Archive for November, 2018

1965 …

Posted on November 26, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Indian View – The 1965 War was a War which Pak Lost; But India did Not Win.                                                                                    Pak View – We were Saved by Allah, Artillery and – the Indian Army.

It was on Sep 1st 1965, that Pakistan sent its tanks hurtling into the Chamb Jorrian Sector. They were headed straight for the ‘Chickens Neck’ with the aim of cutting India’s only land route to the entire Jammu and Kashmir region.
.
It had been a phoney war right from Mar of ’65 when Pakistan made disturbing noises in the Rann of Kutch but in Aug it launched its Op Gibralter, hotting up infiltration in Kashmir.
.
As far as planning at the higher level goes, its Pakistan all the way because its Second planned offensive in the Khem Karan sector caught us napping – and could have been lethal had it not been for the soggy soil which bogged the Pattons of their 1 Armored Division but their Infantry did capture Khem Karan.

How ever it was leadership at the junior level at all places which levelled the playing field for India.
.
The Army Chief General Chaudhary addressed the officers of the Armoured division which had moved to the Punjab in Mar, in Jalandhar, late in August. He commiserated with our boredom but said he hoped to give us orders shortly to either charge West into Pakistan or return to our base at Jhansi.
.
Gen Chaudhary had earned pecuniary notoriety when he had marched into the then Nizam’s Hyderabad in order to annexe it into the Indian union. As Southern Army Commander he had carried out some strange recce while ostensibly on shikar before the Army marched into Goa. He had made Chief only because Gen Thapar had been sacked after the bashing by the Chinese in ’62. Now he was about to take the Army into war. One heck of a lucky ‘Bangala Babu’.
.
There is controversy, (indeed General Chaudhary’s middle name is controversy) regarding whether he panicked during the first week of the war – when Pakistan unleashed its offensive towards Beas in the Khem Karan Sector. This brilliantly conceived operation was aimed at the Beas Bridge, so as to cut off everything of ours to its North.
.
The situation was really steadied by the courage and coolness of the XI Corps Commander, Jogi Dhillon of the Sappers. This stern, no nonsense and serious soul had even located his HQ North of the Beas River, at Raiya. And of course the single Centurion regiment and the remainder Sherman regiments of Brig Thambi’s Armored Brigade.

It was in the area around Assal Uttar, that the actions of Brig Thambi’s armor, when even the poorly gunned Shermans (which had long since outlived their utility), made mincemeat of the, bogged down Patton’s of Pakistans elite First Armored Division.
.
Evidently GHQ Rawalpindi, had not taken into consideration the post monsoon quagmirish ground. Indeed it was this that actually saved the day for India. Btw our own Armd Div crossed the IB after 3pm as it got bogged down between the FAA and the IB due the soggy ground – I know because I was there!

However all this is jumping the gun.
.
Back to Gen Chaudhary and his address. What perturbed me was that the Chief seemed to be more dependent on the cocktail circuit grapevine than on any professional source for his intelligence re Pakistani aims and designs. Maybe that is the way it is or perhaps how he liked to do his stuff!
.
The Official History of the 1965 war, edited by S N Prasad, blames the Indian Army’s “faulty strategy” which delivered “a large number of inconsequential jabs” and led “to stalemate on all fronts. To be fair, India had the upper hand during the war. It captured nearly four times more territory than Pakistan – specially in Kashmir”.

But imagine an Army Chief who orders the destruction of all Operational Orders and Instructions at the end of the War!

According to the US Library of Congress Country Studies,“A continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan”.

And the History continues, “That would have happened had the then Army Chief, General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, not miscalculated India’s ammunition stock and tank casualties, forcing the government to accept the ceasefire on September 22, 1965”.

This proves my point that we hardly used our Artillery whereas Pakistan pounded us with theirs.

As regards the Navy with its carrier INS Vikrant being refitted in dry docks and most other vessels under maintenance, the Indian Navy hardly played any part in the war. The Pakistan navy, in fact, destroyed the Indian radar station at Dwarka. The two air forces actively participated, but neither side was able to achieve air superiority. As part of our only Armored Div, the PAK AF gets more marks as I saw more of theirs than ours.
.
By August the infiltration into the Kashmir Valley had begun in right earnest. Thinking that the iron was hot, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, egged on by the ebullient, ever ambitious Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, took the fateful plunge and ordered his initial tank offensive into the Chamb Jaurian Sector on 1st Sep.
.
It was, however, not a few hours, when to the whole worlds rude shock and surprise, the puny, diminutive but steely Indian Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, ordered his Chiefs to do what they needed to do.
.
Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh sent in, I think it was the Mysteres based in Pathankot, to shoot up the tanks in their tracks – while the Gnats, flying over head gave them air cover. It was that day the Keelor brothers began notching up their kills.
.
We must remember that our professional thinking was archaic, Second War orientated and bound by the Montgomery written Operations of War pamphlets – three of which, the Advance to Contact and Withdrawal, along with the River Crossing one, proved obsolete and were withdrawn at the end of the war, viz Three of Five Operations of War Bibles!
.
Pak had fared better as they along with the US Aid had incorporated their organization and tactics. For instance they had a  Recce and Support Bn which held large frontages by the mobile fire power of jeep mounted MMGs and Anti tank guns. And they were also about to demonstrate how artillery is best used.
.
It is my long reflected opinion that, if only the army, or any unit or formation from section to division, can do three things, then it can be considered thoroughly professional and well trained. First. Reel in and move smoothly and seamlessly and without confusion and casualties from Point A to Point B. Second. Rapidly deploy and dig down fast and deep. Third. Shoot, what ever stuff it has, in the general direction of the enemy. Indeed that is about all that is really needed to be well trained. All else is mere bull and frill.
.
As a thinking soldier with some six years of service at the time of this war, I had always rated our Artillery as the most professional arm of our Army. Not least because of the outstanding gunner officers it had been my privilege to befriend viz Gurbaksh, the noted mountain gunner, Adi Homji the true Pro and then my first Brigade Major, Ben Gonzalvez. Nearer my seniority was Harry Harbhajan. All officers of character, class and calibre.

And I maintain it was in Artillery that we were totally and completely outclassed by the Pakistanis. And that from Day One and right up to the Cease Fire. Sadly this was both in concept, organization and employment as well as in the type and quantum of equipment and ammunition used with deadly effect.

The Indian Army learnt about the massed use of this great arm from Pakistan. Included was the seemingly lavish expenditure of the apparently abundant and limitless ammunition. Then we also learnt a thing or two about the bold, audacious and imaginative use of Observation Officers and their inclusion in Stay Behind Parties.

Indeed in Artillery, India and Pakistan were not on the same page. We were mere also rans.

Recent books have revisited the Gen Harbaksh controversy re the then Chief ordering a Withdrawal behind the Beas. The subject was hotly debated several years ago with various heavy weights giving their two cents. 

Here is the noted historian and authority on Matters Military, Maj Gen KM Bhimaya (Retd) giving his authoritative summation.

“I have met and interviewed Gen Harbaksh Singh, at his Vasant Vihar residence, way back in 1987, with other members of the Inter Service Study team on the 1965 War. At no time, did he mention about the Withdrawal Orders to Beas Bridge episode. I do not remember having read about these orders in his ‘Dispatches’. If any one has read about this incident, I request it be shared’.

“That brings me to the important question of drawing inferences about momentous historical decisions. Most of the perplexities faced by an analyst arise from the inherent difficulty in divining the mind of a commander who takes such critical decisions’.

“In the instant case, the question is not about the propriety of a decision but whether or not a decision was taken at all. Therefore, in such cases, the primacy of documentary over circumstantial evidence is absolute. Alas, we do not have a semblance of documentary evidence! And with this cloud of uncertainty, a rigorous analyst would label belated claims ‘apocryphal’ – a common euphemism for unverified assertions’.

“At the expense of brevity let me illustrate one more example from the 1971 War. The controversy whether the Indian Armed Forces had planned for the liberation of Bangladesh has been discussed several times. Apart from field commanders, two important staff officers who had major roles in implementing orders were interviewed several times by our team. While Gen Jacob, who had a politico-military role (particularly in obtaining Gen Niazi’s surrender on terms most favorable.”

And now a Pak Version pn this War – far better written –

Pakistan Journos like Ayaz Amir, Ahmed Rashid, Najam Sethi seem far superior to their Indian counterparts. Here is Sep 12, 2012 –Islamabad diary by Ayaz Amir.

Back from a trip to Amritsar and Delhi on Wednesday evening, and too tired to go on to Chakwal as I had meant to – PIA never disappointing, the flight from Delhi late by three hours – I sought refuge under the roof of the Avari, where my poverty usually takes me when in the favored city of the Emperor Jahangir.

And as I sat down to write this on Thursday morning, from somewhere down below on the Mall – it will always be the Mall whatever patriotic name we give it – came the ever-enchanting voice of Noor Jahan the Second, the first being the royal consort of Jahangir. She was singing that haunting song, “Rah-e-haq ke shaheedo…”, a tribute to the martyrs of the 1965 war, and it came suddenly to me that this was the Defense of Pakistan Day, an anniversary remembered with less and less fervor as the years pass…not because respect for our fighting soldiers has in any way diminished but because the truth about that conflict is now more widely understood.

