DEFENCE NOTES

The war of lost opportunities
(Part I)

Maj (Retd) AGHA HUMAYUN AMIN from WASHINGTON DC writes about the chances we missed in Kashmir.

History is made by those who seize fleeting opportunities in the critical time span in any particular situation and relentlessly execute their plans without second thoughts, subduing inner fears, overcoming procrastination and vacillation, and above all by those who are propelled by the burning desire to defeat the enemy rather than any half hearted judiciousness and timidity. Ninety years of loyalism and too much of constitutionalism had however made the Muslims of 1947 slow in taking the initiative and too much obsessed with consequences of every situation.This attitude was excellent as long as the British were the rulers, but not for a crisis situation, in which geography, time and space, alignment of communications and weather temporarily favoured Pakistan, in case initiative and boldness was exercised and simple but audacious plans were executed in the shortest possible time! Today, it is fashionable to blame the Indians, Mountbatten, Gracey etc as far as the 1947-48 War is concerned. A dispassionate study of the events of 1947-48 clearly proves that victory was closer in 1947 than ever again as far as the Pakistan Army was concerned. Opportunities were lost because very few people who mattered at any level apart from Mr Jinnah, Brigadier Akbar Khan and some  others were really interested in doing anything!

The 1948 war was fought over the Muslim majority state of Kashmir ruled by a Hindu ruler, who did not want to accede to Pakistan. The specific sole and immediate aim of this chapter is to briefly analyse the 1948 war and to explain why Pakistan failed to achieve, what was within its grasp and why the Indians despite their overall material superiority could not achieve as much as they should have done. The morality of Kashmir dispute and who is morally right is beyond the scope of this book, except the simple point that as far as the broad mechanics of the philosophy governing the partition of India was concerned; i.e. division of India on a communal basis and as Non-Muslim and Muslim India, Kashmir should have been a part of Pakistan. There are detailed accounts of the Kashmir Dispute and whole books have been dedicated to it, a reader interested in this dispute should study those books. So we shall directly move on to the exact discussion of military mechanics of the 1948 war.

Theoretically, a Princely state could join any state i.e. India or Pakistan or stay independent. The British policy in this regard was not precise. A Princely State could join one of the two states i.e. India or Pakistan, with regard off course to physical propinquity. The choice of country was left entirely to the rulers of the princely states. As far as physical propinquity was concerned the state of Kashmir had all road rail and river communications with Pakistan and none with India. As far as the sentiments of the population were concerned, everything indicated that they did not certainly want to join Hindu majority India. The ruler Hari Singh was not inclined to joining Pakistan. In the third week of August 1947 the Kashmir State Force opened fire on a political meeting at a village near  Dhirkot in Poonch district. On 24 August 1947 the Muslims of the area started a small rebellion under Qayyum Khan an ex sepoy from the army. Other similar rebellions of small scale broke out in various parts of the state and the state forces were soon dispersed all over the state in internal security duties. It may be noted that the Kashmir State Forces consisted of nine infantry battalions out of which had the communal ratio of  22.2 % Muslim, 5.5 % Sikh and  55.55 % Dogra 1. As the rebellion spread the principal anti-India leader Sardar Ibrahim fled to Pakistan and started considerable efforts to mobilise Pakistani public opinion and military support in sustaining the rebellion, which had little chance of success at least in the valley in case the Hindu ruler was able to secure Indian Army’s assistance by virtue of acceding to India2. As true or exaggerated reports of anti-Muslim atrocities reached the Trans-Indus Pathan tribal area the Pathans who have been  historically famous for a multi- faceted motivation combining thirst for glory, Islamic zeal and lust for loot started movement towards Abbottabad and Murree on their own initiative. While all this was going on Hari Singh the ruler of Kashmir kept sitting on the fence, inclined to joining India, but unable to arrive at a firm resolve to do so for fear of the backlash against this decision from the Muslims, who constituted the 75 % majority. The situation was getting very swiftly out of control of  the Maharaja’s forces. There were more than 60,000 demobilised Muslim ex- servicemen who were World War II veterans, and many of these men formed militias and started harassing the dispersed state forces and harassing the various roads and bridges in the state. By 15th October these militias forced the State Forces to abandon Fort Owen, around the same time the Dogra communication between Kotli and Poonch was severed and the state forces Muslim troops had almost deserted and joined the rebels while the non- Muslim units were besieged at Bhimbar, Mirpur and Mangla3. It must be remembered that at this moment the Pakistani GHQ was not involved in the operations. The Muslim League’s high command had tasked Mian Iftikhar ud Din Minister for Refugees to prepare a plan aimed at ensuring that the Muslim majority state of Kashmir should join Pakistan. Brigadier Akbar Khan then serving in the Pakistani GHQ  wrote an appreciation ‘armed revolt inside Kashmir ‘ on Mian Iftikhar ud Din’s request. It appears that Mr Jinnah had  tasked Liaquat  to handle the Kashmir business. Liaquat in turn earmarked Mian Iftikhar ud Din. Iftikhar  requested Sardar Shaukat Hayat and Brigadier Akbar Khan  for advice. A conference presided by  Liaquat  was held at Lahore in September 1947. This was attended by Akbar whose appreciation had already been shown to Liaquat by Iftikhar ud Din earlier. Ghulam Mohammad the Finance Minister who was a contemporary of Liaquat at MAO College Aligarh4 and at this time was foremost in playing sycophant par excellence with Liaquat also attended the conference. Brigadier Akbar recalls that everyone was enthusiastic but no one including the Prime Minister  had any concrete idea about the tangible and concrete aspects of the actual plan of operations, specially as far as the logistic and armament aspect was concerned. Shaukat  was appointed as overall incharge with Major Khurshid Anwar (Retired) commanding the northern tribal force which was as per Akbar’s appreciation to attack on Muzaffarabad-Srinagar axis and  Major Zaman Kiani of the INA to command the southern force tasked to operate against  the Kathua  area in the south. Shaukat Hayat was not in favour of appointing Khurshid Anwar since he was a non-fighting arm soldier. Shaukat states in his book that Liaquat under Ghulam Mohammad’s influence appointed Khurshid Anwar, then commander of the Muslim League’s semi-military national guard to command the main northern invasion force. Akbar was to provide logistic support to the tribesmen which were to be employed for the invasion. There were three principal parties in the whole invasion affair. On one side was the Muslim League leaders like Shaukat Hayat (an ex-major) Iftikhar ud Din and Khurshid Anwar who had been ordered by Mr Jinnah to do something to help the Kashmiri Muslims. Then there were the tribesmen who were concentrating at Batrasi opposite the Kashmir border and there was Brigadier Akbar Khan a Burma DSO who was Director of the newly formed  Weapon And Equipment Directorate at the General Headquarters, tasked unofficially to support the tribal raiders logistically, using all resources at his disposal in GHQ as Director Weapons and Equipment without letting the Britishers controlling the Pakistan Army know! The tribesmen were brought from the NWFP tribal areas on trucks requisitioned by Government of Pakistan and concentrated in Batrasi north-east of Abbottabad. The invasion was to commence from 20th October 1947; the main northern tribal force invading Kashmir under Khurshid Anwar on Abbottabad-Garhi Habibullah-Muzaffarabad-Srinagar axis with a smaller auxiliary force advancing along Murree-Kohala-Muzaffarabad axis. The official history does not mention the Lahore conference presided by Liaquat but merely states that ‘Major Khurshid  Anwar (as a  result of some divine revelation!) undertook to organise and lead (whether voluntarily or on someone else’s orders is left to the readers’ imagination!) the tribesmen into Kashmir when the opportunity arose’ ! In addition Major Aslam Khan an ex- Kashmir State Force Officer and a MC of WW  Two also joined the Lashkar. Aslam was son of Brigadier Tor Gul who was a loyal subject of the Hindu Dogra ruler of Kashmir before 1947! The Lashkar of tribesmen had been assembled by the efforts of  Khan Khushdil Khan of Mardan. On the night of 20/21  October 2,000 tribesmen captured the bridge spanning the Neelam river on the Hazara Trunk Road linking Muzaffarabad with Abbottabad without  a fight, since the all Muslim guard platoon  of 4 Jammu and Kashmir  Infantry joined the tribesmen. The  Muslim companies of his state forces 4 Jammu and Kashmir Battalion in Muzaffarabad area rebelled and  joined the tribesmen. By  morning of 21 October the 2,000 raiders assisted by the Muslim Companies of the 4 Jammu and Kashmir State Infantry Battalion had captured the first major border town Muzaffarabad. Fighting continued till 23 October since other Dogra troops of the 4 Jammu and Kashmir infantry fought on till  23 October in the localities of Domel and Kohala.The 1947-48 Kashmir War had formally started.5

