|The orders received from the GHQ differed from the plan which had been
discussed by the GOC with Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed and myself. The premise of our
planning was based on making an approach march of about fifty miles to the border on the
night D minus 1 and D-day and another march of about forty miles to Ramgarh and sixty
miles to Jaisalmir on the night D-day and D plus 1. In the orders received from GHQ the
approach march was to start at 1530 hours on D-day, 3 December, the international boundary
which was the start line, was to be crossed at 2130 hours and the advance was to continue
to Ramgarh and Jaisalmir, thus requiring the division to carry out a hundred and twenty
mile march in one night. On a good metalled road this would have been difficult, in the
desert moving cross country it was impossible. The GSO 1, an officer of the Azad Kashmir
Forces and who had attended the staff course with me, solved the difficult movement
problem by just increasing the speed and the number of vehicles to a mile, that is,
shortening the distance between vehicles.
On 2 December, in the morning I held a durbar and informed the regiment that we would be going deep into Indian territory. I told them that the tanks would move by train to Reti, from there on tracks to Khenju where they would refuel and continue to the border, refuel again and go to Jaisalmir. I was worried that some of the men would not accept this and may use their personal weapons on officers or JCOs. I told the regiment that due to the shortage of weapons all the officers, JCOs and men did not have personal weapons therefore all personal weapons will be deposited in the kotes with the rear party. I also told them that my second in command would be at the tail of the regiment and he had my instructions to shoot anyone running away.
Two or three days earlier 2nd Lieutenant Javed Iqbal had joined the regiment from PMA and since I could not use him to command a tank, I gave him the command of the reconnaissance troop of the regiment and told him how the troop was to be employed and controlled. Captain Tariq Javed Shuja Bhatti who had a vehicle accident a few days earlier and was in hospital with a broken arm ran away from the hospital and rejoined the regiment to take part in the operations.
Later on 2 December I was informed that 38 Cavalry was placed under command of 51 Brigade and I went to the 51 Brigade headquarters to attend the brigade commanders orders, Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed was already there, he took me aside and told me that the brigade commander had lost his nerve. After a little while Brigadier Tariq Mir came to the tent where all the officers had collected to hear his orders, he was looking visibly shaken, the GSO 3 laid out the maps on the table, the maps had blank squares across the border and did not show any terrain features where the Brigade operations were to be conducted. The battle procedure is that when a commanding officer goes to a superior commanders headquarters to receive orders, his intelligence officer accompanies him, to collect necessary maps and mark enemy dispositions. Neither the divisional staff nor the Brigade staff carried out this drill. The divisional O Group met at 1100 hours, the 53 Brigade O Group at 1900 Hours on 2 December, there was a lot of time in which maps could have been collected. I put my map on the table, it had terrain features on both sides of the border, and we started discussing the operation. It was soon apparent that the brigade commanders mind had stopped working completely.
Nothing was known about the Indian deployment, I told the brigade commander that my guess was that an infantry battalion and a tank squadron would be at Loganewala protecting the left flank of the Indian division deployed in the Ramgarh area facing Rahim Yar Khan. I suggested to him that he advances along the track going from Masitwari Bhit to the road connecting Jaisalmir with Loganewala with 22 Cavalry and an infantry battalion on the tanks, bypass Loganewala and continue to Ramgarh, 38 Cavalry with an infantry battalion to follow and to attack and capture Loganewala or wait for the arrival of 206 Brigade which was to follow 51 Brigade, no one objected and the brigade commander accepted the plan.
When the O Group dispersed the artillery regiment commander asked me for my map saying that his guns could not fire with a map that did not have the land features.
According to the divisional plan, 38 Cavalry tanks were to move by train and arrive at Reti at 1800 hours. At about 1730 hours I arrived at Reti station and asked the station master when the tank train from Sadiqabad was expected, he reported that he had no knowledge of any tank train coming from Sadiqabad, I realised that the AA&QMG had not informed the railway that a tank train had to be moved. I then spoke to the railway Division controller in Sukkur and he also told me that he had no intimation that a tank train had to be moved from Sadiqabad to Reti. After a lot of threatening and shouting the controller agreed to move the train from Sadiqabad to Reti.
