maintaining private funds that
endorsed misuse of money adversely affected the image of the Army despite the
fact that barring some exceptions the Army retained and abided by the basic
values of honesty and integrity. To quote just one example, a few years back I met
one Brigadier Iftikhar, EME, an elderly man who had come to my friend’s office in
connection with sale of his plot. He had agreed to a price on telephone. Within
about half an hour after reaching that office, the old man received calls, offering
him a million rupees more than what he had committed verbally with my friend.
The Brigadier was short and crisp in replies that he had already given a word and
could not go back on that. He was product of those environments where a junior
could not dare offer to pay a bill in presence of a senior, expenses on guests
visiting the units were shared according to sliding scale, the senior most paying
the maximum and there was no concept of offering gifts to seniors. After about a
month when I went to visit my friend again, he had gone to attend funeral of
Brigadier Iftikhar who had completed his journey of life. Such conduct was the
hallmark expected from the personnel of the Pakistan Army that it has largely
retained despite Zia ul Haq’s damaging impact.

After Zia was eliminated, a decade of civilian rule saw two political parties led by
Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif taking turns in short stints. Political leadership
proved unequal to the daunting tasks faced by the country. Both leaders did not
display maturity in their conduct demanded by their exalted position, nor were
they correctly advised from within their parties which did not develop into
institutions. Their musical chairs ended when General Musharraf assumed power
in 1999 by removing Nawaz Sharif’s government.

General Musharraf ruled for about nine years, getting support of a group of
politicians who were previously allied with Nawaz Sharif. As Army Chief, he did
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immense damage to interests of Pakistan, helping India by launching Kargil


misadventure. India which could not form a government at the centre despite
repeated elections after 1996 got their political system stabilised after Kargil. The
timings of Indian general elections during these years reveal the impact of
Musharraf’s action. Elections in India were held in Apr–May 1996 but as the
coalition government formed could not stay in power due to dissentions, the
process had to be repeated in Feb- March 1998. The government formed after
these elections also became unstable. India yet again went into countrywide
electoral process in Sep-Oct 1999 just after Kargil epicode (May–Jul 1999) and
could form a government that completed five years. Organising general elections
at such brief intervals in a country like India, a sub continent rather than a
country, with population of more than one billion people is not a normal
happening. India was faced with a very grave situation of instability and possible
fragmentation into different parts with simmering discontent since
independence. External threat posed by Pakistan through Musharraf’s action was
fully exploited by the Indians, generating unprecedented media hype projecting a
skirmish on a small section of Line of Control (LOC) into a major war with Pakistan
that helped them to overcome internal discord.

After the 9/11 drama created as an excuse, the US occupied Afghanistan, rather
its ‘Af-Pak’ theatre of operations, pushing Al Qaida linked fighters into tribal areas
of Pakistan. Renewed fighting in Afghanistan, now against the US and her allies,
disturbed peace on our western borders. The situation having gone beyond
control of para military forces traditionally deployed in tribal areas, Pakistan Army
had to be deployed on the western borders to fight against terrorist groups,
created and supported from Afghanistan. India established their support bases in
the form of ‘consulates’ in Afghanistan near our borders with Afghanistan to help
these terrorists. The fighting caused Pakistan immense losses in men and
material, has destroyed our economy and caused incalculable damage to interests
of Pakistan. Security installations throughout the country remain targets, attacked
many times with considerable damage. Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(FATA), Balochistan and Karachi are particularly affected, remaining parts of the
country also having lost peaceful living conditions for the citizen. Pakistan lost its
prestige during Musharraf’s rule despite being a nuclear power.
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The role of Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf in working for global power’s interest
becomes easier to understand by reading Lieutenant General (retired) Shahid
Aziz’s book ‘Yeh Khamoshi Kab Tak’ published in 2012. While doing courses in the
US he narrates US Defence department persons asking him to work for them with
the incentive that his interest will be looked after as being done for selected
officers of friendly countries. He also mentions an officer doing course with him
trying to persuade him to visit Chile, South America, on vacation with family to
meet a senior person of ‘Free Masons’ with similar, rather better incentives. It is
obvious that Shahid Aziz was not the only person offered with the choice. It was a
normal practice by US operatives to work on promising people in all spheres of
our decision making bodies to serve their interests.

Army’s rule is therefore a gross misnomer. The Army as institution does not select
its Chiefs not does it ever ask them to take over the governments. As explained in
preceding paragraphs the Army has no role in governing the county when the
Generals take over governments. They, during the past have used existing State
governance structure which offers no resistance to their taking over and get ready
support from eager politicians to prolong their rule.

Propaganda Themes Used Against Army

Some of the themes used to criticize Pakistan Army, apart from takeover of
governments by Army Chief’s at different times, are the development and
commercial projects associated with Army. While takeover of governments by
Generals, their causes and consequences have been covered in the preceding
chapters, a brief background of these projects would help to remove
misunderstandings on these issues.

Defense Housing Schemes (DHAs)

When the Governments at local, provincial and central levels failed to undertake
projects to meet increasing housing demands of the growing population; the gap
was filled to some extent by the Defense Housing Schemes in major cities of
Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi/Islamabad. It all started due to enterprising spirit
of a group of naval officers in Karachi, by the name of Pakistan Defence Officers
Cooperative Housing Society Ltd in March 1953, a humble beginning with
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allotment of mere 76.2 acres of land. A retired Army Officer Lieutenant Colonel
Nizam ud Din served its secretary for a long period making it a success story
through his dedicated efforts. In nineteen sixties as I remember the young officers
sold their rights for the price a scooter. Italian ‘Vespa’ brand scooters has come
into use before motor cycles eased them out from the market after few years.
The property dealers working in Karachi would visit cantonments in other parts of
Pakistan and buy the rights fromofficers for paltry sums. Officers of the Army
during nineteen sixties and seventies were not aware of material benefits lying in
these plots for them in future. Most of us did not know that we were eligible to
get plots, thinking that such befits come at the end of the service. Pakistan Army
was not concerned with the scheme in any way for many years. No Army
manpower or budget was ever used in the scheme. Later when the scheme
expanded, a measure of supervision was provided through the local garrison
commander to oversee its functioning.

Seeing success of Karachi experience, similar schemes were launched, in Lahore in


early eighties and for Rawalpindi/Islamabad starting in mid-nineties. Land for
these schemes has been bought from land owners through money paid by the
members and development undertaken on receipt of periodic instalments paid by
members. Retired personnel of the armed forces are employed in managing the
schemes with few top slots now held by serving officers. No State funds or State
land have ever been used in these schemes. Some irregularities that came to light
in these schemes were promptly addressed and corrective measures enforced. A
major problem arose in Rawalpindi/Islamabad scheme courtesy Malik Riaz of
Bahria Town with disastrous consequences for persons responsible from the
Army. A three star General had to commit suicide soon after retirement.

Overall it has been a great service to the people of Pakistan with very small effort
by the Army in organizing and patronizing these schemes that provide secure
living for a large number of families, major population in DHAs being non-defense
related citizens who bought the properties in these well managed schemes.
Criticism on this account is therefore most unwarranted.
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Fauji Foundation

A Post War Services Reconstruction Fund (PWSRF) was established in 1945 for
Indian War Veterans who served the British Crown during World War II. At the
time of partition (1947) when Pakistan came into being, the balance fund was
transferred to Pakistan in the proportion of its post World War-II veterans. Till
1953, the fund remained in the custody of the civilian Government, when in 1954
it was transferred to the Army.

Instead of disbursing the balance fund of about Rs 18.2 million (USD 0.2 million)
among the beneficiaries, it was invested it in establishing a Textile Mill. Later from
the income of the textile mill, a 50 bedded TB hospital was established at
Rawalpindi.

As a charitable trust started in 1954, Fauji Foundation is operating on a


completely self-sustaining basis, channels approximately 80% of the profits from
commercial ventures into social protection programs that serve a beneficiary
population representing approximately 7% of the country’s population. Only
some retired army persons are employed by the Foundation, its main strength
being civilian professionals from various fields.

Army Welfare Trust

Started in 1971 with a meager amount from welfare fund, the organization
progressed due to honest hard work of one man; Major General (retired) Fahim
Haider Rizvi. Assisted by a competent team of professionals, he made the trust a
great success. No State funds or defense budget was used in the projects that
now employs over eleven thousand persons and is contributing positively to
national economy.
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Army’s Challenges and Response

Having briefly described the reality of rulers and their role, wrongly attributed to
as ‘Army’s Rule’ during the past, let us briefly recount challenges faced by Army
and its performance so far.

Kashmir, 1947-8

Pakistan Army was in the process of its formation when Kashmir crisis erupted.
The British General commanding Pakistan Army showed his inability to send the
Army and it was at much belated stage that some units got inducted to stop
Indian Army from capturing liberated areas by local people. Some volunteers from
tribal areas joined the local Kashmiri freedom fighters forming groups called
‘Lashkars’ using Jhelum valley route to Kashmir. They stopped short of Srinagar
and lacking required discipline, indulged in looting and other crimes. One such
Lashkars comprising people mainly from Soon - Sakesar Valley area was stopped
at Sialkot by the local civil administration, not allowing them to cross over
towards Jammu where Kashmiri Muslims got killed in large numbers at the hands
of Dogra forces. Had this force reached Jammu and severed Kashmir’s ground link
with India, an entirely different situation would have emerged in favour of the
people of Kashmir.

The Army units,when ordered went into action in Kashmir and performed their
assigned tasks successfully.

Indo-Pakistan War, 1965

Pakistan Armed Forces are organised to defend territorial integrity of the country.
They are not constituted to undertake invasions of neighbouring countries, their
role basically defensive and not offensive. President Ayub Khan understood this
fact very clearly yet during his period Pakistan drifted into war with much larger
India under the circumstances described earlier in the narrative. It was Z A
Bhutto, the then Foreign Minister, who working for US interests involved Pakistan
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into fighting with India. Pakistan Army despite being outnumbered displayed
remarkable courage and fighting skills to stop Indian offensive forces in capturing
their objectives. The conspirator’s aim however was achieved. Ayub Khan’s
position became weak and he was soon forced to leave by organising street
agitations against him.

Indo-Pakistan War, 1971

The events of 1971 related to Army’s operations in some parts of East Pakistan
have been described in detail in this narrative. It would help readers to
understand true nature of the tragedy. Results of 1970 general elections were not
accepted by Bhutto-Yahya duo and the resulting agitation in East Pakistan
suppressed by using Army. A force called ‘Mukti Bahini’ organised by the Indians
started their sabotage activities by June 71 in border areas but their reach was
limited. The general public had not voted for breakup of Pakistan and did not
support Indian sponsored terrorists in establishing sanctuaries in the interior
areas. The population of Bengal was not involved in hostile acts against the
Pakistan Army. Dismemberment of Pakistan was work of rulers in West Pakistan
who accelerated the process by declaring war on India on 3 Dec 71 against
specific advice from Chinese leadership as explained in preceding chapters.

A small force, three under strength divisions totaling about thirty four thousand
troops, was abandoned in East Pakistan to be captured by the Indians.
Preposterous allegations were made against this force which performed heroic
deeds at the individual and unit level against Indians but ultimate result was
according to the plans of perpetrators of that horrendous crime.

Siachin – 1984

In 1984 the Indians occupied Siachin glacier located in vast glaciated areas left
unmarked on the ‘Line of Control’ in disputed territories of Kashmir, being un-
inhabitable by human beings. Pakistan Army went into action to stop the Indians
descending into inhabited areas of Baltistan. Operating on heights ranging from
eighteen thousand to twenty two thousand feet above sea level has caused very
large casualties to troops because of frequent avalanches, falling into crevices,
frost bite and other disabilities related to living in abnormal climatic conditions. At
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the initial stage of deployment of troops in emergency, lack of special clothing


and equipment increased our losses.

Occupation of glaciated areas is a great folly and crime against global


environment, cause of deep concern frequently voiced by environmentalists at
global level. Indian intransigence is impediment in reaching an agreement to
vacate these heights by both sides; a sad reflection on Indian decision making
process where a high altitude Indian tour operator was able to cause this human
disaster as explained in the narrative. Viewed from another angle, continued state
of confrontation with Pakistan posing external threat has helped India to retain its
integrity as a country. Not resolving disputes with Pakistan, therefore in India’s
interest.

Kargil 1999

General Pervez Musharraf as Army Chief decided to occupy certain posts opposite
Kargil in disputed area of Kashmir which were vacated during winters by the
Indians and reoccupied during summers as a routine. From where Musharraf got
this inspiration to launch his private war is a matter of conjecture. There are
claims and counter claims as to the extent of this action being known to the
government or otherwise. However senior officers of the Army, the Corps
Commanders who form decision making body in formal meetings were kept in the
dark, the plan known to a few individuals only. The action evoked violent Indian
response putting the two nuclear armed countries at the brink of all out war.
External threat helped India to stabilise their political situation, forming stable
coalition governments which they were finding difficult to form despite repeated
elections. Here it is suffice to say the Army troops used during the operation
displayed remarkable courage during fighting despite being left without logistic
support.

Operations in FATA, Swat, Malakand – 2004 – 2015

US occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 pushed Al-Qaida linked fighters belonging


to some Central Asian and Arab countries into Pakistan’ tribal areas on our
western borders. Pakistan was forced to send its Army into tribal areas hitherto
manned by Frontier Corps (FC) that needed to be reinforced. The terrorists gained
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control over tribal areas particularly in North and South Waziristan by eliminating
local elders, the ‘Maliks’ and established sanctuaries luring young boys to carry
out suicide attacks in Pakistan.

In 2009, a situation had developed when Islamabad was being threatened to be


occupied by the so called Taliban according to our adversaries’ game plan against
Pakistan. Pakistan Army was tasked to dislodge Taliban terrorists who had
entrenched themselves in the vast mountainous area of Malakand Division, had
reached northern end of Tarbela Dam reservoir and were threatening Islamabad.
Large numbers of religious seminaries in Islamabad were another source of
supplying manpower to support Taliban in case they could reach the capital.
Some of their sponsors were gleefully waiting to occupy Islamabad providing
opportunity to global powers for action to denuclearize Pakistan. There were
reports of foreign forces ready to undertake the mission, conveniently placed
across the Gulf. Inside the country, particularly Islamabad and surroundings there
was large scale presence of organizations like ‘Blackwater’; over four hundred
houses in Islamabad hired to lodge these groups.

The situation was grim, the task daunting and consequences of failure
devastating. The terrorists had taken a few years to come into such threatening
position. uninterrupted by the provincial government led by sympathizing Mullahs
and Musharraf led central government who had abdicated their responsibilities;
allowing some rascals to operate their own radio stations spitting venom and
terrorizing the public in their occupied areas.

Armed with clarity of purpose defined by the national parliament reflecting


national will, the security forces took just about three months to dislodge the
terrorists from vast mountainous areas by imaginative plans worked out by
competent generals, executed by the officers and men with unmatched velour.
No Army of present day world can equal the performance demonstrated by
Pakistan armed forces that completed this operation in amazingly short time.
Large scale casualties of young officers signify intensity of fighting, the success
ensured by the young leaders leading from front. With known capability of
airlifting one infantry battalion at a time, a three times more force was lifted by
helicopters to put on heights occupied by the terrorists. Helicopter pilots who
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started their machines before dawn switched these off by almost midnight, the
limit of human endurance stretched too far. Only Pakistanis could do it. “General
how could do it in three months?” The pain on the face of a member of US
delegation that visited Corps Headquarters Peshawar after the operation was writ
large. This operation neutralized our adversaries’ attempt to denuclearize
Pakistan for the present. Their efforts will continue, demanding constant vigil and
counter measures to prevent it.

After completion of operations in Malakand-Swat during summer months of


2009, the Army carried out an operation in South Waziristan in September 2009
that successfully eliminated most of the human bomb factories, reducing
incidents of suicide attacks. The terrorists shifted to other places in to continue
their operations for some years till another major operation was launched in 2014
in North Waziristan, Khyber and some other areas.

The Army deployed on the western borders, effectively supported by the Pakistan
Air Force is doing hard fighting against desperate terrorists with suicidal mind set
entrenched in difficult mountainous terrain for so many years by now. These
operations, if documented, will be valuable lessons in small unit actions and
counter insurgency operations in worst possible environments. The spirit,
audacity and skill in dealing with situations shown by the Pakistan’s security
forces have thwarted diabolical plans of the global powers to denuclearise,
pulverise and dismantle Pakistan. Their efforts however continue that demand
appropriate counter measures, a continuous work.

Ongoing Operations

On 16 December 2014 a group of terrorists entered Army Public School Peshawar


and went on killing spree resulting in death of about one hundred and fifty
children and the teaching staff. It sent shock waves throughout the Pakistan
jolting the political elite to action. As emergent measure, a compressive National
Action Plan was formulated by the government in consultation with all major
political parties’ leadership. The Army started its much stalled operation code
named ‘Zarb e Azb’ in North Waziristan and Khyber Agencies going into areas
considered inaccessible since ages. Pakistan Air Force made signal contribution in
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targeting terrorist’s hideouts along Pak- Afghan border to help the Army in
clearing and occupying the areas. Next phase of operation nick named ‘Rad ul
Fasad’ is in progress aimed at elimination of terrorism menace from the country
for good. Operations in Balochistan, urban areas of Karachi and rest of the
country are being conducted jointly by the law enforcing agencies. Terror
financing, a major factor in sustaining terrorism is also being addressed to. The
success of operation however will depend on the will of political leadership.

A major impediment in dealing with terrorism is present judicial system that does
not punish theterrorist’s for want of required evidence. There is need to
restructure judiciary that stops being criminal friendly, provides justice so
essential for a peaceful living in the society and can contribute to winning the war
against terrorism imposed on Pakistan.

Army’s Strength

Pakistan Army, being a volunteer Army draws the best Pakistani young men in
each category of its ranks. The Army has overcome its initial imbalance in
induction of manpower, now having representation from all areas of Pakistan.
Structure of the Army, rather the armed forces is built upon the principle that
everyone in chain of command obeys order of the ‘chair’ irrespective of the man
occupying it. This is the cardinal factor without which no force can retain its
cohesiveness. Pakistan armed forces remain a disciplined force by obeying orders
of the command and have a robust internal accountability system which remains
largely intact, recovering from some malpractices creeping in during the period of
Zia and Musharraf’s rule. The crucial element in maintaining an effective fighting
force, however, is the public support which despite focused and sustained smear
campaigns, Pakistan Armed Forces enjoy. Without public support the forces
cannot perform their assigned tasks successfully.

Centre of Gravity

Pakistan Armed Forces remain ‘Centre of Gravity’ of the country for mainly two
reasons. The first reason is our location in a volatile and disturbed region with a
rectangular geographical configuration forming long borders with the
neighbouring countries. This necessitates maintaining strong, well trained armed
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forces. The numerical strength of forces is determined keeping in view the


strength and capabilities of the armed forces maintained by neighbouring
countries. Pakistan is forced to maintain credible deterrence against possible
aggression, a defensive posture not designed or organized to undertake invasion
of its neighbours. The second major reason which burdens the Army with extra
commitments is that other State institutions have failed to develop to a standard,
capable of meeting their responsibilities. Bureaucracy, the backbone of
administration is politicised, the economy despite enormous potential remains in
tatters, judiciary has failed in providing justice to the society, the parliamentarians
remain slaves of the party leaders and the political class has not produced a single
statesman.