Geography, weather, sentiments of the bulk of the population, initial  comparative location  of  regular army troops available for action in Kashmir and the layout/alignment of communication; all favoured Pakistan. Rawalpindi  was not more than 47 miles from Abbottabad, 51 miles from Murree and 90 miles from Rawalpindi the three major garrison towns of Pakistan. All the major road and rail links to the state ran through Pakistan. The likely direction through which the Indians could rush in the reinforcements ran through a dirt road from Pathankot to Jammu and from here to Riasi across the Bannihal Pass (snowbound from November to March) to Srinagar which was more than 257 miles long. Whereas Muzaffarabad was linked to Srinagar by an all weather tarmac road without any major water obstacle or any serious gradient. The distance between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was less than 100 miles. The only rail link of the state was the one connecting the town of Jammu with Sialkot in Pakistan. The only way Indians could reinforce the State and save its capital Srinagar was by airlifting troops to Srinagar. If Srinagar was captured the whole Kashmir vale and the entire northern areas including Ladakh could no longer be held by the Indians. There were no subtleties or complexities of operational strategy in the whole situation except  following one simple straightforward plan ie; a bold and swift advance to Srinagar assisted by a troop or squadron of armoured cars. We will discuss in brief in the following paragraphs what actually happened and the major reasons which led to failure.

The entire Kashmir War of 1947-48 was fought over a large area comprising more than 89,000 square miles and over the highest mountain barriers in the world. However the innumerable actions of the war studied in detail are confusing and  do not provide the layman reader with a clear picture, thus the result is a situation in which the trees become more important than the whole forest. In brief the Kashmir War was fought in four areas, one of which was most important and the centre of gravity for the other three. These four areas were the Jhelum Valley or the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Road, the Northern Areas comprising the Gilgit-Leh axis in the Indus Valley and the Zojila Pass area, the Poonch River Valley and fourthly the area between Jammu and Mirpur. The centre of gravity of the whole war was the Jhelum Valley, which was the only place where an advantageous decision could have been achieved at the earliest and in  the relatively shortest time and space as far as the Pakistan Army was concerned; had the Pakistani political and military leadership possessed greater strength of resolution and independent spirit; than they actually did! The fate of the war in Indus valley depended on the degree of success in the Jhelum  Valley since the Indian line of communication to this theatre lay through the Jhelum Valley. The  fighting in Poonch river valley also depended on the success of the struggle for Jhelum Valley, since a Pakistani success in Jhelum Valley in terms of capture of Srinagar would have freed all Pakistani troops for a concentration against Poonch town from the north and would have definitely led to the capture  of Poonch.The fourth sector of the war i.e. the area south of  Bannihal Pass and between Akhnur Tawi river was the only area that the Indians could have held with a certain degree of success in terms of relative forces available, geographical location and the terrain factor.