At the Reti station, a goods train was standing on the siding where the tank unloading ramp was located and the station master said that he had no power, meaning a locomotive, with which to move the goods train to another siding. While we were discussing this problem he started going through the procedure to allow a train coming from Sukkur to pass through without stopping. I made him stop the train and made him use its locomotive to move the goods train. By the time goods train was moved it was dark and a message was received by the station master that trains would run without lights, the passenger train that I had stopped moved out of Reti with the locomotive lights off and at a level crossing a mile from the station it collided with a 22 Cavalry vehicle, the Bengali Regimental Quartermaster Daffadar Technical of 22 Cavalry who was in the vehicle was killed. At about nine oclock the tank train with 14 tanks of 38 Cavalry whose engines had been hurriedly refitted without cleaning the filters, arrived and the tanks were off loaded.
From the Reti railway station the 38 Cavalry tanks moved along the track and the canal bank road taken by 22 Cavalry to Khenju, after going some distance along the canal bank a 22 Cavalry tank was found broken down on the canal bank, getting around it we continued. About a mile short of Khenju a tank stopped, it had run out of petrol because the tank commander had not topped up his tank as ordered. The column continued to Khenju where Major Zia Uddin Javed, my second in command was waiting with lorries loaded with petrol, the tanks were refuelled and petrol was sent to the tank which had stopped on the way.
From Khenju the desert track started, the tanks in low gear started grinding their way to Gabbar, at 0100 hours on 4 December we reached Gabbar, 19 miles from the border, we were running about five hours behind the schedule of the division and expected 22 Cavalry to have reached the border, I was surprised when I found 22 Cavalry in a leaguer. Thirteen out of the fourteen tanks which had started from Reti reached Gabbar, I reported our arrival to the GOC who was there and he told me that 22 Cavalry and 38 Cavalry were the only troops that had reached Gabbar. At 0400 hours on 4 December the GOC decided to call off the operation for that day and ordered 22 Cavalry and 38 Cavalry to disperse in the Gabbar area.
In the morning when I went around the regiment I discovered that one tank had entered a fenced area marked as a minefield, the tank was carefully reversed out of the minefield. That whole day we waited for the Indian Air Force but no aircraft came. Since the operation was to be resumed at last light I decided to top up the tanks again, there was no sign of the petrol promised by the AA&QMG, a search of the area revealed civilian petrol tankers stuck in the sand on the desert track from the Dharki gas field to Gabbar. I sent a message to Risaldar Major Mazhar Ali Khan who was with the rear party at Manthar, he conducted a raid on the EME Battalion, collected all the 6x6 vehicles, loaded them up with petrol drums and brought them to Gabbar where our tanks topped up.
I then went to look for the tank that had broken down between Khenju and Gabbar, I found it a few miles from Khenju with the engine seized. I looked for the truck with the spare engines, it was standing a few miles from Khenju, the wheeled crane that was accompanying it, a Tatra with low ground clearance, was stuck in the sand. I had not checked what sort of vehicle the EME Battalion had sent and they instead of sending a M 72 with good cross country performance had sent a vehicle with almost no cross country performance, this finished my scheme of replacing seized engines.
During the day the brigade commanders talked to the GOC into abandoning the attack on the Jaisalmir airfield, 1 Punjab was reverted to the command of 206 Brigade and we received instructions from the division headquarters that the operation would be continued after last light. At Gabbar just before last light 38 Baluch, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Anwar Shah, joined 22 Cavalry and a battery of 130 mm guns passed through to Masitwari Bhit. At last light, 22 Cavalry with 38 Baluch mounted on the tanks moved off and 38 Cavalry followed, at about 2100 hours 38 Cavalry reached Masitwari Bhit and found 22 Cavalry in a leaguer topping up their tanks with the diesel that they had carried on the tanks.
