DEFENCE NOTES

 

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Major Mohammed Aslam Mirza, from my platoon at the PMA and who had been on the Staff Course with me, posted at the Military Intelligence Directorate, one day came to my office and in confidence told me that under his charge he had a 'top secret' file of 'black listed' officers. He did not tell me names of the black listed officers but said that the list contained a number of names but no reason was shown against the names for blacklisting. He was very disturbed and wanted to know what to do about it. After discussing we arrived at the solution that he should seek an interview with the Director Military Intelligence and apprise him that the list did not give any reasons nor referred to any other document and anyone's name could be added. The Director took charge of the list and Major Aslam heard no more about it.

Work in the GHQ, under normal conditions did not take more than about an hour, the rest of the time was spent on calling, chatting with other officers and waiting for 'union hours' to end. Some officers made it a habit to be informed about everything that went on in the army. They made telephone calls to all Directorates, formations and were the source of gossip. Some officers spent a lot of time sending applications for the allotment of land, items being sold in the canteen, allotment of cars etc. Another set of officers pretended to be over worked, their in-trays were always stacked but at closing time they would put the stack in the out-tray and go home. It was rumoured that some clerical staff in the Military Secretary's Branch had relatives who sold 'insurance' and if a policy was taken from them a posting according to the wishes of the person could be arranged. Some officers remained in GHQ and Rawalpindi for very long, some officers had businesses running. GHQ timings with the afternoons off were very convenient for this.

In this period the cost of living had gone up considerably, partly due to the building of the Mangla Dam where one billion dollars was being spent. Generally army officers were finding it very difficult to make ends meet. A pay commission had been instituted and everyone was expectantly waiting for its recommendations, believed to be substantial, to be implemented. About the middle of 1964 the new pays were announced; pays almost doubled and two years arrears were paid. Everyone for once was satisfied and a lot of officers spent the money that they received on buying cars and refrigerators.

About this time the Army asked officers of majors rank to volunteer to transfer to the government secretariat as 'section officers'. The response was overwhelming, showing discontentment due to slow promotion, lack of accommodation and other facilities. When it was realised that there was discontentment, some measures were taken to alleviate the major causes. Some appointments held by majors were upgraded to lieutenant colonel but these did not make any appreciable difference in the number of vacancies. At this time I was eightieth in the list of majors in the Armoured Corps and between that time and the time of my retirement as a major with twenty three years of service, only nineteen promotions could be expected up to the first person from the 2nd PMA course and then all the officers up to the 6th PMA would retire as majors as predicted by the Military Secretary in his talk at the Staff College in 1962.

Also at this time a long outstanding problem of seniority of officers commissioned from PMA vis-a-vis officers commissioned from the Officer Training School, as temporary commissioned officers as a stop gap measure to overcome the shortage of officers in the Army after independence, was becoming an issue. By this time OTS officers had over ten years of service and seniority was reckoned from the date of commission. The Adjutant General, Major General Atiq-ur-Rehman while addressing officers was questioned by an officer from the 2nd PMA course about the adjustment of seniority and then it was decided that seniority would reckon from the date of joining the PMA or the OTS, the 4th PMA course adjusted after the 1st OTS course and before the 2nd OTS course giving it about a year and a quarter seniority by adjusting from 25 August 1951 to June 1950. Our six months in the PCTS were not counted.

 

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