Remembering Our Warriors
Brig (Retd)
Shamim Yasin Manto
S.I.(M), S.Bt

DJ’s A H AMIN interviews a soldier who has made his mark in every task that he was assigned.

Please tell us something about your early life?

I was born in 1933 at Amritsar, initially raised in Kucha Vakeelan (Lawyers Street) ancestral abode of Manto family, after  their migration from Kashmir in approximately middle of  nineteenth century. Schooling in Government Primary School and in Pandit Baij Nath High School upto 9th class. Migrated to Lahore after Independence in Aug 1947. Did Matric in 1948 from Rang Mahal Mission High School and joined Islamia College Lahore. Was in 2nd year when selected for 6th PMA Long Course and started my military career on April 1, 1950 at Pre-Cadet Training School (PCTS) Quetta at an early age of less than 17 years.

Memories of my life in Amritsar are both very pleasant and very unpleasant. Communal peace existed between Muslims and Non- Muslims — Hindus and Sikhs. Each of these communities lived separate lives in their own ways residing generally in separate areas of the city. In 1940s, when struggle for attainment of freedom of India from the British Raj gathered strength on separate platforms of Congress and Muslim League, this struggle turned into communal clashes. In 1947, Amritsar was subjected to the worst kind of  blood shed, arson and loot. My family were lucky to have migrated  to Pakistan, by the end of Aug, without losing lives, but losing everything else. Many families were not so lucky.  They lost both lives and their worldly belongings 

There are other interesting memories of my life at Amritsar:-

Travel from Amritsar to Peshawar/Landi Kotal/Haripur

When I was about ten, an uncle of mine was going to Peshawar and had asked my parents if I could accompany him since it was summer holidays. Although I was very young I do remember this pleasant journey. I have two interesting memories of this adventure. First the Landi Kotal itself, its awesome military surroundings and GORA SAHIBS. Second on our way back visit to Haripur Jail another uncle of mine who was a die-hard congressite, Khwaja Zahoor ud Din was serving a sentence as a political prisoner.

Interaction with Hindus and Sikhs

The relationships between the two was rather cordial. There were elements among the Hindus who were fanatics and harboured ill-feelings but then there were many Hindus and Sikhs who had very good relations with the Muslims.I had studied in a Hindu school. In this school the first period was devoted to religious studies. Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs gathered separately and performed their respective religious rituals. Every Friday all Muslim students were taken in a group to a mosque for Friday prayers. There were cordial business relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. However, in the 1940s when the struggle for independence gathered momentum things became tense and communal tensions increased to tragic proportions.

Communal Carnage

Between February and August 1947 there were incidents of arson and brutal killing between the two communities almost every other day. Amritsar remained under curfew most of the time. During certain periods the city was handed over to the army. In the end of July all the Muslim police were disarmed and the police posts established between the localities of the two communities were manned by all non-Muslims. The Non-Muslims made serious plans, using the Nihangs (Sikh Military wing) to attack the Muslim localities in the city. They implemented this plan and the non-Muslim police force, instead of protecting the Muslims participated in their killings. By about 15th August practically all Muslims living in the city had been driven out and they were concentrated in relief camps established outside the city; Sharifpura was the major camp. Almost entire population of Muslims of Amritsar was then evacuated by road convoys and trains, to Lahore.

How was the Lahore of 1947?

The people of Lahore extended all possible help and assistance to the incoming refugees  from the entire East Punjab and beyond  during many months after 15th August. Our relatives looked after us with open arms. One ghastly sight I cannot forget was dead bodies at Railway Stations from the trains coming from East Punjab. Evacuee property left by Hindus/Sikhs comprised approximately two thirds of entire built up area, if not more of Lahore city.

Any contemporaries or teachers about whom you would like to say anything?

I did my Matric from Rang Mahal Mission High School. The principal was Mr K.L Ralyaram a Christian was an outstanding teacher. He not only ensured excellent teaching and academic standards but arranged healthy extracurricular activities for the senior classes. One of his favourite practice was to get the entire class into the principal’s room. He would entertain them by a personal piano recital. Unfortunately he died very early and we attended his funeral.

In Islamia College Lahore Railway Road I spent just over a year. The famous poet and intellectual Dr M.D Taseer was the principal. He was giant of a personality both physically and intellectually.  The faculty included Professor Hamid Ahmad Khan and Allama Allauddin Siddique. Both became Vice Chancellors of Punjab University. I must narrate one small incident when I decided to apply for the army and filled up the application forms. It needed  principal’s signatures. Since not much time was left for submission of application I had to go to Mr Taseer’s house, knocked at the door, Begum Taseer came out, I explained the purpose of my visit. She made me sit down in the drawing room because Mr Taseer was having a bath. He came out with a big towel wrapped around him and sat next to me. He promptly wrote his remarks on my application paper and signed it. Having done that he very kindly remarked, don’t you think you should have done  this much earlier? He could not have conveyed what he wanted to, more  effectively.

In those days one of the major sports events in Lahore used to be  cricket finals between Islamia College and Government College in the university grounds. The finals that I witnessed were a sight to see. M.D Taseer with all the faculty of Islamia College sitting on one side and  Professor A.S Bukhari (Patras) with Government College faculty sitting on the other side. A bevy of luminaries indeed. Almost the entire Pakistan cricket team was divided between the two sides. Islamia College having Khan Mohammad, Nazar Mohammad, Fazal Mahmood. On the Government College side  Mahmood Hussain, Waqar, Shujauddin etc.

Motivation to join the army?

In college I joined the U.O.T.C. I regularly attended their parades behind Civil Secretariat Lahore and participated in two training camps at Niaz Beg and Walton. That is  where my interest in army developed.

How was life at PMA and PCTS?

The two and a half years training period, six months at PCTS Quetta and two years in PMA Kakul, as is well-known, were very tough but satisfying and rewarding. The Commandants, the military faculty and academic faculty  were excellent. Most of the professors were PhDs and had been teaching in Usmania University Hyderabad Deccan and in Aligarh University. They taught and imparted training with dedication, imagination and high level of competence. For our impressionable minds most of them stood out as perfect examples to emulate. To me, noteworthy were Dr Qureshi in PCTC; In PMA  Brig Ingal; Dr Mazhar, Prof Ishaq, Capt (later Maj Gen) Qamar Ali Mirza, my platoon commander; Capt (later Brig) Ali El Edroos. 6th PMA crowd were a fine lot, a good blend of the Pakistani nation. It was a coincident that I became interested in riding, to the extent that I and my friend Rana Abbas stayed on in the Academy during two mid-term breaks just to have an opportunity of riding better horses morning and evening. A crazy venture!! 5th PMA Course passed out six months earlier because of 1951 flap. 6th PMA were Seniors for two terms. General officers produced by our course are; General Mirza Aslam Beg, Lieutenant General Nishat Ahmad, Lieutenant General Saghir Hussain, Major General Abdul Sattar Chaudhri and Major General Salahuddin Khawaja. Rahatullah Jarral C.S.P rose to be a Federal Secretary. 22 Officers rose to the ranks of Colonel and Brigadier, including Professor Abdul Qayyum an outstanding intellectual.

Please tell us something about your service profile from passing out till 1965?

I was commissioned on 23 Aug 1952 in the corps of my choice Armoured Corps. Initially, I was posted to 19 Lancers. This was changed to The Guides Cavalry FF before we left PMA. Guides was a very old cavalry Regiment with rich history and traditions. I got fitted into its crowd with ease. The Regiment has a strong espirit-de-corps nurtured by all its officers, notably, by  its elders, namely, Lt Col Abbas Durrani, Col Pir Abdullah Shah, Maj Gen Jehanzeb, Col Hashim, Major Dildar and Gen M Zia ul Haq; ably followed by second string of elders : Maj Gen Wajahat, Brig  Amir Gulistan Janjua, Lt Gen Fazle Haq, Lt Gen Ijaz Azim and Brig Jafar Khan.

I attended basic/advance courses at Infantry School, School of Armour and EME College.

In 1953 I was involved in  an “Escort Operation”. I  collected 400 .303 Rifles from Central Ordnance Depot Rawalpindi and safely handed over to Political Agent  Malakand for onward delivery in Dir. These rifles were a gift to Nawab of  Dir by the  visiting  Pakistan Government dignitaries General Ayub C-in-C, and Mr Iskandar Mirza, Secretary Defence. It is an interesting coincident that about half of these rifles were sealed by me after Dir Operations in 1960.

Ex-November Handicap 1954

This was a major exercise — with-troops in which bulk of Pakistan Army participated. Guides Cavalry, who had recently been equipped with 90 mm M 36B2  Gun Carriage (Tank Busters) also participated. This was a test exercise for Brig (later Lt Gen) Habibullah. A bevy of  foreign military leaders visited this exercise. Looking back, one finds that Tank Busters were acquired without  establishing  their need for the Armoured Corps. These were found to be utterly useless during 1965 War. Some of these were deployed under my command in 1971  War.

In 1956 I was selected to attend the “Armour Motor Officers Course” at US Armour School Fort Knox Kentucky, USA.

