|While we were camped in Muzaffarabad, a regimental vehicle had an accident
while coming to the camp from the unit lines. A JCO was the senior person in the vehicle.
When he was asked why he had not controlled the driver, he stated that he was riding in
the body of truck and regimental maulvi was sitting in front seat with the driver and had
failed to control the driver. I had to have the maulvi marched before me to inform him
that all JCOs and NCOs had precedence over him and that they would ride in the front seats
of vehicles and control them.
The men of 22 Cavalry had a bad habit of stealing. The man who came to work as my orderly searched my belongings and stole a piece of brocade that I had bought in Syria for my sister-in-law, the wife of younger brother Firoz. When he was asked about it he denied any knowledge about it and the only thing I could do was to change him. Then when the T 59 tanks were brought from Karachi, an Ordnance Corps team came to check the tools and spares and officially hand over the tanks with a list of tools and spares. When the tools and spares were laid out a lot of attractive items were found missing. I firmly ordered that the missing tools and spares should be returned or else very severe punishment would follow, most of the missing items were returned. When 13 Lancers came to take over the M 48 tanks, they handed over the tanks and then stole tools and spares including radio valves from the sets fitted in the tanks. Lieutenant Colonel Qaiser Pervaiz, who was commanding 13 Lancers told me what my regiment had done and I had to call the Risaldar Major and senior JCOs and tell them to have the deficiencies made up. Then some time later it was reported to me tools and equipment had been stolen from one of the vehicles parked in the unit lines. This time I did not order that the loss be made but instead ordered the entire regiment to do one hour's drill after lunch and all officers, JCOs and men to be present. After about one week I started receiving messages that there would be no more thefts. I ordered all locks removed from tool boxes and ordered that no tank would be locked and if single theft was reported the regiment would revert to one hour's drill, after lunch. Needless to say there were no thefts reported during the rest of my command of the regiment.
Absence without leave was another nuisance, men would go on casual leave or annual leave and not come back after the leave expired. I gave instructions that anyone coming back late from leave would automatically be placed under arrest. After one or two men had been placed under arrest and given rigorous imprisonment, the absence without leave finished. Discipline in a fighting unit is a constant problem, the hundreds of minds working constantly find new ways and means to breach discipline. There are no limits to innovation, our regimental boot repairer set up his boot repair shop on the regimental boundary perimeter on the roadside. It took some time to find out that he had set up an opium sales point under the guise of setting up shop under a shady tree for the repair of boots. He was placed in the middle of the lawn between the regimental and the squadron offices without any shade.
On receipt of the brigade training plan, I made a training plan for the regiment and asked squadron commanders to plan on a troop basis for all training, to make a list all the JCOs, NCOs and other ranks, work out their individual training requirements, educational, technical, or tactical. I laid down a leave policy of five leave parties with complete troops going on leave at a time, the officer troop leader going for one month and the rest of the troop for two months, one troop per squadron was designated the 'administration troop' and did all the administrative duties, two troops were available for technical, educational and tactical training. Everyone was worried that something would go wrong with the tanks if they were moth balled for two months, with the battery removed and handed over to the Technical Officer for keeping it charged, all levels checked, the tanks were covered with tarpaulins and these were removed when the troop returned from leave, the tanks were none the worse. With leave controlled in this manner, the training of tank crews as teams and troops as units became easier, everyone got a chance to upgrade technically and complete educational deficiencies, with a year's forecast made for each individual, I and the squadron commanders could relax and let the programme run. In the running of the programmes there were a number of unforeseen changes due to divisional and other requirements and the original planning had to allow for this. Major General Mitha's training plan of the SSG and my experience in training 'J' Company in the SSG was the pattern on which this was done.
To ensure that all ranks knew their peace time duties and their functions in war I wrote 'Standing Orders' for the regiment. In writing the standing orders I used the 'Standing Orders' that I had written for 2 Commando Battalion as a model, duties of all ranks were specified and clearly laid down. When the standing orders were complete every man was issued with a copy of orders as they related to him listing his duties and responsibilities, all ranks were required to have their orders in their pay books and if anyone was checked, he was required to refer to the orders.