It was a war that Pakistan did not seek; it was a war into which it stumbled. The hawks – the two leading ones being Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the 12 Division Commander, Maj Gen Akhtar Hussain Malik – forgot to make the little calculation that any adventure undertaken in Kashmir would impel or tempt India to straighten out the balance somewhere else, at a time and place of its choosing.

When our Kashmir adventure turned into a serious threat to Indian forces in Kashmir, to no one’s surprise except ours Indian forces crossed the international border on the front stretching from Sialkot to Lahore. Our soldiers fought bravely, at places magnificently, as did junior officers up to the level of battalion commanders. A few brigadiers too distinguished themselves. (The Indian official account of the war, which can be read on the net, generously mentions the performance of some of our fighting units.)

And of course the air force acquitted itself superbly. But if one looks for Mansteins in the higher echelons of command one is likely to be disappointed. There were none, not one strategic manoeuvre worth remembering.

Our self-appointed field marshal, Ayub Khan Tareen, lived to rue his blunder. After the war he was no longer the same man and his grip on national affairs weakened.

The supreme irony of course was that Bhutto whose role in pushing the war was second to none exploited the outcome, and the subsequent Tashkent agreement, to spread the insinuation that had not Ayub chickened out our forces would have won a signal triumph, which of course was complete nonsense.

But he could have been preaching to the mountains. The ceasefire when it came, with no little pushing by the superpowers, came not a moment too soon for our exhausted high command.

But for years and years the myth persisted and it was woven into national legend, that India was out to destroy Pakistan and would have succeeded but for our brave armed forces. The Defense of Pakistan Day commemorates this historiography. This myth would not have mattered if it had not led to lasting, and baleful, consequences. We had a fairly open relationship with India until then.

But with the war the barriers went up and all ties were cut; defense spending sharply increased; more divisions were raised. The ramparts of the national security state rose higher. And barriers went up in our minds as well. India was the enemy and this doctrine superseded all others.

We had been doing fairly well economically, ahead then of such states as Malaysia and South Korea. The war put us off the rails completely. (The only good to come of it were the war songs of Noor Jahan, which are still a marvel to listen to.) With the 1971 war the dogmas learned from the 1965 conflict were reinforced.

Strange, is it not, that the brightest politician of his age should have been the prime carrier of this policy of revanchism and hate? We will fight for a thousand years, was one of his clarion calls, anti-Indianism a plank – nay, an essential component – of his extraordinary success in Punjab in the 1970 elections. And it was Punjab which catapulted him to national power, not Sindh. Think again…

Punjab dyed in the hues of chauvinism, the country as a whole wedded to the notion of undying hostility towards India…the high priest of this doctrine was the secular, de luxe whisky-sipping (occasionally guzzling) Bhutto. Who listens to the boring lectures, or the stale oratory, of the custodians of the two-nation theory headquartered permanently in Lahore? Bhutto’s oratory had a mesmeric effect on the Punjabi mind. And his oratory had two key components: pseudo-revolutionism and jingoistic nationalism.

Only now are the barriers raised then coming down slowly, not because of any fresh dawn of enlightenment but the pressure of cruel circumstance. Our army is engaged in no fake adventure on the eastern front. It is caught in a real and brutal war on our western marches, battling an enemy all the more sinister because the strength and staying power of that enemy comes not from evil Jew or conniving Hindu but from within our own ranks.

Our Indian wars, no matter the causes, were simple, black-and-white affairs. We knew who the army was and Noor Jahan had no trouble singing the glories of our valor, real or imaginary.

The war we are now engaged in is so much more complex because the enemy is not only the visible enemy we see, cutting the throats of our soldiers in the name of Islam. The enemy is also our own confusion which still cannot make out what is at stake. At stake is the nation’s soul, its direction. We emerge from the smoke and fire of this conflict and we can hope for national salvation. We lose, or remain victims of confusion, and we might as well seek a confederation with Somalia or the Sudan (with apologies to both these nations).

A Pakistan which has forsaken the tolerance sought to be inculcated by its founding fathers, a Pakistan losing no sleep at the persecution of its minorities and the killing of Shias, a country which can countenance the victimization of an Aasia Bibi or a Rimsha Masih, is a country in dire need of asking some hard questions of itself. All injustice is bad; injustice perpetrated in the name of religion is infinitely worse. We can be such hypocrites. Are the lives of the Caliphs dead pieces of parchment or living examples to follow? What would the great Omar have done if after a short absence from Makkah he had come to know of the plight of a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih?

There and then he would have fired the interior minister, the Rehman Malik of his time, and asked the inspector general of police, the kotwal, to run round the city walls with a knapsack on his back. And he would have carried the girl Rimsha on his shoulders to her house and asked her mother if they had enough to eat, and if anything was found wanting, on bended knee he would have cried for Allah’s forgiveness. For was it not Omar who said that if a dog went hungry by the banks of the Euphrates he, the Caliph, would be asked about it on the Day of Judgment?

The Islam which spread so fast from the sands of the Hejaz was a thing of achievement and glory. And to think what we have made of it in this republic founded in the name of Islam?”

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

And a Personal Aside —

There was this Lt Avtar Singh of our only Medium Regt whom I came across a few days after we had entered Pakistan. This officer, on hearing me lambasting and lamenting our artillery, took me up and promised to show me a thing or two once he was in support of our brigade – he was an OP operating from a tank. Alas a day later, as he was directing fire a direct hit on the turret of his tank sent his arm swirling in the air —-

We met a half century later, courtesy Capt Amarinder, who had old 65 War Veterans for dinner as Maj Shamshad whose Patton had been disabled by a Strim from my company, was also present – again courtesy the Patiala Royal. Avtar and I chatted for over an hour and then he asks me if I knew one Capt Bhullar from the Garhwalis – I nearly killed him!

Any way he remains one Good Gunner!

xx

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

1965 War – Over View …

Posted on November 23, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Indian View 

       “It was a War that Pakistan Lost – but India did not Win”

Pak View

.”We were Saved by Allah, Artillery – and the Indian Army”

It was on Sep 1st 1965, that Pakistan sent its tanks hurtling into the Chamb Jorrian Sector. They were headed straight for the ‘Chickens Neck’ with the aim of cutting India’s only land route to the entire Jammu and Kashmir region.
.
It had been a phoney war right from Mar of ’65 when Pakistan made disturbing noises in the Rann of Kutch but in Aug it launched its Op Gibralter, hotting up infiltration in Kashmir.
.
As far as planning at the higher level goes, its Pakistan all the way because its Second planned offensive in the Khem Karan sector caught us napping – and could have been lethal had it not been for the soggy soil which bogged the Pattons of their 1 Armored Division but their Infantry did capture Khem Karan.

How ever it was leadership at the junior level at all places which levelled the playing field for India.
.
The Army Chief General Chaudhary addressed the officers of the Armoured division which had moved to the Punjab in Mar, in Jalandhar, late in August. He commiserated with our boredom but said he hoped to give us orders shortly to either charge West into Pakistan or return to our base at Jhansi.
.
Gen Chaudhary had earned pecuniary notoriety when he had marched into the then Nizam’s Hyderabad in order to annexe it into the Indian union. As Southern Army Commander he had carried out some strange recce while ostensibly on shikar before the Army marched into Goa. He had made Chief only because Gen Thapar had been sacked after the bashing by the Chinese in ’62. Now he was about to take the Army into war. One heck of a lucky ‘Bangala Babu’.
.
There is controversy, (indeed General Chaudhary’s middle name is controversy) regarding whether he panicked during the first week of the war – when Pakistan unleashed its offensive towards Beas in the Khem Karan Sector. This brilliantly conceived operation was aimed at the Beas Bridge, so as to cut off everything of ours to its North.
.
The situation was really steadied by the courage and coolness of the XI Corps Commander, Jogi Dhillon of the Sappers. This stern, no nonsense and serious soul had even located his HQ North of the Beas River, at Raiya. And of course the single Centurion regiment and the remainder Sherman regiments of Brig Thambi’s Armored Brigade.

It was in the area around Assal Uttar, that the actions of Brig Thambi’s armor, when even the poorly gunned Shermans (which had long since outlived their utility), made mincemeat of the sitting duck, bogged down Patton’s of Pakistan[s elite First Armored Division.
.
Evidently GHQ Rawalpindi, had not taken into consideration the post monsoon quagmirish ground. Indeed it was this that actually saved the day for India. In fact an enemy regimental commander surrendered near my village of Mahmudpura and all he asked was for water – and it was rumored that their Armored Division Commander’s tank had been knocked out near where our Havidar Abdul Hamid PVC lost his life and hs Memorial stands.
.
However all this pertains to a Sector in which our Armored Division had planned and prepared for war but fought somewhere else – which is again the norm and not the exception. However all this is jumping the gun.
.
Back to Gen Chaudhary and his address. What perturbed me was that the Chief seemed to be more dependent on the cocktail circuit grapevine than on any professional source for his intelligence re Pakistani aims and designs. Maybe that is the way it is or perhaps how he liked to do his stuff!
.
The Official History of the 1965 war, edited by S N Prasad, blames the Indian Army’s “faulty strategy” which delivered “a large number of inconsequential jabs” and led “to stalemate on all fronts. To be fair, India had the upper hand during the war. It captured nearly four times more territory than Pakistan – specially in Kashmir”.