In 1957 I was selected for service in the Special Services Group and stayed there till 1962. This period was a thrilling experience of my military career. Did Advance Commando Course conducted by the US Training Team at Cherat. The tough arduous and imaginative training for unconventional warfare instilled physical fitness, mental robustness and self-confidence of very high order. Commanded H Company (later HUMZA Company). During this tenure underwent many very interesting training and operational events. Noteworthy are:-

a. 1960 Company training  in area Buner, Swat and Upper Swat for a period of  3 months. This training gave excellent exposure to small teams and junior leaders for unconventional operations in hilly terrain. One  interesting event was rescue of an injured American mountaineer who attempted to climb Flak Sher Peak 21,000 ft, single handed. He fell down and suffered very serious injuries. He was carried on shoulders, bound on a stretcher, from 17,000 ft to 10,000 ft. Most of the visitors to Kalam, our Coy HQ, were foreigners. One Italian couple had left their small baby with friends in Faisalabad and came to climb Mankial peak about 18,000 ft. It was heartening to note that a young student of Engineering University, son of Brig Azeem of Armoured Corps, accompanied this couple. This “youngster” is  Brig Sher Khan. I was reminded of him when I read one of his articles in a newspaper. I had very fine platoon commanders, Capt (later Brig) Humayun Malik, Capt (later Maj Gen) Syed Mustafa Anwar Hussain and Lt (later Col) Fakhre Alam. It was a pleasure working with these fine officers, especially Humayun Malik who is forever such a jovial company, second only to my dear friend Maj Z U Abbasi Shaheed. Captain Agha Asad Raza was second in command. He held the rear at Cherat and ensured logistical support. Agha Asad was a very fine soul.

b. Dir Operations Oct 1960:--After independence Pakistan encountered serious problems with the Nawab of Dir and one of his sons, Khan of Jandool. After exhausting all peaceful efforts to win him over, Pakistan decided to take action to remove the Nawab. In this operation I Commanded SSG Company which operated from  Chitral as a part of  Shariff  Force commanded by Brig (later Gen) M. Shariff. The Company operated against the town of Dir with the task of removing the Nawab. The operation was conducted, as planned, without any blood-shed which  was intended. For secrecy we operated in Scouts uniform. Maj (later Lt Gen) Nishat Ahmed, Capt (later Lt Col) S.M. Naeem and Lt (later Col) Fakhre Alam were with me in this operation.

It may be noted that after coming into being in 1957, this was first operational employment of SSG sub-units. The  second SSG company, commanded by Maj (later Gen) Aslam Beg, was in support of  Rakhman Gul Force  which operated in area Munda Killa against Khan of Jandool. Lt Col (later Maj Gen) A O Mitha, Commander SSG, also took part in these operations. He escorted the Nawab in helicopter to Risalpur.

After the removal of Nawab, his eldest son was installed. Sahibzada Ayub a fine political officer was appointed Political Agent cum Wazir-e-Azam. After this changeover I remained in Dir for about a month. During this period I listed all the weapons owned by the Nawab and his sons and sealed them in the Armouries.

Training Exercise in Tribal Areas (ILAQA GHAIR) lying between  Cherat and Kohat

This was also an interesting experience involving confrontation with a   Tribal Jirga, who could not accept the fact that a uniformed detachment of  Pakistan Army  had entered Tribal Territory to carry out training for a period of 4  weeks. Capt  Humayun Malik was with me in this training as well. 

Training Camp at Batrasi:-- This was conducted for the training of Platoon Commanders of newly formed commando platoons in each infantry battalian in West Pakistan. The training team was headed by Maj (later Maj Gen) Imtiaz Ali, with Maj (later Col) Asadullah, Capt (later Brig) A H Qureshi and myself. Training for the Platoon Commanders of infantry battalions in East Pakistan was conducted at Lal Mai Hills, Comilla. I with Capt (later Col) Afzal  Warraich and Lt (later Lt Gen) Shafiq carried out this training in Oct 1958. At the end of this training in March 1959 I spent one month leave in Sylhet,  and mostly Chittagong Hill Tracts.  Again a very interesting experience. Participated in the marriage ceremony of Chakma Chief’s brother/or  cousin with the daughter of another chief, a very colourful event. Provided logistic support to an 18 years old German Globe Trotter, who was going around the world to avoid compulsory military service for two years.    

From 1962 to 1965 my service was divided between command of a tank squadron of the Guides Cavalry at Kharian, as a General Staff Officer Grade Two at the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate at Karachi and an attachment for three months with the SSG to carry out an operational survey of the Kargil Sector.

How was the stint in the ISI ?

Nothing much of interest professionally. Of great interest personally since I got married in Karachi.

What was the aim of the operational survey in Kargil and what were your conclusions?

The aim was to update the operational information of this Sector to  be used whenever the necessity arose.

How was the standard of training in the army during the period 1952-1965? Particularly in relation to its performance in 1965?

There was a great deal of keenness shown in training prior to 1965. It was basically oriented to War in Burma or North Africa. Working on Regimental frequency the hallmark of an exercise with troops was a wide manoeuvre. For this concept the standard of training was high. But when we went to war in 1965 the situation confronted by Troops/Squadron/Regiment was quite different. The terrain of Punjab with clumps, crops and boggy area did not allow clear fields of view/fire for manoeuvres. Squadron were required to operate on their own. Regimental frequency had to be abandoned in a hurry. Training acquired prior to the war was not much use. This happens to all armies, they usually train for the previous war.

How was the Fort Knox experience?

This course provided me exposure to the life in what is referred to as land of opportunity (USA). We were very fascinated with the advancement in everything especially the automation in everyday life. As far as the course is concerned it was very well organised with modern training aids. There were officers from possibly 12 different countries who attended this course. There were two officers from West Germany whose army came into being on 1st January 1956 after the Second World War. I asked these officers their opinion about Hitler. They felt that he was a great man surrounded by wrong and bad people. I must mention about South Korean officers. Theirs was the largest contingent of about ten. These officers were getting only USD 4.5  per diem from US Government. This money was not enough for them for dining in the officers mess or clubs. They would buy groceries, cook their meals in the kitchen provided in the BOQs and they had no means for recreation. This was because of the economic situation of their country at that time did not allow anything better. I must mention that we Pakistanis were so “well off” that we got the USD 4.5  per diem plus our entire pay in foreign exchange plus an additional allowance from Govt of Pakistan. Compare this with South Korea and Pakistan of today. I feel we were simply living lavishly and beyond our means.

Impressions/memories of Staff Course?

Major General Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan was our Commandant. The Deputy was another illustrious officer Colonel (later Lieut Gen) A.I Akram. The  Directing Staff included colonels Ali Edroos, Ziaul Haq, Majeed Malik, Golwalla (16 Punjab) and some others, brilliant officers.

The standard of instruction was high. I would like to mention one small incident. The Commandant was very fond of playing Polo. He made arrangements for almost daily game in  arena polo. One morning sitting in the syndicate room the peon of the commandant brought a book which had been flagged and gave it to me. I opened the book. There was a photograph of a polo player being taken out of the field on a stretcher. There was a handwritten remark by Gen Yaqub “Manto, this will happen to you if you play rashly as you do”.

How far is the assertion correct or incorrect that emphasis in the pre-1965 armoured corps was on polo and social contacts rather than hard core professionalism and training?

This is incorrect assertion. Few Armoured Corps officers played polo. Social life received due attention because of the characteristic traditions. But it was not at the cost of profession and training. Each armour regiment went through regular training involving MDs, TEWTS, and signal exercises followed by collective training for eight to twelve weeks every year. The concept of training may not have fitted into the needs of 1965 war, but its intensity was not lacking. Besides, polo is a noble game. It nurtures in players offensive spirit which is an essential ingredient for an armour officer.

What were your experiences of 1965 War?

I was doing Staff course. It was terminated on 6 Sept. I was posted to my Regiment Guides Cavalry. Left my 21 years old wife with 3 months  old daughter at Staff College and proceeded by train on 8 Sept, reached Jhelum on 9th and arrived in the leaguer of Guides Cavalry at Badiana (Chawinda) on the evening of 10 Sept. Met most of the officers, CO, Lt Col (later Brig) Amir Gulistan Janjua, 2IC, Maj (later Lt Gen) Fazle Haq; Maj Shah Behram Khatak C Sqn; Maj Z U Abbasi B Sqn, Maj Latif Malik A Sqn; Capt Farooq Shahbaz, Adjt; Capt J K Durrani, OC HQ Sqn. By the way, each of the three armoured regiments of 6 Lt Armd Div had two Sqns of M 48 tanks and one Sqn M36B2 Tank Busters.  It was a pleasure meeting all the regimental officers. Meeting with Z.U Abbasi was rather emotional. Before going back to his Sqn he took me aside and we chatted for quite some time. It did not occur to me that this was my last meeting with him ever. Since all the appointments were held, CO told me to remain at RHQ and man the rear link with Div HQ from his Rover or his Tank. I must say all the officers were in high spirits. Before first light next day, 11 Sept Squadrons were deployed along the general line of railway line, aside Alhar Railway Station. Being on the rear link I became aware of some serious setbacks in Philora, where CO and 2IC 11 Cav and CO Arty Regiment had become casualties. Guides Cav were ordered to take action to relieve pressure on Philora. CO ordered a classic tank attack by two M 48 Sqns. It was a partial success. Both the Sqns suffered casualties; Maj Z U and his 2IC Capt Hussain Shah (son of Col Pir Abdullah Shah) embraced Shahadat; Maj Latif was wounded, with other casualties as well. More on this attack later.