**********************************************************

First of all we shall deal with the battles in Jhelum Valley on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Axis, the most decisive part of the whole war where the Indian position was most critical and hung on the razors edge.We have already seen that the tribesmen assisted by the Muslim elements of the Kashmir State Forces had successfully cleared Muzaffarabad-Domel area by 23 October. In terms of odds and comparative forces this was a predictable affair since the Hindu Dogra elements of the 4 Jammu and Kashmir Battalion, approximately  two companies or about 350 men were dispersed in penny packets over an area of thirty miles, and were further internally weakened by having a 50% Muslim strength or two companies. Added to these the 2,000 tribesmen who attacked Muzaffarabad on 21 October achieved complete surprise since the crucial bridge over the otherwise impassable river Neelum (Kishanganga) was handed over to them by the Muslim guard of the 4 Jammu and Kashmir infantry, and all that they had to deal were isolated Dogra platoons dispersed in various localities separated by many miles.After capturing Domel the last Dogra held locality on the main road to Srinagar on 23 October  in lorries and trucks. There was practically nothing between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar to stop the tribesmen. Brigadier Rajinder Singh the chief  of staff of the Kashmir State Forces was a brave man. He rushed  to Uri 63  miles west of Srinagar on the main Muzaffarabad-Srinagar road with 200 soldiers and blew a  bridge spanning a nullah (water course smaller than a river) on the main road on 23 October 19476. This delayed the advance of the tribesmen and other volunteers who now numbered about 5,000  by one day. Brigadier Rajinder Singh who believed in leading from the front was killed in action on 24th October. The tribesmen resumed advance and captured Baramula  which was  35  miles west of Srinagar on 26th October 1947. A very respectable Indian military historian has frankly admitted that ‘had the lashkar gone on,there was nothing between Baramula and Srinagar to stop it7’ The tribesmen sole motive was not liberation of Kashmir, and they started looting the town. Srinagar was  just a few hours lorry drive away from Baramula. According to Sardar Shaukat Hayat who was one of the Muslim League men tasked to oversee the invasion the issue was Rs 300,000 found in the Kashmir State Treasury. Khurshid Anwar foolishly argued that this money belonged to Pakistan Government (as if the tribesmen were fighting just for two nation theory, while no Muslim League leader was sixty miles near Baramula!) while the tribesmen correctly asserted that it belonged to them8. Once this issue was settled the tribesmen who had no conception of Time and Space factor insisted that they will not move before the three day Eid festival was over9. In the meantime the Indian GHQ was acting real fast. The Maharaja of Kashmir had been requesting the Indian government for military aid since 24th October and on 26th October  signed the Instrument of Accession joining India. Meanwhile the Indians had already sent a staff officer from their military operations department on 25th October  to study the military situation. The Indians collected 30 Dakotas for the airlift and flew two companies of 1 Sikh to Srinagar on 27th October from Willingdon airport near New Delhi. At this moment the Indian situation was highly critical; only 40 men were holding a weak defensive position 5 kilometres east of Baramula. It was Indian good luck that all  commanding officers during this situation believed in leading from the front, Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai the Commanding Officer of 1 Sikh being another such man. Dewan on landing at Srinagar immediately rushed in lorries to Baramula hoping to stop the Lashkar at the mouth of the funnel which opens east of Baramula into a wide valley as one advances from Baramula towards Srinagar. 1 Sikh joined the state troops 5 kilometres east of Baramula, but could not hold the Lashkar of 5,000 men. Dewan was killed in the fighting and the remaining elements of 1 Sikh withdrew  eastwards losing 24 men (killed) to take another defensive position at Patan 25 kilometres west of Srinagar10. On 28th more Indian troops flew into Srinagar and the balance of  strength started tilting in Indian favour. The tribesmen who were used to fighting based on hit and run tactics could not use weight of numbers in the open valley and resorted to bypassing tactics instead of the conventional infantry attack. They bypassed 1 Sikh’s position at Patan from the flanks but was forced to stay close to the main road since manoeuvrability in the whole area was  restricted by marshes and small lakes and the  lashkar Pathans were by and large non swimmers11! By 2nd November the Indians had flown in a very strong infantry brigade (161 Brigade) consisting of approximately four battalions into Srinagar. In addition the overall command of Indian Army operations in Kashmir was entrusted to Headquarters Jammu and Kashmir Force based at Srinagar and headed by  Major General Kalwant Singh. The commander of 161 Indian Infantry Brigade(from 2nd November)  was Brigadier L.P Sen a Bengali Hindu with an excellent  Second World War record (unlike the first Muslim C-in-C of Pakistan Army as we shall discuss later)  in Burma where he had won a Distinguished Service Order12. The tribesmen had lost the really golden opportunity to capture Srinagar on 27th October. There is no doubt that Pakistan had lost its first decisive battle without the Pakistan Army’s direct involvement. All was not over still; and another major opportunity to capture Srinagar  was yet to be lost. We will discuss this in a subsequent paragraph.

It may be noted that Mr Jinnah had ordered General Gracey the British Acting  C-in-C  (Messervy being on leave) of the Pakistan Army to attack Kashmir. Gracey who had been handpicked by Mr Jinnah on the grounds that Field Marshal Auchinleck the Supreme Commander of both the armies did not allow it!13 Auchinleck flew to Lahore the next day and convinced Mr Jinnah to retract his order. Auchinleck’s threat that all British officers would be withdrawn in case such an order was pressed further convinced Mr Jinnah into retracting this order14. Mr Jinnah was unlucky unlike Nehru in having no Patel by his side. When Bucher the British C-in-C of the Indian Army advised the Indian government not to attack Hyderabad till the Kashmir War was over,and Patel insisted otherwise, Bucher threatened to resign. Patel simply told him on the spot that he could resign and then ordered Sardar Baldev Singh,the Defence Minister ‘The Army will march into Hyderabad as planned tomorrow morning’15. Mr Jinnah was undoubtedly; by virtue of having taken an iron and  most resolute stand on the division of the Indian Army; the father of Pakistan Army. It was remarkable that as a very sick 71-year-old man in 1947, Mr Jinnah possessed the tremendous Coup d Oeil (unusual strategic insight) and resolution to order Gracey in October 1947 to employ two brigades of Pakistan Army to attack Kashmir; one from Sialkot going for Jammu and one from Rawalpindi going for Srinagar !16 It was indeed a pity that he did not possess any adviser, who could be called a ‘Man’ (A MAN LIKE PATEL) of sufficient ability and  independent judgement to convince him to  override Gracey who was behaving little better than a glorified headclerk and mouthpiece of Auchinleck! It was yet another tragedy that this glorified headclerk was retained and succeeded Messervy as the second C-in-C of Pakistan Army! It is strange that Shaukat Riza who wrote his book in the 1990s did not even mention this incident. A  reflection on the roundabout way in which the book was written and  on the analytical ability and grasp of military history of all the brilliant Principal Staff Officers of Pakistan’s General Headquarters whose name are so proudly mentioned in the Acknowledgement section of his book17.

The Indian GHQ ordered 7th Light Cavalry to be ready to move into Kashmir in the end of October. Its Hindu Jat Squadron  equipped with armoured cars (this was from 6 Lancers which went to Pakistan) started movement from Ambala on 1st November  and after a tough march reached Srinagar on the evening of 5th November. It has to be noted that although the Indians starting reinforcing Srinagar from 27th October onwards, the Indian superiority till the end of the first week of November was not as formidable as to ensure that Srinagar could not be threatened again, in case the Pakistan Army joined the tribesmen. This was so because the Indians were forced to defend simultaneously various locations which if lost could seriously jeopardise the whole  Indian position  in Kashmir. Their communication from Pathankot to Jammu  ran parallel and very close to the Pakistan border. Jammu the main town on their north-south communications was a few miles from Pakistan. In addition several Dogra garrisons at Bagh, Mirpur, Mendhar Poonch, Skardu, Leh etc were besieged by the various local militias and their fall could further exacerbate the Indian position in Kashmir. We had left the battle at Patan where 1 Sikh had taken a defensive position after being forced to withdraw from 5 kilometres east of Baramula. The tribesmen launched an attack on the reinforced Indian position at Patan on 30th October but failed to capture it due to intense strafing by Indian Air Force and the inherent defensive strength of the Indian defensive position which was well sited and dominated the area around. The tribesmen now decided to infiltrate, bypass the Indian position from both north and south and capture the Srinagar airfield, which was the centre of gravity of the whole battle. The tribesmen who were masters of guerrilla warfare successfully went into the rear of the Indian position from its south by infiltration (see definition) and managed to reach Badgam a village  just a few kilometres away from the Srinagar airfield on 3rd November. Here they successfully raided and dispersed an Indian infantry company inflicting in the process an extremely heavy loss on the Indians in terms of men killed including the Indian Company commander Major Somnath Sharma18. The tribesmen were very close to establishing a roadblock between Srinagar airfield and town, but their paucity in numbers restrained them from doing so. At this critical juncture when no Pakistani politician ever dared to cross the River Jhelum (it may be noted that till ceasefire in Dec 48, no major Muslim League leader including the Prime Minister ever visited Kashmir!) in order to inspire and pat the indomitable tribesmen. The Indian political leadership was more energetic and on hearing about our indomitable tribesmen’s action at Badgam Sardar Patel the second most important Indian leader after Nehru visited Srinagar on 4th November19. Patel stressed the importance of holding Srinagar and assured the soldiers that reinforcements were on the way.

