OPINION
The officers married accommodation in Multan was divided between the old Multan cantonment with bungalows built on half an acre of land and the 'Fort Colony', this accommodation was taken over from the construction companies who had built the new unit lines, under the American Military Aid Programme. The Fort Colony accommodation consisted of small temporary houses with large compounds divided by hedges, these were built as bachelor accomodation for the officers of the construction companies and were very uncomfortable as married accommodation, most of the division's married officers lived in these houses as a close knit community. The agriculturists amongst the officers took advantage of their large compounds to grow vegetables and other crops and to keep buffaloes, Colonel Zia-ul-Haq had a chicken farm and sold eggs.

The officers wives living in a close community, having nothing to do after sending the children to school and giving their cooks and orderlies the necessary instructions for lunch and shopping, usually gathered in their social circles to hear what other husbands had told their wives with instructions not to tell any one, but to show the importance of their husbands they would tell what they been told not to tell, and so the gossip mill would churn. Mrs. Mitha as the wife of the division commander was the president and director of the ladies functions, the arbitrator and sometimes a mild disciplinarian. Normally when husbands would return from work there would be no sign of any party or gathering, their wives would have the normal complaints of the doings of the children, servants and orderlies, but on Fridays these coffee partying and socializing wives would forget that office hours finished earlier and when the bread earning husband would return earlier than expected they would disperse like bees leaving a disturbed hive. In the evening officers with their wives would call on other married officers. The bachelor officers dining in their messes were excluded and they had their own separate ways.

At the brigade and division levels signal and sand model exercises were conducted by the division headquarters. As a commanding officer I was required to umpire brigade commanders, in every exercise the GOC would create a surprise with the object of determining whether the commander was prepared for unexpected situations, such as protecting his flanks and placing his reserves so that they could react, the two brigade commanders who I umpired were totally surprised.

Another interesting innovation by Major General A. O. Mitha was that he required one vehicle of each type to traverse the route that commanders selected for their manoeuvres to check the suitability of the route for the vehicles, in particular their ability to pass through villages and cross water obstacles, the results showed that larger vehicles had difficulty in passing through villages, wheeled vehicles required help in crossing small canals and water channels, that areas flooded quickly after tanks breached the banks of water courses, with these findings we were to find solutions, but with the change of command it was filed and forgotten.

Before we moved out for collective training a daffadar, frustrated by something, threw off his uniform and refused to work, after investigating the case I ordered a summary of evidence and summarily court martialled him, reduced him to the rank of sepoy and dismissed him from service. In the review the Judge Advocate General's office ruled that the charge had not been correctly framed and over ruled my decision, the daffadar was recalled from his home and reinstated.

Because I had asked the CEME to leave the unit lines my relations with him were very bad and I expected that he would make it a point to give the regiment a poor report in the 'annual technical inspection', therefore just before the 'annual technical inspection' by the CEME, I asked the workshop on which we were dependent to carry out a 'six monthly' inspection which was required every six months. In the 'six monthly' inspection all the tanks, vehicles and equipment got very good, good and lowest was 'satisfactory', seven days after this inspection the CEME's team arrived and classified all the tanks, vehicles and equipment as poorly, very poorly and badly maintained, in due course the report arrived and my explanation was called for by the division headquarters. I explained that a week before the 'annual inspection' in an inspection all the tanks etc had been classified as well maintained but in 'annual inspection' they had been down classified. After some time the GOC called me and CEME, I showed the GOC the log books, the CEME then stated incorrectly that the officer commanding the workshop who had signed the log books after the 'six monthly inspection' had done so without carrying out the inspection, the CEME was then held responsible for not exercising his command properly and a re-inspection was ordered after the collective training and in the inspection the equipment was found satisfactorily maintained but we did not earn any 'good and very good'.

For the winter collective training Cholistan desert was selected as the training area and this enabled the regiment to train with live ammunition. The squadron commanders during this collective training were Captain Zubair Mahmood 'A' Squadron, Captain Sikander Mohammad Zai 'B' Squadron, Major Zafar Mir 'C' Squadron, later brigadier, and Major Abdul Hamid Dogar, Headquarter Squadron. Tank commanders, troop leaders and squadron commanders were run through exercises in which live ammunition was fired. In one troop exercise a tank gun stopped firing, the tanks had their cupolas and driver hatches closed, I got on the tank, banged on the cupola and when the wireless operator opened the cupola I asked him why the gun had stopped firing, he said something which I did not understand, I told him to start firing the gun, the gun started firing, after the exercise the loader was evacuated with a broken arm, he had somehow got his arm in the recoil of the gun and broken it but continued to load a seventy pound round in the gun when ordered to do so.