I took over command of B Squadron on the evening of 11 Sep. For the next six days or so as part of Guides Cavalry my Squadron was in the thick of tank battles resulting from the incessant attacks from the units of Indian 1 Armd Div, every time supported by heavy artillery and Indian fighter aircraft. Daily routine: After first light we would break leaguer and deploy along a given line between Badiana and Chawinda. Sooner or later Indians would attack, their main thrust would directly or indirectly be against Guides Cav Sqn positions including that of 11 Cav Sqn commanded by Maj (later Maj Gen) Raja Iqbal, which had been placed under command Guides Cav. Fire fights would ensue involving direct tank fire, arty shelling and aircraft rocketing or straffing. These would last for two to four hours. Casualties would take place on both sides.There were no manoeuvres except adjustment of tank/troop positions to frustrate enemy attempts to break through. By the time darkness fell in the evening, automatic disengagement took place between tank elements of both sides. This was necessitated by need of replenishment of fuel and ammo and crew fatigue who were cramped in the enclosed space of tank almost throughout the day and had been subjected to the strenuous effects of exposure to enemy fire, direct and indirect. By the time we would arrive in leaguer it would be 2100 hours or so. The crew would get busy for replenishment. For fuel they had to physically pick up 45 gallon barrels and pour fuel into the petrol tanks. Then they would replenish ammo into the enclosed space of tanks, a very laborious work. Tanks also required maintenance and, often, repairs. The crew would barely have time for hot meals and to collect their haversack meals for the next day. By the time all this work was done it would be past midnight. The officers had to supervise all this work. In addition they would receive orders for the next day and make their plans to execute those orders. With this work in the leaguer the crew would get hardly three to four hours sleep, officers, even less. This would be the case if the echelons reached leaguer in time. Thanks to Capt J K Durrani it happened so. Before first light the Sqns would disperse and move to their battle locations. My Sqn went through this daily day and night routine for almost five days at a stretch. Towards the later days the heavy effect of weariness and  fatigue was exhausting. There was also the emotional effect of losing your comrades either Shaheed or wounded. I personally felt it whenever I lost someone from my Sqn, like 2/Lt Saber Beg Shaheed. He fought valiantly. It goes to the credit of officers, JCOs and men of my Sqn and indeed to the CO and Shaheed Z U Abbasi, who had trained and motivated them, that with very heavy odds and in the face of relentless offensive of numerically superior enemy “B Squadron” frustrated every attempt by him to break through. Throughout these five days or so the enemy only managed to inch forward from the line of railway line to the line of Rd Chawida —  Badiana, a distance of  four to six kms. I learnt a great deal from this toiling experience. It is a common knowledge that battle or war is a different ball game as compared to all types of peace time training. I got to know  that difference first hand. 

Please tell us something about the famous two Squadron attacks launched by the Guides on 11th September 1965?

I was manning the rear link of the regiment from CO’s Rover. This means that I was listening into the transmissions being made on the command net of 6 Armoured Division as well as command net of my Regiment. Guides Cavalry received orders on wireless at about 1000 hours to the effect that there has been a serious setback at Phillora, and that Guides Cavalry should take action to relieve pressure on Phillora.There was a small meeting in the RHQ between CO, 21C Fazl-e-Haq myself and Adjutant Farooq Shahbaz. The CO decided to attack with two Squadrons of M-48s with the objective being area Libbe on track Phillora-Bhagowal. He issued orders to this effect on wireless. Both the squadrons attacked at the H-Hour. A Squadron led by Major Lateef and B Squadron led by Major Z.U Abbasi. Both the Squadrons reached short of the objective, inflicted number of casualties on the enemy and suffered casualties themselves losing in the process Major Z.U Abbasi and Captain Hussain Shah and Major Lateef wounded. I think this attack was a success, though at a cost. It imposed caution on the enemy (the advancing Indian 1st Armoured Division) to the extent that they did not resume their offensive till 13th September. Just as action of 25 Cavalry of knocking down the leading enemy tanks on 8th September at Gadgor imposed caution on this force which resulted in  resumption of their offensive on 10th September. There are many points of learning and criticism of this particular attack but we must not forget that it made a major contribution in improving the defensive operations in the area.

Anything else that you would like to say about your experiences of the  1965 War?

Yes. Guides attack was the first battle action of the Regiment since skirmishes in Tribal Areas using armoured cars and Stuart light tanks in late 40s. Many lessons were learnt from this attack. Regimental frequency was abandoned, because command and control was disrupted due to unintending jamming. Terrain with clumps of trees and sugar cane high crops restricted fields of view/fire during the move between start line and objectives thus reducing the shock action on the enemy. While this terrain imposed disadvantage on the attacker we used it to our advantage in our subsequent defensive operations. Artillery fire support was limited. In training more emphasis needs to be given on Attack than to Advance to Contact. Different techniques need to be evolved for Attack in different types of terrain in which our armour is likely to be used. I must mention that our troops learnt some of those lessons very quickly.

One night in leaguer when CO was briefing his ‘O’ Group for the next day’s tasks. LAD JCO came rather anxious. A local had brought information that some enemy Guerrillas have taken up position outside a village couple of kms behind our leaguer. CO ordered me to deal with this problem. I could not take any men from my Squadron because they were too busy in replenishment. I mustered about 10 men of LAD, put them in the snub nose 15 Cwt truck and moved to the village guided by the Informer. Due to my SSG training I was quite sure that these can’t be enemy “Goreelas”. To cut the long story short. The enemy “Goreelas” turned out to be own stragglers.

How would you sum up 1965 War in terms of operational and strategic failures and successes ?

I think operations of 6 Lt Armoured Division including 24 Brigade in Sector Chawinda was an operational success. The main counter offensive of India was blunted. Our Khem Karan offensive was operational failure. Operational Gibraltar in which freedom fighters were launched in Kashmir was strategic blunder. If such an operation was intended, the entire SSG should have been given this task with at least 3 years to prepare for it clandestinely.

How would you compare Pakistani and Indian tanks on the technical planes in terms of firepower mobility standard of gunnery and armour protection?

The Indian Centurion tank, their MBT, was a heavy tank with less mobility. In fire power it was more effective than M 47/48. So was it in armour protection. M 47/48 tanks were better in mobility, slightly less effective in fire power in terms of range and comparatively less effective in armour protection. These tanks caught fire quickly.

How would you rate Major General Ibrar Hussain the then GOC 6th Armoured Division as a military commander?

Credit must go to him for not heeding advice to fall back to MRL canal after Philora setback in which 11 Cavalry and 9 FF were temporally incapacitated. He was really left with five Squadrons of M/48s, two each in Guides and 22 Cav and one of 11 Cav. He fought the defensive battle successfully.

What do you have to say about the system of awarding gallantry awards? Were these awarded on merit or on whimsical motivation and regimental nets etc?

On merit as well as not on merit.

How far were lessons of 1965 War implemented in military training, organisation and leadership etc in the post-1965 period?

In Armoured Corps the lessons of 1965 War were confined to improving Tank Troop and Squadron Training and that too under the direct supervision of the GOCs. The manner of training destroyed the initiative of Troop Leaders and Squadron Commanders and Commanding Officers. The job of Squadron Commanders and Commanding Officers was being done by Brigade Commanders and GOCs. Unfortunately no one realised that this was not possible in case of war since a brigade commander and GOC had other responsibilities. Training of Brigade/Division Commanders was not considered necessary. They needed it as much as their juniors. According to my experience Troop Leaders, Squadron Commanders and the CO are the most important entities in armour battles. No effort should be spared to train them technically, tactically and mentally. They will make up for any lacks in equipment or otherwise which Pakistan Army are most likely to have against our enemy. Generally speaking lessons of 1965 War were not implemented in correct manner. Making officers as troops leaders was a lesson implemented.

How would you assess the failures and successes of the SSG in the 1965 War?

I was posted to SSG in Dec 1965. This was my second tenure, this time as GSO 2(ops) in Group HQ with Brig (later  Maj Gen) Nasir Chaudhry as Commander SSG.  It was a pleasure working under him. He is a gentleman and very thorough in his work. I learnt a great deal from him. Main activities:--

a. Critiques in GHQ and Air HQs, of SSG operations in 1965 War. Para droop attacks on Indian forward airfields at Pathankot, Jallunder etc.

b. Return of SSG POWs, approximately 170. I was President of the Court of Inquiry for this large number of SSG POWs. Maj (later Gen) Shamim Alam Khan and Maj (later Lt Col) S.M. Naeem were members of this court. This Inquiry recorded the performance of SSG teams, as described by them, during the preparations, para drops and actions against  targets. It also recorded their experience as POW.

c. A review of operational planning, preparations, and this inquiry provided sufficient material for an objective and dispassionate critique of these operations with a view to learning for the future. From what I recollect, main causes of failure of this unconventional operation could be attributed to the following :-

(1) Well trained/motivated troops could not be delivered in the area of their operation in an organized state. The Drop Zones (DZs) were in civilian populated areas  which hindered  the force to get together in teams as planned.

(2) They did not have enough information/intelligence of Targets and target areas, evidently for security reasons!!

(3) Unconventional operations, especially of great importance, require thorough planning including catering for the unforeseen, very thorough and meticulous preparations including rehearsals. Evidently, the preparations for these operations were not thorough enough.

(4) Command of SSG was changed, so to speak, “mid-stream”, few days before the actual launch of  troops. 

d. These para-drop operations did contribute in creating caution in the minds of enemy forward commanders. According to one Indian book a force of at least a  brigade was sent   from forward areas to deal with these para droops. This force remained tied up throughout the war.

In 1965 War, we should not forget, that a scare of Indian  “Goreelas/Commandos” did sizeable damage to us in Sialkot  and Lahore Cantts, when, in fact, there were no Indian  Goreelas on ground. One can imagine the effect when there were actual Pakistani “Goreelas” in Pathankot, Jallundhar etc.

Please tell us something about your service profile from 1965 till promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel?

In December 1965 I was posted back to the SSG where as mentioned above I was involved in some critiques/debriefings/inquiries.

 In the second tenure with SSG I also did para course in 1966. From 1968 to 1969 I was a squadron commander in the Guides Cavalry. The Guides was at that time on the orbit of the 6th Armoured Division at Kharian. GOC was  Major General Eftikhar Khan Janjua, an infantry officer. Once again, due to “dearth” of competent  Armour officers, an Infantry officer was put in command of an armour  formation. General Janjua worked very hard first to acquire himself  basic technical knowledge of tanks, and troop/squadron tactics  and then went about ensuring that each and every Tank Commander, Troop Leader and Squadron Commander was  thoroughly trained. His devotion to this task was unmatched.