Because of this situation, the Army instead of being the ‘last line of defence’ is
immediately inducted to deal with sudden calamities like natural disasters
because the organisations formed to deal with such situations have failed to take
up their responsibilities. The public looks towards Army in helping them in
matters which are basic responsibility of the local and provincial governments like
maintaining law and order. Calls by the public for involving Army to deal with
killings of persons from Hazara community in Quetta (2013) and situation in
Karachi where the political parties forming the government patronise armed
gangs for target killings and other crimes puts increased strain on the Army
already stretched thin on ground. Our enemies have successfully created a
situation where our Army has got committed into fighting within our own
country. Relentless efforts to demoralise and degrade its fighting abilities are
being made through various means including a strong section of media spreading
hopelessness and despair.

It is a universal fact that in every country there is an Army, if not its own, from
some other country. It is because of strength and fighting abilities of our Armed
Forces, drawn from the best of young Pakistani volunteers that our country has
been saved from meeting the fate of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and
Syria during the present times of great turmoil in the region. The people of
Pakistan have to remain vigilant. They must not get influenced by our enemies’
focused efforts to erode fighting potential of our armed forces by negative
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propaganda in demonising the Army. Otherwise we may be condemned to bear


presence of foreign forces on our soil, as we have seen in our neighbourhood and
the consequences of such calamity.

The stages of rise and fall of nations is encapsulated by Allama Muhmmad Iqbal in
his verse which roughly means that nations start their rise when their people are
used to hard life, are courageous in facing dangers, adept in using weapons,
gradually degenerating to a stage when, getting used to luxuries of life they are
left to play with musical instruments instead of weapons.

“Aa Tujh Ko Bataon Main Taqdeer e Ummam Kia Hai?

Shamshir o Sinan Awal, Taous o Rubab Aaakhir”

Our ruling class seems to have almost reached the bottom of pit.The academics
and intellectuals are derisive and scornful in their attitude towards the armed
forces. The general public of Pakistan however has not yet degenerated to the
last irredeemable stage. The challenges and threats posed to Pakistan reinforce
resolve of the common people of Pakistan to fight back. That resolve, given right
direction, is the real strength of Pakistan’s chances of survival and progress as a
nation.
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Overcoming Unrest in Balochistan

Balochistan, about 45% landmass of Pakistan, area wise its largest province is
sparsely populated. Only about 6 million people are living in its vast expanses
because of peculiar geographical conditions although population statistics
continue to be contested by the two major groups, the Pushtuns and Balochs for
obvious interests. Broad distribution of population is that the Pushtuns are living
in the northern and eastern parts contiguous to the tribal areas of Khyber
Pukhtunkhaw (KPK) extending west from South Waziristan Agency. Other parts of
the province are inhabited by Balochs, Barohis, Nowsherwanis (ancient Medes
from Iranian plateau) Jats and Makrani people. Quetta city is mainly inhabited by
Pushtuns, a group of Hazara tribe and settlers from other parts of the country.
Some Baloch families have also moved in western part of Quetta valley during
early seventies.

There is lot of ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity amongst the people living in
the Province that is inappropriately named if ethnicity is taken as basis of naming
provinces. The Balochs in Balochistan are much lesser in number than people of
other ethnic groups. In fact Balochs in Sindh and Southern Punjab are more in
numbers that those residing in areas that are part of Balochistan.

The Province experienced occasional unrest in parts of it since 1948. History of


this unrest starts with Khan of Kalat’s brother, Mr. Abdul Karim Khan’s
disagreement with his brother’s decision to accede to Pakistan. It remained
confined to a small area around Kalat and died down soon without affecting other
areas or tribes. During the early seventies, parts of Marri and Mengal tribes
following their ‘Sardars’; Mr. Khair Bux Marri and Atta ullah Mengal created
unrest in their respective areas when Mr. Z A Bhutto came to power in what was
left of Pakistan after the 1971 war with India. An Army operation was launched in
1973-4 by Mr. Bhutto’s government in Marri tribes’ area and around Wadh –
Khuzdar where a part of Mengal tribe was creating unrest. The situation was soon
brought under control. The Province enjoyed peace for a few decades till the US
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landed in Afghanistan. Since then we are faced with unrest spreading to most
parts of the Baloch inhabited areas of the Province.

Considering the alarming law and order situation in Baloch inhabited areas of the
Province and particularly Quettain recent years, those of us who saw very
peaceful and pleasant environments are at loss to understand why the situation
was allowed to deteriorate to such an extent. My association with the Province
spans over a period of eight years at different intervals in three decades; from the
sixties to late eighties. I first visited Quetta in early Sep 1960. At that time it was a
small, well laid out clean city. The cantonment was spread out in eastern part of
the valley and the city, re-laid after devastating 1935 earthquake, occupied center
of the valley. Main market of the city was Qandhari Bazaar, the famous fruit
market at one end of the Bazaar. Bicycles were main means of movement.
Immaculately turned out men mainly Pushtuns attired in their traditional dress
with Kullah/turbans and waistcoats moved about in the city on their decorated
‘Raleigh’ and ‘Humber’ brand bicycles. The population in the city was Pushtuns,
Hazaras and the settlers from Punjab and other parts of pre partition India who
came at the time of laying the railway network by the British during the last
decades of the nineteenth century. There was no Baloch population in the city
except houses of some tribal ‘Sardars’. The Baloch tribal families were brought to
Quetta when Sardar Atta ullah Mengal became Chief Minister of the Province in
early nineteen seventies.

My next visits to attend courses at the Infantry School were in 1967 and 1969
both times during the pleasant summers. There was no provision of fans in the
living rooms nor were these needed. It is much later, during late eighties that the
weather changed to necessitate not only fans but air conditioners. Jinnah Street
had a couple of cafes, some drug stores and general stores. A Chinese restaurant
located at the end of cantonment limits was mainly frequented by the army
officers and their families doing courses at the Staff College and Infantry School.
One could see a few large American Convertible cars with their open hoods being
driven by sons of some tribal chiefs while Sardar Ata ullah Mengal, Nawab Akbar
Bugti and Sardar Khair Bux Marri would be seen strolling in the cool afternoons on
the pavement of Jinnah Street. Nawab Akbar Bugti was tall and handsome, a very
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impressive man. Quetta was a very peaceful city with efficient police and hardly
any crime

My next short stay at Quetta (Jun-July 1974) was in the re-assembly camp set up
for the returning prisoners of war from India. A few months after that I again
landed in Bugti-Marri tribal area with 53 Punjab (later 18 Sindh), the unit I had
been posted in. This stay ended in April 1975 but I had to come back repeatedly
to Balochistan at different times (1976-77), (1981-85) and (1988-90). My stay in
Balochistan in different capacities gave me ample opportunity to travel the length
and breadth of the province witnessing the transformation from once peaceful
conditions to present unrest.

Balochistan’s problems stem from wrong policies of the Governments at the


Centre and are compounded by incompetence of provincial governments. In
areas inhabited by Baloch tribes, the central government has pandered to the
wishes of few individuals, the tribal ‘Sardars’ giving them funds to keep peace in
their respective areas. The effort to reach out to the people and work for meeting
their basic needs has not been attempted, retaining and strengthening the Sardari
system in Baloch areas.

The hard working Pushtuns being egalitarian society have remained unaffected by
unrest in other areas of the province. They are involved in agriculture and trading
activity, making judicious use of available resources, producing good quality fruit
in some areas. The Baloch mostly are still living a pastoral life tending to livestock
with some exceptions like oasis of Panjgur-Turbat date plantations. Population
along the coastal area spreading to about five hundred kilometers is mainly
engaged in fishing activity to sustain their livelihoods.

The thinly populated, resource rich Baloch inhabited areas of the province remain
a lucrative target of the world and regional powers. First the Russians had
cultivated Baloch young men who kept displaying emblems of Azad Balochistan
on their car plates but the Russian physical thrust from the north petered out in
Afghanistan. US occupation of Afghanistan helped in starting insurgency in parts
of the province from bases in Afghanistan where the Indians joined the effort to
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support elements working for Azad Balochistan. Plans of creating ‘international


strategic corridor’ toaccess Central Asian energy resources also were in the news.

Our Army, under attack from domestic front, is already committed in operations
within our own country. Apart from commitments in FATA, the troops that were
inducted for operations in settled areas of Malakand – Swat have not yet been
relieved by the civil administration. Propagating that there is Army operation in
Balochistan is to give a wrong twist to the prevailing situation; where the Frontier
Corps (FC) an Interior Ministry force, is being employed by the provincial
government. Provincial Government formed in 2008 which has now been
replaced after 2013 elections, comprised of almost all the tribal leaders. All of
them were either ministers or advisors with no opposition in the assembly. They
failed to bring peacefulliving conditions in the province because of disinterest and
incompetence; some of the ministers accused of being involved in the crimes like
abduction for ransom.

Akbar Bugti

Nawab Akbar Bugti’s death in 2006 was used to expand and energise unrest. The
effort failed. There were a number of questions. Who persuaded the aged Nawab
to go into a cave in Marri tribal area which is otherwise off limits to Bugtis due to
tribal feuds? Who were projecting him to be the Commander-in-Chief of the
Balochistan Liberation Army, raining missiles on gas installations, damaging rail
and power lines? And most important is that those Army officers, who died with
him in that cave, were they wearing suicide jackets to blow up themselves? Who
triggered that explosion in the cave?

The answers to these questions can be found in recollecting the situation that
Akbar Bugti had created for himself. He had exiled a good part of his tribe, some
of their men killed and their lands and properties confiscated. A faction led by Mir
Ahmadan Khan Bugti, his cousin from his Raheja sub tribe was forced to live in
Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan areas for over a decade. In early 2006 the Army
helped about twelve thousands of them to return home. These tribal people
wanted Akbar Bugti to be tried by tribal Jirga and executed for his crimes. After
fierce clashes between the two factions Akbar Bugti fled to the mountains in the
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Marri tribe’s area chased by Mir Ahmdan’s men and was trapped in a cave.
Instead of surrendering to Mir Ahmdan he asked to see Army officers to negotiate
his surrender. Five Army officers led by a Lieutenant Colonel went into the cave
unarmed to negotiate but that was a trap for them. A powerful explosion caused
death of all those inside the cave including Akbar Bugti. Apparently he committed
suicide unless some other evidence is revealed as to who triggered that explosion.
Akbar Bugti was certainly not killed by the Army.

A man who claimed to have killed his first man at the age of twelve died a violent
death in circumstances of his own choosing. With him he caused death of many
others. Projecting him as a hero or a victim is to distort the facts.

Missing Persons

A powerful section of media has used the issue of ‘missing persons’ to malign the
Army and intelligence agencies. Glib tonged anchors on TV programs and hired
pen pushers in print media have continued the campaign for years. The real story
of these missing persons is that since last many decades i.e. since the USSR was
supporting Baloch separatists, some young men established their hideouts known
as ‘Ferrari Camps’ in different parts of the Baloch inhabited areas. In 1983-85
when I was serving at Quetta there were over thirty ‘Ferrari Camps’, some of
these just across Murdar Range from where rockets would occasionally land in
Quetta Cantonment area. Since they were not much of threat and also that
security forces did not have adequate manpower to comb through these areas,
they were left undisturbed. During recent years some people have gone over to
Afghanistan where they get funds, weapons and training for sabotage activities in
Balochistan. For their families all these persons living in ‘Ferrari’ camps and
Afghanistan are supposed to be ‘missing persons’. Some of them died natural
deaths, got killed in internal feuds or lately during skirmishes with troops of FC
Balochistan that is portrayed and projected as a great crime committed by
security forces.

Problem in Balochistan can be easily overcome if effective steps are taken to


reach out to the common people to meet their essential needs. The main
grievance against the Centre is that Balochistan’s resources have been exploited
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without giving due share to the Province. The example is of Sui gas which was
discovered in early fifties but living conditions in the area did not improve. Here
the Government was giving money to the tribal leader instead of reaching out to
the people to improve their conditions. The tribal leader, Mr. Akbar Bugti never
spent that money on the people of the area because he never wanted change in
status quo that would challenge his authority. If even a fraction of that amount
was spent to improve conditions of the people, all the basic needs of people
would have been met and the area transformed with modern facilities provided
for. The money was mostly spent on patronizing night clubs in Karachi by Bugti
brothers in fifties and sixties when Karachi was enjoying a vibrant night life
comparable if not better than Beirut in those times.

This practice of enriching individuals continued by successive governments; for


example in 2012 the government provided two hundred and fifty millions rupees
to each member of the provincial assembly for development work in their areas.
As there is no check on the manner of spending this money, it mostly goes into
personal coffers of the members instead of any benefit to the communities.

To overcome the unrest, there is a need to make some basic changes in pattern of
governance particularly in the Baloch inhabited areas. Following measures will
resolve the problems;

 The whole Province should be declared ‘A’ Area. Large parts of the Province
under the administration of ‘Sardars’ with their own forces, the Levis
responsible for law and order in ‘B” Areas should be brought under normal
policing and judicial system.

 Local Governments must be made functional without delay to involve the


people in managing their affairs. This step will erode influence of separatist
elements depriving them of their main propaganda themes of deprivation
and denial of rights.

 Each union council should be allocated a reasonable amount as non-


lapsable grant on yearly basis to be spent by the communities according to
‘Community Development Methodology’ to meet their basic needs. If
Rupees ten crore (of the year 2015 value) are allocated to each Union
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Council, this amount comes to fifty seven billion for the 567 union councils
of the Province. It can be easily made available from the annual budget of
the Province.

 The old scheme of establishing about six small army cantonments in the
area must be revived. Mere placing of Army in the area will help in
stabilizing law and order situation, deter any adventurism by foreign forces,
make social services like health and education accessible and contribute to
overall economic progress for the people of these areas.

 Part of income from mineral resources of the Province should be spent in


the area from where these are extracted. This will meet the major demand
of people of the area.

 To counter external forces stoking unrest in the area, there is need to build
up regional linkages with Russia, Central Asian states, Iran, Afghanistan,
China and India for developing trade and energy corridors benefitting the
region. China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC) is one project that on
successful completion can bring positive change in the lives of people of the
areas.
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The Question of Provinces in Pakistan

Pakistan, the largest Muslim country of the world could not maintain its integrity
mainly due to inequality of the size of provinces, a fault line that was exploited by
its enemies to achieve their aims. In 1971, Pakistan was fragmented into two
parts just before completing twenty five years of its existence. Remaining Pakistan
continues to face the same problems with increased complexity.

Sitting in a small mud fort at Sangsila in the wilderness of Bugti Tribal agency in
early 1975, I used to ponder over the fact that while the unrest was confined to
Marri Agency and some area around Wadh – Khuzdar, two small pockets of the
vast province of Baluchistan, why was it being projected as revolt of the whole
Province against the State of Pakistan. Having been repatriated from India shortly
before that and having firsthand knowledge of how a small active group could
achieve its objectives with outside support, the thought was most disturbing.

The need of forming smaller provinces was advocated by many people at


different times. Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan suggested forming of about
twelve provinces. General Zia ul Haq who replaced Z A Bhutto could have resolved
the problem but he was more concerned about fighting the Russians in
Afghanistan and had no interest to take up domestic issues. In 1984 while serving
at Quetta I was required to suggest topics for discussion by officers during a study
period. I included the question of forming smaller provinces in my suggestion. My
immediate senior Colonel (later Brigadier) Nazar Abbas who had recently come to
Quetta after serving in General Zia ul Haq’s Chief Martial Law Administrator’s
(CMLA) Secretariat got suspicious as if I had suggested this topic on someone’s
behest. He told me that this was a very sensitive issue pending with the CMLA
Secretariat and how I had come to suggest it for discussion. It took some effort to
convince him that I had thought of it on my own because of my observation and
experience in Balochistan. The topic was excluded from subjects for discussion.
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Background of the Present Provinces

In 1947 when Pakistan came into being, the large province of Bengal was being
divided, its eastern part becoming erstwhile East Pakistan. Punjab, stretching
from River Indus to River Jumna, then being ruled by the Unionist Party
government who were not in favour of Pakistan was also being divided, its
western portion becoming part of Pakistan. The Frontier Province less tribal areas
was going through referendum on the issue of joining Pakistan or otherwise.
Baluchistan had multiple arrangements of governance i.e. British ruled areas,
tribal agencies, different states like Kalat, Kharan, Mekran, Lasbela and others. It
got the status of province much later. Only Sindh province existed in its present
form and its assembly passed the resolution to join Pakistan. The provinces were,
therefore, unequal in sizes of population and geographical expanse which needed
to be addressed by the new country.

In 1956, when the first Constitution worked out by the Constituent Assembly of
Pakistan was adopted after much deliberation and delay, the present day Pakistan
was one of its two provinces. The province of West Pakistan was created by
amalgamating existing provinces, states and tribal areas made into One Unit. The
province was effectively administered by a Governor assisted by a small team of
ministers. The administrative tiers in the province were the Commissionaries, the
Districts and Tehsils. Later the Union Councils under Tehsils were formed during
Ayub Khan’s period. No change was made in this set up of two units, West
Pakistan as one unit and East Pakistan the other in the second constitution
adopted in 1962. Life in the late fifties and early sixties when this arrangement
was in place was the only period when bulk of the population of this country lived
in peace and relative prosperity as there was almost 100% employment. It was a
liberal, tolerant, happy and contended society till the 1965 War with India and its
aftermath which disrupted Pakistan’s progress as a model for third world
countries.

Just before the elections of 1970, General Yahya Khan the President/Chief Martial
Law Administrator, whose decisions were bereft of logic or reason because of his
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well known shortcomings, ordered fragmentation of the West Pakistan Province


into four parts. At that time there was no popular demand for this break up
except from some nationalist elements particularly Wali Khan’s Party that had
opposed creation of Pakistan. This decision was a surprise because the public
demand was only for adult franchise instead of a small number of Basic
Democrats electing the President. Reportedly Yahya Khan took this decision
during a dark night at the behest of Mr Wali Khan who reportedly used the
services of President’s brother, a police officer in Peshawar to get the One Unit
dismantled. A decision taken after years of deliberations by parliamentarians who
formulated the fisrt Constitution of Pakistan, the decision that was not tempered
with even in second Constitution of 1962 was ripped apart through a decree by a
drunkard dictator. The consequences of that decision is creation of a large class of
parasites occupying provincial assemblies and governments devouring national
resources, indulging in devisive politics as main impediment in national
integration and progress towards desired goals of political stability and economic
strength of the State.