After the division returned to Multan, after the collective training, I called on Major General Gul Hassan at his residence and his office. In his office I found the five hundred pages of tank and troop training notes, that I had written and sent to the general, on his table in its blue binding. I asked him if I could have it back and he returned it to me with the remark that it was too voluminous for tank and troop level training. Since I had not retained a copy I was lucky to get it back. Using these training notes I re-wrote the crew duties modifying them to T 59 tanks. I soon had a crew and a troop training guide which Major Naseem Iqbal arranged to be translated into Urdu and duplicating skins to be typed in Urdu at the Multan Municipal Committee office, who were the only people in Multan who had an Urdu typewriter. Copies of these were issued to tank crews, troop leaders and squadron commanders who appreciated these written guides and used them. These guides were copied and extensively used in the Armoured Corps.
When I took over the command, all second lieutenants who joined the regiment when interviewed were usually found to have taken a loan of five thousand rupees from the bank where they had opened an account, usually Standard Bank, and spent the money in the ten days leave that they were given before joining the regiment, their debts also had to be managed by the second in command. Besides, the second in command also had to supervise the 'khutba' by the regimental maulvi on Fridays, the maulvi had to write his khutba and show it to the second in command on Thursdays.
Major Naseem Iqbal was a great help in the training of the regiment. I usually planned about two months in advance and gave my concepts and ideas to him. He developed them, worked out the details and then they were executed, the planning originated with thinking like how to carry out a mobilization exercise where all the tasks that had to be completed before moving to the war location had to be carried out, how to carry out a logistic exercise in which the concerned officers, JCOs and NCOs with logistic responsibility performed their function, how to train officers to cope with unexpected situations and so on. It required hard work and original thinking.
Major Naseem Iqbal had been deferred for promotion, in the next promotion board his case was to be reviewed. Two days before the board he told me that unless I got Major General Mitha, GOC 1 Armoured Division to back him strongly in the board, he would not be approved. The general had left Multan. I tracked him down in Kharian and spoke to him, he was against backing Naseem Iqbal and held his performance in the SSG against him. I told the general that what he was referring to had happened about ten years ago when Naseem Iqbal was junior captain, that he should be considered for promotion as he was now and not what he was ten years ago. In the selection board when Major General Mitha spoke in favour of Naseem Iqbal, General A. M. Yahya Khan, referred to a report that Major General Mitha had written on Naseem Iqbal about ten years previously to which Major General Mitha gave the argument I had given and Naseem Iqbal was approved for command.
A problem in the training of officers, JCOs and NCOs was in developing a system fire control as a part of tactics, this aspect was completely missing from the training of the armoured corps. Fire control orders were worked out and drills were made out for dealing with various conditions and bringing down controlled fire with troops, half squadrons and squadrons acting as fire teams. After perfecting orders troops and half squadrons carried out live firing on the Muzaffarabad ranges, these ranges were limited and practically no movement was possible. However just seeing the tracers flying in controlled fire made quite an impression on everyone.
About the beginning of the 1969 Lieutenant Colonel Syed Wajahat Hussain was promoted colonel staff of 6 Armoured Division, Sardar Hasan Mahmud, who should have been promoted when I was promoted but had chosen to command 19 Lancers where he had been commissioned, replaced him. Akram Hussain Syed from my course was also promoted and had the privilege of raising a new regiment, 28 Cavalry, as the integral regiment of 23 Division. Out of eight of us who were posted to the Armoured Corps from the 4th PMA Course and Agha Hasan Ali who joined us after a short period in the Corps of Engineers, Sardar Hasan Mahmud, Akram Hussain Syed and I were the three who got commands, Mohammad Afzal Khan, Mohammad Asaf Hussain and Riaz Sheikh were deferred and were promoted after the next board, Z. U. Abbasi had been killed in action, Agha Hasan Ali had lost his medical category and had been superseded, Aziz-ur-Rehman had been retired for earning two consecutive adverse reports.