During the same period I also served as Second in Command Guides Cavalry with Lt Col (Later Lt Gen) Fazle Haq in command. For some time I also officiated as Commandant Guides Cavalry. In June 1969 I was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and posted as Commandant Guides Cavalry.

From 1st October 1969 till 31 March 1970 I attended the Tank/Battalion Brigade Commander Course in Moscow USSR. This was part of the deal with Soviet Union in which Pakistan bought military hardware (tanks, artillery guns, helicopters etc) after stopping of supplies by the USA.

What were your impressions about the USSR of 1969-70?

The course was conducted in Armoured Forces Academy located inside Moscow city. It consisted of technical part and tactical part. The period being winter (Oct 69 – March 70) all training was conducted indoors except the last two weeks when we were taken outside the city in a camp. Open range firing, recovery and underwater demonstration and a TEWT was conducted in this training camp. All training was conducted through interpreter because the instructors did not know English. Three of us on the tactical course, Major Farooq Ali Qureshi, Maj Raashid and myself formed the class. We were not mixed with other students. Major Ghulam Yusaf, Maj (later Maj Gen) Munir Khalid, both EME and Capt (later Lt Gen) Akram, AC were on a technical course of same duration.

The Academy was a very elaborate institution It catered for training of a large number of officers in technical, tactical, staff and command courses covering armoured and mechanized warfare. The principles applied were generally the same as in other armies but the Soviet doctrine laid more emphasis on concentration of fire power than mobility. In their battle procedure they particularly emphasized that after giving his orders, Commander must locate himself from where he can supervise and help implementation.

Although Soviet Union was a Super Power the day to day life of its people was miserable. Lack of consumer goods and Liberty was devastating. Alcoholism and petty corruption were rampant. You could get anything done, including reduction in Custom duties by paying a few roubles. The institution of family was in disarray. The leadership was aware of this. They vainly tried to compensate by promoting culture and sports, having elaborate activities in these fields and paying handsomely to the artists and sportsmen. The emphasis on Education was great. It was extensive, of high quality and accessible to everyone without any cost.

Our encounters with Soviet Musalmaans was very pleasant and emotional. They treated us with characteristic brotherhood. They would very much welcome and even ask for a copy of Quran as a present.

Please tell us something about your service profile after return from USSR till 1971 War?

On return from USSR I was appointed as Instructor Class “A” at the School of Armour Nowshera where I served from April 1970 to August 1971. In August 1971 I was posted to command  26 Cavalry which was a relatively newly raised unit and at that time was a part of the newly raised 23 Division with headquarters at Jhelum. This division was commanded by Major General Eftikhar Khan Janjua. It was during this tenure that we went to war with India in December 1971.

What were your impressions about the standard of training in the School of Armour in 1971 as compared with what they were when you first attended the basic course in the fifties?

There was marked qualitative and quantitative improvement by way of training material, training aids, overall planning of courses and conduct of training. In fifties this school was commanded by a Major under Armoured Corps Centre Commandant. In 1970 it was commanded by a Brigadier (S.R.C Daniel) with Colonel Sardar Ahmad as his Deputy.

How would you compare the Pakistan Armoured Corps of 1971 with the Indian Army vis-a-vis that of 1965 in technical, qualitative and quantitative terms?

In 1971 the Indian Armoured Corps had a clear edge over Pakistan Armoured Corps technically and quantitatively. The quality of our troops had an edge over Indians.

Please tell us something about your war experience of 1971 War?

After taking over 26 Cavalry at Jhelum, we went to Tilla Ranges for annual firing. The situation in East Pakistan (Sept 1971) was getting serious. Being a very dedicated and keen commander, and keeping in view his likely future task, General Eftikhar Janjua moved his entire 23 Division in Sept 71 to its operational area between Bhimber and Gujrat against the Indian salient of Chumb. From then on 23 Div was put through intensive training and preparations for war involving recce, Coordination, Liaison, Planning, MDs, Exercises. 23 Div was given offensive task: eliminate Chumb salient and advance through Jaurian and capture Akhnoor. For this mission, 23 Div had four infantry brigades : 20 (Brig     ) 66 (Brig Qamar us Salam) 111 (Brig Rahim ud Din) 4 Ak (Brig Ahmed Jamal); 2 Indep Armoured Brigade (Brig Sardar) with 11 Cavalry (Lt Col Khurshed Ali Khan) and 28 Cavalry (Lt Col Dogar) its integral  Armour Regimental. 26 Cavalry (Lt Col Manto)  one additional Div Arty and  corps artillery (Brig Kamal Matin and Brig). His own CC Arty was Brig Nasir Ullah Khan Babar, SJ. His Col Staff was  Col  Ch Rehman and GSO-1 Lt Col Saeed.   Adequate Air  cover was also provided. This was indeed a very strong force, under  the command of a dedicated, battle hardened soldier Commander. Being on Command Net of the Division, I was in picture of generally the whole operational area, through out  the War. It will require too much of space to record the entire operations of  23 Division Group, as seen and experienced by me. I will mention following observations/events :-

a. After commanding an armour squadron in battle in 1965 in Chawinda Sector,   participation in Chhamb Operations in command of an armour regiment was  an experience of life-time for me. On one  hand I went through rigours of  a command in battle with ease, on the other hand, as a professional            solider, I got a chance to do war time soldiering with honour, dignity and to   my full satisfaction. Not very many professional officers get this chance.

b.  I had a fine set of officers and JCOs in 26 Cavalry. 21C Maj Namji/Rashid;   Maj Shamshad, A Sqn; Maj Ashraf  B Sqn; Maj (later Brig) Asif Kamal, C Sqn; Capt (later Maj Gen) Ali Hamid, Adjutant. Other officers were Capts Shahid Zaman (QM) Mujeeb (TO/Sqn 2IC) Hasan Zaheer, Naeem Amjad Naqibullah Bangash, Hanain Hyder. Lts Ishtiaq Mahmood, Mohammad Hassan, Anwar Moez and Maqbool Malik. 2/Lt  Beg  joined just before the war and was promptly made second driver in a tank. Ris Major was Sher Khan, later Honorary Capt. Ris Ghafoorullah and Ris Yusaf were with me practically all the time during the operations. Maj Waheed “Sootta”, my brother officer in Guides and SSG, commanded the Ad-Hoc Squadron of M36B2s (12 Independent Armoured Squadron) placed under command 26 Cavalry. Maj Haq DS Bty Comd 64 Med also gave me very happy and supportive company throughout the operations.  

c.  26 Cavalry was equipped with Sherman II Tanks with 76 mm gun and Radial Engines. These engines get  hydrostatic lock frequently. Indians had the latest Russian T55s and T54Bs with 105 mm gun and modern fire control instruments. One of the important tasks with me and my officers was NOT to let this vast difference have an adverse effect on our crew. I visited two sabre squadrons in their forward concentration areas just before start of operations. Their morale was high. It gave boost to mine !! It was grace of ALLAH that there was not a single incident of hydrostatic lock in the tanks throughout the war.   Possibly, it was due to their constant running, but certainly due to the care of the crew.

d.  26 Cavalry with these inherent setbacks fought bravely and with dedication. Being an integral regiment of an infantry div, sqns were deployed mostly in  direct support of infantry. They provided this support effectively with their sweat and blood. To start with, A Sqn to 66 Bde, B Sqn to 20 Bde and C Sqn to 111 Bde. Later, change in groupings took place from time to time.  In Nadala enclave a troop ex B Sqn commanded by Capt Naeem Amjad did an excellent job. In almost every operation RHQ was assigned  a task to perform with M36B2 Sqn and some infantry elements placed under command. Following statistics will show the gallantry and commitment with which this Regiment fought:-  

(1) Operational Awards:— SJs (Shaheeds)—2 (Captains Hassan Zaheer, Bangash)

TJs (one Shaheed)     2

Imtiazi Sanads           5

(Captain Naeem Amjad)

(2) Shaheeds:— Officers = 3,  JCOS=1, ORs incl LAD = 20

(3) Wounded:— Officers= 3, JCOs= 2, Ors incl LAD= 12

(4) Enemy losses to the credit of 26 Cav: 3 x SU-7s fighter aircraft, 4 x Tanks, 8 x RRs.  5 x Tanks captured in running condition.