Parochialism fanned for decades in the name of provinces is also illogical as these
names are no more relevant. Punjab is no more ‘panj-aab’ the land of five rivers.
Two of its rivers are with India along with half of the land. Pathans are not
confined to Khyber Pakhtun Khaw. They have their properties and businesses all
over Pakistan. There are more Balochs in Sindh and Punjab than in Balochistan
and Sindh flows in all parts of Pakistan, not just downstream from Guddu.

Is Pakistan a Federation?

Today, those who harp on terming Pakistan as ‘federation’ comprising ‘federating


units’ need to revisit our not very distant history. ‘Federation’ defines a country
consisting of individual ‘states’ that have control over their own affairs but form
part of a central government that is left with a few subjects in its jurisdiction like
external affairs, currency and defence. Pakistan was not formed by any
'federating units’ if we refer back to the conditions in 1947 as explained above.
Pakistan came into being through ‘The Indian Independence Act 1947’ that
partitioned British India into the two new independent "dominions" of India and
Pakistan. The main clause of the act is;
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"Division of British India into the two new and fully sovereign dominions of India
and Pakistan, with effect from 15 August 1947"
Large scale migration of population took place on both sides; original inhabitants
of the land migrating on the basis of religion. That does not happen in forming
‘federations’.

Pakistan has to be a unitary State with central legislative and devolved powers at
different tiers of the administrative units like provinces, districts, tehsils and union
councils. Repeated use of term 'federation' by many people over the last few
years is ominous development. This makes it easier for our enemies to further
fragment Pakistan if a provincial assembly is bribed to pass a resolution to secede
from Pakistan. To forestall such possibility there is need to make basic change in
our constitution to resolve the issue.

1973 Constitution

After 1971 war when we lost East Pakistan, a new constitution was adopted in
1973. This constitution was adopted more because of pressure of prevailing
environment resulting from breakup of the country rather than merit of the
document itself. The assembly that passed this constitution had no mandate to
do so. The members of that assembly had been elected for the National Assembly
of Pakistan who refused to attend Assembly proceedings, forcing a crisis which
led to breakup of Pakistan. After that break up, a constituent assembly should
have been elected through fresh elections to frame constitution for the new
country but that was not done. Those people who had no mandate to draw up a
constitution and were guilty of contributing to break up of Pakistan produced a
flawed document that left many things undecided for the future in the form of
concurrent list etc. Numerous amendments have further distorted it. According to
some people Mr. Z A Bhutto wanted to change it into presidential form for which
he went into early elections to get two third majority in the parliament. His
scheme failed due to rigging and the consequences. Now this document is only
good for unending debate on its interpretations.

The Problem
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The 1973 constitution did not provide solution to the genuine concerns on the
inequality of the size of provinces and other problems posed by different
nationalist groups within the country. The political government formed in 1973
soon clashed with two provinces, the NWFP (now KPK) and Baluchistan, dissolving
provincial governments and imposing governor’s rule in these provinces. This was
followed by an armed uprising by Marri and Mengal tribes in two small parts of
Baluchistan. The central government was ultimately overthrown by the Army in
1977. The constitution could not prevent successive martial laws nor could it save
its initiator from the gallows despite its article 6.

If we study the systems of other developed and developing countries of the


world, we will find that we are unique in maintaining a governance system which
can only lead to misrule. It is a system designed for paralysis which we are
experiencing. No country, roughly equal to Pakistan in geographical and
population size throughout the world, has so large provinces with such a large
number of legislators, ministers, advisers, chief ministers, governors etc, creating
a class of oligarchs, who rule for personal gains at the cost of common citizen’s
interests.

The Solution

Whereas large unequal provinces provide a cause to secessionist elements


facilitating their work in fragmenting the Country, small size provinces, like in
Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and other medium size countries of the world; would
effectively eliminate the threat of further disintegration of Pakistan. Nigeria,
facing religious based secessionist war in Biafra Region in 1960s solved this
problem by forming smaller provinces. A look at the administrative divisions of
some other countries would give a clear insight:-

Country Area (Sq km) Population Provinces/States


Afghanistan 647,500 32,738,755 34 provinces
Iran 1,648,195 70,472,846 30 provinces
Iraq 437,072 28,221,181 18 governorates
Bangladesh 147,570 153,546,901 6 divisions
Egypt 1,001,449 80,335,036 26 governorates
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France 547,030 59,765,983 26 regions


Germany 357,021 83,251,851 16 states
Indonesia 1,919,440 230,512,000 30 provinces
Italy 301,230 57,715,625 15 provinces
Norway 324,220 4,525,116 19 counties
Pakistan 803,940 167,762,049 4 provinces
Philippines 300,000 92,681,543 80 provinces
Poland 312,655 38,625,478 16 provinces
Saudi Arabia 1,960,582 23,513,330 13 provinces
Spain 504,782 40,077,100 17 autonomous areas
Sri Lanka 65,610 21,128,773 8 provinces
Sudan 2,505,813 36,992,490 25 states
Switzerland 41,290 7,301,994 26 cantons
Syria 185,180 19,747,586 14 provinces
Thailand 514,000 65,493,298 76 provinces
Tunisia 163,610 10,102,000 21 governorates
Turkey 780,580 67,308,928 81 provinces
Ukraine 603,700 48,396,470 24 provinces
United Kingdom 244,820 59,778,002 114 counties

The solution of our problems lies in making basic changes in the administrative
structure of our country aimed at effective governance responsive to the needs of
common citizen. These changes are outlined in the following paragraphs.

District Governments

Basic unit of governance should be the present DISTRICTS. The district


governments should function according to Local Governments Ordinance 2001
removing some anomalies and laying down clear responsibilities for meeting basic
needs of a citizen like food, shelter, education, health, security and justice at the
local level. The Union Councils, provided with resources should be made
responsible for ‘Human Resource Development’, the district providing physical
infrastructure and technical input. Provision of timely justice should be ensured to
maintain order and counter extremism in the society. Senior judges placed at the
Union Council level, with their offices open twenty four hours, investigating teams
under command and police on call, should be made responsible to dispense
justice instead of acquitting the accused persons because of inadequate or
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nonexistent evidence. For this, the rules of business need to be changed, the
judge reaching out to the victim rather than the victim struggling to get justice.

The Provinces

Smaller provinces should be formed named after principal cities that would
eliminate chances of fanning ethnic and parochial biases and concerns.These
provinces would be almost equal in size of geographical expanse with limited role
of providing support to the district governments. In these provinces there is no
need of provincial assemblies, the ministers, advisors and chief ministers. The
provinces should be headed by governors assigned with a limited, clearly
specified role of supporting the district government in maintaining law and order
and provision of justice. For this purpose, the governors assisted by a small staff
team should select, enroll, train and provide police and judicial staff to the
districts. The laws are made by the National parliament. There is no need to make
laws at different tiers increasing the number of law makers, a class of parasites
devouring national resources.

The Central Government

The central government should retain ten to twelve ministries responsible to


formulate and implement national level policies, rest all the responsibilities being
passed on to the provinces and district governments.

The Tribal Areas, AzadKashmir and Northern Areas

The Tribal Areas should be integrated into the new system as districts, eliminating
their status of tribal agencies. Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas should also
function on similar pattern that is the Union Councils as hub of development
activity and the Districts responsible for effective management and provision of
services to the people.

The Parliament

The National Assembly and the Senate should concentrate on their job of
legislation, deliberate on national issues to help the government in formulating
and implementing sound, well considered policies. They must not be involved in
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development work by providing them funds which is cause of corruption and their
interference with functioning of local governments.

Role of the President

The President as Head of State is guardian of the State’s establishment. While the
Governments keep changing, it is the State’s establishment that provides
ownership of state’s policies and continuity in functioning of State. The
governments of the time decide polices that are implemented by State’s
institutions, the ‘establishment’. State functionaries working according to rules
and regulations are effective check on any mismanagement, misappropriation or
misuse of State’s resources. The President has to ensure that all State institutions
work according to rules, are provided with job security and protected against
pressures to commit illegal acts from Government bodies.

The Parliament should elect a suitable person as the President whose main
responsibility is to ensure that State’s establishment works effectively according
to well defined parameters and an appropriate judicial structure in the country is
in place that functions effectively providing timely justice to the citizens. The
President should appoint suitable persons as heads of the State instititutions and
judges at different tiers and supervise their performance. His chain of functioning
will be through the provincial governors appointed by him with limited role as
defined in preceding paragraphs.

Presidential versus Parliamentary form of government

Disillusionment with the inept and corrupt political governments which came into
power at intervals between the dictatorial rules has raised doubts on the
suitability of parliamentary form of government itself. Debate on the need of
doing away with our present form of government and going back to the
Presidential system continues. Any system can work well if the people running it
are honest and competent. The parliamentary system can have effective checks
and balance in exercising power provided the President as Head of State is vested
with well-defined responsibilities mainly that the State institutions function
effectively according to rules and regulations. The Governments elected by the
people make decisions that are implemented by the State institutions.
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In our circumstances as the division of powers and responsibilities causes friction


due to attitudes of individuals, the presidential form of Government is more
suitable as already tried and tested. It was only during the years of President Ayub
Khan’s rule that people of Pakistan enjoyed peace, prosperity, job security and
unprecedented overall development in a short period of time. The President,
directly elected by the people of Pakistan will be better placed to provide the
country with required political stability, resuming path towards progress. A new,
simple, few pages Constitution instituting presidential form of government; a
directly elected President, with about thirty provinces sans assemblies, effective
local governments and restructured judiciary seems a better option to recover
from the downwards slide the country is in.

Advantages of forming smaller Provinces

The proposal to work through effective local governments, to form small equal
provinces sans assemblies with a limited role in governance and a lean central
government as outlined above will bring following major advantages:-

 It will meet the demands of sub national groups, eliminating threats of


further breakup of the Pakistan as experienced in 1971 by removing causes
of discontent, neutralising propaganda themes like hatred against
Punjabis developed by our adversaries for a long time. The new provinces
will be named after principal cities to eliminate the causes of possible
agitation and protests on ethnic or linguistic basis.

 It will bring the desired level of political stability. The parties winning
national level elections will be able to form stable governments at the
center without having to make compromises to form provincial
governments.

 It will reduce the overall number of legislators, end their involvement and
interference in administration. At present, if we take a constituency of
national assembly seat, there is one member of National Assembly (MNA)
and two to three Members of Provincial Assemblies (MPAs) supposed to
make laws for the citizens. Practically they hardly do anything except
interfering in the functioning of district governments to improve their
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position for next election and amass assets, pocketing a good part of
money allotted for development works. Removingone tier, that is at
provincial level and redefining the role of legislators at the national level
will help in effective functioning of local/district governments.

 Disturbances and discontent in an area would be isolated, promptly


addressed and problems easily resolved without affecting other areas.

 The role of Governor of the provinces to support the district governments


in maintaining law and order by providing required force and in
dispensation of justice by maintaining effective judicial structure will
establish inherent checks and balance, restricting chances of district
governments in going overboard.

 Responding to the aspirations and genuine needs of the people of Pakistan,


facilitating them in solving their problems at local level and ending
acrimony on divisive issues, will act as catalyst to our progress and
strengthen us as a nation.

Method to Affect Change

The change can be brought about by following methods:-

a. The Parliament can affect the change by mustering required majority to


make constitutional amendment.

b. The change can be made by holding a referendum on the subject.

c. A political party fights elections on this issue demanding from the public
to provide the party with required majority to bring constitutional
amendments about these basic reforms.

d. To overcome resistance in making any move on the issue, effective local


governments are to be formed first. When these governments, provided
with resources and empowered to decide their own priorities on
meeting essential needs start delivering, the question of provinces can
then be taken up and change affected without much opposition.
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New Provinces Suggested

The present provinces of Pakistan are cause of political instability and potential
threat to the country’s survival as explained. Having considered the matter in
some detail, a list of suggested provinces based on administrative considerations
is being given below. This list is not exhaustive. In this, ethnic identities do not
change and any opposition or resistance on this account will be merely playing
politics and not be justified. A Sindhi will remain a Sindhi if he is part of Sukker,
Hyderabad or Larkana Province and so would be other nationalities which do not
change due to forming smaller provinces named after principal cities. However,
the reasons for bringing about this change will have to be explained to the public
through well articulated, effective campaign.
Malakand Hazara Peshawar Kohat Bannu
Dera Ismail Khan Rawalpindi Gujranwala Lahore Sargodha
Faisalabad Multan Bahawalpur Dera Ghazi Khan Zhob
Sibi Naseerabad Quetta Kharan Chaghi
Panjgur Kalat/Khuzdar Bela/Awaran Mekran Sukker
Larkana Hyderabad Mirpur Khas Gilgit Sakardu

These provinces will be headed by governors with a limited, clearly defined task
of supporting the district governments in maintaining law and order and provision
of justice. The governor will be assisted by a small staff team to do the job. There
will be no need of assemblies, ministers, chief ministers and advisors at the
provincial level. Thus the numbers of law makers will come down from present
about twelve hundred to about four hundred and forty two i.e. limited to the
strength of Senate and National Assembly.

Tribal Agencies and Frontier Regions will be absorbed into the adjoining new
provinces as districts.

For Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan status quo is to be maintained till
conflict on this issue is resolved through UN or negotiated settlement with India.

Reducing number of ministries at the Centre and eliminating ministries at the


provincial level will render a large number of government employee’s surplus.
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Some of them would be absorbed in the new provinces and the district
governments but most will have to be given golden handshake. Initially for some
time they may have to be kept on the pay roll without work till their disposal is
finalised.

The above proposal is summarised as:-

 Strengthen district governments by providing them required resources and


making them responsible to ensure that a citizen’s basic requirements like
food, shelter, education, health, employment, security and justice are met
at local level, his problems not going beyond the district in any case.

 The present large unequal provinces are replaced with small equal
provinces sans assemblies and ministries. Such small, equal provinces
named after principal cities are headed by governors with specific mandate
of supporting the district governments by selecting, training and providing
police and judicial staff to the districts. The governor is assisted by a small
team and there is no need of assemblies, ministers and chief ministers etc.
Tribal areas are integrated in the new system. Northern Areas and Azad
Kashmir maintain status quo till solution of Kashmir dispute with India.

 The Centre retains only ten to twelve ministries, dealing with matters of
national concern. Rest all responsibilities are transferred at the district
level. The National Assembly and the Senate concentrate on their job of
legislation, rather than the member’s interference in the affairs of local
governments.

In 1973/ 74, the unrest in Baluchistan was confined to Marri tribal area and a
small pocket of Mengal tribe living in area Wadh near Khuzdar. The whole
Pashtun belt, the coastal belt, the vast areas of Chaghi, Kharan, Turbat, Panjgur,
and the plains of Sibi, Nasirabad were not interested or affected in any way. If the
provinces had been formed on the lines suggested above, the problem could not
have aggravated to present proportions. In the smaller administrative units the
grievances could easily be addressed, troubles and trouble creators isolated and
matters resolved. Considering that the Baloch inhabited areas of Balochistan are
not densely populated, the government could meet the requirements of the
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population by directly reaching out to the communities, helping them in


sustainable livelihood programmes, planned and implemented by the district
governments, instead of doling out money to local Sardars and Waders.

Pakistan of 1947 could not survive even for twenty five years. Remaining Pakistan
continues to face threat of further disintegration mainly due to unaddressed
concerns of different regions. The proposal suggested in preceding paragraphs
provides a comprehensive solution to resolve our basic problem which must be
done without further prevarication to put Pakistan on the path to stability, peace,
progress and prosperity.
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307

Local Governments and Community Development

Our major political parties have never been interested in forming effective and
empowered local governments. The political party leaders enjoy their powers
through highly centralised and personalised dispensation of these parties. They
are fearful of losing their influence when problems of people are addressed at the
local governments’ level. It is for this reason that the local bodies have functioned
under the much maligned dictatorial rule, starting with President Ayub Khan’s
Basic Democracy to Zia ul Haq’s Local Bodies and Musharraf’s Local Government
Ordinance 2001.

Since every new government scrapped old systems instead of building upon them,
there was no continuity to consolidate the local government system. The latest
effort, the Local Government Ordinance 2001 introduced during Gen Musharraf’s
regime produced mixed results. In those districts where the Nazims worked with
some degree of honesty, there was visible improvement in the area. Since the
programme was discontinued soon as the political government took over, the full
benefits of this system could not be realised nor its results correctly measured.

Effective Local Governments

To carry the process forward, there is need to build upon the Local Government
Ordinance 2001. A major shortcoming in this ordinance is lack of laying down
clear responsibilities to meet essential needs of the people. Building upon the
existing system, the present Union Councils should be provided with adequate
resources, say annual non lapsable grant of Rupees 100 million to start with (2015
currency value)for catering to basic l needs of the people by adopting ‘Community
Development Methodologies’. These governments must ensure;

Provision of Sustainable Livelihoods. No citizen should die of hunger, not forced to


sell children or commit suicide. Although every citizen is responsible to earn
livelihood for himself and his dependents, when a person finds it difficult to meet
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his responsibilities he needs help. Widows, orphans, old people unable to work
and persons with disabilities must be helped to meet their essential needs of life.

Given the responsibility and provided with resources in the form of grants and
local taxes, local governments must devise solutions according to their peculiar
circumstances. For example, in Punjab, Sind and parts of KPK where agriculture is
basic means of sustenance, the local governments can organize cooperatives like
small dairy and livestock projects making people shareholders with initial
investment through grants or soft loan, thus not hurting self respect of the
people. In large parts of Balochistan raising livestock and horticulture with input
from experts will increase employment and incomes.

There would be a need to emphasize on the people that if they face any problem,
President or Prime Minister is not supposed to take notice. The solutions to their
problem must be sought at local government level.

Shelter. Every family must have suitable shelter. Housing even at the village level
must be planned to save fertile agricultural land going to waste.

Health, Hygiene and Sanitation. The local governments should be responsible for
providing essential health , hygiene and sanitation services including provision of
clean drinking water. Every citizen must get medical cover in time of need. A
comprehensive health policy at the national level would cater to the
infrastructure needs of population by providing basic health units and hospitals at
appropriate levels. The local governments should oversee the functioning of staff
and provision of medicines.

Education. The local governments should ensure that every child, male or female,
in their respective area is provided basic education and chance to pursue higher
studies/technical education. Performance of teachers and educational institutions
must be monitored.

Security. Peaceful atmosphere must be ensured by cubing criminal activity in the


area using the local police. The local councilors must know every person living in
their area of jurisdiction. No terrorist should remain sheltered amongst our
population.
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Conflict Resolution and Provision of Timely Justice. Prompt and timely justice
must be provided to victims of any crime committed. Restructuring of present
judicial system and revising procedures is needed to ensure that a judge, provided
with essential tools like investigating team(s) placed under him and the police at
his call is made responsible to provide justice. Details of changes suggested in the
system are given in a separate chapter.

Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Work of all the NGOs and other
organisations/ institutions on poverty alleviation measures and provision of social
services must be made part of overall plans of the local governments. No NGO
should be allowed to work without permission of the local governments.