But imagine an Army Chief who orders the destruction of all Operational Orders and Instructions at the end of the War!

According to the US Library of Congress Country Studies,“A continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan”.

And the History continues, “That would have happened had the then Army Chief, General Joyanto Nath Chaudhuri, not miscalculated India’s ammunition stock and tank casualties, forcing the government to accept the ceasefire on September 22, 1965”.

This proves my point that we hardly used our Artillery whereas Pakistan pounded us with theirs.

As regards the Navy with its carrier INS Vikrant being refitted in dry docks and most other vessels under maintenance, the Indian Navy hardly played any part in the war. The Pakistan navy, in fact, destroyed the Indian radar station at Dwarka. The two air forces actively participated, but neither side was able to achieve air superiority. As part of our only Armored Div, the PAK AF gets more marks as I saw more of theirs than ours.
.
By August the infiltration into the Kashmir Valley had begun in right earnest. Thinking that the iron was hot, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, egged on by the ebullient, ever ambitious Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, took the fateful plunge and ordered his initial tank offensive into the Chamb Jaurian Sector on 1st Sep.
.
It was, however, not a few hours, when to the whole worlds rude shock and surprise, the puny, diminutive but steely Indian Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, ordered his Chiefs to do what they needed to do.
.
Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh sent in, I think it was the Mysteres based in Pathankot, to shoot up the tanks in their tracks – while the Gnats, flying over head gave them air cover. It was that day the Keelor brothers began notching up their kills.
.
We must remember that our professional thinking was archaic, Second War orientated and bound by the Montgomery written Operations of War pamphlets – three of which, the Advance to Contact and Withdrawal, along with the River Crossing one, proved obsolete and were withdrawn at the end of the war, viz Three of Five Operations of War Bibles!
.
Pak had fared better as they along with the US Aid had incorporated their organization and tactics. For instance they had a  Recce and Support Bn which held large frontages by the mobile fire power of jeep mounted MMGs and Anti tank guns. And they were also about to demonstrate how artillery is best used.
.
It is my long reflected opinion that, if only the army, or any unit or formation from section to division, can do three things, then it can be considered thoroughly professional and well trained. First. Reel in and move smoothly and seamlessly and without confusion and casualties from Point A to Point B. Second. Rapidly deploy and dig down fast and deep. Third. Shoot, what ever stuff it has, in the general direction of the enemy. Indeed that is about all that is really needed to be well trained. All else is mere bull and frill.
.
As a thinking soldier with some six years of service at the time of this war, I had always rated our Artillery as the most professional arm of our Army. Not least because of the outstanding gunner officers it had been my privilege to befriend viz Gurbaksh, the noted mountain gunner, Adi Homji the true Pro and then my first Brigade Major, Ben Gonzalvez. Nearer my seniority was Harry Harbhajan. All officers of character, class and calibre.

And I maintain it was in Artillery that we were totally and completely outclassed by the Pakistanis. And that from Day One and right up to the Cease Fire. Sadly this was both in concept, organization and employment as well as in the type and quantum of equipment and ammunition used with deadly effect.

The Indian Army learnt about the massed use of this great arm from Pakistan. Included was the seemingly lavish expenditure of the apparently abundant and limitless ammunition. Then we also learnt a thing or two about the bold, audacious and imaginative use of Observation Officers and their inclusion in Stay Behind Parties.

Indeed in Artillery, India and Pakistan were not on the same page. We were mere also rans.
.
Armored Divisions
.
In those days India had one against Pakistan’s two armored divisions though their 6 Armored Div had only one brigade HQ and was not fully organized. While Pakistan had launched its First Armored Division in the Khem Karan Sector, the location of its 6 Armored Division was not known then and, to my knowledge and horror, not known even to the end of the war. A mere Regt, 25 Armd Regt, along with elements of a R and S Bn proved more than enough to stop our Armd Div in its tracks
.
However when the time for fighting came, it was fortunate that 3 CAV with its hardy and robust Centurions – which were the only real match for the Pakistani Pattons – stayed put in Punjab and helped decimate the Pakistan armored division in the Khem Karan Sector.
.
In the Sialkot Sector the Eighth Garhwalis were tagged with the Shermans of 2nd Lancers and 62 Cav ex our 26 Div . For the fiasco of the Buttur Dograndi battle, we were with the Centurions of Poona Horse, for whom we were wholly unknowns. Sadly that is what happens in war. You train alongside some and you fight alongside another!!!
.
Lahore and Khem Karan Sectors.
.
This relates to what was happening on the GT Road or Lahore front, where we had launched, with much fan fare, our 15 Infantry Division. And on the Khem Karan front where Pakistan had launched their Patton armed First Armored Division after capturing Khem Karan..
.
When 15 Division launched India’s grand offensive for the capture of Lahore, it was soon confronted by the Ichogil Canal – the existence of which was well known. Yet its existence surprised the Indian Command and the much publicized offensive ground to a halt as no one quite knew or was prepared to reinforce Col Hayde’s 3 Jats which had crossed the canal with grit and determination and were ensconced in a village on its far bank.
.
Funnily the Indian Army, under Second War British tutelage, had practiced opposed river crossing operations and had a pamphlet on the subject yet we had not ever considered the difficulties, problems and methodology for getting over a defended canal.
.
As has been said, Third Jat under their CO, the intrepid Desmond Hayde, did  cross and capture a village. But they were unable to stay on as they could not be reinforced. So much for our much touted professionalism when a mere canal stopped a deliberate operation of the Indian Army. And that too after the Chinese wake up call in ’62.
.
South of the GT Road 15 Division offensive, 7 Inf Division was launched and all it did was capture Burki Village where 19 MLI outshone all. The sad part is that a division captures a village in the entire war! And the GOC Gen Sibal, a very fine officer, gets a MVC!
.
Further South where we had our 4 Division under Gen Gurbaksh in general area North of Khem Karan, Pakistan on its part launched its own bold, cleverly conceived offensive which rather surprised and benumbed the Indian Command which on its part with an added Armd Bde was planning to capture Kasur.
.
The PAK operation was brilliantly conceived with the aim of reaching and destroying the bridge at Beas. Thus everything North of Beas would be cut off and destroyed piecemeal and at leisure.
.
The stern, no nonsense Bengal sapper, Jogi Dhillon had – maybe just to put the fear of God into his own staff – located his Corps Hqs North of Beas at Raiyya. Recently there was much uncalled for debate that Gen Chaudhari, the Chief had panicked and ordered a withdrawal South of Beas!

Recent books have revisited the Gen Harbaksh controversy re the then Chief ordering a Withdrawal behind the Beas. The subject was hotly debated several years ago with various heavy weights giving their two cents. Here is the noted historian and authority on Matters Military, Maj Gen KM Bhimaya (Retd) giving his authoritative summation.

“I have met and interviewed Gen Harbaksh Singh, at his Vasant Vihar residence, way back in 1987, with other members of the Inter Service Study team on the 1965 War. At no time, did he mention about the Withdrawal Orders to Beas Bridge episode. I do not remember having read about these orders in his ‘Dispatches’. If any one has read about this incident, I request it be shared’.

“That brings me to the important question of drawing inferences about momentous historical decisions. Most of the perplexities faced by an analyst arise from the inherent difficulty in divining the mind of a commander who takes such critical decisions’.

“In the instant case, the question is not about the propriety of a decision but whether or not a decision was taken at all. Therefore, in such cases, the primacy of documentary over circumstantial evidence is absolute. Alas, we do not have a semblance of documentary evidence! And with this cloud of uncertainty, a rigorous analyst would label belated claims ‘apocryphal’ – a common euphemism for unverified assertions’.

“At the expense of brevity let me illustrate one more example from the 1971 War. The controversy whether the Indian Armed Forces had planned for the liberation of Bangladesh has been discussed several times. Apart from field commanders, two important staff officers who had major roles in implementing orders were interviewed several times by our team. While Gen Jacob, who had a politico-military role (particularly in obtaining Gen Niazi’s surrender on terms most favorable to India), insisted that he had, right from July 1971, prepared for the total liberation of Bangladesh, the operational orders did not say so’.

“Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, the then DMO, also stated that he was not aware of such orders, though some contingency plans, such as the tasks for the airborne operations had been formulated. General Jacob produced a few DOs that talked about possible roles for the Parachute Battalion. Gen Sagat Singh, undoubtedly the most outstanding of all the field commanders and the first to reach Dacca, denied any knowledge of any orders for the capture of Dacca. Under these circumstances, we, in the study team, made an informed judgment that, although there were no written orders, the various DOs Gen Jacob produced, attested to the fact that some kind of informal planning had taken place”

 It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that above all it was the soft quagmirish ground that mired the Pak armor resulting in them becoming sitting ducks and later making a Patton grave yard at Bhikhiwind. In fact the CO of one Pak regiment surrendered at Mahmudpura and begged for water from the civilian folk.
.
Gen Harbaksh, wanted ever so much to get 4 Sikh a Battle Honor! So he inducts them from 7 Inf Div and sends them to establish a block behind Khem Karan on the road to Kasur – so as to trap the enemy as an attack was being launched on Khem Karan.