(5) Own losses: 8 tanks hit, 4 were repaired. All Ranks Shaheed and  Wounded 41.                             

e. I would like to record my commendation for the brave performance of Lt Col Rashid CO 4 Punjab and Maj Khadim Changezi of 11 Cavalry in the gallant and successful attack by 4 Punjab supported by a troop of 11 Cavalry, on Mandiala North and capture of its northern half. I along with 'R' Group of 4 AK Bde was a witness to this operation on the afternoon of first day 4 Dec.  

f.   The Ad-Hoc Squadron, 7x M 36B2s, was deployed on the front line  at Tawi  on the first night to provide direct fire support to 4 AK  Bns in their assault    across  Tawi, Phase II of the Div Operations. Move of these “tanks” from rear  area to the front at night was a fete. The RHQ tanks of 26 Cavalry also took  part in this fire support. A  fire  fight raged with Indian tanks (T-55s and T-54Bs) for good  two hours at first light  on the second day. The gunners of M36B2s were personally shown the targets by me and Maj Haq because their  IC systems were not working.  The fact that  they actually engaged the enemy  tanks with fire was really remarkable. The crew were recalled  Reservists,   some of  them  in their civilian clothes.

g. An interesting event. I was called by GOC in Division HQ at Padhar,  on the   morning of the day Chamb town was captured (possibly 6 or 7 Dec). He had  written an Operations Order in his handwriting. He made me read it, and  ordered me that I should take his helicopter, locate and meet personally  Commanders 2 Armoured Brigade and  111 Brigade (Brig Abdullah Malik) who had joined the Division the same day GOCs orders were to the  effect that 111 Brigade  should launch an attack across Tawi by about 1400 or  1500 hours, establish  Bridge head for 2 IAB to pass through and commence  offensive towards Jaurian and Akhnoor. It was about 0900 hours. The enemy  had been pushed back across Tawi,  111 Brigade along Road Koel — Chamb  were in  the process of  consolidating in line of Chamb; Elements of 2  Independent Armoured Brigade were also moving towards Chamb from the  south from the direction of Chak Pandit. I took off and managed to locate  Brigadier Abdullah Malik who was moving on his jeep on road Moel-Chamb. He read and remarked “Bhai men ne to abhi  command sambhali nahin hai”. I took off, after crossing Phagla Ridge I had  bird eye view of the fire fight  across Tawi. I managed to locate Brigade HQ of 2 Independent Armoured Brigade, landed close to it, saw the BM, Major Rehman Jarral who told me that  his Commander was  located in Chamb Rest House. I borrowed a  jeep from  him and drove to the Rest House, and conveyed GOCs order to Brigadier   Sardar. He was not happy  about these orders, for good reasons. Having seen  the situation on ground, I  also felt that time was too short for launching of the intended Operation. On return, I reported the same to GOC.

h.         General Iftikhar Janjua worked exceedingly hard, and  prepared and motivated his force for the very important task assigned to him — capture of  Akhnoor. In the process he laid down his life, in a helicopter crash near the front line. I  had the opportunity of seeing him many times during the conduct of war. The  last time I saw him was in Chamb Rest House, night  before his fateful crash. I  was the first one to arrive for the “O” Group he had summoned. The burden of  responsibility for having not been able to cross Tawi yet, was writ large on his  face. It is a pity that 23 Division Group could not achieve its mission. It did  capture the Chamb Salient but could not cross Tawi, having made three or  four practical attempts.

This operation has been thoroughly discussed in Army from many angles. In my opinion, based on what I saw and experienced, one of the main reasons for not having been able to achieve the mission  was launching (or hurling) troops in battle without sufficient preparations, in other words, the effort to achieve SPEED actually turned into HASTE. The launch of 4 AK Bde across Tawi in the later part of ni 4/5 Dec is a clear example. Home bank of Tawi had not been secured and enemy was holding on to Mandiala South and part of Mandiala North. This was personally seen by the R Gp of 4 AK Bde from the  very front line at Mandiala North which had just been taken by 4 Punjab. The  time was about 1600 hrs. Brig Ahmad Jamal and each one of us evaluated this  situation. We also knew that the troops who were way behind would not be   able to build  up in time for the attack. It was suggested to the GOC to    postpone the attack to the next day. He did not agree. What was feared  happened. One of the two  battalions of 4 AK could not reach FUP. 13 AK did, they assaulted without even their company commanders having had the  opportunity of seeing their  objectives. The brigade attack did not succeed. The  balance of the main force  of the Division was lost. It took some time before it could be regained

Among the preparations of war, I had made arrangements for the dispatch of  bodies of our Shaheeds to their homes, as most of them belonged to the   adjoining areas. Wooden boxes had been prepared and kept in A-2/B Echelon.  The RM performed this function successfully. After the war, I paid a visit to  the family of each one of our Shaheeds.

In 1971 War, Tanks Troops were commanded by officers. Their performance was excellent, a distinct improvement to 1965 War performance when these  were commanded by JCOs

There were very touching moments that I experienced. The news of fall of  Dhaka and separation of East Pakistan was devastating. I almost cried and was   morose for quite some time. ALD Akram was my batman before war. He was  a very fine individual  and  was like member of our family. He embraced  Shahadat. I was  grieved, a bit more for him than others. After the  war, his  uncle came to collect his body. I conveyed my condolence to him and asked him to convey my sympathies to his mother. He replied, “SAHAB, US NOON APNE PUTTER DE SHAHEED HONEY  DA  ITNA GHAM NAIN JITNA EAST PAKISTAN DE ALEHDA HONEY DA HOYA AYE “ (She,   the mother, is more grieved for  the separation of  East Pakistan than the Shahadat of her son). In  my heart I saluted to the AZMAT  of this uneducated   “lady” from  this small village of Sangoi in Jhelum Distt.

Please tell us something about your service profile from 1971 till 1977 ?

In July 1972 I was posted from 26 Cavalry to command the  Probyn's Horse. Took over the Regiment at Bahawalnagar. I think I was the first non-Probynite to command the Regiment since Independence. I had no problem because of this situation. The Regiment has rich history and traditions, and has a character of its own. All Ranks were of high standard. I had the pleasure of working with a fine set of officers, namely Maj (later Brig) Hifz ur Rehman 21C; Maj (later Maj Gen) Saeed uz Zaman Janjua HQ Sqn; Maj (later Lt Col) Maqsood Ali Khan, OC A Sqn; Capt (later Lt Gen) S.M. Amjad, OC B Sqn ; Capt (later Senator) Mukhtar, OC C Sqn; Capt (later Diplomat) Tariq Azizuddin, Adjutant.  During  my command Regiment remained in forward areas and returned to peace location in Multan Cantt in the beginning of 1973. Training activities, especially firing and Troop/Squadron exercises at the new Tamewali Ranges   were main activities.

 I was promoted to the rank of Colonel in June 1973 and appointed Col Staff 1 Armoured Division at Multan; GOC Maj Gen M Zia ul Haq. Gen  Zia and I knew each other very well, being from same  Regiment. After my commission when I  joined The Guides Cavalry FF, I was posted to B Sqn, commanded  by then Capt M. Zia ul Haq. Apart from normal peace time activity 1 Armd Div provided aid to civil power in very serious flood calamity of 1973 in which almost the  whole Div was deployed. Another noteworthy event for me personally was attending  a CENTO Seminar held at Ankara, Turkey in early 1974. I had the pleasure of  Col (later Lt Gen) Shamim  Ahmed Khan's company at this Seminar. Lt  Gen Akbar was  Pakistan’s Permanent  Representative with CENTO HQs. The experience was illuminating.

I was Promoted Brigadier in June 1974 and appointed Commander 9 Armd Brigade in 6 Armd Div at Kharian. GOC was Maj Gen S. Wajahat Hussain, Guides Cavalry. Colonel Shaikh Nusratullah was Col Staff. Everyone knew each other well. Apart from normal training activities two events deserve mention. First, Installation of Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, as Colonel-in-Chief of Armoured Corps. A fairly controversial decision, the ceremonies of which were conducted, unfortunately, in equally controversial manner. I was lucky that my Brigade was not involved in various social and  ceremonial events. It was given the task of arranging  live Fire Power Demonstration at Tilla Ranges in the context of an attack by an Armoured Regiment, supported by Artillery, Infantry and Air. Mr Bhutto was given the opportunity  to fire a Tank gun.

The second event was task of flood relief in area between Tarbela Dam and Attock Bridge. Full Brigade was moved into the area with Engineer support. One may recall that a couple of water tunnels of Tarbela  Dam developed serious faults in 1974 or 1975. There was a fear that, as a result, the Dam itself may burst, letting loose an avalanche of water which will sweep everything in its way. With the help of Dam Engineers various eventualities were forecast and plans made to provide flood relief in each. One dreadful eventuality was that the rush of water will be very massive. The narrow width at Attock Bridge will create a devastating force which will completely sweep the bridge. Thank ALLAH, the Dam did not burst. Towards later part of my tenure, Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Fazle Haq took over command of 6 Armd Div, another Guides Officer.

In July 1975 I was selected to do National Defence  Course at NDC Rawalpindi. This one year was very educative. Got a chance to  listen to very eminent speakers on practically all national affairs. It also provided a chance to inter-act with student colleagues from Air Force, Navy and civil services. I must say the environment created in the NDC was very conducive for such studies. In his lecture,  Mr Agha Shahi, the then Foreign Secretary,  was interrupted, during his lecture   by a tele message, that Shaikh Mujib ur Rehman, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, had been assassinated. It is a coincident that Lt Col Farooq, who allegedly had taken part in this action was a young fellow in Cherat when I was posted  in second tenure.  His father, Maj Rahman, was OC CMH. We had good family relations with them. Farooq was  commissioned from PMA and joined 13 Lancers, I think, when my dear friend late Rana Abbas was CO.  Now back to NDC. Most interesting part of this course were visits to  Provincial Governments and major industrial outfits in Pakistan, and visit to foreign countries. I was  put in the Group which went to China. This was most interesting visit inspite of  the fact that Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution was in progress.

After NDC course I was posted to command 3 Indp Armoured Brigade Group in Lahore, part of 4 Corps, then commanded by Lt Gen Iqbal, another Guides, Infantry. The command of 3 IAB Gp was a bit of honour; when I joined Guides in 1953, it was part of this Brigade, the only armoured formation in Army at that time. In my tenure of less than a year there were two noteworthy activities. First, Brigade Exercise with Troops in area Cholistan. This was at the end of a comprehensive Sqn/Regt outdoor training and tank firing. The second activity was non-military. I was ex-officio Vice President Lahore Defence Housing Society. It was in serious trouble in those days. MSIRs were full of complaints that officers had paid money for the plots, no allotments had been made. Main hindrance was litigation with the owners of various bits of land. We were able to overcome this litigation, also got land from the Army, and had proper town planning carried out by a professional firm. They also chalked out plots in various Blocks. When this Town Planning was presented to the Corps Commander, he was not happy on three counts. Firstly, lot of land had been wasted in keeping the width of the main approach road to 200 ft. Secondly, money spent in Town Planning was a bit of waste. Thirdly, without this elaborate town planning the number of plots would have been more. It took quite an effort on the part of Town Planner and us, to justify what had been done. Fortunately, it could not be reversed. Thanks to the professional town planning done at that time Lahore Defence Society is a housing scheme without serious problems for its inhabitants.