Countering Extremism. To maintain peace, the local governments must have


control of the mosques ensuring that no hate speech is delivered from the pulpit.
In Islam there is no appointment of ‘Imam Masjid’. The prayers are to be led by
the rulers and elders of the community. Till the professional/paid Mullahs are
made to find some other job, their activities should be monitored. The only paid
staff for the mosque should be those who are to keep the premises clean and
maintained.

The requirements of the community should be met by adopting a holistic, all


encompassing, integrated approach by adopting the process of community
development practices as outlined in succeeding paragraphs.

Local Government Elections

Elections for the local governments are responsibility of the Election Commission
of Pakistan. Holding of these elections at one time demands large scale
administrative and logistic arrangements. To facilitate holding local government’s
elections in a transparent manner, these elections should be staggered district
wise, completing the process in a province in a couple of weeks. The elections
should be held on non-party basis. That will help in electing the best suited people
from all parties as well as those who are willing and can deliver results in
community development work while remaining above party affiliations.

Expenditure on Elections
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A major factor in increasing corruption in political system is the expenditure on


election campaigns by the candidates. On being elected they indulge in financial
corruption and embezzlement of State funds to recover their money spent and a
lot more. To solve this issue, the expenditure on modest election campaigns
should be borne by the political parties through their funds and not the
individuals contesting election. Main strength of campaign should be the
manifesto/program of the party fielding the candidates. Guidelines by Election
Commission should be provided to restrict the expenditure and a strict check to
ensure implementation. The same criteria should apply to elections for the
National parliament and provincial assemblies (till present provinces are replaced
with smaller provinces that will not have assemblies).

Community Development

Community development (CD) is a broad term applied to a structured


intervention that gives communities greater control over the conditions that
affect their lives. Exhaustive literature is available on the practices, experiences
and results of community development efforts all over the world since last about
two hundred years.In Pakistan a successful model of community development is
available in the form of Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in Gilgit-
Baltistan area. According to Mr Shoaib Sultan Khan, the pioneer in organising
development work of AKRSP in Norther Arears,"Secret of rural development lies
in unleashing the power and potential of the poor. That can only be done by
organising the poor under honest leadership from within themselves".

Efforts by the Government to replicate that model have not succeeded mainly
due to lack of commitment and other inadequacies.

Without going into the details of this very vast subject, suggested methodology to
implement community development projects is as follows:

 Community development should be the main responsibility of the local


governments to be planned and supervised at the union council level.

 The development programmes should cover rural areas as urban areas are
being adequately managed through the civic bodies.
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 Village is taken as unit for community development programme.

 The programme should cover essential aspects of the community needs like
sustainable livelihoods, health, education,water and sanitation etc.

 A motivator/CD professional at each union council equipped with the


background knowledge and leadership capacity is tasked to initiate the
process. Local Government Ordinance 2001 provides for such appointment
at the Union Council level.

 The CD professional arranges meetings of the villagers to discuss their


needs. Lot of motivation and skill will be needed to make this first step a
success considering the quality of our human capital mired in ignorance,
jealousy and feuds. Once this first step meets success further process will
become gradually easier.

 The villagers are asked to discuss their needs and suggest solutions/plans
and financial estimates to meet the needs.

 The plans should cover the arrangement of funds as to how much will be
contributed by the community and how much funds can be arranged from
external sources.

 Each household contributes an amount according to its capacity to


undertake the project. This gives the community sense of ownership of the
project and will contribute to its sustainability.

 Based on the discussions the plans for different projects are finalised
starting with smaller, easier to accomplish and less expensive projects.

 Implementation of the projects is undertaken by the community through


local contractors in a transparent manner to eliminate any chance of
financial irregularity.

 The village management committee/ citizen community boards (CCBs) are


entrusted with the responsibility for maintenance and sustainability of the
project.
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 The NGOs interested to work in the area should coordinate their activity
through the respective Union Councils to integrate their work towards
overall objectives of the development effort.

To conclude, the responsibility to ensure that essential needs of the population


like food, shelter, health, education, security and provision of justice are being
met should be the responsibly of the local governments. Union Council should be
hub of all development activity, overall coordination being done at the District
governments’ level.
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Provision of Justice

The prevalent system has completely failed to provide justice to the people of
Pakistan. Even in the present wave of terrorism, the terrorists who kill dozens of
people in broad day light have not been punished because the system is criminal
friendly, contributing to protect criminals resulting in increase of all kinds of
crime. The process starts when a person who commits crime hires the services of
a lawyer that is mandatory. The first advice that a criminal gets from the lawyer is
to deny having committed the crime. The lawyer then works to exploit loop holes
in the system, gets the process delayed, gets the witnesses compromised and
finds faults in evidence etc. Fully knowing that his client has committed a crime
even like murder, the lawyer tries to protect his client from being punished. The
same lawyer in due course becomes the Judge and reaches to the highest
echelons of judiciary, his whole professional life spent in falsehood and protecting
criminals for a fee. The lawyers charge their fees going into millions depending on
the nature of the cases and the clients, maximum money extracted from mega
fraud cases, all to protect the criminals, thus promoting crime. The judges with
such background are also prone to be bought to get favourable decisions.

On the other side, the victims of crimes are subjected to multiple blows.If
someone is murdered his traumatised family is required to approach the police to
lodge a report. If they succeed in lodging a correct First Information Report (FIR)
which is first obstacle to be crossed by paying hefty bribes to the local Police, the
victim’s family is subjected to police inquiry. It is up to police to prepare the case
for trial in the courts whether they do it right or leave lacunas to be exploited
later. When this stage is reached the aggrieved party is required to find a suitable
lawyer to plead the case before the judge. The judge is not concerned with
provision of justice. He is only concerned with the evidence presented to him.
This evidence mostly is not there because no one wants to earn enmity of
criminals.

All this process requires lot of money which the aggrieved parties cannot afford.
The justice or injustice has virtually to be bought. Thus the system has completely
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failed to provide justice to victims of crimes and is in urgent need to be


restructured and replaced.

This system must be restructured as suggested in the following lines:

Lower Courts

 High powered judges are appointed at the Union Councils in rural areas and
a cluster of Wards in urban areas. These judges, selected for character,
integrity, courage and highly paid by the State should be empowered to
decide the cases of all crimes including serious crimes like murder.

 They should be assisted by specially trained investigation team(s) placed


under them for carrying out on the spot investigation.

 When a crime occurs in the area, it should be promptly reported by the


local councilorto the Judge’soffice that should remain open twenty four
hours. Failing to report an incident within specified time by councilor
should be crime liable to punishment.

 The judge on getting the information should promptly send his


investigation team to crime scene to record on the spot evidence. He may
also visit the area if he considers it necessary.

 The investigation teams should prepare a summary of evidence based on


which the trial should commence without wasting time. During trial,a
lawyer appointed and paid by the State should assist the judge on legal
points if required. Trial must conclude within days not even weeks.

 Local police, tasked to assist the Judge is used to apprehend the criminals.
They do not have any role in investigations.

 For the cases relating to property and financial transactions, the judge
should form tribunals to decide these cases promptly. Members of
tribunals should paid honorarium from the State funds.

 The judge should be made responsible to provide justice, not dispose of


cases acquitting criminals for lack of evidence, benefits of doubts and other
315

technical excuses. The victims should not be made to buy justice, a double
tragedy, and virtually no justice despite an elaborate infrastructure
provided by the State.

 There is need to introduce punishments specifically given in the Holy Quran


for the serious crimes like murder. This step will drastically reduce crime
from the society.

Tiers of Judiciary

 The tiers of judiciary should be reduced to make the system effective. A


senior judge with maximum powers to award punishments including death
penalty is provided at the scale of one for each union council/equivalent in
urban areas as suggested above. Basically he is the person to ensure that
justice is provided to victims of crimes and aggrieved parties. Appeals
against his decisions should be heard at one step above only i.e. at the
district level. Appeals for pardon in death penalty should be decided by
provincial governors and not the President of Pakistan.

 At the provinces level,the High Courts should take up cases of white collar
crimes and cases offinancial corruption that adversely impact efficient
functioning of the State.

 At the Centre, the Supreme Court should hear appeals against the High
Court’s decisions and take up matters related to constitutional
interpretations if required. The Supreme Judicial Council responsible to the
Head of State should provide guidance in functioning of the judicial system.

Under the revised system being suggested above, the present lot of lawyers will
find themselves out of the job of earning their livelihood through protecting
criminals and promoting crime. Some of them, selected on merit, can get adjusted
in the new system as judges and as assistants to the courts, being paid by the
State. Rest of them must find other occupations that gives them honest living.
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317

Outline of a New Order

Ah, Love; could thou and I with Fate conspire

To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,

Would not we shatter it to bits and then

Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire;

(Omar Khayyam translated by Edward Fitzgerald)

Pakistan’s geo-strategic location and its intrinsic strength in manpower and


resources brought it under focus of global forces right from the time it emerged
on the world map in 1947. After the two World Wars in first half of twentieth
century, the imperialist power’s control over different parts of the world was
replaced by a cabal of global capitalists, who have effective control over the US
governmet and its policies. They control money supply through banks like US
Federal Reserve, World Bank, International Monitory Fund, Asian Development
Bank etc. Based in New York (Wall Street)-London (City District) they conduct
their affairs through US and British Governments and their intelligence agencies.

The Global Capitalists, through their embedded agents gained control over
Pakistan’s decision making process, using it as pawn on chessboard of their global
games. First bolstered to contain communist threat, then cut to size for easier
management, used in dismantling USSR and then a battle ground in US invasion of
their ‘Af-Pak’ theatre of operations, the country has been adversely affected in
catering to global powers interests. Because of external manipulations and
serious internal imbalances aggravated by dishonest and incompetent ruling
classes, the country continues to be a fragile State threatened by further
fragmentation and dismemberment.
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Before suggesting a course of action to neutralise threats and recover from the
spin, a brief recount of Pakistan’s journey from the perspective of a common
citizen who was part of this voyage would be in order;

 Although Pakistan had joined western camp in the post-World War II


balance of power arrangements, the US governmet, the main tool of global
capitalists found our Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan not pliable
enough to follow the given line and therefore he was murdered. Frequent
change of rulers after him got Pakistan into joining formal pacts like SEATO
in 1954 and Baghdad Pact (re-designated as CENTO) in 1955 against
perceived communist threat from Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
and China.
 Overcoming initial hiccups, Pakistan made unprecedented overall progress
in a few years under Ayub Khan’s rule. The country and its people enjoyed
great prestige in the world. Ours was a tolerant and liberal society, high on
the scale of peace, satisfaction and happiness in life.
 As President Ayub Khan wanted global capitalists to remain ‘FRIENDS’ and
‘NOT become MASTERS’, (his autobiography is titled FRIENDS, NOT
MASTERS) devilish plans were unfurled to remove him. Mr Z A Bhutto, the
most effective operative of global powers played pivotal role in first getting
Pakistan into war with India in 1965 starting a proess that culminated in
break up of Pakistan in 1971. Cut to size for easier manipulation, the
country was used for next phase of the global games.
 In their quest to impose capitalist system of economy in the entire world,
the Capitalists dismantled USSR by getting them involved in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s tribal region was used as launching pad for resistance against
USSR. General Zia ul Haq who had replaced Z A Bhutto played leading role
in organising the war against USSR.
 After successful completion of their mission, the US abandoned
Afghanistan. A decade later they came back with US and NATO forces into
their ‘Af-Pak’ theatre of operations when Afghans under Mullah Omar
became impediment in their plans to lay oil and gas pipelines through
Afghanistan. Controlled demolition of Twin Towers in New York on
September 11, 2001 was made an excuse to occupy the region. In the same
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thrust, Iraq was invaded to get control of its oil resources using false
accusation that the country had weapons of mass destruction.
 Before physical occupation of Afghanistan, General Musharraf, a ‘liberal’
was brought in power to facilitate US occupation of Afghanistan by
providing transit facilities, air bases and dismantle Jihadi networks created
under Zia ul Haq regime, some of whom had got settled in our tribal areas.
His first task was to help India in overcoming a grave political crisis, a
preparatory move by western powers before launching operations to
occupy Afghanistan. India was falling apart after 1996 general elections
when it could not form a government at the centre even after repeating the
process in 1998 and was yet again to go for elections in 1999. Genral
Musharraf launched ‘Kargil Operation’ without the Government or even the
senior commanders in the Army knowing about it. External threat blown
out of proportion thus helped India to manage internal crisis. Pakistan’s
position as responsible nuclear state got severely damaged. It became
easier to manipulate Pakistan.
 Musharraf was shown the door when no longer required. He was replaced
by Zardari-Gilani duo, one convicted by Swiss courts for money laundering
and the other having spent a few years in jail for his wrongdoings. These
imposed rulers put Pakistan into deep pit of loans that requires the largest
chunk of Pakistan’s annual budget in debit servicing. The amounts of loans
taken by Zardari and Nawaz Sharif Governments from Global Banking
octopus, exceeded the amount of loans accumulated in all the previous
years, thus placing Pakistan’s economy in oxygen tent. The loans seem
mere paper transactions because there is nothing on ground in the form of
development projects where these huge amounts could have been spent.
 Nawaz Sharif’s Government was imposed through massive rigging in May
2013 elections. Mr. Najam Sethi, as caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab took
care of election results as desired with help from Iftikhar Chawhdhri led
judiciary that provided returning officers for these elections. Najam Sethi
has a history. In one of the TV interviews General Aslam Beg an ex-Army
Chief came out with the information that when he was commanding a
Brigade in Balochistan during early nineteen seventies, Najam Sethi who
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came to Pakistan in 1963 from India was actively involved with Baloch
insurgents fighting against Pakistan Army.
 Finance Ministers of Pakistan, some of them World Bank employees have
mostly worked for global capitalist’s interests. The present one, Mr Ishaq
Dar involved in money laundering for Sharif family during the past has been
placed as all important Finance Minister. Ishaq Dar is closely related to
Nawaz Sharif, his son having married Nawaz Sharif’s daughter. In his first
stroke within a month of taking over as Finance Minister, he doled out four
hundred and eighty billion rupees to the gang owning Independent Power
Projects (IPPs). This energy dealer’s gang helps the rulers to make
enormous money in kickbacks from deals like Rental Power Projects and
import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) using the excuse of emergency
measures to overcome energy shortages. In actual fact the installed
capacity of power generation is more than our present requirement but
since the owners get capacity charges for idle capacity, the plants are not
producing electricity according to their full potential. Energy shortage is
deliberately created to make fresh deals for making money through
kickbacks by rulers disregarding people’s miseries, damage to national
economy, reduced industrial production and high cost of energy making the
industrial products uncompetitive in international market.

Weakening of State Institutions

The State institutions, collectively called ‘Establishment’ are implementing tools


of State policies decided by the Governments of a country. While the
governments keep changing, the State institutions, working according to the rules
and regulations formulated by the State, provide continuity in functioning of the
State. Major components of the Establishment are the bureaucracy that
implements policies formulated by the Governments, the judiciary that ensures
provision of justice to the society creating peaceful living conditions, the law
enforcing agencies like police to maintain law and order and the armed forces to
counter external threats. An efficient and strong ‘Establishment’ is essential for a
State to survive.
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In our parliamentary system, the President is Head of State. It is his job to ensure
that State Establishment remains effective and functional. Unfortunately that has
not happened in Pakistan. The parliamentary system adopted in ‘New’ Pakistan of
Z A Bhutto systematically destroyed the civil services and national institutions by
making these subservient to Head of the Government i.e. the Prime Minister
rather than remaining as servants of the State of Pakistan. The Presidents during
Bhutto’s and Sharif Governments were weak persons looking up to the Prime
Ministers for survival in office. This has made the State of Pakistan weak and self-
serving individuals of different hues strong.

The only element of ‘Establishment’ still left to be destroyed is the Pakistan Army
that miraculously survives despite consistent efforts by Bhuttos, Zardari, Sharifs
and their foreign backers. A major effort to demonize Pakistan Army has been
made by a strong section of Pakistan’s media in its wild and disruptive talk shows
and poisonous writings. Staged during prime time, television programs have
fortified public ignorance about the role of State institutions, the ‘Establishment’
that every State needs to function. Instead the media has tried to reinforce wrong
perception, restricting use of term ‘Establishment’ only for the Military in
negative connotations.

Need of Basic Reforms

After brief review of our journey thus far, we can understand that Pakistan
urgently needs basic reforms. Essential steps as suggested in following paragraphs
can help the country to stabilize, removing looming dangers and threats to its
survival as a State, resuming the path to stability, peace, progress and prosperity
in the lives of its citizen.

Objectives

• Unbridle people’s potential by involving them in decision making


at local level in utilization of available resources for development
and improvement of their living conditions.
• Restructure judicial system that can provide prompt, speedy
justice to the society.
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• Remove causes of conflict by taking appropriate measures to


address divisive issues; mainly the question of unequal size
provinces and related problems.

Implementation framework

Stage One - (Time required - One year)

Following measures need to be taken to start with:

 Make the local governments effective according to Local Government


Ordinance 2001 with some amendments.
 The Union Councils should be made hub of human resource development
with substantial annual non lapsable grant to be spent according to
prioritization of work by the members of Union Council. In present i.e.
2017’s worth of currency, allocation of Rs one hundred million (Ten Crores)
per Union Council per year should be adequate amount to start with. It
comes to about 650 billion rupees that can put people of Pakistan all over
the country to work with vigorous zeal in improving their lot.
 Provided with resources, the Local Governments should be made
responsible to implement sustainable livelihood programs to ensure that
essential needs of people i.e. food, health, education, shelter, security and
justice are met. Poverty alleviation programmes being run by the
Centre/Provinces and work of all kinds of Non-Government Organisations
(NGOs) should also be integrated and merged with Union Council’s
programmes for development.
 Tehsils should maintain and constantly update records of all kinds of land,
people, resources, livestock etc as ready reference for planning. District
Gazetteers maintained during British rule could be taken as a guide.
 The Districts to provide and maintain infrastructure like
school/college/university buildings, link roads as well as technical input and
support to Union Councils through the departments working at District
level as at present.
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 Restructure the judicial system to ensure that the State takes the
responsibility to provide justice, rather than the victims searching for
justice. In revised system, high powered, highly paid judges are appointed
at Union Council/equivalent level. Offices of judges remain open twenty
four hours where incidents are reported by victims/councillors. The judges
send investigating teams placed under them on crime scene to record
summary of evidence based on which trial is conducted and prompt
punishments awarded. Police, placed on call of the judge is used to
apprehend wanted people. The decisions should be reviewed only one step
upwards that is at the district level. Provincial governors dispose of mercy
appeals. High Courts at the provincial level should only deal with white
collar crime and mega financial scandals. The Supreme Court review High
Court’s decisions and take up constitutional interpretations where needed.
The Supreme Judicial Council provides guidance for running the system.
Out of the present lot of lawyers, some suitable get adjusted as judges,
some as court assistants paid by the State and the rest to find other jobs for
honest living.