But instead Pak attacked and captured Khem Karan. Result, the fighting strength of this proud rich in History battalion, together with the CO, went hook line and sinker into Pakistan’s POW bag.

Funnily in the 1962 War, our wonderful IAF had dropped half of this Great Battalion in Along and the other Half in Walong – where as always it etched its name in glory by inflicting the heaviest casualties on the confidentally advancing Chinese. and again hitting them real hard when they were outflanking the Brigade Defence. When Walong fell, they were singled out for special treatment – no quarter being asked and none given. As POWs however they enjoyed themselves by molly coddling their captors.

The Sialkot Sector
.
Our main armored offensive with our elite Black Elephant Division with Poona Horse, Hodson’s, 16 Cav, all with the hardy Centurions and 62 Cav and 2nd Lancers with up gunned Shermans, was opposed on the first day by nothing more than jeep mounted machine guns and the antitank recoilless guns of a Recce and Support battalion with elements of 25 Armd Regt coming op piecemeal..
.
We knew of the R and S Organization as it had been gifted to them by the Yanks. This organization defended ground by mobility and fire power. The USA had also gifted Pattons, artillery and their concepts, doctrines and tactics. By and by some Pak armor did arrive, notably the full 25 Cav. but our offensive had already stalled.

Here follow extracts from a book THE BATTLE OF CHAWINDA by Maj (Retd) AGHA HUMAYUN AMIN – with quotes of our GOC and Army Commander and of Commender PAK Artillery.

‘Sparrow’ Rajinder Singh’s and Gen Harbakshs’ comments are a tribute to Pak’s 25 Cavalry, the only unit along with R and S elements which opposed our Arnoured Division Thrust..

Gen Sparrow is quoted, “The first day’s battle could not have been a worse start. The Armoured Brigade had been blocked by two squadrons and elements of the R and S Bn and in the first encounter the brigade had lost more tanks than the enemy. The.whole of 1 Corps had gained only a few kilometres”

The Pak author says that “the worst consequence of this day was the paralyzing effect it had on the minds of enemy commanders. It took them near 48 hours to come up with what to do now! This gave the Pakistanis time to move and deploy elements of 6 Armored Division. The advantages of the sudden initial onslaught had been forfeited by the confused chaos of the first days actions of the Indian 1st Armoured Division”.

As per the  author, the Indian Army Commander, summed up the Indian fiasco – “Both 16 Cavalry and 17 Horse failed to determine the strength of the opposing armor and displayed little skill in out maneuvering. The Brigade Commander made the unfortunate decision to withdraw 17 Horse from Tharoah for countering an alleged serious tank threat on the Left flank. This was a grave error of judgement as 4 Horse which by this time had been released to the Brigade by GOC 1 Armored Division, could have been used to meet any flank threat posed by enemy armor”.

More from Gen Harbaksh, “This blunder cost us dearly. We made an advance of only four miles beyond the bridgehead when a much deeper penetration could have been achieved. The fleeting chance that could have been exploited to gain striking success, was lost forever and while we were fumbling about ineffectively in a chaotic situation of our own creation, the enemy had that vital breathing space so essential for a quick rally round from the stunning impact of being surprised’.

“We courted a serious setback through faulty decisions and immature handling of armor which the enemy was not slow to exploit. From now onwards, the thrust which had been intended to keep the enemy off balance and reeling until the final blow by sheer speed of advance, turned  into a slow slogging match- a series of battering-ram actions”.

More or less the same is the opinion of Major Shamshad of 25 Cav whose Patton was immobilized by my Company on 17 Sep. He writes – “Instead of wasting two days, if Poona Horse had advanced from Dugri to Shehzada and threatened Pasroor on 9th we would have been in serious trouble. Alternatively 2 Lancers could have moved unopposed from Bhagowal to Badiana and cut off the Sialkot – Pasrur Road”.

“After 9th September when elements of Pakistan’s 6 Armoured Division had deployed it was no longer a question of surprise but unimaginative battering ram actions with the Pakistanis knowing the ground better. The result of the Indian offensive was all decided on 8 and 9 Sept 1965. The Indians had not suffered a physical defeat on 8th September. It was their commanders that had been afflicted by paralysis. In this state they ‘exaggerated the force in front of them which really was a battered regiment with R and S elements’.

“On 9th September they had two absolutely fresh regiments, 4 Horse and 2 Lancers and one reasonably fresh regiment, 62 Cavalry. Plus two regiments with weaker tank strength – all opposed by 25 Cavalry whose tank strength was down to two squadrons. In infantry they were vastly superior having some twelve battalions against one of Pakistan. Had they possessed a resolute higher leadership, nothing could have stopped them – not even Tikka Khan who had been projected by Shaukat as ‘one known for his firmness and endurance’.

‘The trauma of Gadgor caused the Indian armoured brigade with their Centurions, to remain boxed in a defensive position for whole of 9 and 10 Sep. 25 Cavalry found the Indian Operation Order regarding ‘Operation Nepal’ (the 1 Corps Offensive) in one of the knocked out tanks of 16 Cavalry and learnt that they were opposed by the Indian 1st Armoured Division, 6 Mountain Division and 14 Division and that these were functioning as part of 1 Indian Corps”.
.

First of all, our Armoured Division had planned to cross the IB at 6am Sep 8 whereas it evetually crossed After 3 pm as armour of both its columns got bogged down in the 10 to 12 kms of own territory upyo yhe IB and got pounded by Pak Air with our Air no where in sight.

And as narrated by an Officer of 16 Cav, a renowned regiment and at the time one of its officers, JN Chaudhari, was the Chief of the Indian Army. On the second day of our offensive, its Centurions were blazing along as the advance elements of Brig KK’s Thrust Line when all of a sudden it reached a very small undulation marking the bed of a dry stream.
.
Mark you this was not even marked on the map but it was enough to hide a strong camouflaged detachment of the Pak Recce and Support Battalion. This detachment held its fire until the leading tanks were sitting ducks. With the first fusillade of point blank anti tank gun fire, all hell broke loose. 16 Cav did not know what had hit them as it had been enough to damage well nigh a squadron worth. Such was the confusion that some tanks carried on full throttle forward getting the hell out of that bedeviled area.
.
It was in such an action some days later that one of the finest officers of the Indian Army, Lt Jojo Sengupta – a brilliant Rimcollian and the very best of humans – one whom I will always be proud to have known as a dear friend – lost both eyes when his turret received a direct hit and the flash and splinters scythed his face.

It was after a while that another regiment was stunned when it saw a group of Centurions coming from the enemy side – no one had ever heard of Pakistan having Centurions! Luckily the Regiment held its fire because soon it became evident that these were our own 16 Cav tanks that had gone ahead and then making a wide loop were returning back.course the advance of the combat group ground to a halt and the CO had a hard tim

.
Though such stuff happens in war, yet Brig KK was furious and he even recommended that this great unit be disbanded. The same would no doubt have happened had it not been for the fact that the Chief belonged to this regiment. Col Sidhu Brar was a gallant and highly professional officer but he put in his papers immediatly after the war and left the Country. At 96, he is fit as a fiddle as he drives around the SF Bay Area.

Of Maj Bhupinder of Hodsons Horse. Much later in Asvini Naval hospital in Bombay, I got to know his whole tank crew. of Maj Bhupinder Singh. He was a most gallant and polished officer who got a posthumous MVC. His crew consisted of Dharam Singh, Bir Singh and one other, whose first name escapes me. All of them were serious burn cases. Only after they were a little recovered did they come to the physiotherapy department where I too used to land up.

We had long conversations and I found them a cheerful, brave lot. They told me that when their tank was hit, it became a burning inferno with the result that even their clothes caught fire. As they jumped out of the tank, all of them rolled over and over on the ground so as to douse the flames. Unfortunately, Maj Bhupinder after jumping out kept running. As a result his burning clothes made severe scything burns in his body and he died very painfully.

The CHAWINDA Fiascos’
.
Among the many other false starts were the proposed attacks on Chawinda which was eventually twice attacked by General Korla’s 6 Infantry Division with two of its own brigades and two from elsewhere. Pounded by enemy artillery the two attacks lost direction and were dismal failures. Chawinda turned out to be a strong position defended with incredible fire power.
.
General Shashi Kant Korla had been the Deputy in the Academy when I was there and his lecture on leadership still rings in my ears. He had narrated that when he was a company commander in the Burma war, he had to shoot one of his own men, who was urging the others to abandon the defensive position. Later on at the same spot when the armor troop wanted to withdraw at night, he said he had to whip out a pistol to stop them. Much later he was Commandant of the Infantry School when I did some course. After that when he was in the Udhampur Corps, he personally went to the Srinagar airport to disband a Unit which – under the NCOs – had mutineed. A very great officer indeed.
.
At Chawinda, he certainly did not stand up to be counted when ordered by Harbaksh and Dunne to launch a Divisionalal attack with two of the four brigades from a different division. He could have made a stand against such amateurish orders but he buckled when ordered by the newly promoted Corps Commander who was proceeding on retirement a couple days before the War and the highly rated Army Commander.