You made an observation that the act of making Mr Bhutto as Colonel in Chief of Armoured Corps was controversial. If it was so why in your opinion was it done?

I think it was intended to seek his attention and support for the betterment of the Armoured Corps. A legitimate purpose. Personally I was not in favour of adopting such means to achieve legitimate ends.

You also served as Director General Coast Guard. How was this experience?

 This was a surprise posting because I had no experience of having served in a Civil Armed Force. This Force had recently been raised (1973) by Brig Sajjad, who had done a fine job of establishing its infrastructure at the HQs and in its area of responsibility. This covered   the entire Coast of  Pakistan to a depth of about 30 miles, including Road Uthal-Turbat- Mand. Accommodation for Headquarters, Officers/ORs, Officer Mess at Karachi, and for posts at Pasni, Jiwani and Gwadar are note-worthy. Two battalions, an Intelligence Section, Marine Company (Indigenous wooden boats, two small hovercrafts) and  normal logistic support troops was the composition of the Force. A Deputy Collector of Customs was also posted in the HQs. Officers were posted on secondment  from the Army  and JCOs/ORs were recruited directly. As the area of operation was extended and with little road communication one helicopter was also provided. Apart from the security of the coast line, the principle function of Coast Guard was anti-smuggling. For day to day functioning as a Civil Armed Forces, Coast Guards was under Ministry of Interior. For operational role it was to come under command 5 Corps.

For the performance of their  anti-smuggling functions the officers of Coast Guards  were given necessary Police/Customs Powers. ie powers to raid, search and seize allegedly smuggled goods, arrest alleged smugglers, their prosecution, and confiscation of seized goods after due process under the Customs Act. The general pattern of activity was: receipt of information  through Informer, (who, mostly were smugglers themselves)  raid and search; seizure of goods, arrest of smugglers (rather infrequent) lodging of  F.I.R (each post of Coast Guard was a Police Station for anti smuggling functions) confiscation  of smuggled goods by the Deputy Collector of Customs followed by their disposal  under the rules. Reward Money, for which allocation was made in the annual budget of Coast Guards, was given proportionately to the seizing party, the Informer and to the Welfare Fund of Coast Guard. The achievements of battalions and indeed of Coast Guard, was measured in the worth of smuggled good seized.

Few interesting and major anti-smuggling cases, that I recollect  are:-

a. Seizure and confiscation of one launch full of liquor.

b. Capture of launches off and on, full of goods — cloth, electronic items, sometime  vehicles. Noteworthy were two very big launches, the worth of goods, at   that time, was approximately Rs Three Crores.

c. Various quantities of  Narcotics off and on.

d. One ship at Gadani, imported for breaking was seized and confiscated by Coast Guard, for having violated customs law. This was before my taking over. The owner's appeal was pending in Sind High Court. A period of two to three years had passed. The ship was being eaten up due to rust and a detachment of Coast Guards personnel was tied up. High Court had accepted our plea that the ship be auctioned and proceeds be kept under its control for disposal in accordance with the final  decision. In the first attempt by the Nazir of the High Court the highest bid came to  Rs 28 lacs. Coast Guards objected and were allowed to auction the ship. The highest bid came to Rs 78 lacs, close to the market price. The decaying ship was disposed of.

Some of the improvements introduced:-

a. Coast Guards needed additional manpower resources, vehicles and high speed  boats. We got one additional battalion, two Italian built high speed, armed boats, some vehicles, wireless equipment and heavy infantry weapons. The  additional battalion was assigned part of Baluchistan with HQ at Uthal.

b. On disbandment of FSF (Federal Security Force) their assets were distributed among all the Civil Armed Forces. Coast Guards got approximately 500 men  and their land at Korangi, 75 acres.

c. Permanent accommodation were built for posts on Pak-Iran border, at Gwadar,  Ormara, Uthal for Bn HQ, and at  Korangi for Bn HQ.

d. The seized/confiscated vehicles — cars, jeeps, wagons, trucks — were stored in   the open, exposed to weather causing serious deterioration. To me it was a national wastage. If it was to be confiscated, state loss, if not, loss to the individual Pakistani. We got garages built for such vehicles and arrangements made for their  regular maintenance.

e. In litigation of major cases the accused  party would engage very senior lawyers  because they could afford to pay their heavy fee. Coast Guards,  usually were represented by the Legal Adviser which was a great handicap. We  started to engage lawyers of matching ability and status. This proved to be more  effective and cost effective.  

Relations with Pakistan Navy:--  On raising of Coast Guards in 1973 as an Army  force, Pakistan Navy were very sore, for good reason. All over the world Coast Guards are Naval outfits. On taking over in 1977. I decided to try and establish working relationship with Navy. With kindness of Admiral Sharif, CNS, relationship improved. We were honoured to have a visit from him. We were able to get two regular naval officers (Lt Cdrs) seconded to Coast Guards, one to command Marine Company and the other, to provide technical support. The Navy also agreed to provide maintenance and repair facilities to the high speed boats. Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Niazi decided to build a make-shift jetty on self-help basis at Gwadar for Naval Gun Boats. Coast Guards actively helped in building this jetty. Throughout my tenure, we had very good relation with Pakistan Navy.

It was necessary to have cordial relations with Sindh and Baluchistan Provincial Governments, as we were operating  in these two provinces. There were usual complaints by residents, of harassment by Coast Guards personnel. Some were genuine and some not. This was a real problem but, luckily did not attain serious proportions. Relations with Customs also remained cordial. Frankly, one reason was Martial Law declared in July 1977.

Coast Guards made a major contribution for the re-start of the noble game of Polo in Karachi. After shifting of Pakistan Bodyguards to Rawalpindi, Polo in Karachi had almost died down. It was being played once or twice a week 2/3 a side. It was kept alive by the keenness and resilience of Brig Hesky Baig; Cols Nasrullah, Irshad Rashid, M.A.R.Beg (my inspiring elders) the young blood, Mr Naeem Malik, Mr Javed Rizvi, and the Karachi Police led by Mr Salim Vahidy and Mr Babar Khatak with their staff. With  the entry of redoubtable Jaja Mian, the great trainer of youngsters in riding and Polo, stage was set to revive this game. Coast Guards were willing and able to provide the logistic support and additional players with horses. Army Remounts Detachment also chipped in. The dusty polo ground inside the old Race Course behind

Cantt Railway Station was prepared and maintained to the extent possible for the daily polo games. Karachi Polo Club was revived.  Brig A.S. Nasir and Brig Jafar from Malir also participated regularly. Soon, this club started to have a weekly sponsored match over the week-ends which became a regular social event in Karachi. At one time Karachi Polo Club had highest number of playing members, possibly second only to Lahore Polo Club. Karachi has an advantage; due to mild weather the game can be played  throughout the year, unlike  other cities in the north where it is  played only in winter. With the efforts of everyone involved polo flourished in Karachi for about ten years. More on Polo later.

I had a very unhappy and discouraging experience during my command of Pakistan Coast Guards. Its anti-smuggling operations described above exposed its personnel, to corruption. It was very easy to let go smuggled consignments, in part  or the whole, for consideration of money. The smugglers are very adept at making such  arrangements with the personnel of all anti-smuggling agencies. I was aware of this  malady and hazard on taking over command, and was quite concerned  about it. To curb this problem I relied basically on the chain of command, COs, Company  Commanders and so on; also on the intelligence resources available in the Force. After a few months I started to receive reports that Coast Guard personnel were  involved. I would discuss this problem with COs and staff officers at HQs  very  frequently. They generally sounded quite confident that their officers  and men  were not involved in these corrupt practices, at least to the extent reported, conceding  that there may be few “black sheep” indulging in minor cases. They also conveyed  that the “enemies” of Coast Guards, mainly smugglers, some  members of district/provincial governments and to some extent, other anti-smuggling agencies, could be  spreading these rumours to bring  bad name to our Force, especially the Army Officers. A very likely reason in the days of Martial Law. Used to a very  honest, and   honourable professional dealings within the chain of  command of the  Army, I also  felt loyalty to my subordinates to protect the honour of  the honest. However, I remained concerned and vigilant  about this malady. Meanwhile, I receive a report to the effect that a  launch full smuggled  goods was likely to land in a particular area and an officer of  Coast Guard was expected to help  in safe passage of its goods, instead of seizing  them. I decided to ascertain this information by personally conducting an operation.  It all came to be  true, I did find  an officer red handed. He was put under arrest. What followed  next is a long story.  Suffice it to say that as a result of the unprecedented action that I took, involvement of a large number of officers, JCOs and ORs was established. Disciplinary action  was  taken in  which approximately 18 officers and about 35  JCOs and ORs were either dismissed, or retired with fault or otherwise. This action shook the Force which helped in re-juvinating it. GHQ posted better category of officers. The effect of  this action lasted for quite some time, NOT for ever!!