Stage Two - (Time required - Two to three years)

Equal Provinces

The most divisive issue is unequal size of provinces and the continuing vicious
propaganda against Punjab, the larger province. Even when Punjab was not the
largest province, a well-orchestrated vilification campaign against Punjabis was
effectively used by our enemies for disintegration of Pakistan. The Bengalis abuse
for people from West Pakistan, liberally used was ‘Sala Punjabi’. The theme is
effectively being used even today.

After the local governments are functional and start delivering services to the
public as envisaged, the issue of provinces can then be taken up. There will be less
chance of playing politics on this issue by politicians, agitators and disruptionists
when the public gets their problems resolved at the local level.

To remove this basic cause of conflict:


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 Replace present provinces by about thirty to thirty five almost equal size
provinces. The provinces are named after principal cities to eliminate
raising linguistic and ethnic concerns.
 These new provinces should be headed by Governors assisted by small staff
with limited, well defined role of supporting district governments in
maintaining law and order and provision of justice.
 There is no need of assemblies, hordes of ministers, chief ministers and
advisors in these small provinces.
 Integrate FATA/FR into provinces as districts. Azad Jammu and Kashmir,
Gilgit and Baltistan retain present status till final outcome of the efforts in
resolving this issue.

Effective Judiciary

Judiciary has fundamental role in creating conditions for peaceful life in the
society. To that end, the judges should be selected carefully on the basis of strong
character, imposing personalities and learning. They should be well remunerated
by the State to obviate need of corrupt practices in meeting their essential needs.
The selection can be made from present cadres of judiciary and the lawyers’
community that has some capable people ready to work for honest living and
respectable role in the society.

Proficient Administrative Cadre

A strong cadre of able administrators is required to implement policies and


programs decided by the Governments. The State employees wrongly referred to
as government employees are servants of the State. The difference between the
State and the Government must be clearly understood to prevent politicisation of
administrative machinery of the State. The President as Head of State is custodian
of State institutionsis. He is responsible to ensure that these institutions function
according to rules and regulations without fear of being victimized due to political
and personal interests of rulers. Service rules, selection, training, employment,
postings, transferers should be the domain of Presidential Secretaiate to
eliminate chances of politicisation of State establishment. State employees
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should be well paid and their service rules should provide them protection from
victimisation.

Land Reforms/Land management

Land belongs to Allah, control of lands has to be with the State and people are
users of land, not owners. With this basic principal as guiding factor, the State
should carry out fresh land reforms, resuming control of excess lands in
possession of individuals. The East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act of
1950, also known as the East Pakistan Estate Acquisition Act 1950, passed by
Government of East Pakistan would be a good guide. This bill was drafted as early
as in March 1948 and passed on 16 May 1951.

A comprehensive scheme for use of land should be worked out to give


employment to landless peasants, the land given on lease by the State. Control of
lands and the sub soil resources like oil, gas and minerals will be with the State of
Pakistan. No royalties will be doled out to individuals.

Harnessing Water Resources

There is pressing need to formulate and implement national water resources


management plan to harness available water resources for optimum utilisation
and minimise damage from seasonal floods. Water storage dams and lakes at
suitable places have to be built to store water for use according to agricultural
needs, production of cheap electricity and environmental safeguards.

Improving Economy

In addition to fomenting terrorism in Pakistan by Zionist-Hindu combine and


potent external threat from India, a major risk to our survival as a State has been
posed by burdening the State with enormous loans that the criminal rulers have
obtained during the last about eight years. There is nothing on ground to show as
to where these loans have been spent. The loan amounts seem merely paper
transactions. Nearly half of Pakistan’s annual budget is going into debit servicing
leaving very little for meeting essential needs of the people and development
projects. This needs to be checked and countered.
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As a first step Pakistan should reduce/defer payment of interest on loans. The


money thus saved should be used for human resource development, harnessing
the country’s water resources for agriculture and developing hydro power
projects. Sustainable livelihood programs at gross route level by local
governments and cheap energy for industrial use will help economic recovery.

Possible sanctions by western powers can be countered by meeting shortage of


energy requirements from Iran and Russia. Increasing domestic production of oil,
gas and energy resources, preventing misuse and theft, rationing of critical items
and strict controls over wastage of resources will help to counter coercive
measure by western powers if applied.

Expenditure on Elections

A serious issue is politics made into a lucrative business. To eliminate this curse it
is essential that the candidate offering themselves for elections do not spend
their own money to get elected. At the level of Union Councils elections the
communities can pick up their representative during consultative sessions held in
mosques without getting into exercise of voting through ballot boxes. For district
councils and National Assembly elections the Political parties should bear the
expenses on elections of their candidates from their party funds. In the suggested
system, the provinces as administrative units will not have an assembly thus
making the electoral process simpler and economical. Main strength of election
campaigns should be manifesto and programs of the parties rather than personal
efforts of the candidates to win votes by spending money on lavish meals, favours
and buying votes. Election expenditure should be strictly over watched by the
Election Commission.

Summary

The overall scenario that should emerge from these changes in ascending order is
envisioned as follows;

 Union Council, provided with resources and delegated responsibility, will


serve as hub of ‘Human Resource Development’ and will ensure that
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essential needs of the people are met. No one goes hungry, every child gets
education and every patient gets required medical treatment free of cost.
 Effective judicial system, by placing high powered judges at Union Council
level and revising judicial process as explained in preceding paragraphs will
provide timely justice to ensure peace in the society.
 Tehsils Headquarters will be responsible for revenue collection and
maintaining uptodate records of lands, population and statistics of all kinds
on the pattern of Gazetteers maintained during the British period.
 The main coordinating headquarters will be the District. A strong team of
government officials, posted at the District, Tehsil and Union Councils levels
will implement decisions. Selected on merit and adequately remunerated,
bureaucracy will be effective tool to run the administration, providing
continuity in government’s functioning. The Districts will provide and
maintain physical infrastructure for educational institutions, health facilities
and link roads.
 About thirty to thirty five provinces sans assemblies headed by Governors
will be in support role of the district governments for maintaining law and
order and provision of justice. Enrolment and training of police and
selection of judges will be done at the provincial level. The provinces will be
named after principal cities to eliminate chances of playing politics on the
issue using ethnic and linguistic excuses.
 The National Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) will take up issues
of national concern and carry out required legislation. Allocation of
development funds to legislators introduced by General Zia ul Haq will be
abolished.
 A lean Central Government, unencumbered from mundane affairs of local
politics will pursue national policies formulated with input from the
Parliament and national institutions.
 The President as head of State will ensure that State’s interest is not
compromised by Governments in their decisions. His tool to keep check and
maintain balance will through reformed judiciary working under him. He
will ensure that judicial system in the country works effectively at all tiers
down to the lowest level. Appointments of provincial governors, chief
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justices of Supreme Court and provincial high courts, commanders of the


armed forces, Chief Election Commissioner and Governor State Bank of
Pakistan will be President’s domain. While the political leadership will form
the Governments responsible to make decisions, the President will ensure
that State institutions, the ‘Establishment’ functions effectively to
implement decisions taken by the Governments according to rules and
regulations without compromising transparency and merit.

Pakistan Army – The Instrument of Change

Present political class ruling the country is not likely to bring about essential
reforms that disturb status quo. They are perpetrators and beneficiaries of
corrupt system that keeps the masses poor, helpless and downtrodden.

Change along the lines suggested above can come from a political movement
championing these basic reforms if voted to power in required majority to amend
the Constitution. Under the prevailing circumstances that seem a remote
possibility. The workable option is for the Military leadership to take up the
challenge. Army High Command should work out a comprehensive plan and
implementing methodology. This should be presented to the Prime Minster and
his cabinet. If the Prime Minister and his government are unwilling to carry out
reforms, then the President of Pakistan should be asked to impose emergency,
dissolve parliament, remove governments and initiate the process of changes
with full backing of the Army ignoring Constitutional constraints that can be dealt
with later. The people are most likely to welcome and support the changes to get
free from the strangulating grip of corrupt mafias ruling the country.

The President of Pakistan as Head of State, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
of Pakistan and Military leadership have to play crucial role when the political
leadership fails to deliver in guarding interests of the State and its people. Taking
bold steps to carry out basic reforms will enable our country to recover from
downwards slide it has been put into during the last so many years.
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Epilogue

So much remains unsaid, unwritten and unknown because people, the characters
of this continuing drama of life are generally disinclined to make the effort. For
me it was a difficult undertaking but as I stated at the outset, as victim of the
ruler’s crimes, spending over two years in Indian Prisoners of War camps for no
fault of mine, my aim was to expose lies about East Pakistan situation in 1971 that
the villains of this tragic drama spread to befool our people. Our young
generation has a right to know the truth. I have made an effort to tell what I saw
and experienced.

Pakistan of 1947 did not survive even for its first twenty five years after emerging
on the world map. The main characters involved in breakup of the country and
the reasons for their diabolic schemes have been given in this account. Remaining
Pakistan, despite being blessed with abundant natural resources, variety of
terrain, manpower of great talents and unique geographical location remains
under threat of further disintegration because of our corrupt and incompetent
rulers.

The global capitalist elite working through US administration have deep influence
in our country’s affairs. Our finance ministers have been mostly nominated by
global banking sector. Living in the Indus River basin, we are being served drinking
water by Nestle and Pepsi and the largest portion of annual national budget goes
in debt servicing to the international financial institutions and local banks.

A silver lining is in the emerging alliances of global and regional powers that
would be to Pakistan’s advantage. US launched war on the region after 9/11 farce
has reached a point where it has to be wounded up. The US has to change its
policy from use of force to negotiations with majority Pushtun section of Afghans
mischiviously dubbed as ‘Taliban’ who are deprived of representation in
government at Kabul after US occupation of the country since 2001. A peaceful
and stable Afghanistan is in the region’s vital interests in developing linkages for
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trade and energy corridors between Central Asia, Russia, India and emerging
markets of African continent. US policy makers cannot continue to block China
and Russia in getting access to Arabian Sea and beyond. Converging interests of
China emerging as global power and resurgent Russia will help in creating
conducive environments for developing trade and energy corridors in the region
that will greatly benefit Pakistan in managing economic and security problems.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is precursor to more such initiative and
agreements with other countries in need of using transit facilities through
Pakistan.

Our main problem is the corrupt and incompetent leadership. A burning desire for
change felt by bulk of our population, particularly the youth will result in
improving our conditions. A sincere, honest and capable leadership will find
regional environments favourable to put Pakistan back to path of progress,
stability and peace.

Having served the country for best part of my life, I pray for Pakistan as a
peaceful, prosperous and stable country; ending with the beautiful words of an
Urdu verse by late Mr. Ahmad Nadim Qasmi praying to the Almighty Allah that
“life should not be a crime or a burden for even a single person of my land”.

“Khuda Kare Kay Mere Ik Bhi Hum Watan K Liye,

Hayat Jurm Na Ho Zindagi Wabal Na Ho”


(Ahmad Nadim Qasmi)
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Annex A

List of 34 Punjab Officers in East Pakistan- 1971

The officers who served with the unit in counter insurgency operations and the
War with India during the period from April to Dec 1971 are listed below. These
were the men, each one of them towers of strength for men under their
commands, a fine and courageous lot who proved equal to the task.

 Lt Col Hafeez ur Rahman, 8th PMA (CO till July 71)

 Lt Col Amir Muhammad Khan, 11th PMA (CO July 71 onwards)

 Maj Muhammad Hafeez Raja 2IC, 2nd OTS ( Senior to the COs, joined the
unit at Transit Camp Karachi in April 71)

 Maj Muhammad Saeed Azam Khan, 28th PMA (Coy Commander A Coy)

 Maj Khurshid Ahmad Mallal, 28th PMA (Coy Commander B Coy)

 Capt Nazir Ahmed, 2nd War Course (Coy Commander C Coy, promoted Maj
in June 71)

 Capt Nisar Hussain Bukhari, 2nd War Course (Coy Commander D Coy,
promoted Maj in June 71)

 Capt Zahidul Islam, SJ, 36th PMA, (Joined the unit at Thakurgaon for a short
period before he got posted to 18 Punjab where he earned his SJ)

 Capt Jawaid Anwar Cheema, 38th PMA (Adjutant)

 Capt Muhammad Jamil, 12th War Course

 Capt Shafiq Sarwar Malik, 40th PMA, (Quartermaster)

 Capt Muhammad Ijaz, 14th War Corse

 Capt Mian Bux Baloch, 15th War Course


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 Capt Muhammad Afreen, 16th War Course

 Capt Zahid Nawaz Janjua, 18th War Course

 Lt Moin Nawaz Warraich, 43rd PMA

 Lt Abdul Waheed (Shaheed, Oct 71 near border in Thakurgaon Sector), 22nd


War Course

 2/Lt Abdul Ghafoor (Shaheed), 23rd War Course (Martyred on 11th April 71,
first day of the operations enroute to Narsinghdi)

 Lt Muhammad Saeed Tariq (Shaheed), 24th War Course (Martyred on


13 Dec 71 at Panjbibi)

 Lt Qaswar Naseer, 44th PMA

 2/Lt Syed Muhammad Arif, 45th PMA

 2/Lt Ghulam Abbas, 46th PMA

 2/Lt Salman Syed Muhammad, 47th PMA

The officers of the unit who were serving in East Pakistan during that period in
other formations were:

 Maj Muhammad Safdar, 6th PMA (HQ Eastern Command as DAAG)

 Capt Muhammad Zafar Khan, 37th PMA (Serving in Scouts)

 Capt Asif Ali Rizvi, 3rd War Course (Serving in East Pakistan Civil Armed
Forces (EPCAF) at Cox’s Bazar. He escaped becoming POW by crossing over
to Burma, was awarded TJ, but on repatriation of POWs Brig Atta
Muhammad Malik made out a case against him that he should have come
to Chittagong as per orders. Later he was divested of the award)

 Capt Mehboob Ahmad, 6th War Course (Sta HQ Chittagong)


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334
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Annex B

Extract from the statement of Air Marshall Inam ul Haque Khan

An informal account by Air Marshal Inam-ul-Haque Khan (Retd), HJ, Former Air
Officer Commanding East Pakistan,

Saga of PAF in East Pakistan – 197114

"President Yahya Khan held fair and free elections in December, 1970 in which
Awami League of Shaikh Mujibur Rahman won a majority largely due to his Six-
Point manifesto. National Assembly was to hold its first session in Dacca on 2nd
March, 1971. It was, however, sabotaged by vested interests of West Pakistani
establishment and some leading politicians, who were not willing to accept a
Bengali-led government. Postponement of National Assembly strengthened the
secessionist movement in East Pakistan, duly supported by India. Violent civil
disobedience ensued throughout East Pakistan immediately, resulting in
casualties including death of students in a Dacca hostel due to shelling. Army was
forced to retreat to cantonments for avoiding bloodshed. The situation was bad
demanding careful and intelligent handling. After about a week, when the
disobedience had simmered down, Yahya and advisors reached Dacca and held
final talks with Mujib on around 20th March for a couple of days. It was then
agreed that Yahya will retain the Presidency and, honouring the outcome of
election, he will transfer power to Mujib. Yahya, vacillating as ever, swayed by the
ill-advice of leading politicians of West Pakistan and his own military junta, to ‘sort
out these bloody Bengalis’, resorted to use force in starting on 25th March, 1971,
instead of implementing political solution reached with Awami League – a
complete betrayal of trust.

After the war, the Government of Pakistan established a Commission headed by


Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan Mr Hamood-ur-Rahman with just and

14
Available at http://imranhkhan.com/2009/11/17/saga-of-paf-in-east-pakistan-1971/
336

truly needed Terms of Reference to look into political, economic, social,


administrative, bureaucratic, military, etc, causes and factors which led to the
debacle. Later, the government of the day and civil establishment, apprehending
incrimination, restricted the Terms of Reference and confined these to only the
military factors, thus making armed forces the scapegoat for all the misdeeds of
past and present rulers, political leaders and the establishment. Hamood-ur-
Rahman Commission (HRC) gave their verdict on East Pakistan debacle in 1974,
but the report was never shown to us who underwent interrogation. Some years
ago, “Declassified portions of HRC report – text 28” published by DAWN on
February 4, 2001 dealing with the role of PN and PAF, which came to my notice
recently. A few statements therein needed clarification. In this saga, inter alia, I
have given the rationale of some of our actions which fell short of HRC
approval.………

Army on Shaky Grounds ……..

During this period of early April 1971, Army units kept on pouring in from West
Pakistan by PIA, flying around Sri Lanka. PIA Boeings were faster and had a quick
turnaround. These troops arriving Dacca had only their rifles with them, leaving
behind weapons such as machine guns, mortars, etc. They had no training,
whatsoever, in jungle or guerrilla warfare. They were ill-dressed for the terrain of
East Pakistan. Instead of gum boots or ammunition shoes, they had only the
cheap brown Bata canvas shoes, which might have been suitable for PT but not
for jungle warfare. They had only light parkas to protect them from incessant rain.
One had to see the gear of Indian soldiers, what with gumboots, proper leather
shoes, rain-coats, etc. We felt sorry for the plight of our soldiers. On reaching
Dacca, they were immediately rushed to far-flung posts strung along the border,
in a strange, hostile environment. …….

The situation in East Pakistan remained adrift throughout summer, with minor
skirmishes with Mukti Bahini, and a few cases of bombing/blasting railway line,
bridges, etc. PAF continued with air support and rescuing troops whenever they
were in a fix. A PAF C-130 transport airplane stayed in Dacca for the first two
months, rushing troops where ever needed in an emergency, operating most
professionally from remote strips…….
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Pak Army continued the defence of fixed posts all along the border till the very
end. The GHQ in Rawalpindi was giving false hopes to our Eastern elements and,
we constantly heard of silly reports of ‘reinforcements by Yellows from North and
Whites from South (aircraft carrier)’. War Orders for forces in East Pakistan had
clearly stipulated gradual retreat to Dacca Bowl on opening of hostilities. This was
totally ignored, which might have helped a better outcome, as will be shown
later. This policy of holding onto the posts along the border resulted in
considerable casualties to our troops.

Nobody Listening

In 1971, during my couple of visits to West Pakistan, it was shocking to see a life
of fun and frolic at parties, totally oblivious of the war-like situation of their
brotherly Wing. The adage that ‘a General has to feel the heat of battle for proper
decisions’ was meaningless, given the distance between the two wings which was
warping a correct appreciation of the situation and thereby, decisions. This
distance of 1,000 miles across India was further multiplied three times due to via-
Colombo routing after over flights had been denied by India, following a self-
staged hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft.

By third week of April, Mukti Bahini insurgency was almost routed, providing an
opportunity to resolve the issue politically – the only method to keep Pakistan
intact, to some extent. In the third week a high level delegation visited Peking. On
return they stopped at Dacca. Our Foreign Secretary Mr Sultan Muhammad Khan
was a member of this team. I knew him from China where he was our
Ambassador in 1966-68 and I was the Air Attaché. I met and told him that a
breather is available for serious resolution of the issue. He replied “Bhai wahan
(meaning Yahya and his coterie) to koi sunta he nahi aisi (logical) baat”.