I met Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed and he told me that Brigadier Tariq Mir, the brigade commander, was behaving very badly and saying that he had no intention of going beyond Loganewala. I met Brigadier Tariq Mir and he told me that he was not going to advance to Ramgarh, that he would go to Loganewala only. I told him that he did not have anything to fear and a squadron and a company astride the Loganewala - Jaisalmir road would give him ample protection to advance to Ramgarh. At about 2300 hours 51 Brigade moved off.
Six tanks of 38 Cavalry and the reconnaissance troop had reached Masitwari Bhit which was five miles short of the point where we were to cross the border. A platoon of a Punjab battalion of 206 Brigade, one lost FOO (forward observation officer) of the Artillery and Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab had joined us, the battery of 130 mm guns which had arrived at Gabbar in the evening was deployed there. While we were waiting for more tanks to join us, one of my officers, Captain Tariq Khalil started making the most awful noise and complained of a stomachache, I allowed him to seek medical aid and the next time I saw him was after the ceasefire.
The operation so far had been a movement fiasco. 206 Brigade was to move from Manthar on a canal bank road to Khenju, the canal bank road had covered water channels which was not designed for heavy traffic and broke under the weight of the leading troop-carrying vehicle and the others could not follow. The troop-carrying vehicles were ordinary civilian goods trucks which had been requisitioned after the emergency was declared on 1 December. The division commander had talked about requisitioning a large number of farm tractors with trailers that the local cultivators had, none were requisitioned, again obviously bad planning. 20 FF, a battalion of 206 Brigade, was not provided with transport and started off on foot, en route the transport vehicles joined them but they were civilian 4x2 vehicles and could not negotiate the desert track, when they got stuck, the commanding officer marched his battalion, the only case of marching to the sound of the guns that I have known in the Pakistan Army.
At about 0200 on 5 December, Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab and I, at Masitwari Bhit, discussed our situation and decided that it was unlikely that anyone else would join us and the best thing to do was to follow 51 Brigade with the troops that were with us. In frustration Brigadier Jahanzeb ordered the 130 mm battery to fire one round gunfire at Loganewala, an irresponsible act because it would warn the Indians or hit our troops. .
I gave out my orders, 2nd Lieutenant Javed Iqbal with the reconnaissance troop was to lead, the regimental headquarters was to follow and Major Javed Hussain was to follow with the six tanks. Here I noticed that Major Javed Hussain, whom I had to drive hard to get any work out of him and would have placed him on adverse report if the operation had not begun for a few days, was the most active officer and volunteered for all the jobs.
We crossed the border, I had gone about two miles beyond it when I found 2nd Lieutenant Javed Iqbal coming back, I stopped him and asked him what was wrong. He told me that all the jeeps of the reconnaissance troop had disappeared, I realised that the NCOs commanding the reconnaissance jeeps had driven off the track that was being followed and hidden their vehicles, I told Major Javed Hussain to take over the lead. Major Javed Hussain went 18 miles across the border, along the way four tanks broke down, two miles short of the metal road Jaisalmir - Loganewala, only two runners were left and he called a halt. I passed all the tanks which had broken down, Lieutenant Shahid Ansaris tank had thrown a track which could easily have been repaired but none of the tanks had any tools necessary to break a track, two had seized engines and one had broken down on the crest of a high ridge with a transmission fault. Major Javed Hussain had stopped the remaining two tanks in a valley, the next ridge line, Kharo Tar, was the highest before the Loganewala - Jaisalmir road.
At about 0730 hours explosions were heard from the direction of Loganewala and columns of smoke started rising, I, in my rover, with my adjutant Captain Pervez Khan, drove towards the smoke columns, the first sign of the battle was two 22 Cavalry wounded men walking back. We arrived on a ridge overlooking the Loganewala - Jaisalmir metalled road and from there we could see five of the 22 Cavalry tanks and one Indian tank burning.