This episode was very painful for me personally. I had to take action which resulted  in severe punishment to officers, whom I had considered to be “my  officers”, in the usual Army tradition. Secondly,  in the process, my personal honour was likely to be tarnished by  an unwise, to say the least, action by Army High Command. I fought back and with Allah's grace, I  managed to save my honour and dignity. I may also mention that on imposition of Martial Law in July 1977, the ML Authorities entrusted few  inquiries to me involving some dignitaries. I had very sensible and able assistance from Cdr (later Vice Adm) Khalid Mir. The inquiries pertained to Mid East Hospital, Begum Husna Shaikh and allotment of railway land for construction of a 5-Star Hotel near Clifton Bridge. It was alleged that undue and large scale favours had been done to certain dignitaries by the PPP Government in violation of rules. The inquiries were conducted as judiciously as possible and submitted to ML Authorities for actions deemed fit.

We understand that you played a long innings in the PIA. How was this stint?

After completing four years as DG Coast Guards, I was posted to PIA on secondment as Director Administration. I served in PIA physically until Oct 1989 and  on paper until Oct 1990. My first five years with PIA were on secondment until Oct 1985 when I retired from the Army. Subsequent 5 years were on contract.   

After watching  the performance of PIA for about three years (1977-1980) the ML High Command had reached the conclusion that PIA, the National Carrier, was in a Mess and extraordinary measures were required to retrieve it. These measures included change of PIA top management and to provide the Corporation necessary  means and support to be able to run the airline efficiently. I was posted as part of the new management. This was another new and challenging job which required a great deal of hard work, patience and ingenuity. It was rather a heavy burden. Apart from  running/supervising the complex administration of PIA in Pakistan and aboard, I was expected to implement the policy of removing  from service the employees who were not only unproductive but also trouble makers and who had really hamstrung the PIA management. This was considered necessary to enable the management to run the Airline on corporate lines. A very  unpleasant  but very responsible job. I was all the time concerned  that an innocent  person should not be affected. It was not possible for me, or for that matter for anyone, to perform these unusual, and usual corporate tasks without cooperation of PIA employees. I soon discovered that bulk of the PIA employees were dedicated professionals. The trouble makers were not in large number. I was able to establish necessary rapport with PIA Directors and down to a loader which  helped a great deal.

When I joined PIA in March 1981, the hijacking episode of its aircraft was in progress. The aircraft was at Kabul Airport under the control of the hijackers. I recall that Capt Qazi, Director Flight Operations PIA, did an excellent job of negotiating with the hijackers and contribute a great deal in resolving this tragic episode.

To start with, PIA administration was to be run under its existing policies, rules and regulations. The Employees Associations and Labour Unions were in existence and active. Interacting with them gave me a chance to understand them. It did not take long for me to find that the PIA administration was in serious disorder. It took me almost two months to know the exact number of employees on the pay role of the Airline. It came out to be  over 22,000 permanent and about 2,500 on daily wages. In addition, overtimes to the tune of Rs two Crores was being disbursed per month. Personal records were in disarray. Rules and Regulations were generally not followed in the posting, transfer and promotion of employees. The process of disciplinary proceedings was ineffective. Management and CBA/Associations either blamed each other for this disorder or considered it to be good enough system of working.

I found that the CBA did work for the welfare of  their electorate, the PIA employees, but had far exceeded their role and functions assigned to them in the IRO 69, (Industrial Relations Ordnance 1969). They interfered in recruitment, postings, transfers and even promotions of not only the unionized staff but also in case of officers. A very limited number were excused duty for the performance of their CBA functions. The number who actually did not perform their duties was in hundreds. They acquired excessive facilities. They did not hesitate to use physical violence against officers, even to the rank of General Managers, if they did not conform to their wishes. No disciplinary action was taken against culprits. I made a number of attempts to advise CBA to conform to their functions and privileges as given in the IRO 69. I offered assurance that I will establish mechanism, and shall personally see that  legitimate grievances of employees are removed. This was of no avail. I did make one thing very clear that physical violence against officers, or any other employee, will not be tolerated. In case of any such occurrence, due disciplinary action will be taken.

Another disturbing discovery was existence of unhealthy  groupings and tussle on ethnic and provincial lines as well as between major professional entities i.e. Pilots, Engineers, Marketing and Traffic etc.

It was also very clear that political interference in the running of the Airline had been rampant, either directly or through the Unions. With over 22,000 permanent employees and 2,500 Daily Wagers, the Airline was grossly overstaffed in the light of various standards usually followed in the airline industry. Each department had more employees than the work load. In addition, a number of activities such as Janitorial Services, Canteens, Motor Transport etc, which are normally hired, were performed by engaging permanent employees.

After lengthy deliberations Government finally decided to impose Martial Law Regulation 52 in June 1981. Under the Regulation, all Associations and Unions were banned. Mechanism was provided to take expeditious disciplinary action against the employees who had indulged in malpractices or violation of rules and regulations. It was also provided to dispense with the services of employees, no longer required by the Airline. Tough measures indeed. Every effort was made to implement them judiciously. There was marked effect on the performance of employees soon after the imposition of MLR 52. Daily  attendance went up from about 60% to 95%, the staff performed their individual functions well and the supervisors became effective. Although it was being propagated that if Associations and Unions were  banned, the Airline will be brought to stand still. Nothing of the sort happened. Efficiency of the Airline and service to passenger improved a great deal. After about six months of imposition of MLR 52 a survey indicated (1) Reduction of  Permanent Staff strength from 22,000 to approximately 18,000; Daily Wagers  from 2,500 to about 200. (2) Reduction of Overtime from Rs 2 Crores  to about Rs 20 Lacs per month. (3) Increase of employees productivity by about 10% (4) Incidence of malpractices dropped.

MLR 52 provided for action against those whose service were not required, in three ways. Firstly, those whose functions had been eliminated and contracted  out. These were Janitorial Services and Canteens. Such employees were given compensation. Approximately 820 were retired under this category. Secondly, those who were found to be disciplinary cases. These  individuals were issued  show-cause notices, their replies were processed and considered  and verdict in each case was given by the Chairman. Approximately 267 went out under this provision.  Thirdly, those employees who were unproductive, allegedly trouble makers, or indulged in malpractices. Approximately 975 went out in this category. A total of  approx 2,062 employees were sent out; NOT thousands, as was propagated in those days. Great and meticulous care was taken to decide such cases. Lists were provided by Departments, which were fairly long. The Intelligence Agencies, provided their Lists. A criteria was formulated; each individual was examined in the light of the criteria. His service record was seen (this, I might mention, was not much help because of lack of its credibility). His case was discussed with his Manager, General Manager and Director. In case of any doubt the name was deleted. Final prooning was done by a Committee in Ministry of Defence, headed by the Joint Secretary, it included Director Administration PIA, a Director each from ISI and IB. This Committee made recommendation to the Chairman, who after due consideration gave the approval for dispensation of services of the employee, a loader or a General Manager.

Disciplinary action against a top office-bearer of  CBA, before imposition of  MLR 52. A test case. He committed physical violence against a Manager in his office whose  tooth was broken. This was done after the advice and warning given specifically against such crime. It took a long time and effort, but this employee was  eventually dismissed from service under PIA rules and awarded one year R.I. by a Summary Military Court. It was unheard of that disciplinary action could be taken  against  a paltry functionary member of Union, to take action  against a top office- bearer  of CBA was inconceivable. To my absolute dismay this individual was re-instated by HQ MLA at Karachi. I took up case with CMLA HQ and had the re-instatement cancelled. This one action by the management put an end to the abhorrent practice of physical violence against officers. By the way this individual visited me at my house before and after his conviction. We had tea together.

In performance of my functions as Director Administration and in implementation of MLR 52, I received inspiring support and guidance from Maj Gen (Retd) A Rahim Khan, Chairman PIA and Secretary General Defence. He was like a rock and protected us against interference from Government High Ups. Aviation  Division of Ministry headed by Mr Aitezaz uddin Ahmad (later Federal Secretary) provided full cooperation. I also received full support and guidance  from Mr M.M. Saleem MD.  Similarly, the higher management of PIA was equally supportive. Col Hatim Zaidi, Col Mirza, Col Zaka and Gp Capt  Shah, who had also been posted on secondment, provided valuable assistance. As I have said I received full cooperation from all the PIA staff, mention must be made of Mr Mehmood Alam GM Legal, Mr Ali Hasan GM (P), Mr Farooq Raja Manager (IR).

Normalcy was restored after implementation of MLR-52. The Board of  Directors and the Management of PIA went about in earnest to restore PIA's financial health, improve service to passengers and to look after the welfare of the employees. Maj Gen Rahim called the Board meeting every month so that major corporate matters were attended to expeditiously. PIA Management worked smoothly and was responsive to the needs and demands of passengers. Some of the interesting events:-

a. Engagement of  foreign consultants, Booz Allen and Hamilton, to seek their  expert advice on two  major issues. Firstly, Corporate Structure of the Airline.  Secondly, Route Structure for PIA. Their recommendations on Corporate Structure were implemented with some modifications. With regard to Route  Structure, in a nutshell, they  recommended that PIA be made into a regional  airline. The PIA Management vehemently disagreed. Consultants  recommendations were not implemented. After this whole exercise I was of  the view that what Consultants performed  at  a cost  could have been done in-house.

b. A small number of armed forces officers were inducted into the airline. This caused resentment. Most of the inductions were into Departments where armed forces     officers could genuinely contribute, like administration, security services, aircraft stores (Air Force). But, unfortunately, one induction of an Air Cdre   as GM in New York did a great deal of damage to the credibility of ML Regime.

c. Air Marshal Viqar Azim was appointed MD in the beginning of 1982, until 1986. A very energetic and imaginative officer. One of his first passions was  to introduce computerization in the Airline, long overdue requirement which he successfully achieved. Unfortunately his energy and zeal got dissipated because he could not establish healthy working relationship with Chairman, as well as with most of his Directors. Like an excellent pilot one got the impression that he attempted to run the airline like  a  fighter aircraft. It is a pity that a number of controversies arose during his  tenure which eventually landed him in trouble.