The Government did appoint a helpless Governor Malik, without any authority; it
was just a smoke screen for a political solution, a very difficult issue requiring
hard decisions. The situation kept on drifting with no decisive act by Pakistan in
sight. On the other hand, Indians were seriously preparing for war, along with full
diplomatic propaganda about a large number of Bengali refugees in India,
atrocities by Pak Army in East Pakistan etc. They were concurrently giving
338

training, arming Mukti Bahini and launching military actions against us. With dry
weather suitable for military offensive approaching in Bengal, Mrs Gandhi Prime
Minister of India was itching and looking for an excuse to attack.

In November, a mission comprising of the Services Chiefs and led by Chairman


PPP Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Peking. The Foreign Secretary S M Khan, being an
old China hand, was also a member of the team. On its return, the team briefed
President Yahya Khan but excluded Sultan Muhammad Khan. In 1974, on my
return to Pakistan from a POW Camp at Jubbulpore in India, I met S M Khan and
asked him about the team’s visit to China just before the war. He related that
Prime Minister Mr Chou En Lai met the team at dinner. According to Mr Khan, Mr
Chou En Lai continued the whole night with his analysis of world opinion
regarding the developing situation in the Sub-Continent, especially with respect to
Indian aims. This meeting continued till the morning, when Mr Chou said he will
discuss the matter with Chairman Mao Tse Tung and meet the team again at
dinner. In the evening Mr Chou En Lai further elaborated all the related factors
and, by morning he summed it up in a brief gist. Mr Chou, in his arguments and
analysis, made somewhat of a pyramid of these from ground upwards, ending up
at the apex with a concise plan of action. For our team it was,

“DO NOT PRECIPITATE WAR AS THE WORLD OPINION IS TURNING AGAINST


INDIA. IF NECESSARY, TRADE TERRITORY FOR TIME”.

Being a civilized person, he formally added at the end, total friendship and
support for people of Pakistan. The leader of Pakistani team offered no words of
thanks or gratitude. Being an ex-China hand and seasoned diplomat, S M Khan
took upon himself to thank the PM for his very apt and useful advice. Sooner they
came out of meeting, Bhutto rebuked him for thanking the Prime Minister for
advice, and said “Sultan, what do these Chinese know of Indo Pakistan affairs.” S
M Khan said at once that he was not sure as to what message will be conveyed to
Yahya Khan. When I enquired from S M Khan as to what message was actually
conveyed to President Yahya from this last China trip, he said that he was not
taken to the Presidency, but General Peerzada was present in the briefing to the
President and I could ask him. This I did, who confirmed that Bhutto only
conveyed general remarks of Mr Chou En Lai about friendship and support for
339

people of Pakistan; the specific advice for not precipitating war was intentionally
not conveyed. Clearly, the PPP leader had his own agenda, which he could not
achieve in 1965………

Aftermath

During the summer before the war, the Chinese Counsellor came to my office,
emphasizing the need for a political solution rather than military. But the visit by
IG Police, East Pakistan along with Commissioner Dacca during the war was
strange to say the least. Knowing fully all the shortcomings, conditions and
handicaps, they surprisingly said, “So Air Commodore ‘your army’ is incapable of
defending the country.” This was most unbecoming of these high officials and I
nearly threw them out. Later both, after foregoing their Pakistani citizenship,
approached the UN representative for shelter in Hotel Pearl Continental (declared
as neutral area), but the request was rejected, forcing them to stay in the
Cantonment. Ironically, after the war one of them became Secretary Interior,
Government of Pakistan!

The war lingered on with assurances of aid from North and South. The policy of
fixed defence along the border was henceforth to continue, no retreat to Dacca
Bowl, as stipulated in War Plan, was to be attempted officially. Diplomatic efforts
were also being made in and outside UN with some solution like retaining both
East and West Pakistan intact within a Confederation. It was not to the liking of
the PPP leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who wished for a quick unconditional defeat in
Dacca at the earliest. That is why the War Plan of retreating to Dacca Bowl was
not allowed, as it may have prolonged the war and delayed surrender, allowing
more time for a possible peaceful resolution, retaining the integrity of Pakistan.
When detailed to lead the mission to UN, he took his own sweet time enroute,
hoping for an early surrender in the mean time. In the Security Council he played
the drama of scornfully tearing the notes pertaining to the only sensible Polish
Resolution and walking out angrily. He had put up a similar drama in UN Security
Council in 1965 when he dashed out after calling the Indian Foreign Minister
Swaran Singh a dog. S M Khan, who was the High Commissioner in Canada at the
time and was a member of the delegation, had to follow him. On getting out of
the chamber he turned to S M Khan and said ‘dekha sain kaisi acting keeti hey’.
340

This time in 1971 it was an encore. That walk-out ended all hopes of one
Pakistan………

Before 16th December, hardly any Bengali was visible anywhere, but from that
morning onwards they started pouring in large numbers from nowhere onto the
airfield, streets and were present in great number at this ceremony. Mukti Bahini
were thrashing and killing non- Bengalis even during the ceremony while nearby
Indian troops made no attempt to stop the carnage. A small group of Mukti Bahini
approached and addressed me, ignoring the Indian Air Commodore (my escort)
standing beside me, and said “thank you Sir for liberating us from the Pakistani
barbarians”. When I replied that I am one of those barbarians, they got perplexed
and slipped away.

For a couple of days after surrender, the Indian GOC of the formation investing
Dacca allowed us to retain our arms, as the Mukti Bahini had started sniping at
our personnel in our Camps. Our men retaliated and killed a few snipers. This
could have flared into a serious problem, so I went to the Indian GOC for
restraining the Mukti Bahini from provocative shooting. The Indian GOC was
occupying the office of General Niazi, sitting on his chair while Niazi was sitting on
one side and, without any remorse, telling jokes and laughing. On my request, the
Indian GOC called in Brig Shahbeg Singh and asked whether the Mukti Bahini
could be restrained. Shahbeg hurriedly consulted Tiger Siddiqui, (Commander,
Tangail Mukti Bahini) who was standing in the veranda outside, and reported back
that they would not be able to comply. The GOC then ordered Shahbeg to
accompany me to the Base, where the latter contacted the Officer Commanding
of an Infantry Battalion to sort out the sniping. On reaching the office, the
Battalion Commander was called in and assigned the task. During this period
Shahbeg Singh told me that he was in charge of Mukti Bahini training and
organizing in Agartala Sector. He had made many trips into East Pakistan and
Dacca prior to war. His last trip to Dacca was on 3rd December, masquerading as a
rickshaw driver with his small beard flowing and balding head covered with a
white maulvi cap. Shahbeg Singh also offered me safe-keeping of any jewellery or
fire arms that I may have had. I had none. As luck would have it, he was promoted
and posted as GOC Jubbulpore where our camp was located. Later, after
341

retirement, he became the Military Advisor to Sikh militant politician Jarnail Singh
Bhindrawaley. When Bhindrawaley threw a challenge to the authority of Union
Government, a strong-willed Mrs Gandhi ordered an attack on the sacred Golden
Temple at Amritsar in 1984. Shahbeg Singh who was killed by Indian troops during
the attack.

On 15th December, while driving, I was stopped by a bearded, well-dressed


gentleman who turned out to be the Chief Flying Instructor of Dacca Flying Club.
He was famous for his flying prowess throughout India. He enquired of me
whether it was true about the surrender. On my confirmation he tore at his beard
and clothes and said what will happen to the Biharis now. His apprehensions
turned out to be correct, as can be seen from the squalid conditions of camps
where they have been living ever since, under very adverse conditions. Urdu-
speaking Biharis never integrated with the Bengalis and retained their own
language, culture and traditions. They always considered themselves as true
Pakistanis which they proved by their loyalties till the end, incurring the wrath of
locals. Biharis were relatively better educated than Bengalis, and were also
technically qualified, thus running railways, telephone and telegraph and other
technical services. They were, however, all along considered as traitors for their
open support to West Pakistani troops and civilians. After the war, Biharis
justifiably expected to be repatriated to Pakistan. Barring a handful, no Pakistan
Government permitted their repatriation. This reprehensible treatment in
disowning patriotic Pakistanis would remain a blemish on Pakistan.

The night 15/16th December, 1971 was traumatic and hectic to say the least. Army
helicopters were flying out to Burma in the early hours. An injured General was
also a passenger on one, without the knowledge of General Niazi who was
annoyed by his departure. Niazi wanted all the six General officers to accompany
him, a logic which is difficult to understand. There were three Pak Army Divisions
in East Pakistan, hence only General Officers should, at best, have remained with
him. Offering three additional trophies to the Indians was not called for.

On repatriation to Pakistan, I was told by none less than the Chief of Air Staff of
PAF that the sole purpose of going to war was to extricate West Pakistanis safely
across India, therefore no meaningful operation against India was undertaken.
342

This was not understood or acceptable to highly patriotic and professionally


outstanding officers such as Brigadier F B Ali or Group Captain A M Sikander who
rightly blamed Yahya for the breakup of Pakistan. Several of these officers were
tried by General Court Martial (GCM) for engineering a conspiracy against the
State. ………

Mercifully, later the PAF did a better job of treating its repatriated POWs. It
prematurely retired only once officer while most went on to continue their
careers successfully. The Army POWs were, however shabbily treated, on grounds
that they had been brain washed. (Italics mine)

The Villains

It is true that the seeds of hatred had been sown a long time ago. This hatred was
nurtured over the years due to arrogant, callous, unjust, bigoted, short-sighted,
and disdainful policies of the West Pakistani establishment and self-serving
politicians. Seeds of such hatred were sown right in the beginning, when Urdu
was declared the official language of Pakistan, ignoring the rich Bengali language
and culture of the majority. In such a sorry milieu, it is not easy to vilify
individuals, but the actions of three actors are far too obvious to be overlooked.

I had little respect for Sheikh Mujib since I met him once in Los Angeles in 1957 at
a dinner in his honour given by two Lahori brothers who were students in
University of Southern California. I too was attending a course in USC. He was
then an important politician holding the post of Secretary General of Awami
League under Mr Suhrawardy. During dinner I was expecting him to speak on
national issues facing Pakistan, politics, current and international affairs etc, but I
was shocked to hear him talk mostly about women. Shaikh Mujib was neither an
intellectual nor a man of principles; he was simply a loud-mouthed rabble rouser.
Hard core policies and decisions were made by the hardliner Tajuddin sitting in
Calcutta, with his coterie. In the sixties, Mujib was fully involved in Agartala
Conspiracy. He was declared innocent on the urging of some of our well meaning
leaders so that he could attend a round table conference chaired by Ayub Khan,
as he tried desperately to hold on to power. This action by Ayub made Mujeeb an
343

overnight hero in the eyes of Bengalis who had doubts about his involvement in
the conspiracy.

Yahya Khan blundered naively in permitting Sheikh Mujib of Awami League to


fight election of Dec ‘70 on the basis of his notorious Six Point manifesto.
However, Yahya should have accepted the outcome of elections once held fairly
and legally. He blundered again by not ensuring holding of Assembly session on
2nd March at Dacca as planned, and handing over the government to the majority
party, regardless. One thing is certain; Mujib once in power would NEVER have
seceded from Pakistan for bringing about Bangladesh. Any one opposing holding
of this session or instigating and threatening members who wished to attend,
should have been arrested for sedition or at least isolated, for defying the writ of
the government. Yahya foolishly kept on vacillating from one party to the other
till he was led into a trap by Bhutto, convincing Yahya to commit yet another
blunder on 26th March 1971.

Military action suited Bhutto, as he would have never been able to form a
government once the parity of seats between the two wings was fairly but
unwittingly abolished, giving more seats to East Pakistan on population basis.
Yahya Khan also abolished One Unit system of each wing, thus reviving provincial
rivalries. In doing so, a naïve and simpleton Yahya undid what was achieved with
great effort, viz parity of members in National Assembly, so graciously accepted
by East Pakistanis. Yahya committed his last blunder in initiating the war which
appalled Chinese and other friendly countries, but pleased some of our leaders.
Most happy was ‘that woman’ Mrs Indira Gandhi, since she was frantically looking
for an excuse to undo the unity of Pakistan………"
344
345

Annex C

Order of Battle

Location of Pakistani units in East Pakistan on 03 December 1971

Eastern Command Headquarters Dhaka


GOC: Lt General A A K Niazi
COS: Brigadier Baqir Siddiqi
Commander Artillery: Brig S. S. A. Kashim
Commander Armor: Col Bakhtier
Commander Engineers: Brig Iqbal Sharif
Commander Signals: Brig Arif Reza
Commander Medical Service: Brig Fahim Ahmed Khan
Advisor: Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali
Units under HQ Control:
**6 Engineer Battalion
**10 Engineer Battalion – Detachments at various locations
**11 Engineer Battalion - Lt Col Sarwar
** 43 Light Ack Ack – Lt Col Mohammad Afzal
** 19 Signal Battalion
**3 Commando Battalion (less elements)
**4 Army Aviation Squadron – Lt Col Liaqat Bokhari

The final order of battle prior to December 3, 1971 was:

Dhaka Defence Scheme (adhoc)

Brig Kasim (North): Dhaka Cantonment & Tongi area


Brig Mansoor (East): Munshiganj & Narayanganj
Brig Bashir: Dhaka City proper
 EPCAF HQ and Sector units
 Police and Razakars
346

Pakistan Air Force CO: Air Commodore Enamul Huq


**No. 14 Squadron “Tail Choppers”: 20 F-86 Sabers
**Training unit: 3 T-33

Pakistan Navy CO: Rear Admiral Mohammad Sharif


Commander Naval Marines: Captain Zamir
 4 Gunboats: PNS Rajshahi, Comilla, Sylhet and Jessore
 1 Patrol Boat: PNS Balaghat
 17 armed boats

36 Infantry Division (Adhoc)

GOC: Maj Gen M. Jamshed Khan, HQ Dhaka


Area of Operation: Dhaka, Tangail and Mymensingh districts
 93 Infantry Brigade: Brig Abdul Qadir Khan, HQ Mymensingh
o 83 Independent Mortar Battery
o 31 Baluch – Jamalpur
o 33 Punjab – Mymensingh
o 71 Wing WPR – Kishorganj
o 70 Wing WPR – Bijaipur

14 Infantry Division

GOC: Major General Abdul Majid Qazi, HQ Brahmanbaria


Area of Operation: Sylhet and Northern Comilla districts
 31 Field Regiment Artillery – Ashuganj – Brahmanbaria - Shamshernagar
 88 Independent Mortar Battery – Sylhet
 171 Independent Mortar Battery – Comilla

Sylhet
 202 Brigade (Adhoc): Brig Salimullah
o 31 Punjab – Sylhet
o 91 Mujahid Battalion – Sunamganj
o Wings of Tochi, Thal and Khyber scouts

Maulavibazar
 313 infantry Brigade: Brig. Iftikar Rana
347

o 22 Baloch – Kalaura
o 30 Frontier Force – Shahshernagar
o 91 Mujahid (minus) & Tochi Scouts – Sherpur

Brahmanbaria
 27 Infantry Brigade: Brig Saadullah
o 33 Baloch – Kasba
o 12 Frontier Force – Akhaura
o 2 Troops of M-24 Chaffee Tanks – Akhaura
o 1 Anti Tank Platoon 34 Punjab (R&S)

39 Division (Adhoc)

GOC: Maj Gen Rahim Khan – Chandpur


Area of Operation: Comilla, Feni and Northern Chittagong

 53 Field Regiment Artillery – Comilla

Comilla
 117 Infantry Brigade: Brig Sheikh M.H. Atif
o 30 Punjab – Saldanadi
o 25 Frontier Force – Mainamati
o 12 Azad Kashmir – Comilla

Feni
 53 Infantry Brigade: Brig Aslam Niazi
o 15 Baloch – Belonia
o 39 Baloch – Laksham
o 23 Punjab – Mean Bazar
o 21 Azad Kashmir - Laksham

Ramgarh
 91 Brigade (Adhoc): Brig Mian Taskeenuddin HQ Chittagong
o 24 Frontier Force – Ramgarh
o Chakma and Mizo troops
o EPCAF 11 and 14 Wings
348

Chittagong
 97 Independent Brigade: Brig Ata Mohammad Khan Malik
o 48 Baloch – Chittagong
o 2 SSG Battalion - Rangamati
o 60 Wing Rangers – Ramgarh
o 61 Wing Rangers – Cox’s Bazar
o Naval Contingent
o 46 Light Ack Ack Battery

16th Infantry Division

GOC: Maj Gen Nazar Hussain Shah – HQ Natore


Area of Operation: Rajshahi, Bogra, Dinajpur, Rangpur and Pabna districts
 29 Cavalry (minus) –Rangpur
 48 Field Regiment Artillery – Saidpur
 80 Field Regiment Artillery – Hili
 117 Mortar Battery – Kurigram

Saidpur
 23 Infantry Brigade: Brig Iqbal Shaffi
o 25 Punjab – Lalmanirhut
o 26 Frontier Force – Dinajpur
o 48 Punjab – Nilphamari
o 8 Punjab – Rangpur
o 34 Punjab – (less 1 company & 1 anti tank platoon) Thakurgaon
o 86 Mujahid – Gaibandha

Bogra
 205 Infantry Brigade: Brig Tajammul Hussain Malik HQ Bogra (Tac HQ –
Chatni in 4 FF area)
o 32 Baloch – Ghoraghat
o 4 Frontier Force – Hilli
o 8 Baluch – Jaipurhut
o C Coy 34 Punjab (R&S) at Hilli/ Panjbibi

Nator
349

 34 Infantry Brigade: Brig Mir Abdul Nayeem


o 32 Punjab – Nawabganj
o 13 Frontier Force – Sapahar/ Patnitola (under command 205 Brigade
during war)
Rajshahi
 Rajshahi Brigade (Adhoc)

9th Infantry Division

GOC: Maj Gen HM. H. Ansari HQ Jessore


Area of Operation: Khulna, Jessore, Kushtia, Faridpur, Barisal and Patuakhali
districts
o 3 Independant Armoured Squadron – Jessore
o 55 Field Regiment Artillery – Satkhira and Chaugacha
o 49 Field Regiment Artillery – Chuadanga
o 21 Independent Mortar Battery – Chaugacha

Jhenida
 57 Infantry Brigade: Brig Manzoor H Atif
o 18 Punjab – Darshana
o 50 Punjab – Jhenida
o 29 Baluch – Kushtia
o Squadron 29 Cavalry – Kushtia

Jessore
 107 Infantry Brigade: Brig M Hayat Khan
o 22 Frontier Force – Benapole
o 38 Frontier Force – Afra
o 6 Punjab – Jessore
o 21 Punjab – Satkhira
o 15 Frontier Force – Jessore
o 12 Punjab – Jessore

Khulna

 314 Brigade (AdHoc): Col Fazle Hamid


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TOTAL NUMBER OF FORMATIONS, UNITS OF THE DIFFERENT ARMS/SERVICES


AND THEIR MANPOWER

Above details of formations and units with their locations have been taken from
Wikipedia. Total number of headquarters, units and their strength in manpower is
summarised below;

Headquarters

Headquarters Eastern Command = 400

Divisional Headquarters – 3 x 180 = 540

Brigade Headquarters – 10 x 50 = 500

Armour Regiment – 1 = 400

Infantry Battalions – 33 = 21,000

(30 x regular Infantry battalions, 3 x R&S battalions and SSG elements)

Authorised strength of a regular infantry battalion was 798 and that of R&S
battalion 686. Considering that authorised strength is never complete and an
average of 15% casualties which could not be made up, a regular infantry
battalion was left with about 650 people on the average and R&S battalions
left with approximately 500 persons each. Total numbers of persons of the
infantry battalions i.e. 30 x 650 = 19,500 and R&S battalions 3 x 500 = 1500
comes to about 21000 (twenty one thousands) Strength of artillery and
armour units is about half of the infantry battalions.