The tank, reconnaissance, and the administration troop leaders trained their troops in the drills, duties and procedures that we had evolved. The Administration Troop carried out all the replenishment drills and was equipped with electronic loud hailers for convoy control and for passing orders when dispersed in the administrative area.

At the end of the troop training, every troop was given a test exercise lasting half a day, after this squadron training commenced and ended in a squadron test exercise lasting a full day, the brigade commander and GOC attended one of these. The squadron exercises were designed for surprises, the controlled enemy always appeared from an unexpected direction, when the exercise seemed to have finished, something happened and it started again, as Major Zafar Mir put it, it was a miserable day starting at dawn and continuing to late at night.

For the regimental and brigade exercise, 'C' Squadron commanded by Major Zafar Mir, was to carry out an attack exercise supporting an infantry battalion, a part of an infantry brigade that had come from Quetta. 22 Cavalry, less 'C' Squadron, was to make a night move and attack a position in the morning, a heavy artillery battery and Pakistan Air Force aircraft were to support the attack, for some reason the divisional schedule was delayed, when 22 Cavalry moved and crossed the start line a sand storm started blowing, the air strike was called off and a little later the entire exercise was called off much to my regret as I wanted to demonstrate controlled fire in an attack.

While off loading tanks from the tank train, at the Cholistan, ranges, I noticed that there was enough room on the railway flats to load two tanks on each but the weight limit would be exceeded by a few tons. When Major General Mitha visited our unit during the collective training I suggested that it might be possible to load two tanks on one MBFR, he pulled out his 'black' notebook and made a note, later he ordered Lieutenant Colonel Qaiser Pevaiz the AA&QMG to look into the possibility of loading two tanks, nothing came out of it, when Major General Mitha became the Quartermaster General he had the matter investigated, the railways agreed that two tanks could be carried with only minor modifications for lashing the tanks on the MBFRs and these were carried out. By carrying two tanks on each MBFR the strategic movement by rail improved three fold.

While we were on collective training, I learnt from the army grapevine, that a permanent delegation headed by Major General Nawazish was to go to Jordan and I was to be in the delegation. This created a problem for me as I did not look forward to serving under Major General Nawazish because of our differences, however the problem was resolved by Lieutenant Colonel Saleem Zia, who was then commanding 2 Commando Battalion, I later learnt that he was friendly with Lieutenant Colonel Bashir who was in the Military Secretary's Branch, the cyclostyle skin of the order forming the Jordan delegation had been prepared and was ready for printing and issue when Lieutenant Colonel Bashir showed it to Lieutenant Colonel Saleem Zia who took the skin to Major General Nawazish, with whom he had served as a brigade major, and asked that he should replace me, Major General Nawazish, not having any love lost for me, prepared a minute stating that Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan would not like me on the delegation, this was approved and Lieutenant Colonel Saleem Zia was included. When I was on my way to East Pakistan to command 3 Commando Battalion, I met Lieutenant Colonel M. Aslam Mirza, from my section and platoon at the PMA, he was GSO 1 in the Staff Duties Directories and he showed me the file with the minute.

About this time Lieutenant Colonel Sardar Hassan Mahmud was posted out of 19 Lancers as the GSO 1, 6 Armoured Division and on the grapevine I learnt that I was to go as the tactics instructor at the Armoured Corps School, I let it be known that I would like to command 22 Cavalry for a while longer and was not moved, then I was informed that I should prepare myself to go on next War Course, this I had to avoid at all costs because Brigadier Naseer Choudhry, the former commander of the SSG, who had asked Lieutenant Colonel Hayat, my commanding officer in 2 Commando battalion to place me on an adverse report, was the chief instructor, I managed to have my name removed from the 1970 War Course list.

Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq, when he was commanding the regiment, had taken a pocket watch from the signal stores where a number of them, a part of the Number 19 Wireless Set were stored. These watches should have been returned with the sets but were not returned. Someone in the Ordnance woke up and asked the regiment to return them, when they were counted, one was shown as issued to Lieutenant Colonel Zia-ul-Haq. Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq had gone to Jordan as part of the delegation and I had to write to him to either pay for the watch or return it, he chose to pay.

The new year brought changes in the division, Brigadier Nisar was posted to the East Pakistan Rifles and Colonel Saeed Azhar, originally from 19 Lancers, replaced him, about six weeks later Major General A. O. Mitha was posted as the Quartermaster General, Brigadier Jehanzeb was promoted to command the division, Colonel Fazle-Haq took over the command of 3rd Armoured Brigade and Brigadier M. A. Cardoza who was commanding 5 Armoured Brigade left to take over the new post of Director Logistics.