d. Air Marshal M.A.Daudpota took over in 1986. A perfect gentleman and a pleasant person. He received  everyone  in his office by standing up, as a mark of respect for him. A very unusual but a  fine gesture. On the whole he  ran the Airline well. It was during his tenure that PPP Government was installed at the Centre (1988). The actions taken by ML Regime were undone  with vengeance. All the employees who had been removed under MLR-52  were re-instated, most of them with back benefits. To my mind it was a reckless and a very unwise action. It may have achieved a political gain but  laid down the grounds for deterioration and  wrecking of the Airline, which, eventually it did. If the Government felt that injustice was done to these  individuals, their cases could have been reviewed judiciously and final  decision taken. The responsible people of the Airline had commented all   along that 5% to 10% of the removed individuals may be in gray areas, 90%  to 95% deserved to be removed because they were unproductive, were  trouble makers, indulged in various malpractices  and  even crimes.

e. Ordinarily my contract service with PIA was expected to be terminated after the change of Government in 1988 but it did not, possibly, thanks to some friends in the right place. In Oct 1989  I was sent on leave with pay and full benefits until the end of my contract Oct 1990.                                                

Although I had to work very hard in PIA and was required to deal with some very complicated matters, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. Nine years service in the National Airline was very satisfying and rewarding. I learnt a great deal. The handling of  complex  management matters of this major Corporation was a great experience; so was interaction with Federal Government, with foreign airlines, with international organizations like IATA. I also got an opportunity to travel extensively.

PIA was a great help to me and my family in dealing with a medical crisis. In 1986 my daughter, Samira, age 15, had renal failure. She needed kidney transplant. Medical facilities for transplant in Pakistan in those days were rudimentary. PIA facilitated this treatment abroad. By the grace of Allah, the transplant successfully took place at Cromwell Hospital London, donor being her father.  With further grace of Allah, Samira completed her studies Matric and F Sc in Pakistan, BA in USA. She worked for 3 years in an investment management company in Karachi and converted to IT. Got married in 1999 to Omer Masood. They have a lovely and extraordinarily friendly son Zaid, age 6 months. Allah be praised.    

PIA has been the top supporter and developer of sports in Pakistan, especially Cricket, Hockey and Squash. I introduced Polo as well, at affordable cost. Horses, the major cost, were acquired from the Army as boarders on payment of a yearly fee against the names of Army officers serving in the Airline. Few Desi and inexpensive horses were bought. In a short time PIA organized its own Polo team which participated in various tournaments in the country, being National Champions twice. PIA team also visited abroad and played friendly matches. Like other sports, Polo contributed to the publicity of the Airline. One young colt, Sattar Niazi, was developed into a 4 goal handicap player, the highest level Pakistanis have been reaching for the last many years. One of the keen Polo Players was Capt Siraj ul Malik  of  Chitral. With his efforts PIA  team  played in Chitral against the  local teams under local game rules which really is “free for all”. This visit to Chitral was possibly the first of its kind. Polo also made specific professional contributions during the following visits abroad :- (1) PIA polo team visited Brunie twice, on the recommendation of Pakistan Ambassador, Brig Mir Abad Hussain. We played few games in which Prince Jeffry, younger brother of the Sultan,  participated. Brunie Airline was in his care. The Ambassador arranged a meeting in which we both called on the Prince. As a result PIA got business of training Brunie Airline technicians in Brunie as well as  in PIA Training Centre. (2) PIA polo team also visited Jordan and played friendly matches in which H.R.H Prince Hasan Bin Talal, a keen polo player, took part. This visit was utilized to make recovery of about USD 2 million from Royal Jordan Airline which was stuck up for a long time. Kind intervention of H.R.H the Prince was a decisive factor. (3) PIA polo team also visited China in 1983 during their October Festival at Hou Hot, capital of  Inner Mongolia. This was perhaps the first time a foreign polo team visited China. This visit created great excitement in that region. As many as 10,000 people came to  watch the final game. The value of great publicity in China and contribution to the exemplary friendly relationship of our two countries was very valuable. Raza Kuli Khan, a well-known name in Pakistan polo accompanied us at his own expense. Next year, PIA invited Chinese team to Pakistan. They played matches in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi. They were provided all the courtesy by Polo Clubs in these cities. 

In each foreign visit horses and local courtesy  was provided by the hosts requiring minimum PIA expenses. Unfortunately there was negative reaction from a small section of Press, and from some of the then legislators who asked questions on the floor of the Senate. Their criticism being that PIA's sponsorship of  Polo was at great expense and it was meant for the pleasure of few employees. All questions were duly answered. Those who played this game in PIA deserve a mention. They were Capt Azhar Ali, Capt Sirajul Malik, a Pilot, Capt Imran Aziz, another pilot, Mr Bony Bornshin and Sattar Niazi. We also coopted Javed Mawaz and Aamir Noon, leading polo players at that time, off and on to participate in tournaments of higher handicaps. 

What were your impressions about General Zia as a man and as a soldier?

As a man General Zia can be considered as close to perfection. As a soldier better than Average. As Head of Government unsuccessful.

What were the effects of Zia’s long one man rule on the qualitative efficiency of the Pakistan Army?

I cannot really authoritatively comment on it because during this period I was away from the Army and it has not been put to test. However exposure to non-army activities of soldiers, however small in numbers will have an adverse effect.

Please tell us about people who Persons who influenced your development or you remember any noteworthy thing about them?

My parents. My father, Khawaja Ghulam Yasin, was a very decent gentleman. I got some of these qualities from him. My mother gave me everything that a mother provides to her children. In addition. I learnt from her patience, quiet courage and ability to withstand crises and hardships with cheer and equanimity.

My Uncle Shaikh Abdul Hameed. In my young days he was my ideal. I learnt from him values of life especially in context of Islam and as conveyed by Allama Iqbal. He had great pleasure in entertaining guests to delicious Kashmiri meals cooked by his wife, and to Mangoes. He was a passionate mango connoisseur. During the season he maintained stock of choicest qualities in different stages of ripeness. One would dispute his knowledge on the subject of mangoes to his peril. Your Managing Editor knows it very well.

Khawaja Ahmed Hasan Manto. A family elder. A Senior Advocate of Rawalpindi who took active part in struggle for creation of Pakistan. I made it point to spend some time with him in his office on College Road in 50s whenever I came on leave. In 1956 when I was selected for a course in USA I proudly informed him. He was happy but made a deep remark to this effect. This American Military Aid is the second unfortunate thing which has happened to our country. First one was Evacuee property. Acquisitions without effort will breed corruption and take the nation away from self- reliance. How right he was. Such patriotic wisdom was available to us at that time. It is available to us even now. It is a pity we have been unable to allow it to be effective.

Major Mahmood Kamal. A dear friend, from East Pakistan. We served together in Guides and in SSG. His father was a senior CSP officer. His marriage, to Rehana, daughter of Professor Mahmood Husain, Vice Chancellor Raj Shahi University, was a manifestation of profound nation-building feelings, in the two friends one Bengali and the other non-Bengali. One factor in this marriage was that it will contribute towards strengthening of bonds between the two wings of Pakistan. I think recalling such instances is a poignant reminder that Pakistan’s nation building is not yet strong enough.

Colonel Pir Abdullah Shah. A remarkable person in many ways. Very well-known in Armoured Corps and in the Army. He was my CO in Guides in 50s. I learnt a great deal from him especially in human relationship and creating espirit-de-corps. He excelled in taking keen interest in development of young officers and took care of them when in trouble as a family elder. His patience and courage displayed on the Shahadat of his son, Captain Husain Shah, was exemplary. He was very fond of Zia ud Din Abbasi, and kept contact with his family to his last days.

 Major Zia ud Din Abbasi, Shaheed. My dear friend and a brother officer of Guides Cavalry. He was a competent and a serious professional. A sensitive person with all the fine qualities which goodness demands. His sense of humour was characteristic and unmatched. Whatever be the company (of Senior or Juniors) and whatever be the mood his remarks and conversation would create his characteristic humour, and even hilarity. Those who knew him yearned for his company. His unprintable TAKIA KALAM was inadvertently acquired by most, including some seniors. He was equally good in humorous writing. It is a joy to read the Newsletter written by him. Before 1965 War we both happened to be in Quetta. I was doing staff course, he was posted as Instructor in Infantry School. The High event of that time was his marriage in early part of the year. He got family accommodation. My wife Farida and his wife Shakira happened to have been college-mates. Farida helped him set up the house before arrival of Shakira. ZU was looking forward to calm family life after a long bachelor’s life of almost fourteen years. He had hardly started to taste it when Rann of Kachh operation took place. He was posted to Guides Cavalry in Cone Area Gujranwala. He had a few days leave in Karachi (or Quetta) before the start of 1965 War and never returned.

Major General A.O.Mitha. He raised the Special Service Group in 1957 and commanded it for about 6 years thereafter. The infrastructure, the training concepts and standards he laid down have served as a firm foundation for this Elite force. He focused on Physical fitness development of initiative and unconventional approach for military skills in All Ranks, especially officers. He was very successful in creating the required espirit-de-corps and high mark of confidence in every member of SSG. He read extensively and believed vehemently in simple living and high ideals. I learnt a great deal from him.

Please tell us something about your post retirement life and ties with the army ?     

I remain in fairly close touch with all the elements in the Army that I have been associated with. I try to attend all the Reunions, Annual Days etc. It really gives me great and genuine pleasure.

In 1993 I was appointed Colonel of 26 Cavalry. A singular honour for which I am grateful to the then officers serving in the Regiment. Before me, this honour rightly belonged to Brig Akram Hussain Syed, who raised this Regiment. He laid firm foundation and established fine traditions.