**********************************************************

There is one extremely important event which has generally been ignored  by most Pakistani military historians including Shaukat Riza.This was a conference held between 30th October and 4th November. Brigadier Akbar Khan the military man incharge of the raiders operations had returned to Pindi after a visit to the frontline at Srinagar. The tribesmen had not yet been repulsed and were planning infiltration operations with the aim of capturing Srinagar airfield. Akbar Khan’s analysis about the operational solution to the problem of tribesmen’s inability to attack well entrenched Indian infantry, supported by aircraft and artillery was to provide the tribesmen with armoured cars. Major Masud from 11 Cavalry stationed at Rawalpindi volunteered to take his own squadron’s armoured cars to Srinagar, on his own initiative, without informing any superior headquarter. Akbar Khan states in his book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’ that  Major Masud said that the armoured cars would go without official permission, at his own risk and that the men would be in civilian clothes. This fact is proved by two independent authorities who were not from armoured corps and  thus had no  ulterior motivation  or desire to project 11 Cavalry. One was General Akbar who was present at the conference and the other was Brigadier Amjad Ali  Khan Chaudhry who was a gunner, and was also present at the same conference20. Akbar states that as the conference was coming to an end Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan a Muslim League leader and  Central Government Minister entered the room. Brigadier Sher Khan who was the Director Military Operations had also joined the discussion. This, Raja Ghazanfar (despite being from a so-called martial area)  was horrified about the armoured cars proposal, and according to both Akbar Khan and Amjad Chaudhry opposed the idea. He was supported by Brigadier Sher (Lion) Khan! Both the Minister and the Lion Hearted brigadier feared that such a step would lead to an open war between Pakistan and India21. Amjad Chaudhry states that one of the participants at this conference even voiced an apprehension that the unruly tribesmen may get unruly and damage the Maharajas palace at Srinagar22! Thus in the end Akbar Khan who was not directly in charge of the operations of tribesmen was overruled by a  pacifist Minister more keen to enjoy ministerial perks and a paper tiger brigadier wearing the mask of the high-sounding appointment of Director Military Operations! The  only difference between India and Pakistan was not whether one side possessed armoured cars or not, but  the simple fact that while Mr Jinnah did not have any able Muslim deputy to advise him about military affairs (whether Punjabi, Hindustani or Pathan) Nehru was assisted by a much larger team of more resolute, more intellectually capable Hindu deputies like Patel  who ensured that armoured cars of 7th Light Cavalry; under command  Lieutenant N.G David; did reach Srinagar area on 7th  November and inflicted on the poorly armed tribesmen equipped with bolt action rifles a defeat at what the Indians themselves call the decisive battle of Shalateng! It may be noted that on the night of 2/3 November the tribesmen had successfully infiltrated north of the Indian main position at Pattan and had reached Shalateng in the rear of Pattan and a little to the north of Srinagar. Sen the Indian brigade commander countered this move by ordering 1 Sikh to pull back from Patan and to take a position at milestone four astride the Srinagar-Baramula road. By 6th November a large number of tribesmen who had been slowly infiltrating since 3rd November had gathered at Shalateng. Major Aslam and Major Khurshid Anwar the Pakistani officers in charge of these tribesmen decided to launch their main attack on Srinagar on the night of 6/7 November. The Indian Brigade Commander Brigadier Sen was also simultaneously analysing this threat and  had  decided to launch a deliberate  attack on this force supported by 7th Light Cavalry’s squadron on 7th November. Sen’s plan was to launch a frontal attack supported by  aircraft  while one troop of 7th Light Cavalry  under Lieutenant David which had already been sent towards Bandipura on a recce mission and was already in the tribesmen’s positions rear was ordered by wireless to attack the tribesmen from the rear23. The result was the battle of Shalateng on the morning of 7th November. The tribesman had started their main attack  by infiltration on the  night of 6th November and were fighting on the northern outskirts of Srinagar when the Indians launched their main attack at first light. David’s troop had already got into the rear of the tribesmen as planned; thus while the tribesmen were attacked frontally by Indian infantry supported by armoured cars and aircraft, armoured cars were attacking them from the rear. This was too much for men armed with bolt action rifles. The tribesmen were routed and it was with great difficulty that the situation was finally stabilised at least temporarily at Rampura a narrow defile halfway between Baramula and Uri24.

The abandonment of the conduct of war to tribesmen armed with bolt action rifles; while the Indians attacked them with Spitfires, Tempests, Harvards and Daimler/Humber/GMC Armoured cars was without any doubt  one of the most disgraceful acts in Pakistani military history. Even in the whole of 1947-48  War in all probability no regular Pakistan Army officer beyond the rank of captain was killed! An indicator that officers were not leading from the front. General Akbar Khan’s views about the whole affair at Shalateng are more controversial. Akbar is of the opinion that, no battle ever took place at Shalateng, since the bulk of tribesmen had already withdrawn to Baramula on 5th November25. Akbar was not present at Shalateng and there is no doubt that a battle did take place at Shalateng; however it is possible that after appearance of the Indian regular army units supported by aircraft; and no similar counteraction from Pakistani side in shape of a similar commitment in terms of army/airforce involvement; it is likely that many tribesmen may have  withdrawn from Srinagar area between 27th October and 5th November. Akbar who was a man of much greater integrity than one thousand Aslam Khans etc was more accurate once he said in his book; ‘ They felt themselves let down by Pakistan. They had, of their own free will, agreed to come and fight in Kashmir but only against the State Army. In this they had done more  than what was expected of them. But no one had arranged with them. But no one had arranged with them to fight also against the regular Indian Army, with artillery tanks and aircraft26. It must be noted that there was one very major difference between the tribesmen and the vast majority of Muslim League leaders like Ghazanfar Ali and men like Aslam Khan, Khurshid Anwar etc, i.e.; these men and their ancestors since 1849 had been serving the British and even the Dogras (as far as Aslam Khan was concerned) and  suddenly in 1940 or 1947 these men had become leaders of Pakistan or  officers of the  Pakistan Army; in contrast the tribesmen and their ancestors had been fighting the British with unequal intervals since 1849!