After completing the conversion training before any training could be organised orders were received to send one squadron to Rawalpindi to take part in the Republic Day parade on 23rd March. All the squadrons and troop leaders wanted to go, Captain Talat Saeed, the Technical Officer of the regiment was particularly keen to go as part of the squadron. An ad hoc squadron was organised with a troop from each squadron and Captain Sikander Mohammad Zai was appointed the squadron commander. The squadron left for Rawalpindi in the last week of February when the agitation against President Ayub's government had gained considerable momentum and the political situation in the country had deteriorated considerably. About a week or so before the 23rd of March it was announced that the parade was cancelled and troops which were to take part in the parade started dispersing, the 22 Cavalry squadron waiting to return was moved to the race course area outside the wall of the house of the Chief of the General Staff, Major General Gul Hasan Khan. The officers, when they returned, told me that the Commander-in-Chief General A. M. Yahya Khan and 1 Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Abdul Hamid Khan came every night and stayed the night at Major General Gul Hasan's residence, the 22 Cavalry squadron and a company of SSG from 2 Commando Battalion provided guards at the house at night. Two days before martial law was declared and President Ayub handed over power to General Yahya, I received an order from the division headquarters, at about mid-day to send five rounds per tank and full scales of machine gun and anti-aircraft machine gun ammunition to the squadron at Rawalpindi. Hurriedly the required ammunition was loaded in trucks and a convoy was dispatched with instructions to reach Rawalpindi by the morning of the next day. The convoy reached Rawalpindi well in time and the next morning tanks were deployed at key points when martial law was declared. On the declaration of martial law Major General A. O. Mitha became the martial law administrator and made the 3rd Armoured Brigade, Brigadier Jehanzeb with specified officers responsible for martial law duties leaving the rest of the division free of martial law duties.
Just before martial law was declared Colonel Zia-ul-Haq was promoted and posted to raise and command 9 Armoured Brigade in 6 Armoured Division, Colonel Bashir Ullah Khan Babar replaced him as the colonel staff of the 1st Armoured Divison.
Amongst the JCOs of 22 Cavalry there were three from A Squadron, 13 Lancers, where I had been a squadron officer and squadron second in command, Risaldar Maizullah had been the Lance Daffadar, squadron commander's wireless operator, the head clerk of 22 Cavalry, Risaldar Shah Mohammad, had been a sowar squadron clerk, Naib Risaldar Pir Mohammad had been a sowar in the squadron. Risaldar Maizullah with an excellent service record was due to retire in 1969 unless he could be promoted Risaldar Major. Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq used his influence with the Armoured Corps Centre Commandant Colonel Mohammad Khan and got him a vacancy of a risaldar major in the Armoured Corp Centre and he left the regiment on promotion.
I knew Pir Mohammad as a sowar in 13 Lancers, somehow he had been picked up by General Zia-ul-Haq as a batman, probably when he was a major, and he had continued to serve as his batman and was promoted till he had become a naib risaldar. He could hardly read and write so he must have been passed in all the examinations, by proxy, including the Pakistan Army Roman Urdu Ist Class. When I assumed the command of 22 Cavalry he was one of the JCOs of the regiment and soon came to my notice because he could not command a tank or perform any of the functions that JCOs of his rank performed. Knowing his background and not being able to find a place for him in the regiment I called him and asked him about his having been a batman to Colonel Zia, he admitted this. I told him that I had tried to find a place for him in the regiment but he could not fit in anywhere, in view of the nature of service he had performed and the rank he had attained, he should ask for retirement and I would help him in leaving the army with full benefits. Naib Risaldar Pir Mohammad asked for three days to consider my suggestion, on the third day, 22 Cavalry was given a vacancy of a naib risaldar in the headquarters squadron of 9 Armoured Brigade. Without being asked I posted Naib Risaldar Pir Mohammad. Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq kept Naib Risaldar Pir Mohammad with him, promoting him and extending his service and he only retired when President Zia-ul-Haq was killed in the air crash.
I introduced a thirty minute run, once a week, in the PT period with personal arms and a light pack, the regiment, in their black overalls, running in step on the streets of the cantonment, past other units doing their morning physical training, creating a thump, thump, thump sound made everyone in 22 Cavalry feel that the whole cantonment was watching them. I made it point to change the route so that the unit ran past different unit lines.