Colonel Saeed Azhar because of his resemblance to 'Rangeela', the Urdu movie comedian, was called 'Rangeela' behind his back. Soon after taking over as commander 4 Armoured Brigade he informed me that he would like to inspect 22 Cavalry, on the appointed day he arrived and was met by me, my second in command, my adjutant and the risaldar major, the officers and JCOs were lined up and introduced, he was conducted around the regimental lines, given a briefing on the state of the regiment and a with a cup of tea with the officers, he was sent off. I thought that the first visit of the new brigade commander had been handled very correctly and properly, about a fortnight later I was informed by the brigade staff that the new brigade commander was very annoyed with me, 7 FF, the other unit in the brigade commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Niazi had presented him an album of coloured photographs of the brigade commander making his first visit to the unit, 22 Cavalry had not had a photographer in attendance and not made an album for the great occasion. I was put in the dog house.

On the Republic Day of 1970 it was decided that a march past would be held in which all units of the 1st Armoured Division units would take part. My drill at the Military Academy had been bad, in fact I had not been allowed to take part in the passing out parade of our course. In the rehearsals of the march past I kept getting out of step and also got out of step in the actual parade.

That year the Armoured Corps Re-union was held at Nowshera, 22 Cavalry, now with regimental funds built up to some extent, went in 'reserved' railway accommodation to Nowshera and took part in all the competitions but did not win any of them.

The regimental messes were sited on either side of the road running along the Kabul river, the site allocated to 22 Cavalry was on the slope between the road and the river and for sitting outside, the mess chairs could not be placed in the usual circles but had to be placed in a manner which they were slightly in front and behind each other. Since the reunion was a festive occasion no one wore his uniform, one morning when I arrived at the mess I found the new commander of 4 Armoured Brigade, in his service dress with shiny new badges of brigadier's rank, walking up and down past the 22 Cavalry mess. I met him, congratulated him on getting his rank and invited him to the mess, we sat outside the mess and he sat down on the chair nearest to the entrance of the mess and I sat on the next nearest chair which was slightly in front of the chair which the brigade commander had selected, tea was served and the brigade commander left.

After we returned from Nowshera the brigade commander called me to his office and gave me an official warning for an adverse report, he told me that I had not led the march past of 22 Cavalry satisfactorily on the 23rd of March, that I had been disrespectful to him at Nowshera by seating him behind me and that my general attitude towards him was not correct and if these matters did not improve I would be placed on an 'adverse report'. After he finished I asked him to give the warning in writing to which he replied that he had looked up the regulations and did not have to give me a warning in writing, I saluted and left. A little while later Brigadier Fazle-Haq called me over and inquired what had happened and I told him. The warning put me in a quandary, I had commanded 22 Cavalry well, it was comparable with the best armoured regiment in the Armoured Corps, my 'kow tow' was not correct, I was not required.

A few days after I received the adverse report warning, night sub-calibre firing with tanks was programmed, the firing was being conducted when the brigade commander arrived without prior intimation which was not customary. He came to the sub-calibre ranges and told me to put the three best gunners of the regiment in the tanks and have them fire. I called the squadron commanders and asked them to have their best gunners fire, the three tanks fired and after firing was over the brigade commander himself walked to the targets to check them, two targets had ten hits out of ten shots, one had nine out of ten, the brigade commander when he saw the targets said that I had cheated, that the tanks had been given twice the ammunition that should have been given and that explained the number of hits. I told the brigade commander that he did not understand tank firing, if my gunners had done what the brigade commander alleged, they were five time better than what the hits on the targets indicated. The brigade commander left.

About this time, on Eid day, the brigade commander sent word that he would visit the unit langars, it was not customary for brigade commanders to visit unit langars on Eid days etc, these were supposed to be purely unit functions which if the unit liked, brigade commanders etc could be invited, I therefore sent word back that the unit had not invited the brigade commander and he should not come and he did not.

Relations between the brigade commander and myself were seriously strained, I had been lucky that in the three months of Brigadier Saeed Azhar's command no incident had taken place for which he could hold against me. I thought about asking for an interview with the division commander but instead decided to leave the division. A few days earlier I had heard that the 3 Commando Battalion had got into a fight with civilians and the police of Chittagong in East Pakistan and the commanding officer would be replaced, I spoke to Major General A. O. Mitha, now the Quartermaster General, explained my predicament and volunteered to command 3 Commando Battalion, within a few days I was posted and left Multan. So ended a wonderful year and a half of command.

previouspagebackhome