**********************************************************

Baramula was recaptured by Indians on 8th November and the Indians aided by their airforce which was attacking the entire tract of road between Baramula and Muzaffarabad27 continued their advance towards Uri. The Indian Prime Minister Nehru visited Kashmir on 11th November and travelled in an armoured car of 7th Light Cavalry till Baramula28. Compare this with the attitude of the Pakistani politicians. Neither Liaquat the Prime Minister nor any single of his ministers; Hindustani, Punjabi, Sindhi, Bengali or Pathan  crossed river Jhelum29. The attitude of Gracey in not agreeing to commit the army to Kashmir, however disgraceful and negative can be explained by saying that he was a foreigner! What kept the Pakistani political leadership from visiting the tribesmen who had won a territory that to this day has been ruled by Pakistan is hard to explain. Akbar Khan was not wrong once he said that fear prevented these leaders from visiting Kashmir while the war was on30! Liaquat eventually fell victim of an assassin in 1951. Had he died because of enemy action while visiting Kashmir, posterity would have remembered him as a much greater man. According to  Akbar, Messervy was the main culprit for spreading a fear of Indian reaction in Pakistan Army. ‘Messervy addressing a meeting of G.H.Q officers warned us against hostilities with India. He said that, in his opinion, in case of war India would overrun Pakistan within ten days’ 31. Compare this negative attitude with the Israeli Army which defeated far better armed and well organised Arab armies in the 1948 War. Just 30,000 Jews had served in the British Army  in the second world war32. More than 600,000 Muslims, more than half of them from areas which constituted Pakistan had fought in the Second World War and yet the Pakistani leadership was unwilling to stand on its own feet preferring the two unreliable British crutches i.e. Messervy and Gracey! Mr Jinnah had already done too much for the army by insisting on the division of Indian Army, against tremendous opposition on part of the Britishers. The great tragedy was that Mr Jinnah was surrounded by men of  zero military insight and devoid of all independent judgement. The Secretary of Defence, Mirza being a man who had never fought in actual war and the Muslim League politicians who were only good followers!

General Akbar Khan (then Lieutenant Colonel) met the tribals at Uri on 8th November .The tribals questioned Akbar about why Pakistan Government was behaving so spinelessly and not assisting them with artillery/regular troop support etc.Akbar Khan had no answer and tried to explain the legal position or simply lack of guts in the Pakistani political leadership and lack of guts in  most the Pakistan Army’s Muslim officers, except few indomitable men like Major Tommy  Masud  to risk their commissions by disobeying orders of the British C-in-C and showing some initiative (authors opinion in italics) 33.

According to General Akbar  Khan the tribesmen were so demoralised and disappointed by lack of  Pakistan Army support that they withdrew from the frontline opposite Baramula on  31st October and 10th November, and withdrew to  Uri area, contemplating about returning to the tribal area34. Had the Indians possesses sufficient resolution or a commander with coup d oeil there was nothing stopping them from capturing Muzaffarabad between 31st October and 10th November. The same viewpoint is advanced by the official history35.  The probability that Akbar Khan who wrote the famous book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’ or Major Aslam, whose personal  account  was one of the many personal accounts used by the official historians who compiled the official history dealing with operations in Kashmir, were  exaggerating their own  role cannot be ruled out. There is one fact, however, that stands out as the crux of the issue, and which still raises the stature of the tribesmen higher than both Akbar or Aslam; i.e.  the fact that the initial shock of the tribal onslaught on Srinagar was so traumatic that it imposed a ‘once bitten twice shy approach’ on the mind of the Indian Commanders. This ensured that  the Indians despite the absence of any tribals in front of them; (as Messrs Akbar and Aslam allege) were in no mood to advance hurriedly  towards Muzaffarabad after having captured Baramula. After 10th November according to Akbar Khan the Mahsud and other tribesmen returned and played a major role in stabilising the front between Uri and Muzaffarabad36. As one advances westwards from Baramula to Uri the Jhelum Gorge becomes narrower and the defenders task becomes easier while the attackers task becomes more difficult. The Indian Army although supported by aircraft artillery and armoured cars was too psychologically shattered to advance rapidly westwards, despite the fact that most tribesmen were not fighting the battle, at least temporarily few demolitions and a few snipers who were too motivated to withdraw stopped the Indian advance approximately 3 miles west of Uri37.  The official Pakistani history is hell bent upon giving the credit for this to Aslam Khan, while Akbar Khan also claims the credit for having stopped the Indians. The tribesmen who did the actual dirty work of fighting were never consulted by the authors of the official account! The start of snowfall from first week of December ensured that no major fighting took place between December 1947 and April 1948. We must also remember that the tribals did the actual fighting between 20th October and in November 1947,while books were written by Pakistan Army officers from 1970 onwards, some 23 years after the war. The Indian behaviour after capture of Uri showed that their higher commanders lacked the initiative, which was the only commodity required to capture Muzafarabad as far as the Indians were concerned. Instead the Indians wasted three infantry battalions,two artillery batteries and a squadron of armoured cars in passively defending Uri38. The Indian problem like Pakistan Army as we shall see later, was not lack of valour, for there was plenty of valour at the lower level; but lack of resolute  leadership at the higher level. In the same Uri area there was a living legend of the  pre-1945 British Indian Army; i.e. Jemadar Nand Singh a Punjabi Sikh who (as a Naik in 1/11 Sikhs)  had won the Victoria Cross in Burma at the Battle of Buthidang in Arakan on 12th March 1944 for having cleared three Japanese foxholes singlehandedly39. But there were no Rommels or Nicholsons or Bluchers. Thimaya who came to Uri area later was a little better than other Indian commanders, but his initiative was limited  and kept in check, by the higher military Indian commanders.

The battles around Srinagar, although small in  terms of size of forces involved  were the most crucial  battles of the Kashmir War. By 13th November when the Indians captured Uri the remotest chance of any future threat developing ever again to Srinagar was removed. The Srinagar Valley was the heartland of Kashmir. Possession of it meant that the Indians could reinforce and relieve its besieged garrisons at Leh, Skardu, Poonch. Attack Muzaffarabad, Tithwal, Kargil and mount air attacks on all supply routes on Murree-Muzaffarabad-Uri Road, Kaghan-Babusar-Chilas track, all tracks and roads around Poonch etc.