Alas Gen Korla caved in and the two attacks on Chawinda deserve to be lessons on how not to Attack. Same goes for the much touted brigade commander Jogi Mendher of 15 Punjab.

PAK VERSION OF CHAWINDA ATTACKS

Harbaksh Singh praised the efficiency of Pakistani artillery in dislocating the Indian attacks on Chawinda from the very beginning by effectively shelling both the assaulting Indian brigades in a decisive and effective manner.

Harbaksh Singh wrote ‘Enemy shelling created such confusion that all control was lost. The leading troops lost direction and one unit barged into our own position in Wazirwali. A similar fate befell the other assaulting brigade whose‘Forming Up Place’  was so effectively shelled by the Pakistani artillery that only part of a battalion could reach Chawinda while the rest was repulsed half way”.

“Artillery fire played a major role in defeating the Indian armor whose failure was made certain thanks to advancing in a restricted space. while being hit by 90 artillery pieces including twelve 8 inch howitzers for 15 hours. In contrast the Indian artillery was scattered all along the front and there was hardly any place where it could provide the quality of concentrated fire necessary for blasting a hole in Pak defences.

Pak 4 Corps Artillery under Amjad  Chaudhri –  the man who had trained the 4 Corps artillery brigade in peace and handled it in a masterful and resolute manner at Chawinda noted that ‘most of the attacks mounted by the enemy were broken up by artillery fire on our defensive positions and his will to continue the attack was broken and he was forced to withdraw.

‘East of Chawinda, the Indians was prevented from coming close to our positions by our artillery alone though he made repeated efforts to outflank Chawinda from this direction. The nearest he came to this position was approximately 600 yards when he was forced to withdraw after his leading tanks had been destroyed and accompanying infantry badly mauled. His attacks  were repulsed with massed fire of all our guns. Casualties inflicted on the attacking troops by our shelling were so heavy that in these actions even after he had left our Defenses, his will to fight seemed to have been broken.

Eighth Garhwalis.

The CO, Jerry Jhirad, the Second in Command, Rafey Khan and OC Alpha Company, the ebullient Som Jhingon and Capt Sonkar, the RMO, were great soldiers and individuals, before and during the entire war and any which where. They can with ease and aplomb hold their own in any group of great humans and professionals. They led from up front and were, in their own ways, outstanding personalities.
.
Joseph Ephraim Jhirad
.
Jerry was a thorough bred, top notch professional with an impeccable record and one who craved professionalism. I had a feeling that he was deeply disturbed by the lost, confused, amateurish way we were fighting the war. The smiles were rarer, mostly he seemed somber.

Perhaps he saw no method in the madness of our activity. No wonder, when ever I saw Jerry in the unit HQ near the stench filled well outside Kaloi or at other places, he was always trying his level best to appear cheerful so as to inspire confidence regarding what we were being asked to do. Somber, yes. confused, never.
.
When one reads about the units doings in this war, one will commiserate with what Jerry had to put up with – specially from the Indian high command.
.
Abdul Rafey Khan
.
Rafey was steady, sober, sensible – as always. He came from the aristocratic Rampur family – a member of which became the Pakistani Foreign Minister. His father had been deputy commissioner at Pauri Garhwal and had shot with the great Jim Corbett. Rafey was polished, poised, practical and professional. He knew no fear. Though later, in my view, he seemed to have a premonition that he was not going to make it. I held him in great admiration and he on his part, did not think of me entirely as a clown.
.
Jerry had called us for orders near a well outside of a sugarcane field but he was held up. As we were waiting, the shelling began. Slowly one by one the officers started to go get into the empty trenches. I was enjoying a sugar cane and wanted badly to get into a trench as the fall of shot was coming nearer. I suggested the same to Rafey who was observing the pattern of the fall of shot. Rafey says he thinks the enemy is doing predicted fire.
.
To prove it he says he will indicate where the next four rounds will fall and we should watch while taking cover on the side of a stationary tank standing under the tree near the well. Not quite as curious or interested, one way or another, and more worried re our safety, I yet wanted to humor him.
.
Sure enough his indication of the fall of the next four rounds was right each and every time. We went moving from one side of the tank to the other before the firing ceased. Turning to me he says, “If we come out of this alive, what a thing we will have to tell!”. I with supreme confidence, replied that of course we would come out okay. Alas maybe he had a premonition.
.
Som P Jhingon
.
Som was the only one who chattered, mocked and laughed. He used me as a punching bag and poked fun at me all the while. He was indeed having a ball. Hungry for notice and recognition, he did not waste any opportunity for glory. While I was a bachelor, Som was happily married with wife and kids and I wondered at the guy. During the entire war, it was always Som’s Alpha doing this that and the other. As a wizened old pro, I had learnt the golden rule of never volunteering. I knew full well that every one’s time would come – and sooner than later, at that.
.
While returning from our bath at the village well, Som pointed out a shop which had just been looted indicating that the rear elements were catching up. He picked up a poster with a local belle on it and said it would decorate his command post. I walked on and saw lying in the street, a small glucose packet. I rationalized that this was not really looting – only picking up something lying in my path. It went straight into my pack and boy was it to come in handy couple days later when I lay wounded in an open field awaiting a Pak Bayonet in my belly as the unit was breaking up and had begun to pull out.

The RMO Capt Sonkar
.
The unit had no RMO but just prior to the actual fighting, old Captain Sonkar joined the unit. I went over to check him out but found nothing to be cheery about. The guy was a silent sort who loved his rum. It was said he carried rum in his water bottle and no water there!
.
As things began to hot up, the RMO began to show what he was made of as he tended to all casualties with care and consideration. The 2I/C, Rafey also began to think highly of him. Sonkar was at his finest at the Battle of Buttar Dograndi. When the CO, Jerry Jhirad was hit, he tended him with care before putting him on a stretcher in a 3 Ton truck. Next day when I asked him whether I had a simple or compound fracture, busy as he was he responded, “Dont worry, it is part of both!”
.
Indeed he was the very last person to leave Buttar Dograndi along with the IO, Captain Vijay Chandra. That was after tending to Rafey Khan, who himself waved him off, well knowing he had not much longer to live and the enemy were closing in. Surely an MVC was easily justified for this cool cool doctor. I would say Rafey will always merit a PVC in my Book and Jerry at the very minimum a VrC. But then Gallantry medals are only for the higher ups and of course for the Armoured Corps!!!

Melody of Movement – Eighth Garhwalis
.
We moved from Sangial, where we had harbored on Sep 8, to Maharajke and Kaloi where we spent seversl days with interludes. There after we danced, it seemed aimlessly between Kaloi, Watchoke, Phillaura Cross Roads and Kalewali.
.
On Sep 9, Som’s Alpha was grouped with A and B Squadrons of the Lancers which were supported by a battery of the self propelled 101 field regiment. The objective was the village of Parashayan, which was easily taken as it did not seem to be held.
.
From Sep 9 to Sep 15, there was only one real operation which seemed to show sense but that too was aborted as our 62 Cav saw imaginary Pattons on their own eye lashes. This was the Gatt episode on Sep 10 -12 and is covered in some detail in a separate post.
.
On Sep 13 and we were relieved by 5/9 Gurkhas at Kaloi and moved to Watchoke. There was some talk of B Coy going with 5 Jats for an attack on Uttar Kalaan but it never materialized. Scattered on one of the roads leading to the Cross Roads, were jeep trailers, which had not yet been scavenged. It was near this road that lying below his Sherman, to be safe from the shelling, Gui Verma of 2 Lancers perusing a Time Magazine. I asked him to loan it once he had finished.
.
Early morning of Sep 14 saw us in our forward assembly area at Phillora Crossroads. While Jerry with Kochar, the battery commander and IO Vijay Chander carried out recce towards Kalewali, we came under severe shelling.
.
Our aimless, confused hither thither moves were compounded as one night, our brigade HQs was over run. The location was hastily abandoned and Harbans Dhillon Commander 43 Lorried came under an ominous cloud. KK of 1 Armd, whose location he had reached proved of no help. Of course these things happen in peace and war but no need to take advantage of an others misfortune.
.
The Garhwalis eventually harbored in Chakdeo Singh on Sep 15, prior to advance and siezure of Buttur Dograndi next day. But there after we were attacked and ousted and the unit more or less disintegrated with the loss of Jerry Jhirad and Rafi Khan and evacuation of self.
.
The command then devolved on Som Jhingon. By the way, in the ’71 war too, when Som was the Second in Command and once again became the Commanding officer after the CO broke a leg.

Re Jerry. This quiet unassuming solid soldier was given no award. This speaks volumes of the system, where just about every one from the armored corps received something or other for gallantry in action – even the CO of 62nd Cav, who after the Gatt Battle was earmarked to be sacked by no less than the GOC himself. Yet the guy was polished off with a Sena Medal. The CO Poona Horse died in action and was given an immediate PVC. Another CO, Jerry Jhirad was shot within minutes and in near proximity – yet he got a Mention in Dispatches.