Four Hawker Hunters were in the air rocketing and strafing, we dismounted from the jeep and sat on the ground to wait out the air attack. When I looked around I found my driver, with his head in a bush and his bottom sticking in the air, I walked over and kicked him in his behind, he extricated himself and stupidly grinned at me, I told him to sit down and keep watching the aircraft, if they lined up to fire in his direction to take cover. After firing all their rockets and machine gun ammunition the Indian aircraft went away. A little later a helicopter took off from the base of the hill on which Loganewala was located, later I learnt that Major General Mustafa had come and ordered Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed to capture Loganewala, and complained that 51 Brigade was not in communication with him.
Looking down from the hill on which we had stopped we could see troops but could not make out whether they were ours or Indians. We did not have binoculars and weapons, the signal corps wireless operator on my jeep had a rifle. I was wondering what to do when I saw a soldier walking in our direction and when he had come some distance towards us we recognised him as one of ours and drove down and found ourselves in the 51 Brigade headquarters. Apparently someone in the brigade headquarters had recognised the bomber pilots leather jacket that I was wearing and sent a man to call us. I met the brigade commander and asked him what the situation was and he told me he did not know, so I decided to drive to Loganewala.
I drove towards Loganewala and at the base of the hill on which Loganewala was located, two companies of 38 Baluch and a squadron of 22 Cavalry, commanded by Major Talat Saeed, were formed up to attack Loganewala. Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed met me and told me that he would be launching an attack on Loganewala in a little while. I had been the commanding officer of 22 Cavalry till May 1970, I went from tank to tank, met the crews and Major Talat Saeed who was unshaven but had a wide grin on his face, in spite of having lost eleven tanks, 22 Cavalry was in fine spirits. When I returned to the place where I had left Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed. I found him with Brigadier Tariq Mir arguing vehemently, in fact abusing the brigadier. The brigade commander had ordered the cancellation of the attack while Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed wanted to attack, the Indians in Loganewala were waving white flags but none of us had the sense to talk to them under a flag of truce.
22 Cavalry was organised in four squadrons for this operation and each squadron carried a company of 38 Baluch. The regiment reached the Loganewala - Jaisalmir road three miles south of Loganewala at about 0200 hours, just about then the 130 mm salvo, fired on the orders of Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab, landed. The Loganewala defences facing our borders had been completely bypassed and 22 Cavalry was in the rear of the defences. The brigade commander was not there and in his absence, the commanding officers of 22 Cavalry and 38 Baluch decided to clear Loganewala before advancing to Ramgarh. A Squadron, 22 Cavalry, commanded by Major Muhammad Sikander Zai, left a troop on the road Loganewala - Jaisalmir, moved towards Loganewala, drew anti-tank fire and deployed on the road Loganewala - Ramgarh. Another squadron cut off the road to Tanot, completely surrounding Loganewala. At 0700 hours B Squadron and B Company, 38 Baluch attacked Loganewala, the enemy opened fire with some anti-tank guns and machine guns. Captain Waheed, a Bengali officer of 22 Cavalry knocked out an AMX 13 tank that came out of the defences, then six Hawker Hunters arrived and destroyed five tanks with rockets and due to strafing the Baluch company went to the ground. B Squadron suffered 4 killed and 4 wounded. Half an hour later 22 Cavalry formed up to attack again but a second air strike knocked out six tanks. At about 0900 hours 22 Cavalry again formed up to attack but Brigadier Tariq Mir overruled Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed in the argument that I had witnessed, and ordered the tank regiment to withdraw the squadrons cutting off the Loganewala - Tanot and the Loganewal - Ramgarh road and to concentrate in the area around the brigade headquarters. In the two subsequent air attacks 22 Cavalry lost six more tanks bringing the days losses to 17 tanks, 10 killed and 17 wounded.
The Indian Air Force which appeared a little after seven oclock, flying without any opposition from the Pakistan Air Force, had four Hawker Hunters circling well away from Loganewala and our positions. One army aviation light aircraft also circled well away. Anything that moved was immediately attacked, otherwise the Hunters circled for their endurance and before returning to their base attacked the tanks that had been located. There were periods of about twenty minutes in which there were no aircraft over the battlefield, the last Indian air attack came about an hour before sunset on that day.
