DEFENCE NOTES
At our embassy we met a mission from Pakistan that had come to buy arms. Colonel Hafiz-ur-Rehman, my former commanding officer in 13 Lancers was a member of the mission. He told us about the Armoured Corps, its successes, who had been decorated and who had been killed. Z. U Abbassi from the Guides, Bunty Sarwar from the SSG and Sarwar from 23 Cavalry who had taken over my squadron when I had gone to the Staff College were amongst those who had been killed.

On arrival at Karachi I went to my father-in-law's and surprised my wife and her family. My wife told me that all my brothers, Major Firoz Alam, on 1 Armoured Division staff, later lieutenant colonel, Major Shamim Alam commanding a company in the SSG, later general and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Squadron Leader Shuaib Alam with the bomber squadron of the PAF, Flight Lieutenant Aftab Alam and Flying Officer Mushtaq Alam with the elite F-104 squadron of the PAF and Lieutenant Shamoon Alam, later vice admiral, on a naval ship, were all right and that Shuaib, Shamim and Aftab had been decorated. There was no news from my parents who were in Dacca. My wife and her family described the air attacks, the blackouts and were happy that the fighting had ended.

way1.JPG (54077 bytes)

The day after I arrived in Karachi, I reported to the Station Headquarters and was instructed to proceed to the Armoured Corps Centre. At the Armoured Corps Centre I was attached to the Armoured Corps School as a temporary tactics instructor for the Young Officers Course that was running. The Centre was functioning as an armoured corps officers reinforcement centre, the only officer reinforcements that were visible were some very old and senior lieutenant colonels who had retired long ago, they either played bridge all day or disappeared after breakfast and re-appeared the next day. After spending two or three days at the school I requested the Centre authorities to request the Military Secretary's Branch to post me to my regiment and as soon as I received the posting order I left the Centre and joined my regiment, 23 Cavalry, in Lahore.

23 Cavalry had moved from Quetta to Lahore and had replaced 24 Cavalry as the divisional integral armoured regiment.

On 6 September 1965, the regiment had turned out for physical training at 0630 hours, there on the physical training ground the news came that the Indians had attacked that morning and the regiment was to move to its deployment area which was just outside the Shalimar Garden.The regiment's tanks were already stowed with ammunition and were dispersed as a precaution against air attacks, it moved quickly with A Squadron leading, followed by B and C Squadrons.

When C Squadron reached the Grand Trunk Road near the Shalimar Gardens, the squadron commander Major M. A. Moghal, was informed that the Indians were at the Batapur BRB Canal bridge, he was to establish contact and prevent the Indians from establishing themselves across the canal. The three squadrons of 23 Cavalry had M 48 tanks while the other tanks were Sherman, Major Moghal, who was leading his squadron in his tank, turned right on the Grand Trunk Road towards the BRB Canal with his squadron following, when he was about eight hundred yards from the canal, an Indian tank fired and knocked out his M 48. Risaldar Siddiq, the senior JCO assumed the command of the squadron, moved the tanks off the road, advanced and secured the canal bridge. That is how 23 Cavalry went to war in 1965. The regiment fought on the Lahore front till the ceasefire. When I joined it, it was part of 22 Brigade, the 10 Division reserve, and was located outside the Shalimar Gardens.

Although I did not fight in the 1965 war but arriving soon after the ceasefire, I was able to piece together the events. The 1965 Indo-Pakistan war was a continuation of the conflict that had started in 1947 when the Radcliffe Boundary Commission awarded Gurdaspur and Ferozepur districts, both Muslim majority areas, to India to give the Indians control of the canal headworks on the Ravi and the Sutlej Rivers. Gurdaspur, a Muslim majority area, gave India the access to Kashmir, a Muslim majority area ruled by a Hindu who acceded to India. Pakistan intervened by sending tribesmen and elements of the Pakistan Army in civilian clothes, fighting continued till the 1949 cease fire. The ceasefire was to be followed by a plebiscite but with a Muslim majority it was a foregone conclusion that the vote would be in favour of Pakistan, therefore the Indian policy became one of avoiding a plebiscite by relying on its diplomacy at the United Nations and maintaining a military superiority over Pakistan of over two to one. The front held by the two sides became the Cease fire Line, it left the greater part of Kashmir with India, only Gilgit Agency and a narrow strip of Kashmir remained with Pakistan.

