|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
Reference: Your Article on Brigadier S.Y. Manto (Retd)
February ’2002 Issue
This letter is in no way to cause any aspirations on
anyone or to doubt the authenticity of Brigadiers narration. The only aim
is to fill in the gaps (Specially in narration of 1971 War) and correct
record on one or two counts. By stroke of luck I was fortunate (with gaps)
to watch this very smart and outstanding senior officer closely. First I
saw him as young Lieutenant Colonel commanding great 26th Cavalry in Chamb
sector, I was Lieutenant in 28th Cavalry then and was connected with 26th
Cavalry through my cousin Lieut. Capt Hassan Zaheer, SJ (Shaheed) and my
friend Lieut. Noni Shah (he wore peak cap throughout the war). Then for a
short period I served as his GSO-3 in 3rd Independent Armoured Brigade in
Lahore, and last I saw him in uniform while he was in the process of
taking over command of Pakistan Coast Guards from my uncle Brigadier
Sajjad Hussain (Retd). I always found him very polite and an attractive
personality, very fond of wearing off white scarf. A few words about
“CHAMB OPERATION” in 1971. Since the Brigadier had covered his part
only hence it gives a feeling to reader that something is missing. If
following is read with Brigadier Manto’s narration then it may present
28 Cavalry, (commanded by Lt. Col Abdul Hameed Doger (Later Brigadier), The 6 Armoured
Division Reece Regiment located in concentration area EMINABAD, Sialkot
sector was detached to command 2 Independent Armoured Brigade ex 23
Division in CHAMB SECTOR at 021810 Dec 1971. The Regiment completed
movement to its forward concentration area PIRMAINGAWALI 041100 Dec 71. A
sqn ex 11 Cavalry (Designated ‘C’ Squadron) was placed under command
for operations from 5 to 7 December. At 050200 Dec, the regiment was
tasked to induct into the Bridgehead established by 4 AK Bde across RIVER
TAWI and breakout towards JAURIAN. The regiment reached KAMAULICHHAPPAR at
050500 Dec and commenced advance at 0715 Hrs with A sqn leading. Hardly
advancing 100 yds it drew heavy tank and anti-tank fire from Mandiala
Ridges, which indicated that enemy was still holding the western bank of
RIVER TAWI and there was no Bridgehead. A squadron developed the situation
and got deployed. B squadron was then launched from the direction of
SAKRANA to out flank MANDIALA SOUTH. It encountered a minefield
effectively covered by enemy tanks and anti-tank weapons. Thereafter a
static battle ensued. The Divisional plan was modified which envisaged a
complete change in direction of advance from south west towards CHAK
PANDIT. 28 Cavalry broke contact with enemy at 1630 hrs to concentrate in
area CHANIR POST. The new mission assigned to 28 Cavalry was to advance
along Axis CHANIR-PUR - CHAK PANDIT at 060500 Dec and capture CHAK PANDIT
as soon as possible, but not later than last light 6 Dec. ‘B’ sqn led
the advance and made contact with enemy minefield, tanks, ATGMS and its
defences on BARSALA RIDGE. ‘C’ and ‘A’ squadrons developed the
situation and deployed north of ‘B’ squadron. 28 Cavalry attacked
through the minefield with great vigour at 1615 Hrs. CHAK PANDIT was
captured at 1730 through a lightening manoeuvre which unhinged the total
enemy defences west of RIVER TAWI. On 7 Dec, 28 Cavalry attacked CHAMB at
0530 hrs with ‘A’ & ‘B’ squadrons and secured it by 0900
hours. An enemy counter attack was blunted by ‘A’ squadron east of
RIVER TAWI at 1100 Hrs. The GOC 23 Division Major Gen Iftikar Khan Janjua
visited the regiment (28 Cavalry) immediately after the attack and cited
28 CAVALRY as “THE REGIMENT OF LIONS”, on its spectacular performance
during the operations. On 10 Dec, the Regiment was tasked to cross RIVER
TAWI into the firm base being secured by 4 Punjab and 10 Baluch, and with
under command 10 Baluch and company 19 Baluch (R&S) hit road PALANWALA
- JURRIAN, between PALANWALA AND LAM. 28 Cavalry commenced its induction
into the firm base across RIVER TAWI at 0415 hours with ‘B’ squadron
leading which drew heavy tank, anti-tank and ATGM fire from area DARH
while still in RIVER TAWI. There was no firm base or lodgment held by our
infantry. Enemy’s 9 Jat occupying the defences was quickly charged and
overrun by ‘A’ & ‘B’ squadrons. The objective across RIVER
TAWI was secured by 1300 Hrs. As no own infantry was available to hold the
ground HQ 111 Bde was requested for support, which was denied. Integral
rifle troops of 28 Cavalry did a splendid job, in fact we got involved in
hand to hand and bayonet fighting on the far bank of RIVER TAWI, in which
IO (Lt. Gillani) was bayoneted and others including commanding officer Lt.