Out of these units, 14 units were from Punjab Regiment, 8 from Baloch
Regiment, 9 from FF Regiment and 2 from newly formed AK Regiment.

Artillery
 Field Regiments Artillery – 6 x 350 = 2100
 Mortar Batteries – 7 x 120 = 840
Engineer Battalions – 3 x 900 = 2700
Signal battalion – 1 x 700 = 700
351

Navy – 4 x Gunboats, 17 x armed boats and some marine personnel = 3000

PAF – One Squadron = 200

Para Military Forces

East Pakistan Civil Armed Force (EPCAF) raised in place of East Pakistan Rifles
(EPR) – Approximately 6000 local persons. These people being locals joined their
families as the war ended. They did not become prisoners of war.

Scouts Wings – 3 x 300 = 900


Rangers Wings – 4 x 300= 1200
Mujahids – 2 Battalions (mainly local persons)
West Pakistan Police = 3000 approx
Civilians – 5000 approx

(Exact number of civilians can be found out from the list of prisoners if it is
available with concerned government departments. There were very few civilians
who included some senior government officials, Canteen, Washermen, Barbar
contractors with the units, crew of two merchant ships and very few civilians in
other categories)

The Number of Prisoners of War

The much exaggerated figure of 93,000 (ninety three thousands) as initially


propagated and later reduced to 90,000 (ninety thousands) prisoners of war is
absolutely false. Actual number of prisoners was somewhere between forty to
forty five thousands as it can be explained by calculating the total number of units
and formation given above:

 Army = 29,200 (about 21,000 infantrymen, rest from supporting


arms and services)
 Navy = 3000
 PAF = 200
 Civil Armed Forces and West Pakistan Police = 5,100
 Civilians = 5000 approx
 Grand Total – 42,500 approx
352

The Army, under Lieutenant General Gul Hassan for first few months of Bhutto’s
rule and then under General Tikka Khan, the future Secretary General of PPP after
retirement, never contested the figures. So a long period passed which helped in
perpetuating the lie about actual number of prisoners of war.

Some idea about the plan worked out by Indians on the numbers of prisoners is
given by General Pran Nath Kathpalia in his book ‘Mission with a Difference’. He
was told to arrange transfer of sixteen thousand prisoners from area
Siadpur/Rangpur to India but actual number of prisoners he found in that sector
was less than five thousand.

The Indians took two weeks (01 January to 15 January 1972) to pick up the
prisoners from different parts of East Pakistan and placed them in various camps
in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, a very vast expanse of land. While
starting their move from respective locations, the prisoners were told that they
were in transit and would be moving to Pakistan. After keeping them for over two
years in Indian camps, the prisoners were repatriated in small numbers starting in
September 1973 and ending by last week of April 1974. This was a kind of a
smoke screen to hide actual number of POWs. Anyone who could calculate the
total number of trains and number of passengers in each train would eventualy
find the actual strength. That was easy if repatriation had taken place in a few
weeks’ time. Spreading the process over about eight months created a perception
that a very large Army had surrendered in East Pakistan. Also it was arranged in a
manner that the men from fighting units could not get together. When the units
were re-raised after one year of completion of the repatriation process i.e. by
mid-1975, very few of their original manpower could come back to the units.
353

Annex D

Dr. Sarmila Bose on the courageous PAKISTAN ARMY’s stand on the Eastern Front:
An untold story of 1971 Indo-Pak War15

THERE is much for Pakistan to come to terms with what happened in 1971. But
the answers don’t lie in unthinking vilification of the fighting men who performed
so well in the war against such heavy odds in defense of the national policy.
Rather, in failing to honour them, the nation dishonours itself.

My introduction to international politics was 1971, as a schoolgirl in Calcutta.


Many images from that year are still etched in my mind, but the culminating one
was the photo on Ramna racecourse of two men sitting at a table — the smart,
turbaned Sikh, ‘our’ war-hero, Jagjit Singh Aurora, and the large man in a beret, A
A K Niazi, commander of the other side, signing the instrument of surrender.
Nearly a generation later, a chance interview for the BBC (British Broadcasting
Corporation) with Lt Gen. Aurora took me back to 1971. The interview was not
about 1971, but about injustices suffered by Sikhs at the hands of the state
General Aurora had served. I thought he was a bigger hero for what he had to say
then. That view was reinforced as I read — with incredulity — the disparaging
remarks by other Indian officers about him, and each other, in their books. If this
is what happened to the winning commander, I wondered what had happened to
the other man in the photo. The result was a revelation.

It turns out that General Niazi has been my ‘enemy’ since the Second World War.
As Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army fought on the Burma
front in 1943-45 in their quest for India’s freedom, Niazi was fighting on the other
side, for the British Indian Army, under the overall command of General (later
Field Marshal) William Joseph Slim. Slim and his 14th Army halted the advance of
the INA and the Japanese at the Imphal campaign and turned the course of the
war.

15
http://archives.dailytimes.com.pk/editorial/24-Nov-2003/op-ed-the-courageous-pak-army-stand-on-
the-eastern-front-sarmila-bose
354

In the process of inflicting military defeat upon my ancestor, Niazi’s performance


was so exceptional that the British awarded him an on-the-spot Military Cross for
action on the Assam-Burma front in June 1944. On another occasion they wanted
to award a DSO, but he was too junior, so a Mention in Despatches was recorded.
In the original record of his MC signed by his commanding officers all the way up
to Slim, which I obtained from the British Ministry of Defence, the British
commanders describe Niazi’s gallantry in detail: “He organized the attack with
such skill that his leading platoon succeeded in achieving complete surprise over
the enemy.” They speak of how he personally led his men, the ‘great skill and
coolness’ under fire with which he changed tactics with changing circumstances,
created diversionary attacks, extricated his wounded, defeated the enemy and
withdrew his men by section, remaining personally at the rear in every case.

The British honoured Niazi for “personal leadership, bravery and complete
disregard for his own personal safety.” On 15 December 1944 the Viceroy Lord
Wavell flew to Imphal and in the presence of Lord Mountbatten knighted Slim and
his corps commanders Stopford, Scoones and Christison. Only two ‘Indian’ officers
were chosen to be decorated by the Viceroy at that ceremony — ‘Tiger’ Niazi was
one of them.

In 1971 Niazi was a highly decorated Pakistani general, twice receiving the Hilal-e-
Jurat. He was sent to East Pakistan in April 1971 — part of a sorry tradition in
South Asia of political rulers attempting to find military solutions to political
problems. By then Tikka Khan had already launched the crackdown of 25 March
for which he has been known to Bengalis as the ‘butcher of Bengal’ ever since.
The population of East Bengal was completely hostile and Pakistan condemned
around the world.

Authoritative scholarly analyses of 1971 are rare. The best work is Richard Sisson
and Leo Rose’s War and Secession.

Robert Jackson, fellow of All Soul’s College, Oxford, wrote an account shortly after
the events. Most of the principal participants did not write about it, a notable
exception being Gen. Niazi’s recent memoirs (1998).Some Indian officers have
355

written books of uneven quality — they make for an embarrassing read for what
the Indians have to say about one another.

However, a consistent picture emerges from the more objective accounts of the
war. Sisson and Rose describe how India started assisting Bengali rebels since
April, but “the Mukti Bahini had not been able to prevent the Pakistani army from
regaining control over all the major urban centers on the East Pakistani-Indian
border and even establishing a tenuous authority in most of the rural areas.”
From July to October there was direct involvement of Indian military personnel.
“…mid-October to 20 November… Indian artillery was used much more
extensively in support …and Indian military forces, including tanks and air power
on a few occasions, were also used…Indian units were withdrawn to Indian
territory once their objectives had been brought under the control of the Mukti
Bahini — though at times this was only for short periods, as, to the irritation of
the Indians, the Mukti Bahini forces rarely held their ground when the Pakistani
army launched a counterattack.”

Clearly, the Pakistani army regained East Pakistan for their masters in Islamabad
by April-May, creating an opportunity for a political settlement, and held off both
Bengali guerrillas and their Indian supporters till November, buying more time —
time and opportunity that Pakistan’s rulers and politicians failed to utilise.

Contrary to Indian reports, full-scale war between India and Pakistan started in
East Bengal on 21 November, making it a four-week war rather than a ‘lightning
campaign’. Sisson and Rose state bluntly: “After the night of 21 November…Indian
forces did not withdraw. From 21 to 25 November several Indian army
divisions…launched simultaneous military actions on all of the key border regions
of East Pakistan, and from all directions, with both armored and air support.”
Indian officers like Sukhwant Singh and Lachhman Singh write quite openly in
their books about India invading East Pakistani territory in November, which they
knew was ‘an act of war’.

None of the outside scholars expected the Eastern garrison to withstand a full
Indian invasion. On the contrary, Pakistan’s longstanding strategy was “the
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defense of the east is in the west”. Jackson writes, “Pakistani forces had largely
withdrawn from scattered border-protection duties into cleverly fortified
defensive positions at the major centres inside the frontiers, where they held all
the major ‘place names’ against Mukti Bahini attacks, and blocked the routes of
entry from India…”

Sisson and Rose point out the incongruity of Islamabad tolerating India’s invasion
of East Pakistani territory in November. On 30 November Niazi received a
message from General Hamid stating, “The whole nation is proud of you and you
have their full support.” The same day Islamabad decided to launch an attack in
the West on 2 December, later postponed to 3 December, after a two-week wait,
but did not inform the Eastern command about it. According to Jackson, the
Western offensive was frustrated by 10 December.

Though futile, the Western offensive allowed India to openly invade the East, with
overwhelming advantages. “ …despite all these advantages, the war did not go as
smoothly and easily for the Indian army…”, but Sisson and Rose come to the
balanced judgment that “The Pakistanis fought hard and well; the Indian army
won an impressive victory.” Even Indian officers concede the personal bravery of
Niazi and the spirited fight put up by the Pakistanis in the East. That the troops
fought so well against such overwhelming odds is a credit both to them, and to
their commanders, for an army does not fight well in the absence of good
leadership.

However, as Jackson put it, “…India’s success was inevitable from the moment the
general war broke out — unless diplomatic intervention could frustrate it.” As is
well known, Pakistan failed to secure military or diplomatic intervention. Sisson
and Rose also say, “The outcome of the conflict on the eastern front after 6
December was not in doubt, as the Indian military had all the advantages.” On 14
December Niazi received the following message from Yahya Khan: “You have
fought a heroic battle against overwhelming odds. The nation is proud of you
…You have now reached a stage where further resistance is no longer humanly
possible nor will it serve any useful purpose… You should now take all necessary
measures to stop the fighting and preserve the lives of armed forces personnel,
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all those from West Pakistan and all loyal elements…” Sisson and Rose naturally
describe this message as “implying that the armed forces in East Pakistan should
surrender”.

No matter how traumatic the outcome of 1971 for Pakistan, the Eastern
command did not create the conflict, nor were they responsible for the failure of
the political and diplomatic process. Sent to do the dirty work of the political
manoeuvrers, the fighting men seem to have performed remarkably well against
overwhelming odds. It is shocking therefore to discover that they were not
received with honour by their nation on their return. Their commander, Niazi,
appears to have been singled out, along with one aide, to be punished arbitrarily
with dismissal and denial of pension, without being given the basic right to defend
himself through a court-martial, which he asked for.

The commission set up allegedly to examine what had happened in 1971 was too
flawed in its terms of reference and report to have any international credibility.
However, even its recommendations of holding public trials and courtmartials
were ignored. There is much for Pakistan to come to terms with what happened
in 1971. But the answers don’t lie in unthinking vilification of the fighting men
who performed so well in the war against such heavy odds in defence of the
national policy. Rather, in failing to honour them, the nation dishonours itself.

Author: Daughter of Sisir Kumar and Karishna Bose, Sarmila Bose belongs to a
distinguished family of Bengal. She is granddaughter of Sarat Chandra Bose, elder
brother of Subhash Chandra Bose (Neta Ji) ex-President of All India Congress and
founder of Indian National Army against the British, ruling India.
358
359

Annex E

Army Hajj Contingent 1984

A date wise progress of the contingent’s journey is briefly recounted as follows:

 29 July 84 – From Rawalpindi to Lahore via Kharian. Raining throughout the


day. Very pleasant weather. Night stay at Lahore.
 30 July 84 – Lahore to Multan via Faisalabad, Jhang, Shorkot, Kabirwala.
Main road i.e. Lahore – Sahiwal Multan road in bad shape needing repairs.
 31 July 84 – Stay at Multan and visits to Mazars of Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin
Zakria, his grandson Hazrat Sheikh Rukne Alam, Hazrat Shah Shams
Sabzwari.
 01 August 84 – From Multan to Sukker via Bahawalpur – Rahimyar Khan.
Lunch at Rahimyar Khan. A hot day. At Sukker, a non garrison town, 27
Punjab made excellent arrangement for the night stay attending to minute
details. I was to command this excellent unit a year later.
 02 August 84 – Sukker to Quetta via Sibi where we stopped for lunch. Sibi
was not as hot as could be expected. Starting from Sukker at 6 AM we
reached Quetta by 7 PM, were received and addressed by the Corps
Commander.
 03/04 August 84 – Stay at Quetta for rest and maintenance of vehicles.
 05 August 84 – From Quetta to Dalbandin. Night stay under arrangements
Kharan Rifles.
 06 August 84 – Left Dalbandin early and after having tea at Nokkundi,
reached Taftan by 1500 hrs for crossing over to Iran. Reached Zahidan for
night stay. Were lodged in some hostel.
 07 August 84 – Reached Kirman in the evening. Had lunch in Mahan in the
premises of Shah Niamatullah Wali’s Mazar. Commander’s jeep overturned
15 km short of Kirman due to the driver dosing off. It rolled down from the
highway into a considerable depth. Because of sandy terrain no one got
injured although the jeep was severely damaged and left there. Not even
Brigadier Akram’s glasses which he was wearing got damaged.
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 08 August 84 – Reached Isfahan in the evening. Lunch in the area of a


mosque in Yazad.
 09 August 84 – Stayed in Isfahan in the Arty Centre. Visited the famous
Mosque of Shahs of the Safavid period, now renamed Masjid e Imam. Also
saw Masjid e Sheikh Lutfullah and the main polo ground in the same
vicinity. Also were taken to Gulistan e Shuhada. Offered Fateha. A large
number of very young people are buried here as apparent from the
photographs displayed on every grave. These young men have died during
the ongoing war with Iraq and activities of Mujahidin e Khalaq a counter
revolutionary organization.

 10 August 84 – From Isfahan to Qazvin. Passed through Tehran in the


afternoon.
 11 August 84 – From Qazvin to Tabriz, road passing through beautiful
mountainous area. Had lunch on the roadside in a clump of trees. Stay in
Tabriz comfortable except bathrooms most inadequate.
 12 August 84 – From Tabriz to Agri in Turkey, crossing the border in the
afternoon. At the borders a very large concentration of vehicles awaiting
clearance. Our crossing was very smooth. Had lunch on the Iranian side of
the borders and parted with the Iranian Liaison party led by Col Ali Larijani
who made untiring efforts to make our journey through Iran smooth. Brig
Trimzi (Artillery) our Defense Attaché also remained with us to help us
during the journey. On the Turkish side we were received by our Military
Attaché Col Jilani, (Artillery). The terrain and crop pattern was little
different, the people also looked more open and happy. At Agri, lodged in
‘Ordu Evi’ that was very comfortable. The General Officer in the area came
to meet our party.

Some impressions while travelling through Iran were that after the fall of Raza
Shah Pahlavi as a result of a revolutionary movement led by a religious leader
Ayatollah Imam Khomeini in 1979, Iran was going through difficult times. A war
with Iraq was causing lot of casualties to the young men. The economy was
suffering due to war and the hostility of western world. As we entered Iran from
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Zahidan we found the roads very good with parking places made at frequent
intervals. From Zahidan to Kirman the road passes through hot, arid region with
hardly any vegetation. This area, the province of Iranian Baluchistan-Siestan is
sparsely populated. The terrain is just like our area of Naukundi – Taftan. From
Kirman onwards to Isfahan climate was a bit cooler. There were fruit gardens
particularly of Pistacho along the route to Isfahan. This region is like our Quetta
but the valleys are more open and the mountains not so high. The whole areas
seem under populated with vast stretches of land lying waste. The revolution had
one most visible effect that women were wearing ‘chadors’ a large piece of cloth
covering the women from head to tows. We did not see any woman with her
head uncovered. This was a complete change from the period of Shah when the
dress code particularly in the cities was known to be largely western. People like
to get out in the open places and parks. In fact on our first day of entering Iran as
we travelled northwards from Taftan in the afternoon we saw a few families
enjoying picnic in a clump of poplar trees. They had spread mats under the thin
shade of these trees. To us it was a strange site because we do not consider
poplar trees shady and suitable to serve as picnic point. But as we moved on we
found that the area up to Kirman was devoid of vegetation and such clumps of
poplar trees provided whatever shade they could. North of Kirman the terrain
changed and as we progressed in our journey towards north and North West
there was abundant vegetation and orchards particularly in the valleys around
Tabriz. Overall impression is that the war was causing large casualties of young
men and the adverse effect on economy had taken away the happiness and
affluence from the Iranian society. One could see large number of incomplete
building structures waiting for better times to be completed.