Some one at the time pointed out that in this war at least, Caste, Clan and Corps, had lots to do with awards. Very sad and sadly true. But luck plays its part equally. Take the case of the Gurkha PVC of the ’62 War. When he was told by the Chinese, whose POW he was, that he had been given a posthumous PVC, he was the most surprised person of all!
.
There is neither rancor nor bitterness. Only when the truly deserving are neglected does one feel sad. But then that is life. Dear Som J had dearly wanted a gallantry award but like Sonkar and others, he missed out. Yet he got his due much much later in a counter insurgency action – indeed the second highest for gallantry!

Shows you just cannot keep a Good Man Down!

An Assessment Air and Arty

The F 86 Sabres used to mmke their near daily appearance beginning from the first day of the war and every day till the end. They took on our tanks, guns and B vehicles. As always, the F 104s circled high above. On Sep 9, as the Sabres flew low over us, much against Rafeys strong admonitions we began to poop away with whatever we had. If not anything, pooping away boosted morale!
.
Through out the war, I noted that the first sabre always dived real low before letting off its lethal rockets. The second let go the rockets much before since his dive which was a mere half dive. The last one hardly dived at all and let go the rockets harmlessly before the level off. This speaks volumes for training and offensive spirit of the first pilot and the amateurishness, lack of training of the other pilots.
.
As regards our own air, we seldom saw any of our planes. We rationalized that they were probably doing their stuff else where as its achievements of Sep 1 on the Chamb Sector had raised its stock.
.
However there is hardly any incident of note of our Air activity even in the Khem Karan Sector where the Pakistan First Armored and 6 Infantry Divisions were launched. It was our armor and anti tank guns of the likes of Abdul Hamid, which saved the day. What was Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh doing which earned him laurels?
.
Artillery
.
Same goes for our artillery. Of course the devastation we saw was all on civilians, cattle and houses. I also noted that the battery commanders and observation officers were seldom calling or directing shoots. Usually they were out of contact with their guns.
.
On the other hand we were nearly always being pounded and hammered by the Pakistan artillery and with absolutely lethal effect. It really broke us with its non stop continuity and accuracy. As stated, the Pakistan artillery was miles ahead of us in effective devastation of worthwhile target selection and in just about Every Thing re Artillery.
.
Armor
.
Our Centurions stood head and shoulders above any other tank, the US Pattons and the Russian/Chinese T Series included. While the Centurions did yeoman service by us, they were upgunned and dieselized by the IsraElis and did glorious work in the ’67 War between the Arabs and the Israelis.
.
The Shermans were of not much use. While our employment of armor was in the same level as Pakistan, our gunnery was much much better. This mainly because an earlier divisional commander, General Budhwar, had laid great emphasis on gunnery. He ruled that as accuracy depended on correct judging of distance, every tank must shoot off three shells with a plus minus of a hundred yards of the distance estimated. Hence error in estimating distance would be neutralized.
.
Infantry
.
I dare say that Pakistan and we were in the same class. Maybe we had an edge because of our young officer leadership.
.
After the ’71 war, my unit was detailed to guard the largest Pak POW Camp at Dhana, near Sagar. I always found the prisoners full of spirit and even in their current state as POWs, were very proud persons. Their drill including saluting was superb. In fact I frequently heard from them say that if they had officers like us, nothing could ever defeat them.
.
Maybe it was in their interest to say such stuff. But I doubt it.

Gen KM Bhimaya’s Comments on the War –

“My claim to offer comments stems from my posting as a member of the Inter Service Study Team, headed by the late Dr.S.N. Prasad, an erudite historian, who brought in his profound knowledge and analytical skills to the team. We had been tasked to compile the “Official History of the 1965 War’.

“Unfortunately, all of the operational plans/instructions at the Army HQ had been destroyed, under the orders of the highest authority’

“We had to rely on published material, such as journal articles and books, and interviews. It was the considered opinion of the Study Team that the Indian Army failed to exploit the most precious principle of war: surprise. The plans (later modified to match our gains) appeared to be bold, but the execution woefully inadequate. Why would Desmond Hayde, my guru, capture the Bata Shoe Factory on the outskirts of Lahore, if there were no orders to this effect?’

“Why should 26 Inf Div capture Rasulpur, barely 4 miles from Sialkot, and sit tight, without even probing toward the city?

“In the I Corps Zone, surprise was not exploited. In one of the articles, a Pakistan defense analyst, facetiously attributed the limited success, or a lack thereof, of the Indian Army to three factors: ALLAH, ARTILLERY and the INDIAN ARMY!

Reverting to the 1965 war, I am afraid I have to agree with Shekar Gupta’s succint summarization (even when I deplore his partisan attitude toward OROP) “A war which Pakistan lost, and India did not win.”

Pakistan Journos like Ayaz Amir, Ahmed Rashid, Najam Sethi seem far superior to their Indian counterparts. Here is Sep 12, 2012 –Islamabad diary by Ayaz Amir.

Back from a trip to Amritsar and Delhi on Wednesday evening, and too tired to go on to Chakwal as I had meant to – PIA never disappointing, the flight from Delhi late by three hours – I sought refuge under the roof of the Avari, where my poverty usually takes me when in the favored city of the Emperor Jahangir.

And as I sat down to write this on Thursday morning, from somewhere down below on the Mall – it will always be the Mall whatever patriotic name we give it – came the ever-enchanting voice of Noor Jahan the Second, the first being the royal consort of Jahangir. She was singing that haunting song, “Rah-e-haq ke shaheedo…”, a tribute to the martyrs of the 1965 war, and it came suddenly to me that this was the Defense of Pakistan Day, an anniversary remembered with less and less fervor as the years pass…not because respect for our fighting soldiers has in any way diminished but because the truth about that conflict is now more widely understood.

It was a war that Pakistan did not seek; it was a war into which it stumbled. The hawks – the two leading ones being Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the 12 Division Commander, Maj Gen Akhtar Hussain Malik – forgot to make the little calculation that any adventure undertaken in Kashmir would impel or tempt India to straighten out the balance somewhere else, at a time and place of its choosing.

When our Kashmir adventure turned into a serious threat to Indian forces in Kashmir, to no one’s surprise except ours Indian forces crossed the international border on the front stretching from Sialkot to Lahore. Our soldiers fought bravely, at places magnificently, as did junior officers up to the level of battalion commanders. A few brigadiers too distinguished themselves. (The Indian official account of the war, which can be read on the net, generously mentions the performance of some of our fighting units.)

And of course the air force acquitted itself superbly. But if one looks for Mansteins in the higher echelons of command one is likely to be disappointed. There were none, not one strategic manoeuvre worth remembering.

Our self-appointed field marshal, Ayub Khan Tareen, lived to rue his blunder. After the war he was no longer the same man and his grip on national affairs weakened.

The supreme irony of course was that Bhutto whose role in pushing the war was second to none exploited the outcome, and the subsequent Tashkent agreement, to spread the insinuation that had not Ayub chickened out our forces would have won a signal triumph, which of course was complete nonsense.

But he could have been preaching to the mountains. The ceasefire when it came, with no little pushing by the superpowers, came not a moment too soon for our exhausted high command.

But for years and years the myth persisted and it was woven into national legend, that India was out to destroy Pakistan and would have succeeded but for our brave armed forces. The Defense of Pakistan Day commemorates this historiography. This myth would not have mattered if it had not led to lasting, and baleful, consequences. We had a fairly open relationship with India until then.

But with the war the barriers went up and all ties were cut; defense spending sharply increased; more divisions were raised. The ramparts of the national security state rose higher. And barriers went up in our minds as well. India was the enemy and this doctrine superseded all others.

We had been doing fairly well economically, ahead then of such states as Malaysia and South Korea. The war put us off the rails completely. (The only good to come of it were the war songs of Noor Jahan, which are still a marvel to listen to.) With the 1971 war the dogmas learned from the 1965 conflict were reinforced.

Strange, is it not, that the brightest politician of his age should have been the prime carrier of this policy of revanchism and hate? We will fight for a thousand years, was one of his clarion calls, anti-Indianism a plank – nay, an essential component – of his extraordinary success in Punjab in the 1970 elections. And it was Punjab which catapulted him to national power, not Sindh. Think again…

Punjab dyed in the hues of chauvinism, the country as a whole wedded to the notion of undying hostility towards India…the high priest of this doctrine was the secular, de luxe whisky-sipping (occasionally guzzling) Bhutto. Who listens to the boring lectures, or the stale oratory, of the custodians of the two-nation theory headquartered permanently in Lahore? Bhutto’s oratory had a mesmeric effect on the Punjabi mind. And his oratory had two key components: pseudo-revolutionism and jingoistic nationalism.

Only now are the barriers raised then coming down slowly, not because of any fresh dawn of enlightenment but the pressure of cruel circumstance. Our army is engaged in no fake adventure on the eastern front. It is caught in a real and brutal war on our western marches, battling an enemy all the more sinister because the strength and staying power of that enemy comes not from evil Jew or conniving Hindu but from within our own ranks.

Our Indian wars, no matter the causes, were simple, black-and-white affairs. We knew who the army was and Noor Jahan had no trouble singing the glories of our valor, real or imaginary.