**********************************************************

The next logical Indian operational objective should have been to straight thrust westwards from Uri to Domel-Muzaffarabad and close the main raider point of entry into Kashmir. We have already seen that the Indians were too psychologically shattered to do so. Instead they wasted their strength in various relief operations which we will discuss in brief. Since September-October various Kashmir State Forces garrisons consisting of Hindu Dogra troops were besieged all over the state by the tribals who had entered various parts of Kashmir and by local Kashmiri Muslim militias of ex-World War II veterans. The besieged garrisons were defended by numerically small forces and started surrendering one by one; Bhimbhar and Mendhar on 3rd November, Bagh was abandoned by its non-Muslim garrison on 9th November which broke out to join Poonch Garrison.  Rajauri  was captured by the Militia/Tribals on 12th November  and Rawalakot whose defenders managed to breakout and join Poonch around the same time40. In various Pakistani and Indian accounts both sides accuse each other of atrocities against prisoner women and other non-combatants. I have deliberately avoided discussing these, since; the subject of this book is not ethics or human rights violation. I am  of the firm conviction that both sides were guilty of this charge and both i.e.  the Tribals/Militia and the Dogras/Indian Army  were not angels or philanthropists by any definition; the best course being to accept the fact there were villains in higher proportion on both sides as far as the Non-Regular Forces i.e. Kashmir State Force and Tribals/Kashmiri Militia were concerned. In mid-November the Indians brought another regular army brigade i.e. 268 Infantry Brigade in Kashmir. This brigade relieved 50 Para Brigade which had been  earlier located in Gurdaspur area and had entered Kashmir in end October of the defence of Jammu Akhnur area. The Indians now  planned a relief operation aimed at relieving Mirpur Poonch and Kotli garrisons, two battalion size  force (from 161 Brigade)  was to move from Uri southwards to Poonch while a brigade size force (50 Para Brigade) supported by a squadron of armoured cars of 7th Light Cavalry which had joined it at Jammu on 9th November41, was to move from Jammu  northwards on axis Jammu-Akhnur-Nowshera-Jhangar-Kotli-Mirpur relieving Mirpur right on the Kashmir Pakistan border by 20th November 1947. The Indians were not wholly successful in executing this plan. Tribal/Militia resistance was tough and the terrain difficult, and the Uri force could not relieve Poonch but  managed to breakthrough to it and reinforcing it with one battalion. The force attacking northwards from Jammu i.e. 50 Para Brigade succeeded in capturing Nowshera Jhangar and relieving  Kotli garrison on 26th November. However, news of fall of Mirpur which had been captured by the tribals/militia on 25th November forced the Indians to abandon Kotli, which could not be defended, while Mirpur was in hostile hands. Around the end of December the Indians inducted another regular army brigade in Kashmir i.e. the  80 Infantry Brigade in area Chamb-Akhnur. This brigade captured Chamb on 10th December and had been captured by the militia soon after the rebellion started in October. It may be noted that the 50 Para Brigade was commanded since end of November by Brigadier Usman an Indian Muslim officer who had decided to opt for the Indian Army42. Intense fighting involving small size forces took place in area Bhimbhar-Jhangar-Mirpur etc; we will not discuss these minor actions since they did not have any major impact on the overall strategic situation in Kashmir. Most important of these actions but  of limited tactical consequence was recapture of Jhangar by the Militia/Tribals on 24 December. In  mid-February 1948 the Indians inducted 19 Brigade (three infantry battalions) in Nowshera area43.

It may be noted that the Indians were extra sensitive about the security of Jammu and had deployed two squadrons of Stuart Light Tanks (one from 7th Light Cavalry and one from Central India Horse) at Jammu from December onwards. In addition a squadron of Sherman Tanks (Deccan Horse) was stationed first at Samba on the Pathankot-Jammu road from January 1948 and later moved  to Jammu44 .

***********************************************************

It may be noted that the overall incharge of all Indian Army operations in Kashmir was Lieutenant General Russell in the capacity of General Officer Commanding in Chief, Delhi and Punjab Command. This Russell performed his task most religiously and ably in marked contrast with the two inefficient British crutches employed by Pakistan i.e. Messervy and Gracey. British government however had imposed a ban on Russell’s entry in Kashmir, and Russell who was a brave man and a good soldier asked the Indians to either lift this ban or relieve him of his command. Once the ban was not lifted the Indians replaced Russell by Lieutenant General Cariappa on 20th January 194845.

**********************************************************

We will now briefly deal with the Gilgit Rebellion which led to the liberation or capture of Northern Areas of Kashmir State by anti-Maharaja Muslim forces. The Northern areas comprised the areas of Baltistan, Gilgit Wazarat and Ladakh. Gilgit was leased to the British in 1901. The British had raised an all Muslim para military force known as Gilgit Scouts under British  officers to garrison the area and to act as a scout and early warning force against an invasion from Czarist Central Asia. In 1947 once the Britishers were withdrawing from India they returned the area to the Kashmir State. The area was all Muslim and Dogra rule was unpopular. The Maharaja sent a new Governor and some Kashmir State troops to take over the area. Once the Gilgit Scouts realised that the Dogras (Kashmir State) were planning to disband them46, they planned a rebellion against the Dogra rule in which their two British officers i.e. Major Brown and Captain Mathieson who were dedicated enough to identify themselves with their Muslim rank and file also joined. The total strength of the Gilgit Scouts was 582 men47. There were no Kashmir State Force troops at Gilgit the capital of the Gilgit Agency where the Dogra Governor Brigadier Ghansara Singh was housed. The nearest Kashmir State Force Unit i.e.  6th Jammu and Kashmir Infantry Battalion was at Bunji  36 miles south of Gilgit. This unit had two companies of Punjabi (Kashmiri Muslims from Poonch area) Muslims and two of non- Muslims. (one Hindu Dogra and one Sikh)48. When the Scouts received news of accession of Kashmir State on 28th October, they planned a revolt and executed their plans on 4th November capturing Gilgit and placing the Dogra Governor Ghansara Singh under arrest. The scouts also seized Bunji without much effort since the non-Muslim troops, who were overwhelmingly outnumbered, were too demoralised to put up a fight. Some of them took the great risk of attempting to escape towards Skardu  in Kashmir State territory or Astor on the Gilgit-Bunji-Srinagar route, however few of these  reached Skardu. The Gilgit Scouts initially proclaimed an independent Republic, but later, probably keeping in view the more dangerous regular Indian Army intervention threat; decided to join Pakistan in mid November.

In order to understand accurately the  nature of Northern Areas terrain, the reader may note that within 65 miles radius of Gilgit  there are eight mountain peaks above 24,000 feet including Rakaposhi (26,050 feet), and Nanga Parbat (26,650 feet) and a large number of glaciers etc. Gilgit was about  231 miles from Srinagar the Kashmir State capital and a mountain track connected  Srinagar-Gilgit, with  the 13,780  high Burzil Pass, which was snowbound from November to March in the middle. The other route to Kashmir territory was the Gilgit-Skardu track in the Indus valley which was little more than  a mule track and was about 118 miles long. All the rivers in the area were extremely swift, unfordable and unnavigable except  by ferry rafts made of inflated buffalo skin and these also required great expertise and skill in order to be employed successfully  part of the non-Muslim garrison at Bunji surrendered while some elements tried to withdraw to Skardu in the Kashmir State territory or towards Astor on the Gilgit-Srinagar route, but most were killed or captured.