Later people commenting on the Loganewala battle, alleged that 22 Cavalry did not use their anti-aircraft machine guns. In the first air attack they found that their anti-aircraft machine guns had jammed due to the sand raised by the tanks in the long approach march in the desert, five tank commanders were killed trying to cock the jammed machine guns with their feet. Subsequently the guns were washed with diesel and fired and after the 550 rounds machine gun ammunition per gun finished the 100 mm main gun was fired at maximum elevation in frustration. Trials, when I had just taken over the command of 22 Cavalry, had proved beyond any doubt that the 12.7 mm and the .5 inch anti-aircraft guns of World War II vintage were useless against modern aircraft releasing their rockets and pulling up about five thousand metres from the tank.
At about 1200 hours after witnessing the breaking of the contact with the enemy by 22 Cavalry at Loganewala I went back to where Major Javed Hussain had halted his tanks and found Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab there. I recounted the details of the affair at Loganewala, he decided to go to the 51 Brigade headquarters and I accompanied him. We found the 51 Brigade deployed astride the Loganewala-Jaisalmir road out of contact with Loganewala, Brigadier Tariq Mir told us that an Indian brigade had linked up with Loganewala. While we were at the 51 Brigade headquarters a helicopter piloted by Captain Maqbool, 12 Cavalry, later lieutenant general, landed with an order from Major General Mustafa ordering 51 Brigade to capture Loganewala and Ghotaru, about ten kilometres from Loganewala on the road to Jaisalmir. On receiving the division commanders order Brigadier Tariq Mir announced that he would not comply with the orders because the Indians were now too strong for his brigade to attack.
The Indian aircraft again attacked and Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab and I went into the same trench, there I told him that it would be a shame if we withdrew after coming 20 miles across the border and losing so many tanks. He said that he was not in command and could not do anything. I told him that as the senior brigadier he should take over the command and try to retrieve the situation. He told me that I was going to get him into trouble but with a little persuasion he agreed to assume command.
After the air attack was over Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab informed Brigadier Tariq Mir that he would attack Loganewala with 206 Brigade and ordered Lieutenant Colonel Shah, the commanding officer of 28 Baluch the Reconnaissance and Support Battalion of 18 Division to advance along the Loganewala- Jaisalmir road and capture Ghotaru, Lieutenant Colonel Shah, saluted the commander 206 Brigade and disappeared. He was not seen till well after the ceasefire and when questioned stated that he understood that he was to make a wide outflanking movement to Ghotaru by withdrawing to the Sadiqabad-Sukkur road.
Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab returned to the point where my tanks had halted, the two infantry battalions of 206 Brigade, I Punjab and 10 Punjab had arrived. He made a detailed plan and gave out his orders to the brigade. At about 1700 hours he explained the details of the plan to me and told me to go to 51 Brigade, explain the plan to the brigade commander and ask him to mark the forming up place (FUP), to provide guides and ask for a squadron of 22 Cavalry to support the attack. He set the H hour at 0300 hours on 6 December.
I reached the 51 Brigade area at about 1800 hours, it had got dark and I ran into the 22 Cavalry leaguer. I met Lieutenant Colonel Akram Syed and explained the 206 Brigade commanders plan, he told me that Brigadier Tariq Mir had decided to withdraw across the border and was not likely to change his mind. I went to the 51 Brigade headquarters and explained the attack plan to Brigadier Tariq Mir and told him the requirements from 51 Brigade. He said he was withdrawing across the border and remained adamant about it. I argued that 206 Brigade was moving and if 51 Brigade started withdrawing, the two brigades would be moving in the opposite directions and there would be no troops on the ground. He told me to go back and tell 206 Brigade not to move. At about 1900 hours 51 Brigade started moving back along the track that they had advanced on the previous night and passed through the advancing 206 Brigade on Kharo Tar, a high ridge line just ahead of the point where my tanks had stopped. Brigadier Jehanzeb Arbab decided to take up a defensive position on this feature. 51 Brigade deployed a few miles further back and 22 Cavalry moved across the border during the night.