The partition of India left Pakistan with about a third of the Indian armed forces but all the ordnance factories and all the industrial areas went to India. According to one report published in the early fifties, there were only forty nine factories in Pakistan, including the Moghalpura railway workshops. Lacking military, industrial and economic resources for maintaining an adequate military force, Pakistan took advantage of the offer of military and economic assistance from the USA. This aid sustained Pakistan in a crucial period but the American military aid avoided tilting the military balance in Pakistan's favour by providing weapons and equipment for three and half divisions in West Pakistan and controlling the logistical support. With new weapons and equipment and learning the American methods and techniques, the armed forces of Pakistan improved qualitatively which went a long way in neutralizing the Indian numerical superiority.

With the election of Kennedy in 1960, India became the major beneficiary of the American aid and the aid to Pakistan began tapering off. By 1962 Pakistan had received and assimilated all the military equipment that it was to receive under the American aid and had reached its maximum military potential.

In the winter of 1962, India following a policy of extending it boundaries along the McMohan Line occupied posts in Ladakh and NEFA which brought an unexpectedly strong reaction from the Chinese. The Indians were defeated in both the areas and to stabilise the situation it became necessary to employ forces earmarked for use against Pakistan. To prevent Pakistan from taking advantage of the situation India sought American and British help. The American President and the British Prime Minister gave President Ayub an understanding that India would settle the Kashmir dispute as soon as her border dispute with China was settled and that it was not necessary for Pakistan to take any action against the Indians. Dialogue between India and Pakistan started in 1962 and six sessions were held up to June 1963. During these talks Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's foreign minister, was not able to gauge that the Indians were only holding the talks to tide over the emergency and President Ayub never doubted the sincerity of the American and British governments. After the crisis was over the Indians made it clear that they had no intentions of considering a settlement in Kashmir, and the Americans and the British made it clear that they had no intentions of pressing India to settle the dispute.

The dispute with China improved the Indian military position because to win her over to the western camp, America, Britain and France quickly supplied equipment for eight mountain divisions, equipment for more than twice the number of divisions that had been equipped under American military aid to Pakistan.

In January 1964, the Muay Muqqudus, a strand of hair believed to be that of the holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), disappeared from the Hazratbal Mosque in Srinagar and this caused widespread demonstrations. The hair reappeared mysteriously and the demonstrations died down but in the political repercussions the government of Indian- held Kashmir fell and Sheikh Abdulla, the Kashmiri political leader was released from political imprisonment. During this period it became apparent to Pakistan that there could be no international or UN intervention in Kashmir without a radical change caused by political or military action.

Nehru died in May 1964, in September 1964, Shastri extended the application of certain parts of the Indian constitution to the Indian-held Kashmir, thereby formalising the integration of Kashmir with India. Pakistan had the choice of referring the dispute to the UN again or of adopting measures, including the use of limited force to reach a favourable settlement. Sometime in October 1964, President Ayub laid down a Political Aim For Struggle in Kashmir' as follows:

1. To take such action that will de-freeze the Kashmir problem, weaken India's resolve and bring her to a conference table without provoking a general war. However the element of escalation is always present in such struggles. So, whilst confining our action to the Kashmir area, we must not be unmindful that India may in desperation involve us in a general war or violate Pakistan territory where we are weak. We must, therefore, be prepared for such contingency.

2. That to expect quick results in this struggle, when India has much larger forces than us, would be unrealistic. Therefore our action should be such that can be sustained over a long period.

To implement the President's directive it was decided to gain moral ascendancy over the Indians on the Ceasefire Line, to deploy the Pakistan Army at its war location and to create a situation in Kashmir to bring the Indians to the conference table in a chastened mood.

After the ceasefire in Kashmir, Pakistan created the Azad Kashmir Army, it was recruited from the Kashmiri territory controlled by Pakistan. It was officered by Azad Kashmiris up to company commanders, the majority of the battalion commanders were from the Pakistan Army. Battalions were grouped into Sectors commanded by brigadiers from the Pakistan Army. All the Sectors were under the command of the General Officer Commanding 12 Division. The battalions and the sectors held very long fronts. 12 Division was short of supporting arms, especially artillery and its weapons and equipment were those declared surplus or declared obsolete in the Pakistan Army. The Azad Kashmir Army deployed permanently along the Ceasefire Line, lived in bunkers and trenches, often away from the critical eyes of officers, the discipline deteriorated and by 1962 it was on the verge of a mutiny when Major General Akhtar Malik was posted as GOC 12 Divisions with instructions to re-vitalise it. Major General Malik created rest and training areas, battalions were taken out of the Ceasefire Line and re-trained with emphasis on patrolling and commando operations. By the middle of 1964 the Azad Kashmir Army had become an aggressive force and dominated the Ceasefire Line with aggressive patrolling, instant retaliation of any cease fire infringement and raids across the Ceasefire Line.

previouspagebackhomenextpage