The Pakistani Government sent Lieutenant Colonel Aslam Khan (the same Major Aslam of the Srinagar operation) as overall commander of military operations in Northern Areas. Aslam Khan reached  Gilgit in December 1947. It may be noted that in most Pakistani accounts written by either non-Northern Area/Punjabi etc officers all credit for the success of operations in the Northern Area is heaped on Aslam Khan. From 1979 onwards when my father was commanding a brigade group in Northern Areas and on various other occasions when I visited Northern Areas during the period 1979-97 I met various veterans of 1948 war and questioned them about Aslam’s role. The general consensus of opinion was that Aslam had limited role in planning or executing these operations and that the most active part in the planning and execution was played by Major Ehsan (Kashmir State  Forces) and Lieutenant Shah Khan (Gilgit Scouts) but Aslam  being a regular army officer, having excellent contacts, and because he was the overall commander  robbed both of all the credit. Aslam had lobbied for the appointment and got it on the basis that his father had served the Dogras before 1947 and that he  knew the area. Aslam was by caste/origin a Pathan; but Punjabi speaking and was closer in ethnic terms to the men who were associated with compilation of the official history and Shaukat Riza; who in his books was subconsciously trying to project the Punjabi Muslims as the only fighting race as far as Pakistan Army was concerned. Foreign readers are advised to treat Aslam’s projection in the official history and in Shaukat Riza’s account with a pinch of salt!

The Gilgit Scouts and the  Muslim companies of 6th Jammu and Kashmir conducted their operations after the capture of Gilgit/Bunji on  three axis. It may be noted that following the fall of Gilgit, a large number of locals of Gilgit and Hunza had volunteered for military service and the total strength of the Scouts reached the figure of approximately 2,000 men49. The Ibex Force (approx. 400 men) was given the objective of advancing on  axis Gilgit-Skardu under the indomitable Major Ehsan Khan; with a view to capturing Skardu which was held by a Dogra battalion. The Tiger Force under Captain Hassan Khan (400 men) was tasked to advance on axis Bunji-Kamri-Gurais-Bandipura; the axis which the Indians were likely to adopt; after the snow melted in early 1948 to capture the Northern Areas. The  Eskimo Force (400 men) under Lieutenant Shah Khan was to move from Astor through the snow bound  and uninhabited Deosai Plain above 10,000 feet and attack Dras-Kargil and Zojila Pass  area from the rear severing the communications of the Dogra garrisons holding Dras-Skardu and Leh with the Kashmir valley/Srinagar area. The operations of the Gilgit Scouts in the Northern Areas are the most fascinating and inspiring part of the entire 1947-48 War, however, for lack of space we will discuss them in  a  very brief manner. The Ibex Force  commenced its advance along northern bank of Indus river in end January 1948 and besieged the Dogras at Skardu from  12 February. The Dogras were vastly outnumbered and their defeat; keeping in view numerical disparity, limited supplies and distance from Srinagar; was a foregone conclusion. Despite all their tangible inferiority the Dogras led by Lieutenant Colonel Sher Jang Thapa; an extremely resolute commander and a very chivalrous human being as far as treatment of non-combatants was concerned50 held on till 14th August 1948; when 200  of his garrison broke out towards Kargil, while Sher Jang with the remainder 250  of his troops surrendered51. The Indians had made many attempts to relieve Skardu, but these were foiled by the Scouts/Volunteers who defeated the various Indian relieving columns  by laying some very unconventional and brilliant ambushes on the Skardu-Kargil Road. Dras on the Kargil-Skardu road was captured by the Gilgit Scouts on 6th June 1947. In June the Scouts finally advanced towards Zojila Pass the gateway to Srinagar Valley from the east. Zojila Pass (11,578 ft) was captured by the Gilgit Scouts under the leadership of Lieutenant Shah Khan  on  7th July 1948. The Gilgit Scouts also advanced towards Leh about 160 miles east of Skardu in the Indus valley, but could not capture it since, their relative numerical inferiority, lack of adequate logistic support and a majority of non-Muslim population in the area, made the success of their operation doubtful. By mid-July the Scouts, without any regular army troops had liberated the entire Northern Areas and had reached the administrative boundary of Srinagar district  holding an area stretching in the west from outskirts of Bandipura 40 miles north of Srinagar, holding   Zojila Pass  62 miles east of Srinagar and at Nimu few miles west of Leh. The Scouts had achieved more than their actual potential warranted and could only be praised for doing what they did. It was not possible for the Scouts any further, since an advance west  south or east of the line they were holding would have brought them into open territory, where high mountains and steep cliffs and high altitude were no longer present to act as force multipliers and where the Indians could effectively employ their regular army supported by modern artillery, aircraft, armoured cars and tanks.     

(To be continued in part II in our May issue.)

Reference

1. Pages-271 & 272-Shaukat Riza-The Pakistan Army-1947-49-Op Cit.

2. Page-19- Raiders in Kashmir-  Major General Akbar Khan-First Published-1970-Reprinted by Jang Publishers-Lahore-1992.

3. Page-34 -Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

4. Pages-295 , 296 & 297- History of the MAO College Aligarh-S. K Bhatnagar- First Published-1969-Reprinted—1975-Book Traders-P.O Box 1854-Lahore. Liaquat and Ghulam (ie Ghulam Mohammad) Zakir Hussain (later India’s President), Umar Hayat Malik (later an ambassador) authors paternal grandfather (from Indian Secretariat Service/Ministry of Defence) were contemporaries at the MAO College Aligarh during 1916-1919. Ghulam Mohammad excelled in academics and was awarded the Morison Medal for being the best student in MA Economics.Umar Hayat Malik again excelled in academics and was awarded the Crosthwaite Medal for being the best student in BA Mathematics. Zakir Hussain was awarded the  Iqbal Medal for being the best Muslim student in the Allahabad University examinations.  Zakir Hussain was the Vice President of the MAO College Students Union (Siddon’s Union) 1918  while the author’s grandfather Mohammad Amin was also an office-bearer in the same body with the appointment of Librarian (Refers Group Photograph of Students Union 1918 facing page- 321). Nawabzada Liaquat was noted for hospitality in throwing parties (Page-252). It appears that Ghulam Mohammad later made good use of the MAO College old boy net with Liaquat in the Pakistani cabinet. By 1951 later however as per Liaquat’s Secretary; Liaquat was planning to sack Ghulam. Ghulam was a Kakkezai from Jullundhur born in Lahore. The readers may note that the MAO College at this time was a meeting place of all Muslim Classes. Liaquat being a rich Nawabzada from Karnal. The authors grandfather being from a rural/service background (son of an official of the Punjab Police) was born at Dinga in 1896 and received his basic education from Gujrat, Jhelum Chauntra Gujar Khan and Satiana and finally joined the MAO College in 1913 coming all the way from a remote village of Lyallpur near Satiana. Umar Hayat was from a Punjabi feudal background and Ghulam from a Punjabi urban background.