I had observed that the method of promotion in the army did not produce effective NCOs and JCOs. Both were virtually promoted on a seniority basis if they had the requisite educational qualifications, a promotion examination was mandatory but in most units the examination was in name only and everyone who appeared in these examinations was passed by the units officers. The only bar to promotion from NCO to JCO was the requirement of passing the 'First Class Roman Urdu' examination, those who failed in this could not be promoted to the rank of a JCO, even this was circumvented with the connivance of officers, as in the case of Naib Risaldar Pir Mohammad. Because of the raising of new regiments some vacancies were created in the ranks of JCOs and NCOs. In a durbar I informed all ranks that cadres would be run before promotion examinations and only those qualified in the promotion examinations would be considered for promotion. A few of those in the promotion zone did not believe that I would really implement the result of the promotion examination. My jeep driver who was due for promotion to lance daffadar did not take the promotion examination seriously and expected to be promoted by virtue of being the commanding officer's driver, when he was superseded he was very annoyed and made it a point not to appear in the subsequent promotion examinations. The second condition that I had laid down was that the risaldar major, concerned squadron commander, and senior JCOs had to give their approval. Each man was marched in, according to his seniority, before a board consisting of myself, the second in command, the squadron commanders, the risaldar major and the senior JCOs, he was told whether he had passed or failed the examination, if he had passed, those present were asked if they knew of any reasons why the person should not be promoted, only one person was not promoted because his squadron commander did not approve, giving his reason and the man admitted that the squadron commander was correct. A sequel to the first promotion examination and promotions was an anonymous letter to the division commander stating that the promotions had been unfair and certain deserving senior persons had been superseded. The letter was sent by the division headquarter to me for necessary action. I held a durbar, read out the letter, tore it and dismissed the durbar. Later the pieces were picked up and hand writing was compared, the culprit was found and was summarily court martialled.
About the middle of the year I was again ordered to go to Jordan as part of a military mission, the mission consisted of the same officers as the previous mission I had accompanied except that on this mission Major General Nawazish replaced Lieutenant General Abdul Hamid Khan as the leader and I represented the SSG and the Armoured Corps in the place of Lieutenant Colonel Babar who had died in a helicopter crash. On this mission I fell out with Major General Nawazish on two counts, the first was that I recommended to the Jordan Army that they incorporate strong anti-aircraft defence in their armoured regiments because of the lack of cover against air attack in the bare desert terrain, Major General Nawazish said that I had over emphasized the potential of air power, that the Indians in the 1965 war had not been able to influence the land battle with their air superiority and when I argued he lost his temper. About two days before we were to return to Pakistan, the Jordan Army Director Military Operations asked me over for a cup of coffee and told me that Yasser Arafat's PLO was getting out of hand, that a quick operation to deal with them was necessary, he asked me to recommend an organisation and a method of operation, since we were accredited to the government of Jordan for military advice, I saw no reason why I should not give the advice and gave it, later I informed Major General Nawazish about it, he got annoyed and said that I had no business to give any advice without his approval.
In the summer collective training and open range firing at Muzaffargarh, I made the regiment throw grenades and to fire all weapons that various personnel were require to man, recoilless rifles, rocket launchers, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars etc to make sure that every man could fire the weapon that he was required to operate.
After we returned from the ranges, after a while it was noticed that some tank guns had developed pittings in the barrel. A report was made about it, one morning the Risaldar Major came to my office and informed me that the Lieutenant Colonel Majeed, the commanding officer of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers battalion of the 1st Armoured Division was in the unit lines inspecting the tanks. I walked over to the vehicle park and found the CEME on one of the tanks, I asked him to come down and then asked him what he was doing, he answered that he was inspecting the tank, I told him that he should have asked me before inspecting any tank in the unit, he told me as the CEME he could inspect any equipment in the division as he acted on behalf of the division commander, I told him that in my unit he could not inspect anything without my permission and told him to leave the unit lines, he picked up his cap and threatening to report me to the division commander, he left.