At about 1130 hours on 6 December the Indians made contact with the 206 Brigade position on Kharo Tar with a force that included some tanks but they kept out of small arms range and there was no artillery fire from both sides. Major General Mustafa drove over at about mid-day and ordered Brigadier Jehanzeb Arbab to regain the Loganewala- Jaisalmir road line and 51 Brigade to prepare a depth defensive position.
Later in the afternoon the GOC changed his mind and sent an order ordering a general withdrawal across the border, when I learnt about it I drove to the division headquarters at Gabbar and met the general. He said that he had ordered a general withdrawal and for all ranks to fire at aircraft with their personal weapons. I told him that if there was a general withdrawal the troops would not stop this side of the Indus and if the order to fire at aircraft was implemented the troops would fire off their ammunition and run away. I asked the general to cancel both orders and suggested a planned fighting withdrawal with the two brigades withdrawing through each other. What I had stated was correct as later events proved, but my motive was that 38 Cavalry tanks were lying broken down between Gabbar and Kharo Tar and they would all have been lost. I also asked for assistance in recovering the tanks. The GOC agreed with me and immediately sent an order cancelling the general withdrawal and his order to engage aircraft with personal weapons. The general complained that from the first day there had been no communication with 51 Brigade. I told him that I would see what could be done about it.
While driving to the division headquarters at Gabbar, I saw the 18 Division Supply and Transport battalion transport vehicles stopped on the track along which we had advanced. I stopped and ordered my driver to see if he could start a vehicle, on checking some of the vehicles it was found that water had been let out of the radiator, my driver got in a vehicle and its driver came running, he was hiding in the bushes. While we were driving to the division headquarters Indian aircraft attacked, we stopped and I watched the aircraft circling, lining up and strafing. After a while I realized that my driver was missing, I looked around I found him walking from bush to bush kicking the behinds of the Army Service Corps drivers who were doing the same thing that he had done the previous day and had his bottom booted.
By the morning of 7 December the 206 Brigade position had stabilised; the Indians were content in maintaining contact and made no effort to push forward. 38 Cavalry was now supplied with the few vehicles that we had, the Dodge Power Wagons, the wonderful desert vehicle, came in very handy. Captain Bhatti used one to provide us with food cooked in Sadiqabad, he got hold of a lot of sugar from somewhere and fed us meethi roti, I dont know how we survived without salt but he delivered food and water to all the tank crews between Gabbar and Kharo Tar. Although night movement by vehicles was possible no effort was made to run night convoys, the infantry brigades suffered from the want of water and food. On 7 December a cry went up that the 206 Brigade units had run out of ammunition, I made my Dodges available and ammunition was brought from Sadiqabad.
On 7 December there was an air attack on the two tanks which were standing in the valley behind the Kharo Tar. I with a few others was watching the aircraft when we saw them line up to attack us and we dived into trenches. The aircraft fired its machine guns, Naib Risaldar Fazal Elahi, who had driven his tank himself from Masitwari Bhit where it gave transmission trouble, was standing near a tank next to me, either out of bravado or paralysed by fear he did not move, he was hit and killed, the only fatality from 38 Cavalry in this operation. Also on this day the tanks which had been left behind in Manthar because their engines were out were hurriedly organised into a squadron under Major Karim and moved into counter penetration positions on the approaches to Rahim Yar Khan.
I observed that the Indian aircraft were attacking my tanks from one direction only, I told Major Javed Hussain to take a reconnaissance jeep with .50 machine gun fitted and position himself below the point from where the Indian aircraft were engaging us and fire at them, he did this, fired one belt after which the Indian aircraft left us alone.
During the day I sent my adjutant, Captain Perwez, with my command vehicle and told him to net the wireless set with the 51 Brigade and then take the vehicle to the 18 Division tactical headquarters at Gabbar. For several hours Captain Perwez tried to establish communications with 51 Brigade, every time the command vehicle moved about a mile it went out of communication, Captain Pervez came back and reported this to me, I could not understand why this should have happened.