5. Facts/ Information given in this paragraph is based on the details given in the following accounts/books:— Page-214 ,215 and 216  The Nation that Lost Its Soul —Major Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan (Retired)-Jang Publishers-Lahore-1995 , Pages- 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25- Raiders in Kashmir-Op Cit and pages —58, 59 and 60 - The Kashmir Campaign-1947-48 —Historical Section-General Staff Branch-General Headquarters-Rawalpindi-December 1970. The reader must note that the Kashmir Campaign was a  very meticulously written book, not in terms of analysis, because of being an official history, but in layout, presentation of facts and in terms of continuity and clarity. Shaukat Riza simply reproduced a large number of maps from this book without bothering to improve them! Compare this book with Shaukat Riza’s  relatively substandard triology on Pakistan Army history, and one can safely conclude that the quality of intellect and efficiency as far as producing military history works was higher in the Pakistani GHQ in 1970 than in 1986-90 when Shaukat Riza assisted by a whole team of staff officers and with the blessings of Zia and  of two of Zia’s Vice Chiefs of Army Staffs produced his monumental three books on  what the Pakistan Army did, or did not do! It is important to note that both the official history and Akbar’s book were published in 1970. Akbar wrote his book after reading the official history which disgusted him! Publication of Akbar’s book was made possible only because of Ayub’s exit from power. During Ayub’s government an unofficial ban was imposed on all books .

6. Page-35-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

7. Page-36-Ibid.

8. Page-216-Sardar Shaukat Hayat-Op Cit.

9. Ibid.

10. Pages-39, 40 & 41-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

11. Page-42-Ibid and Page-42-Akbar Khan-Op Cit.

12. Pages-40 & 41-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

13. Page-343- Report of November 7, 1947- Mountbatten’s ‘Top Secret’ Personal Reports as Viceroy of India—India Office Library-L/PO/433. Page-154- Looking Back- Mehr Chand Mahajan- Asia Publishing House London-1963- and Pages-91 & 92-Fazal I Muqueem-Op Cit.

14. Page-343-Mountbatten Top Secret Report-Op Cit.

15. Page-115-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

16. Page-154-Mehr Chand Mahajan-Op Cit.

17. Page-3 of ‘Acknowledgementî Section where Shaukat Riza thanked all those who assisted him in writing the book and read the draft of the book!-Shaukat Riza-Op Cit. These are  Generals K.M Arif, Mirza Aslam Beg, Zia ul Haq etc.

18. Pages-42 , 43 & 44-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit and Pages-66 & 67-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit.

19. Page-44-K.C Praval-Op Cit.

20. Page-44-Major General Akbar Khan-Op Cit and Page-6 - September 65 —Before and After —Brigadier Amjad Ali Khan Chaudhry-Ferozesons Lahore-1977. Akbar Khan was born in December 1912 and joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst after studying at Islamia College Peshawar. Commissioned in 1934, he joined 1st Hampshire Regiment and subsequently the FF Rifles. Saw active service in Waziristan operations (1937-38) and in WW Two in Burma in the 20th Indian Division where he was awarded the DSO. A man of immense drive Akbar while a lieutenant colonel  served as one of the members of ‘Army Sub-Committee’ which  supervised the process of division of the Indian Army. After partition Akbar took over as  Deputy Director Weapon and Equipment Directorate till 1948 when he was posted full time in Kashmir. He was unofficially associated as  a volunteer  with the Kashmir War right from October 1947. He was described by Shaukat Riza  as ‘an impatient man with an almost uncomfortable drive and initiative’ (See - page-158-Shaukat Riza-1947-1949-Op Cit) something which most Pakistani senior officers of that time as well as till to date terribly lack! Akbar commanded the 101 Brigade in the Kashmir War where he conceived and executed the Pandu operation which was described in Pakistani Official history published in 1970, nineteen years after Akbar had been dismissed and sentenced to Jail; as: one of the most humiliating Indian defeat in which one complete Indian battalion was wiped out (See—page-207-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit). Akbar was anti- British and thus disliked by British officers who held the highest posts in the army of the so-called independent Islamic state till 1950! Akbar was, however, promoted to the rank of Major General and Chief of General Staff of the Pakistan Army  in December 1950. Akbar was disgusted with the timid policies of the Pakistani political leadership and planned a coup but was arrested in March 1950. Akbar’s arrest led to reduction of the Pakistani officer’s status in legal terms to that of a clerk; making him vulnerable to dismissal from service without any reason; as a result of the new laws instituted by Prime Minister Liaquat. Akbar and a large number of officers and some civilians were tried by a  secret court and sentenced to fourteen years jail. Akbar served his jail term for four years till 1955 on bail by the  high court on a habeas corpus petition. Akbar qualified as a lawyer in 1964 and practised law from 1968 at Karachi. He became Bhutto’s National Security Advisor in 1972 and played an instrumental role in sacking General Gul Hassan and the Air Chief. Bhutto later became aprehensive about Akbar and sent him abroad to Czechoslovakia as an ambassador. Akbar died in Karachi in 1990. Akbar was a thorough bred Pathan but married in Lahore’s famous Baghbanpura Arain family of Sir Mohammad Shafi. As a result he came in contact with various Punjabi intellectuals like the great poet Faiz, Mazhar Ali Khan etc. One of Akbar’s associates was the indomitable Major Ishaq who fought against the NC type stinking hypocrite Jullundhuri  usurper Zia and spent a great part of his life in jail .

21. Page-44-Major General Akbar Khan-Op Cit.

22. Page-6-Brigadier Amjad Chaudhry-Op Cit.

23. Page-45-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit and Page-276- The Indian Armour-History of the Indian Armoured Corps-1941-1971—Major General Gurcharan Singh Sandhu-Vision Books-Delhi-1994.

24. Page-68-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit.

25. Page-52-Major General Akbar Khan-Op Cit.

26. Ibid.

27. Page-46-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

28. Page-47-Ibid.

29. Pages-175 & 176-Raiders in Kashmir-Original Edition-Pak Publishers Limited-Karachi-1970.

30. Pages-174 & 175-Ibid.

31. Pages-90 & 91-Ibid.

32. Page-18- The Arab Israeli Wars — Chaim Herzog-Vintage Books-Random House-New York-1984.

33. Pages-56 & 57-Major General Akbar Khan-Raiders in Kashmir- 1992 Edition-Op Cit.

34. Pages-52 & 53 to 66-Ibid.

35. Pages-68 & 69-Ibid.

36. Pages-67 & 68-Ibid.

37. Page-69-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit.

38. Page-278-The Indian Armour-Op Cit.

39. Page-503-Philip Mason-Op Cit.

40. Pages- 76 ,77 , 78 & 79-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit and Pages-47 & 48-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

41. Page-281-The Indian Armour-Op Cit.

42. Page-56-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

43. Pages-284 & 285-The Indian Armour-Op Cit and Page-64-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

44. Page-282-The Indian Armour-Op Cit.

45. Pages-58 & 59-Major K.C Praval-Op Cit.

46. Pages-4 & 5-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit.

47. Page-5-Ibid.

48. Page-291-Shaukat Riza-Op Cit-

49. Page-10-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit.

50. Page-30-The Kashmir Campaign-Op Cit.

51. Ibid

previouspagebackhome