The war we are now engaged in is so much more complex because the enemy is not only the visible enemy we see, cutting the throats of our soldiers in the name of Islam. The enemy is also our own confusion which still cannot make out what is at stake. At stake is the nation’s soul, its direction. We emerge from the smoke and fire of this conflict and we can hope for national salvation. We lose, or remain victims of confusion, and we might as well seek a confederation with Somalia or the Sudan (with apologies to both these nations).

A Pakistan which has forsaken the tolerance sought to be inculcated by its founding fathers, a Pakistan losing no sleep at the persecution of its minorities and the killing of Shias, a country which can countenance the victimization of an Aasia Bibi or a Rimsha Masih, is a country in dire need of asking some hard questions of itself. All injustice is bad; injustice perpetrated in the name of religion is infinitely worse. We can be such hypocrites. Are the lives of the Caliphs dead pieces of parchment or living examples to follow? What would the great Omar have done if after a short absence from Makkah he had come to know of the plight of a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih?

There and then he would have fired the interior minister, the Rehman Malik of his time, and asked the inspector general of police, the kotwal, to run round the city walls with a knapsack on his back. And he would have carried the girl Rimsha on his shoulders to her house and asked her mother if they had enough to eat, and if anything was found wanting, on bended knee he would have cried for Allah’s forgiveness. For was it not Omar who said that if a dog went hungry by the banks of the Euphrates he, the Caliph, would be asked about it on the Day of Judgment?

The Islam which spread so fast from the sands of the Hejaz was a thing of achievement and glory. And to think what we have made of it in this republic founded in the name of Islam?”

That is the end apart from a personal aside on our Arty –

There was this Lt Avtar Singh of our only Medium Regt whom I came across a few days after we had entered Pakistan. This officer, on hearing me lambasting and lamenting our artillery, took me up and promised to show me a thing or two once he was in support of our brigade – he was an OP operating from a tank.Alas a day later as he was directing fire a direct hit on the turret of his tank sent his arm swirling in the air —-

We met a half century later, courtesy Capt Amarinder, who had old 65 War Veterans for dinner as Maj Shamshad whose Patton had been disabled by a Strim from my company, was also present – again courtesy the Patiala Royal. Avtar and I chatted for over an hour and then he asks me if I knew one Capt Bhullar from the Garhwalis – I nearly killed him!

Any way he remains one Good Gunner!

PS And Here is Gen KMB –

“When Jogi Bhullor appeared sans his turban and beard on the parade ground, an amused Jack Dias (of Everest fame) jocularly remarked ” You look like Bert Lancaster. From that time onwards, Jogi came to be known as “Bert”. We did the Weapons and the SC courses together. So I know him pretty well. Jogi was wounded twice in ’65. He was also the chief architect of our very successful Centenary celebrations in 1987. In sum, a very courageous and unflappable officer.”

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Nehru-Gandhi’s Pollute India …

Posted on November 20, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

This is a Killer Missile from Preet K S Bedi on FB … 
Going from Rajghat to the airport in Delhi? That’s easy.     

Having ruminated over the havoc one rogue sperm can cause after seeing the samadhis of Nehru, Indira, Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi, head southwards.

If after 5 minutes you find the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium to your left, you will know you are on the right path. Turn right and head westwards. Avoid Rajiv Chowk; it may be too crowded.

Turn left and find yourself in Lutyen’s Delhi; enjoy the drive. After crossing Sonia Gandhi’s house, hit Moti Lal Nehru Marg with Rahul Gandhi’s house to the left. From there to Indira Gandhi Smark is the matter of a couple of minutes.

Keep driving westwards past Nehru House at Teen Murthi House, Nehru Library, Nehru Planetarium and Nehru Yuvak Kendra. Drive around the Nehru Park and Nehru Rose Garden and turn right.

Its more or less a straight road now till you hit Indira Gandhi Road and finally the Indira Gandhi Airport.

Should you find this route too old-world Lutyens there is an option.

Don’t turn right after Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, keep going straight till you hit the Nehru Stadium, turn right, cross the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran House and Rajiv Gandhi Avionics Museum.

Continue going south, avoid the crowded Nehru Lane to your left and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital to your right.

Turn right at the Nehru University. Keep headed west till you hit the Indira Gandhi Road which leads to the Indira Gandhi Airport.

If you have time and are in the mood to see real Delhi, take a short detour after Nehru Stadium and check out the chaos of Nehru Place, turn right and go past Nehru Apartments to your left.

But avoid the temptation of checking out the Indira Gandhi Open University though its only a hop, step and jump from Nehru Place cos the area is far too crowded and u may miss ur flight.

Google is designed by humans after all and can sometimes get confused with too many Nehrus and Gandhis.

If you find yourself facing a board that says Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Sanjay Gandhi Hospital or Sonia Vihar, know ye, that you have made a mistake and have definitely missed your flight.

Sit back in your car and curse the family which didn’t know when to stop!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Mohd Ali – the Man …

Posted on November 16, 2018. Filed under: Personalities |

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Armistice Day – A Hundred Years on …

Posted on November 11, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career |

The conflict ceased on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918 after an armistice was signed in Compiègne, France.

The day’s events started at 06:00 GMT with pipers across Britain, including Enniskillen, playing the Scottish lament “Battle’s O’er”.

 

Soldiers in a trench

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch Munich Nov 9, 1923 …

Posted on November 8, 2018. Filed under: The Germans |

Extracted from The Wire —- But btw Munich is also famed because it was here that England under Chamberlain ignominously caved in under the Hitler Bully … 

Ninety-five years ago on November 9, Munich was witness to an episode that turned the wheel of Europe’s history to its darkest hour as very few events ever did, hopelessly blurring the dividing line between farce and tragedy.

In the early afternoon of November 9,1923, Adolf Hitler, along with some 2,000 comrades-in-arms, marched on Munich’s city centre in a preposterously abortive bid to capture power.

Known commonly, if somewhat derisively, as the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’, this march was modelled on Mussolini’s infamous March on Rome the previous autumn through which Il Duce stormed to power in Italy.

In the ensuing melee, four Bavarian policemen and 16 Nazi volunteers lost their lives. The Fuehrer fled the scene and hid for two days inside the loft in a friend’s house, to be arrested from there and produced for trial for treason.

The putsch had looked fizzy to start with, much like the free-flowing beer of the Burgerbraukeller, the beer hall that had propelled the Nazis to fame, but, in the end, it fizzled out quickly.

It would be another nine years before the corporal was to be anointed chancellor of Germany – and arbiter of Europe’s destiny for 12 disastrous years.

The reference to 9/11 is not fanciful: the Nazis sought to immortalise the putsch by marking their calendar permanently with its date, calling it Der neunte (9/11, literally, ‘the Ninth of the Eleventh’), and religiously observing every anniversary thereafter with typically Nazi sound and fury.

Every November 9, the march down Munich’s main streets would be re-enacted, there would be a memorial ceremony at Odeonplatz recalling  those 16 fallen comrades, and everyone would pledge themselves anew to the holy battle for  preserving the Third Reich till eternity.

The tradition was scrupulously maintained till November 9, 1944, by when most of occupied Europe had been liberated and the writing on the wall was there for everyone but the most die-hard Nazi to see.

Marx famously wrote about how, when history repeats itself, tragedy often reappears as farce.

Unless one were to think back on November 9, 1923, and how its consequences played out in Germany.

Hitler and his accomplices were tried for high treason, but had a quite ‘soft’ trial where the fanatically pro-Nazi lay judges (in Germany’s unique judicial system of a ‘mixed judiciary’, professional judges shared a bench with their lay brothers) clamoured for Hitler’s exoneration, the man himself waxed eloquent about his own patriotic fervour and how it obliged him to sacrifice everything for Germany’s sake, was sentenced to five years in prison but was eventually let off after a mere eight months on account of – hold your breath! – ‘good behaviour’.

And even those eight months he spent in the comfort and relative freedom of the Festungshaft, the mildest of the three types of jail sentence allowed under German law at the time.

At a minimum, Hitler ran the real risk of being deported back to his native Austria, but the benevolent trial judge opined that the relevant laws could not, in fairness, be applied to someone “who so sincerely thinks and feels like a German, as Hitler does”.

One would imagine that only Weimar Germany could be such an absurdly higgledy-piggledy world 

The tragedy that followed upon the rollicking farce that the Beer Hall Putsch had turned into was arguably the nearest thing to the apocalypse that man’s history has been witness to.

Nearly 85 million lives lost, countless more forever scarred, the Holocaust, the unimaginable barbarism of the targeted bombing of civilians and the endless lines of desperate refugees fleeing to no one knew where – the Second World War’s record-book is as copious as it is frightening.

Let us also not forget that the Fuehrer wrote Mein Kampf,his autobiography – or, in today’s corporate lingo, his ‘mission and vision statement’ – in the safe haven of the Bavarian prison to which that charade of a trial had consigned him.

However, not all the memories linked to Germany’s 9/11 are in unrelieved black. If you walk around the Odeonplatz today, as we did one late November afternoon in 2015, you will come across a somewhat unusual sight of an adjoining cobbled alley that has a broad golden strip snaking along its middle, down its entire length.