In the afternoon it was reported to me that 2nd Lieutenant Javed Iqbal had been wounded and after a while he was brought to the regimental headquarters with a bullet wound in the shoulder. I asked him how he had managed it, he told me that he had taken a machine gun from the reconnaissance troop, a 2nd lieutenant from 1 Punjab had taken a rocket launcher and they had gone tank hunting, when they thought that they were close enough to the tank they had fired a rocket and missed the tank. The tank fired back and hit him, only 2nd lieutenants could get up to that sort of thing, I drove him to the advanced dressing station at Masitwari Bhit and he was evacuated.
At Kharo Tar 206 Brigade continued to hold its position. The brigade headquarters was located just off the track going to Loganewala and Brigadier Jahanzeb Arbab could be seen standing there all day, I walked up the hill, met him and told him that he was visible for miles and was likely to be shot if he did not take cover, he replied that if he did not make himself visible the brigade would run away. A few days later he did get wounded and when he was being evacuated, a havildar, at gun-point, tried to get into the ambulance and was restrained with great difficulty.
One of my tanks had broken down on the crest of the ridge before Kharo Tar with a transmission fault, on the night of 8/9 December 206 Brigade was to withdraw from its position and the tank had to be destroyed. Before preparing it for destruction, I laid its gun for indirect fire on Loganewala and fired all its HE ammunition, an enemy battery sent a salvo in return but it landed about a half a mile away. After firing all the HE ammunition and removing everything that could be carried I prepared it for destruction and told the withdrawing infantry to drop a grenade in the turret when they left.
On the night of 8/9 December 206 Brigade withdrew from Kharo Tar and passed through the 51 Brigade position. I moved my headquarters, the reconnaissance troop and my two running tanks to Masitwari Bhit. Two tanks, one at Kharo Tar which I had prepared for destruction and Lieutenant Ansaris tank with a thrown track had to be destroyed. 51 Brigade took over the front and in the afternoon Brigadier Tariq Mir reported two tank regiments turning his flanks to cut him off. 22 Cavalry was moved from the Gabbar area to counter this, they promptly came under air attack and lost another tank. The two tank regiments were a figment of the brigade commanders imagination.
Withdrawing from Kharo Tar we arrived at Masitwari Bhit at night. To defend my tanks from the Indian aircraft, I had the .50 machine guns dismounted and positioned for firing at some distance from the tanks. In the morning the Indian aircraft attacked, my tank was still one of the two running tanks, that morning I had taken off my bomber pilots leather jacket and left it on the .50 machine gun mount, the attacking aircraft put a cannon bullet through my jacket and a rocket hit the open tank commander cupola flap breaking the hinge and sending the flap flying. The machine guns fired from the emplacements and for the rest of the day the aircraft left us alone.
A little distance from my regimental headquarters at Masitwari Bhit the divisional gun area was located, to defend it against air attacks the training guns of the Anti-Aircraft School were deployed, they fired single shots but were enough to prevent the Indians from attacking the gun area.
On the night of 11/12 December I withdrew my regimental headquarters to Gabbar, while moving back I passed 2nd Lieutenant Shahadat Sher Lodi, later lieutenant colonel, trudging along on foot in front of his tank which was being towed by a small tracked dozer at the speed of about two miles an hour.
On the morning of 12 December I went to find out where the forward defended localities (FDLs) were located. Major General Mustafa was standing where he had located his tactical headquarters, as I approached him with my second in command, Major Zia Ud Din Javed, someone whispered to me that the general had been relieved of his command and Major General Abdul Hamid Khan had taken over the command of 18 Division. I went and met Major General Mustafa, and asked the GSO 2 (Intelligence), who was standing with the general, where the FDLs were located. The general heard me, indicated the GSO 2 and himself and said that they were the FDL and there was nothing forward of them. Major General Abdul Hamid Khan, the new GOC, had come to Gabbar the previous day and ordered a general withdrawal. What followed was comparable with the famous Gazala Gallop in the North African desert during the Second World War. In the Gabbar Gallop both the brigades took off, later some men were rounded up and brought back from the Punjab Regimental Centre at Mardan.