HERO of the Kashmir War of Liberation
Col (Retd) MUhammad Azam Khan SJ, (Fakre
War of Liberation in Kashmir has given birth to immortal heroes, each
one a legend in his own right. Lack of resources, uncertain conditions,
numerical superiority of the enemy have never hindered the liberation
struggle. The freedom struggle commencing in 1947-48 and its continuation
to-date is a chronology of heroic deeds/achievements have become an integral
part of our contemporary history, an analysis/study of the deeds of valour
of these Kashmiri heroes is a beacon light for the new generation of Mujahideen,
one such immortal hero is Col (r) Mohammad Azam Khan whose struggle for
the liberation of Kashmir became a lifelong mission until his death on
02 April 2002. For his achievements he was awarded Sitara Jurat (Fakhre
Col (Retd) Mohammad Azam Khan was born in March 1915 in village Panjiri
in a family steeped in military traditions/service, he did his Intermediate
from Zameendara College Gujrat and graduation from Prince of Wales College
Jammu. After graduation he joined the Maharajas State Forces in 1936 and
later earned a Commission in 4th Jammu and Kashmir Infantry Battalion
in 1938. During 1947, the Battalion was stationed at Muzaffarabad and
was being commanded by Col Narain Singh, it comprised of the following
companies deployed in Kohala-Muzaffarabad axis:-
‘A’ Coy Commander Lt Lahab Singh, surrounding
areas of Kohala Bridge.
‘B’ Coy Kupwara (Baramula) covering Sunda
Gali and Titwal Sector. (Class composition: Musalmans).
‘C’ Coy Commander Capt Mohammad Azam Khan
deployed at Kohala Bridge (Class composition: Musalmans).
‘D’ Coy Commanded by Capt Ghazanfar Ali Shah,
deployed at Bararkort Checkpost for defending Garhi Habibullah feature.
During ‘C’ Company’s deployment at Kohala Bridge, the
CO of the regiment suspected Capt Mohammad Azam Khan’s loyalties
and redeployed the Coy at Muzaffarabad. Some of the contributions attributed
by local Kashmiri writers to Col Mohammad Azam Khan are:
a. Assistance to the Sultan of Boi in 1947.
b. Collaboration with Khan Aslam Khan, Syed Ameer Ali
Shah (Both Police officers) and Major Khurshid Anwar (Liberation Force).
Col Mohammad Azam Khan provided the following information of strategic
value to them:
a. Troop Deployment/Movements in and around Muzaffarabad.
b. Location of Ammunition Dumps/storage in Sikh Gurdawaras
and Hindu temples.
c. Planning and coordination for the destruction of Road
Bridges on River Jhelum and Kishan Ganga.
In addition to assisting the aforementioned, Col Mohammad Azam Khan also
supplied secret and strategic information to Col Khanzada Taj Mohammad,
DSO and Col Riaz.
- Troop deployment/ORBAT of State Forces (Maharja’s Army).
- Morale of the Musalman Sepoys and covert support for the libera-
- Strategic troop concentration, deployment and communication between
- Maps of Badami Bagh Cantonment and deployment of guards/troops.
In October 1947 during the initial launch of the liberation
struggle Capt Mohammad Afzal Khan of 2nd Kashmir Battalion contacted Col
Mohammad Azam Khan to seek his active support for future strategy and
guidance for the liberation struggle. Col Mohammad Khan told him that
for the moment he would provide all the covert support to the Mujahideen
elements by using his position and powers vested in him by the State.
He facilitated the supply and storage of arms, ammunition and clothing
to the Mujahideen, also enabled them to infiltrate/spread upto the junction
of Kaghan and Jhelum Rivers and areas bordering Pakistan.
On 17 Oct 1947 Col Mohammad Azam Khan requested the Sultan of Boi to arrange
his meeting with Commander of the Liberation Force, Maj Khurshid Anwar.
The meeting materialized on night 21/22 Oct at the Col’s HQs where
Maj Khurshid was briefed regarding the Dogra Army’s strategy and
was presented with a few Brenguns as a gift, was also assured of the Col’s
continued covert cooperation.
On 24 Oct 1947 Col organized and deployed a few elements of Mujahideen
which later swelled into Battalion strength, he was actively assisted
by Maj Mohammad Aslam, who was later deployed at a Bridge near Domeli
‘C’ Company, commanded by Capt Mohammad Azam Khan was detailed
for attack on Baramula on 26 Oct 1947, and en route came across Maj Khurshid
Anwar (KLF) and Maj Mohammad Aslam Khan at Pattan. At this junction the
Coy joined the freedom struggle and fought defensive actions against the
Dogra Forces at this salient. During the ensuing period, one of the company
under Fakhre Kashmir command reached Uri via Poonch and demarcated the
Line of Control (LoC), in the meantime formation of the State of Azad
Jammu and Kashmir was announced and Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim was named
as the first President. By now the ‘C’ Coy strength under
Capt Mohammad Azam Khan had swelled to Battalion strength and they took
part in the pushing back of Indian forces from Pattan upto Srinagar. The
Battalion strength comprised of elements of Qabaili Force, Frontier Constabulary,
Punjab Ex-Servicemen and Punjab Police etc. This force advanced to within
five miles of Srinagar, but was held up due to IAF action and lack of
In Nov 1947 Capt Mohammad Azam Khan along with a few Mujahideen groups
reached “GORWOKL” Faizabad, Rawalpindi, here they were joined
by Dir State Forces (Commanded by Jan Mohammad). After organizing themselves
into a homogenous force they were detailed to liberate Mirpur which they
successfully undertook under the command of Capt Mohammad Azam Khan. After
the expulsion of the Dogra Army from Mirpur, the above Force under its
able son of the soil undertook the liberation of Mangla Fort and safe
passage to the besieged Dogra troops and their families on the personal
intervention of MAK.
On 16 July 1948 Col Mohammad Azam Khan along with his irregular Force,
7 AK Battalion, was to take part in an attack on Nowshera, the overall
operation was being commanded by Gen Baig. The 7 Ak Battalion was detailed
to capture village Kalal (Four kilometers south of Nowshera), enemy deployment
was concentrated on Nowshera-Jhangar, Nowshera-Baripatan, they were deployed
in concrete bunkers in strong defensive positions, equipped with automatic
weapons and active air support from IAF.
Col Mohammad Azam Khan launched his attack at 0500 hrs on 16 April 1948
against the Indians and by 1300 hrs the enemy was forced to withdraw.
The Battalion remained in occupation of the feature till the following
day until further orders. For this daredevil action the Col was awarded
the Sitara Jurat (Fakhre Kashmir) by Gen Baig.
After the liberation war of 1947-48 Col Mohammad Azam Khan served in 10
AK Regiment, 1AK Regiment, 5 AK Regiment and was posted as Commandant
AK Regimental Centre on 28 Dec 1964, where he remained till his retirement
on 16 Nov 1968. During his long and illustrious career in the Army, he
was one of the first Azad Kashmir Regular Force (AFRF) officers to attend
Staff College at Quetta, he had the unique honour of being known personally
to FM Ayub Khan. Gen Moosa Khan, Gen Adam Khan (12 Div), Gen Akhtar Malik
(during 1965 war and supplying him with intelligence regarding deployment
of Indian Armour and capture of Brigade Ops maps).
The services of Col Mohammad Azam Khan to the Pakistan Army during its
formative years and the liberation war in Kashmir are an integral part
of our history. His zest for freedom of his motherland from the clutches
of the Indians is being carried forth by his children, amongst whom three
of them joined the Armed Forces and one is presently a serving Brigadier,
in the Pakistan Army.