That little street is the Viscardigasse, and the golden pathway is post-Hitler Munich’s tribute to countless brave men and women who dared to say ‘no’ to Nazi coercion.

How this came about is a fascinating story. On the Odeonplatz, there has stood since 1844 a monumental memorial, the Felderrnhalle, erected in homage to fallen German military leaders.

Following the Nazis’ accession to power in 1933, Hitler ‘dedicated’ the Federrnhalle to the memory of the 16 Nazis killed in the 9/11 encounter.

A fiat was then issued that whoever passed by that site had to raise their hand in the Nazi salute, the sinister Heil Hitler ritual. Sentries posted around the memorial kept a watchful eye on objectors who refused to comply, all of whom were taken away for questioning by the dreaded Gestapo, often to be summarily despatched to Dachau, Hitler’s first death camp located about 10 miles northeast of Munich.

The threat of severe punishment was very real, and yet there were many who could not bring themselves to perform the obnoxious Hitlergruss. 

What they would do instead was to cut left just before reaching Odeonplatz/Felderrnhalle into this small alleyway, thereby avoiding Hitler’s favourite monument, and emerge on to the main street again beyond the plaza.

This would save them the trouble of having to salute the Nazi ‘memorial’. The guards around the monument knew what was happening, of course, but there was not very much they could do about it.

Except on anniversaries, when the ‘solemnity’ of the occasion often impelled them to round up some of these conscientious objectors from the Viscardigasse itself, and hand them over to the Waffen-SS straight away.

In those terrible times, it took extraordinary courage to do what these resisters did, and yet everyday not an insignificant number of men and women weaved in and out of the Viscardigasse to cock a snook at the Fuehrer’s diktat. 

After Hitler’s spirit was exorcised in post-war Germany, Munich paved the Viscardigasse with bronzed cobblestones to mark the Golden Trail in memory of her brave citizens.

That bleak November afternoon, as snow flurries swirled around and a high wind rose to chill us to our bones, we bowed our head to the courage of those that walked the Golden Trail in Germany’s darkest hour.

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Story the Metric System …

Posted on November 7, 2018. Filed under: The French Contribution |

Excerpted from the BBC … By Madhvi Ramani

On the facade of the Ministry of Justice in Paris, just below a ground-floor window, is a marble shelf engraved with a horizontal line and the word ‘MÈTRE’.

It is one of the last remaining ‘mètre étalons’ (standard metre bars) that were placed all over the city more than 200 years ago in an attempt to introduce a new, universal system of measurement.

One of the last remaining standard metre bars below a ground-floor window on the Ministry of Justice in Paris (Credit: Credit: PjrTravel/Alamy)

The metric system, which was created in France, is the official system of measurement for every country in the world except three: the United States, Liberia and Myanmar, also known as Burma.

During the volatile years between 1789 and 1799, the revolutionaries sought not only to overturn politics by taking power away from the monarchy and the church, but also to fundamentally alter society by overthrowing old traditions and habits.

To this end, they introduced, among other things, the Republican Calendar in 1793, which consisted of 10-hour days, with 100 minutes per hour and 100 seconds per minute.

But while decimal time did not stick, the new decimal system of measurement, which is the basis of the metre and the kilogram, remains with us today.

The line of longitude used to determine the length of the metre runs through the centre of the Paris Observatory (Credit: Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

 

The line of longitude used to determine the length of the metre runs through the centre of the Paris Observatory (Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

 

As Dr Alder details in his book, measuring this meridian arc during a time of great political and social upheaval proved to be an epic undertaking.

The two astronomers were frequently met with suspicion and animosity; they fell in and out of favour with the state; and were even injured on the job, which involved climbing to high points such as the tops of churches.

The Pantheon, which was originally commissioned by Louis XV to be a church, became the central geodetic station in Paris from whose dome Delambre triangulated all the points around the city.

Today, it serves as a mausoleum to heroes of the Republic, such as Voltaire, René Descartes and Victor Hugo.

But during Delambre’s time, it served as another kind of mausoleum – a warehouse for all the old weights and measures that had been sent in by towns from all over France in anticipation of the new system.

But despite all the technical mastery and labour that had gone into defining the new measurement, nobody wanted to use it. People were reluctant to give up the old ways of measuring since these were inextricably bound with local rituals, customs and economies.

For example, an ell, a measure of cloth, generally equalled the width of local looms, while arable land was often measured in days, referencing the amount of land that a peasant could work during this time.

Paris’ Pantheon once stored different weights and measures sent from all across France (Credit: Credit: pocholo/Alamy)

Paris’ Pantheon once stored different weights and measures sent from all across France in anticipation of the new standardised system (Credit: pocholo/Alamy)

 

The Paris authorities were so exasperated at the public’s refusal to give up their old measure that they even sent police inspectors to marketplaces to enforce the new system.

Eventually, in 1812, Napoleon abandoned the metric system; although it was still taught in school, he largely let people use whichever measures they liked until it was reinstated in 1840.

According to Dr Alder, “It took a span of roughly 100 years before almost all French people started using it.”

This was not just due to perseverance on the part of the state. France was quickly advancing into the industrial revolution; mapping required more accuracy for military purposes; and, in 1851, the first of the great World’s Fairs took place, where nations would showcase and compare industrial and scientific knowledge.

Of course, it was tricky to do this unless you had clear, standard measures, such as the metre and the kilogram. For example, the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, and at 324m, was at that time the world’s tallest man-made structure.

The metric system was necessary to compare industrial and scientific knowledge (Credit: Credit: robertharding/Alamy)

The metric system was necessary to compare industrial and scientific knowledge – such as the height of the Eiffel Tower – at the World’s Fairs (Credit: robertharding/Alamy)

 

All of this came together to produce one of the world’s oldest international institutions: The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

Located in the quiet Paris suburb of Sèvres, the BIPM is surrounded by landscaped gardens and a park. Its lack of ostentatiousness reminded me again of the mètre étalon in the Place Vendôme; it might be tucked away, but it is fundamental to the world we live in today.

Originally established to preserve international standards, the BIPM promotes the uniformity of seven international units of measurement: the metre, the kilogram, the second, the ampere, the kelvin, the mole and the candela. It is the home of the master platinum standard metre bar that was used to carefully calibrate copies, which were then sent out to various other national capitals. In the 1960s, the BIPM redefined the metre in terms of light, making it more precise than ever.

And now, defined by universal laws of physics, it was finally a measure truly based on nature.

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures promotes the uniformity of international units of measurement (Credit: Credit: Chronicle/Alamy)

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) was established to promote the uniformity of international units of measurement (Credit: Chronicle/Alamy)

 

The building in Sèvres is also home to the original kilogram, which sits under three bell jars in an underground vault and can only be accessed using three different keys, held by three different individuals.

The small, cylindrical weight cast in platinum-iridium alloy is also, like the metre, due to be redefined in terms of nature – specifically the quantum-mechanical quantity known as the Planck constant – by the BIPM this November.

“Establishing a new basis for a new definition of the kilogram is a very big technological challenge.

[It] was described at one point as the second most difficult experiment in the whole world, the first being discovering the Higgs Boson,” said Dr Martin Milton, director of the BIPM, who showed me the lab where the research is being conducted.

As he explained the principle of the Kibble balance and the way in which a mass is weighed against the force of a coil in a magnetic field, I marvelled at the latest scientific engineering before me, the precision and personal effort of all the people who have been working on the kilogram project since it began in 2005 and are now very close to achieving their goal.

The BIPM houses the original standard metre and the original standard kilogram (Credit: Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

The BIPM houses the original standard metre and the original standard kilogram (Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

 

As with the 18th-Century meridian project, defining measurement continues to be one of our most important and difficult challenges.

As I walked further up the hill of the public park that surrounds the BIPM and looked out at the view of Paris, I thought about the structure of measurement underlying the whole city. The machinery used for construction; the trade and commerce happening in the city; the exact quantities of drugs, or radiation for cancer therapy, being delivered in the hospitals.

What started with the metre formed the basis of our modern economy and led to globalisation. It enabled high-precision engineering and continues to be essential for science and research, progressing our understanding of the universe.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Humble Hashtag – # …

Posted on November 2, 2018. Filed under: Great Writing |

Joanna Rozpedowski – 

From fashion trends to global events, the hashtag (#) has become the conspicuous symbol of the Twittersphere.

What only a decade ago denoted a numerical symbol of no special significance or attribution is now a call to arms for causes that are many and varied.

The “#” is a social organiser, which emerged spontaneously and dynamically from the content generated and updated by social media users. The initial intent behind the “#”, when Twitter launched in 2006, lay in its simple use as a means of organising data and information.

An indexing tool for grouping anything from the politically relevant to the culturally hip, the “#” soon found itself aligned with some of the most significant events in history.

Capturing a broad spectrum of the public’s preoccupations with popular culture, social exclusion, relief efforts following natural disasters or political conflict, the hashtag, as some have argued, has allowed for the efficient emergence of “certain types of communities and ad hoc publics forming and responding quickly to particular events and topical issues”.

And these have developed a social and political power we have only recently begun to fully uncover and comprehend.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...