Col. A. H. Dogar were seriously injured by small arms fire. At 1800 hours
28 Cavalry was asked to withdraw west of River TAWI and concentrate in
area SINGRI. These were strange orders because till 12 Dec the entire area
upto PHALANWALA remained un-occupied by the enemy. For its gallant
performance the then GOC 6 Armoured Division, Maj. Gen. Muhammad ISKANDAR
UL KARIM conferred on the regiment (28 Cavalry) through a message the
title of ‘HUNTERS” as the NOM DE GUERRE”.
A few lines about Lahore Defence Society. Brigadier,
failed to mention the contribution of Brigadier Abdul Hameed Dogar (late)
in this regard. I was GSO 3 with him also (Brigadier (then Lt. Col) Dogar
was my commanding officer during 1971 war in Chamb sector. I worked day
and night with him on this project, the result is
in front of everyone. Brig Dogar (Late) deserves a tribute for his
outstanding work. In fact first ballot for Phase-I was conducted by him on
the stairs of Fortress Stadium.
“NO HARD FEELINGS SIR”
P.S. I purposely left out correcting Brig. Manto’s narration of TARBELLA DAM episode. In fact I was first one to reach TARBELLA along with 28 Cavalry (the day was Sunday, I don’t remember the date). As all the seniors, including CO, 21C and remaining Majors were away on weekend, so as senior most Captain (working as Adjutant) I took the initiative and took the regiment (28 CAV) to TARBELLA, deployed it from TARBELLA DAM to ATTOCK BRIDGE, Rear Headquarter was in Cadet College Hassan Abdal. I was given a SHABASH by GOC for taking such bold initiative on my own in the absence of senior officers. Brig (R) Manto’s outfit joined on Wednesday i.e. 3 days after 28th Cavalry. This happened in 1974, and Col (R) Nusrat Ullah was Col. Staff of 6 Armoured Division, he gave me direct orders to move at 1800 hrs on Saturday, I moved the regiment at 0500 hrs on Sunday.
Dear Ikram Sehgal
Trigger Happy Customs
As reported in the press, Customs officials shot two persons dead — a bus owner and a passenger — and seriously wounded other four, two critically, at one of the Customs check posts on the GT Road near Nowshera, NWFP. Customs officials after searching a bus coming from Peshawar, wanted one of the lady passengers — a carrier according to them, to accompany them. The bus owner along with his other two brothers and few passengers rescued the lady passenger (carrier), which initiated the brawl resulting in firing by the customs officials. Transporters and bus drivers blocked the GT Road for the rest of the day causing untold and great misery to the commuters. Their strike continued in and around Peshawar for the second day — till the writing of this letter. Customs officials involved in the incidence — 6 of them — had been shifted to Peshawar for departmental inquiry but the transporters and the drivers are demanding registration of proper FIR against them. This is not the first ugly instance between the bus drivers/smugglers and the Customs staff enroute. It is an open secret, known to all, from an ordinary man in the street to the highest person who matters in this land of the pure, be he the President/CEO, (Prime Ministers, Speakers of the NA, Chairmen Senate - once upon a time that they used to be) Governors, Federal and Provincial Ministers, Honourable Judges of the High and Supreme Courts, IGs Police, Chairmen CBR and the piddling little Collectors of Customs in the region, that smuggling on a very large scale involving millions of Rupees daily — takes place from NWFP to Punjab and further down to Karachi. Who doesn’t know it also that it all happens daily, 365 days a year, with the connivance of the Customs, Police, Frontier Constabulary, and the Frontier Corps personnel. More than 75 percent of the Afghan Transit goods, either do not cross Tor Kham and Chaman borders or find their way back soon into Landi Kotal/Bara and Chaman/Quetta. Mr. Shaukat Aziz would need a super computer to work out the loss it all is causing to the national economy and industry if he has not already calculated it. ‘Can it not be stopped’? Anyone saying ‘no’ better vacate his chair for some more competent person. And if they do not know, ‘how’ to do it, it is simple. ‘Nip the evil in the bud’. Following formula is offered to rout out the evil :-
1. Abolish all Customs posts en route.
2. Deploy Mobile Customs squads under a Magistrate to check a vehicle.
3. If any contraband item is found aboard a vehicle on checking :-
a. Arrest the smuggler, there and then and sentence him/her summarily for 3 years RI, irrespective of the financial effect of the goods being smuggled.
b. Arrest the driver of the vehicle on the same charge of smuggling and sentence him to similar term of imprisonment.
c. Confiscate the goods, there and then.
d. The owner of the vehicle / the transporter to furnish a cash bail of Rupees One Million, as surety for the non-repetition of such a crime on his vehicle again.
e. In the event of finding the hidden/secret compartments in a vehicle, for hiding the contraband items, the concerned body maker of the vehicle to be charged as an accomplice for abetting the crime of smuggling.
f. Strict vigilance to be kept over the performance of the Mobile Custom Squads. Corruption/laxity found on their part to be dealt with severely, summarily and most expeditiously. (no stay orders or bails before arrest, no exception to the magistrate either)
g. A deadline of 30 days be given to all transporters, drivers, cleaners to make themselves ready for operating under the new system. No let or mercy in its ruthless implementation thereafter. A Presidential Ordnance could be promulgated for above to meet the legalities.
Is anyone ready to implement the above, Sirs ?