 13 August 84 – Started from Agri in the morning, had tea at Pontos and
lunch at Tetvan on the western end of Van lake. Stopped at the Mazar of
Hazrat Owais Qarni to offer Fateha and reached Diyarbakir late in the
evening. This was a longer leg of journey passing through the Kurdish area
where Army is deployed to deal with the unrest.
 14 August 84 – Stayed at Diyarbakir. Were lodged in ‘Ordu Evi’ a very
comfortable place. Had a round of the city which still retains parts of the
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old outer walls intact. Visited Mazar of Hazrat Suleman bin Khalid bin
Walid.
 15 August 84 – Started for Gaziantep. Had lunch at Urfa the birth place of
Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). Visited Gulzar e Ibrahimi where he was thrown into
fire by King Nimrud. Also saw the cave where he was reportedly born.
Water of the spring in the cave is known to have healing effects for
diseases. Reached Gaziantep in the evening and lodged in the ‘Ordu Evi’.
Had dinner arranged with local dignitaries.
 16 August 84 – Started from Gaziantep and crossed the border into Syria.
Visited Mazar and Mosque of Hazrat Zakria at Halb (Allepo). Visited Mazars
 of Hazrat Khalid bin Walid and Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz at Homs.
Reached Damascus late in the evening and were lodged in the officers’ club
in the city. Being weekend, the people were enjoying western style music
and dancing in the club.
 17 August 84 - From Damascus to Maan in Jordan. Very well arranged lunch
at Zarqa. Night at Maan was chilly and arrangements inadequate to cope
with it. Tasted very bitter coffee served in small cups.
 18 August 84 – From Maan to Tabuk. Five hours spent on the border
crossing where the Saudis checked everything in the luggage and the buses
very thoroughly. Before that the border crossing so far i.e. from Pakistan
into Iran, from Iran to Turkey, from Turkey to Syria and from Syria to Jordan
had been a big party at every crossing with tea, coffee and snakes laid out
on the respective sides of the countries and the military bands playing.

At Tabuk stayed with the Pakistani Brigade designated as Khalid bin Walid
Brigade, then being commanded by Brigadier (later Major General) Mehboob
Alam. The facilities provided to the Brigade in this specially built separate
cantonment were very good. The officers however were unhappy because they
were away from their families for a long time. Lodged in ‘Ziafa’, their guest house,
this was the best accommodation I had the chance to live in so far. Large room
with best quality thick slabs of marble, onyx used in the bath room, elegant
furniture and fittings and heavy expensive crystal decorations made it very special
facility. According to the officers this was nothing as compared to the guest
houses in use of Saudis which were far more lavish and luxuriant.
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 19 August 84 – The comfort of the accommodation and the facilities could


not be enjoyed because of continuous coordination meetings and other
organizational activities. Visited Masjid e Rasul (SA) at Tabuk.
 20 August 84 – Started from Tabuk in the morning and reached Madina tun
Nabi (SA) at night. Here we were lodged in a building whose only advantage
was that it was closer to the Masjid e Nabvi. Six to nine persons were
occupying one room and the hygienic conditions were deplorable.

 21 August 84 – In the morning offered first prayers in the Masjid e Nabvi


(SA). The main mosque was difficult to approach because of great rush. We
got the place under the sheds outside the main mosque.
 At about 10 AM I presented myself at the ROZA-E-RASUL Sallallaho Alaihe
Wassallam. With utmost humbleness I praised Allah Almighty for His great
kindness in affording me this opportunity. The feelings I had while offering
Salat-o-Salam at the Roza cannot be described in words.
 Ejaz Akmal, my wife’ younger brother who was then at Jeddah working for
Shafaat GmBh had asked his friends in Medina to see me.Mr. Sarwar with
another person came to see.
 22 August 84 – After Isha prayers visited Shuhada – Uhad graves, the site of
battle of Uhad and 6xMasaajid made on the site of Battle of Khandaq on
the names of Sahaba e Kiram, Hazrat Abu Bakar, Hazrat Omar, Hazrat Ali,
Hazrat Salman Farsi and Hazrat Fatima tuz Zahra. Also visited Masjid e Zu
Qiblatain.
 23 August 84 - Routine of prayers and Ziarat. Not feeling well because of
bad throat.
 24 August 84 – Greater rush in the Mosque at the time of Jumaprayers.
 25 August 84 – Ziarat e Rauza and prayers
 26 August 84 – Ejaz Akmal came from Jeddah. Spent a very good day in his
company visiting his friend in the city.
 27 August 84 – Prayers and Ziarat
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 28 August 84 –Forty prayers completed at Masjid – Nabvi. Mr Ghafoor of


Mehran Hotel took us for outing/drive. His reference was given by Brigadier
(then Lt Col) Fateh Malik.
 29 August 84 – Purchased some gift to be taken back for officials.

 30 August 84 – Presented at the Rauza – Nabi (SA) to offer last Salat o


Salam of current journey as on way back we did not plan to stop at Medina.
 31 August 84 – Started from Medina at about 08:15 AM. Stopped at Bir Ali
to get into the state of ‘Ihram’ for performing ‘Umra’. Reached Mecca –
Muazzama around 4 PM but took a long time to reach the accommodation
because the vehicles had to pass through hundreds of thousands of people
moving in the area of Harram. Offered Asr, Maghrib and Isha prayers at the
place we were lodged and started for Harram that was about two
kilometers away at midnight. Entered the Harram from Bab-e-Fatah (old
Bab e Salam). The sight of Kaaba was stunning and for some time I stood in
awe forgetting the world around me. This was the place we had been
turning our faces to since childhood during our prayers and here I was, a
humble creature physically present to see it. It took some time to recover
my senses and we started the process of performing Umra with utmost
feelings of reverence. At this time there was not much rush during the
Tawaf, the seven rounds around Kaaba and Sa’i, the walk between Safa and
Marwa, so we performed all ‘Manasik’ of Umra with deliberation and ease.
Stayed in Harram till after Fajar prayers and then returned to the lodging.
 01 September 84 – Stayed in lodging during the day and went to Harram for
Maghrib prayers. After Magrib prayers did Tawaf in the peak rush hours to
get the feel of it. Stayed till after Isha prayers.
 02 September 84 – Went to Harram in the later part of the night at about
2:30 AM and remained there till after Fajar prayers. During day prepared
for the next day’s move to Mina. It was decided that move should be
between 1 to 2 AM when our buses can be brought from parking, avoiding
traffic jam.
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 03 September 84 – Moved to Mina at about 03:30 AM and reached without


stopping or getting into traffic jam’ a real surprise considering the scale of
movement towards Mina that day when everyone was to move to Mina. It
was mainly due to our Guide Mr. Ashraf, a student at the Medina University
detailed with the contingent, who because of his experience with earlier
parties advised on the timings of the move. Camp at Mina was well
organized. We established our cook house, a deviation from earlier
practice, which served us well. This was advised by Ejaz Akmal when he
came to see me at Medina. Weather was quite hot.
 04 September 84 - (9th Zil Haj) Moved to the plain of Arafat starting a little
late in the morning on the advice of Mr. Ashraf our guide and reached by
11 AM without difficulty. Stayed at Arafat till after sunset. This stay is the
main event of Haj. Effort to reach Masjid-e-Nimra was not successful and
we prayed in the area of our tents.
 Night 4/5 September 84 – Started move from Arafat at about 8.30 PM
towards Muzdalfa and soon got into traffic jam. Covered 4 kilometers in
two hours. Spent rest of the night at Muzdalfa picking up pebbles for
throwing at the ‘Satans’ later during the process of Rammi.
 05 September 84 (10th Zil Haj) Started from Muzdalfa for Mina after Fajar
prayers covering the distance of one and half kilometers in about two
hours. A party was sent on foot to the slaughter house for offering
‘Qurbani’ (sacrifice) of animals on behalf of all of us. The party confirmed to
have completed the process at slaughter house after which we had our
heads shaved (the ritual of Halaq). ‘Rammi’ the symbolic stone throwing on
the ‘Satan” at three sites in Mina was also done on first of the three days of
this process. Tawaf e Ziarat, the third essential act to complete the Haj was
done in the afternoon by some members of the party. Rest of us went for it
on the next day. It is to be done during the three days stay at Mina on 10,
11 and 12 Zil Haj.
 06 September 84 (11th Zil Haj). Went for Tawaf e Ziarat in the morning and
did Rammi in the afternoon.
 07 September 84 (12th Zil Haj). A very tough day. Prepared for move to
Mecca and went for Rammi by mid day. The rush at first Jamra was
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crushing. I got lifted up in the crowd and landed on ground some distance
away. Started from Mina at 4 PM for Mecca but could not enter the city
despite trying different routes /approaches. Finally by 2330 hours decided
to stay in the buses for remaining part of the night outside the city.
 08 September 84 – Entered Mecca city in the morning at about 0730 hours
and reached our lodging which was crowded because another group of
army persons had also landed there. There was some unpleasantness
because one Colonel Sultan refused to vacate a room despite being told by
Brigadier Ahsan Bhatti his group leader. Ejaz Akmal came at about 11 PM
and took me to his place in Jeddah.
 09 September 84 – Stayed with Ejaz during the day. One Mr. Ashiq Qureshi
from Multan and his wife were also staying with Ejaz. We kept roaming in
the markets till 10 PM because the lady guest wanted to see some fancy
fittings for her house. Purchased toys for children. Ejaz dropped me back to
Mecca by about 1 AM during the night 9/10 Sep.
 10 September 84 – Nothing significant.
 11 September 84 – Spent the day inside Harram offering prayers and
performed Tawaf e Wida after Isha prayers.
 12 September 84 – Return journey started. Left Mecca around 7 AM and
after delays at a number of check posts reached the area of Khyber after
bypassing Medina. Stayed in a roadside camp established by some road
construction/maintenance company. The place was manned by Pakistanis
who were very happy to be our hosts. The person in charge hailing from
Kalarkahar/Bochal area remained awake throughout the night and kept
serving us very good tea. He and his colleagues were thus kept very busy
because half of our contingent was having stomach trouble. We had taken
our meal from a roadside stall in Khyber area which comprised bread,
cheese lying open in a large tin and cold drinks. This food was cause of
trouble.
 13 September 84 – Reached Tabuk in the evening just before Maghrib
prayers.
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 14 September 84 – Stayed in Tabuk. This was rest and maintenance day and
we were greatly helped by our hosts the Pakistani troops in that
cantonment. Risaldar Nawaz from our neighbouring village Akwal came
over to meet and also three young men from my village, Hayat, Ghulam
Rasul and Ijaz Hyder met and presented a Rado wrist watch, a very gracious
and thoughtful gesture. Risaldar Nawaz had given me a prayer mat and
Capt Dr Khizer from Akwal; although not present, had left a present (wall
clock).
 15 September 84 – From Tabuk to Amman after crossing the border. Were
lodged in a small hotel in the Zarqa Cantonment.
 16 September 84 – Conducted tour to see display of equipment and a field
hospital in Zarqa cantonment. Reception by our Ambassador, Dr Ihsan
Rashid in the evening. Dr Ihsan an educationist informed that literacy rate
in Jordan was high. 37% of population was in the educational institutions.
The country has no oil or other significant resources but the manpower
resource is well organized. There was hardly any crime in the population of
2.4 million.
 17 September 84 – Busy day. Visited Jordan River Valley, Dead Sea and
Mazars of Hazrat Maaz bin Jabal, Shurhabil bin Hasana, Abu Ubaida bin
Omar Aljarrah, Zarrar bin Uzwar all famous and familiar names of the early
period of Muslim history. Also saw the place of the prophet Hazrat Shoaib.
Dinner by our Defence Attaché, Group Captain Jawaid Ahsan.
 18 September 84 – From Amman to Damascus. Visited Mazar of Sayeda
Zainab and the graves of a large number of Sahaba e Rasul (SA) including
both Moazzins of the time of Prophet (SA) Hazrat Bilal and Hazrat Abdullah
bin Rawaha in Damascus graveyard. Visited the famous Banu Umayyad
Mosque, earlier it was St Paul’s Church. Prophet Hazrat Yahya’s Mazar is
inside the Mosque. Outside the Mosque visited Mazar of Sultan Salahuddin
Ayubi. Visited industrial exhibition in the evening. Stayed in the officers’
club.
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 19 September 84 – Started from Damascus early for Gaziantep crossing


over to Turkey by about 4 PM. In the evening sumptuous banquet by the
local Corps Commander for officers at the ‘Ordu Evi’ where we were
staying.
 20 September 84 – From Gaziantep to Diyarbakir. Stay at ‘Ordu Evi’.
 21 September 84 – Stay in Diyarbakir. Visit to the local Bazaar.
 22 September 84 – From Diyarbakir to Agri. Dinner with the General Officer
who had done his staff course at Quetta in 1959 and remembered about
old days at the Command and Staff College. Very comfortable stay in the
‘Ordu Evi’.
 23 September 84 – From Agri to Tabrez crossing the border into Iran. Tabriz
is the main city in a beautiful and fertile valley. The weather was rather
chilly.
 24 September 84 – An unfortunate incident occurred just before journey
started in the morning. When we got onto our vehicles and were lined up
for move, an NCO, Havildar Muhammad Sharif of Army Medical Corps
complained of pain in his stomach. He had complained of pain earlier also
during the journey and was given an injection by the medical team
travelling with us. The medical officer Major Yusuf told a nursing assistant
to give him another injection. As soon as he was administered the injection
his condition worsened and he died within minutes. Apparently, nursing
assistant mistakenly gave a wrong injection while the medical officer failed
to check it negligently. Our Defence Attaché and the Iranian Liaison Officers
made arrangements to send the body to Pakistan. After some delay we
resumed our journey passing through a very fertile valley to reach Tehran in
the evening.
 25 September 84 – Stayed in Tehran in a hostel. The officers from the
contingent were conducted to the General Headquarters (GHQ) of Iranian
Armed Forces to call on Commander in Chief of the Army. The Iranian
Army, fighting Iraqi Forces for so many years by then did not have any
General Officers. The Army was being commanded by Brigadier Zaheer
Nejad, a retired and recalled officer. Under the GHQ were divisions
commanded by officers of the rank of Colonels. The importance given to
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our contingent can be gauged from the fact that two officers of the rank of
Colonels remained with us during our travel through Iran in our onwards as
well as on return journey. Col Ali Larejani senior of the two was a very
energetic and pleasant person.
 In Iran, as a routine the contingent on arrival at the destinations for the
night stay was first addressed by the local authority figures; mostly religious
leaders. Their main thrust was the justification of their cause to fight Iraqi
aggression. Our leader, Brig Akram in his reply would always dilate upon
the need of stopping the fight between the two brotherly Muslim
countries. This stance of not condemning the Iraqi aggression was
somewhat frustrating to our hosts but that was Pakistan’s official line.
 Went to Bazar for a short while but it was mostly closed because of their
weekly off day. The shopkeepers of the few shops which were open did not
seem to like us as was evident from their attitude. In the evening we were
taken to witness a demonstration about the war. This was arranged by the
‘Pasdaran’ who are real strength of the Iranian Revolution. At the site of
demonstration a model of the battle of ‘Majnun’ island was depicted which
the Iranians had taken back from Iraqis recently. It was very impressive
demonstration of use of fire power and skills to overcome different kinds of
obstacles.
 26 September 84 – From Tehran to Isfahan. Night stay comfortable
especially after Tehran.
 27 September 84 – From Isfahan to Kirman the longest leg of journey,
about 700 kilometers. Reached late in the evening after long lunch break
and a ‘Pistachio’ buying break at Rafsanjan where some people went to
Bazaar and rest of us waited in the buses. This area is famous for growing
‘Pistachios’. Felt like nearing home, Quetta being four nights away.
 28 September 84 – Stay in Kirman. Friday prayers offered in the city’s Jamia
Mosque after having visited an exhibition and Kunj e Ali Museum, a public
bath complex of the old times and the covered Bazaar which was mostly
closed because of Friday being holiday. The Bazaar has very artistically
designed arches.
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 29 September 84 – From Kirman to Zahidan. Long speech session on arrival


and a little shopping in Zahidan Bazaar.
 30 September 84 – Crossed over to Pakistan at Taftan. The contingent
received by the Inspector General Frontier Corps Balochistan, Major
General Mohammad Akram. After having lunch at Nokkundi, reached
Dalbandin in the evening. The road between Taftan and Nokkundi about 80
miles is the worst patch. In fact there is no road, just a track. Night stay at
Dalbandin.
 01 October 84 – From Dalbandin to Quetta.
 02-03 October 84 – Stayed at home with family. Yaman, Adnan and Omar
were very excited about the toys. Number of people came to meet.
 04 October 84 – From Quetta to Sukker after having lunch at Sibbi.
Comfortable night stay under arrangements 27 Punjab.
 05 October 84 – From Sukker to Multan. Haversack lunch at Rahim Yar Khan
and tea at Bahawalpur. Travel on the Pakistani roads now seems hazardous
and road conditions looked deplorable after having travelled on the good
roads in other countries. Parking sites, road signs and distance indicators
could be arranged without much expenditure.
 06 October 84 – Stay at Multan. It was 10th of Muharram. Stayed in the
room.
 07 October 84 – From Multan to Lahore via Faisalabad. Convoy stopped at
Shahkot Rest House from where the leader and few other persons went to
deceased Havildar Sharif’s home near Sangla Hill to offer Fateha and deliver
his belongings and some money collected by the delegation to the family.

 08 October 84 – Stay at Lahore. Had lunch with Aslam Bhai’s family at their
home in Qila Gujjar Singh.
 09 October 84 – Started from Lahore for Rawalpindi. Lunch at Kharian. Met
Brigadier Javed Majid, my Brigade Commander at Sialkot after a long time.
Reached Rawalpindi by 5 p.m. Sarfaraz Bhai, Zafar Bhai, Kukku and little
Rabia had come to receive. Yusuf had come from village to know the
programme.
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 10 October to 15 October 84. Dispersal process including recording of the


court of inquiry of the Jeep accident in Iran and visit to village on 12/13 Oct.
 16 October 84 – Back to Quetta to spend some leave and resume duties.

Some overall impressions about Iran have been mentioned earlier. In Turkey we
travelled through the south eastern part of the country which is not very well
developed. Some parts of the roads we traversed were just dusty tracks. The area
is inhabited by mainly Kurds an ethnic group spread over, rather divided in three
countries i.e. Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The people were very friendly towards us
particularly the older lot as we experienced when we had the chance to visit the
Market in Diyarbakir. For the first time I saw the Olive trees.

Travelling through Syria was journey through history, the old historical cities like
Aleppo, Hamas and particularly Damascus, the oldest inhabited city of the world.
The countryside is fertile and well populated. The main road we travelled on was
in fairly good condition. Jordan again was very rich in the historical sites
particularly the Jordan River Valley that we visited on our return journey.

In Saudi Arabia the marked difference was condition of the roads. Broad multi
lane roads facilitated travel to great extent. We spent about three weeks in Saudi
Arabia. Haj is a tough physical exercise particularly during the summers because
of intense heat. However with the spirit of a sacred undertaking it becomes
easier to go through the physical discomfort particularly for the younger and fit
people as we were at that time. If one considers the difficulties of people
performing Haj in earlier times when they had to travel on foot, on horses and
camels' one can appreciate the changes and comforts brought into our journeys
and facilities which are improving with passage of time. However there is always
room for comment. Our accommodation at Medina was very near the Mosque
but not very clean. Only two bathrooms were available for seventeen men and
four ladies. The person responsible for maintaining the building was stubborn and
mean. General attitude observed was that the local people were arrogant
towards Pakistanis but were scared of the Iranians who came for Hajj in more
organized manner. At Mecca the accommodation was clean and the owner very
cooperative but the place was away from Harram and we could not offer all our
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prayers in Harram. The overall arrangements by the Saudi Government were


elaborate to manage about 2.5 million people performing Haj.