Pakistan

Musharaf …

Posted on December 1, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan |

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A Pakistani Film …

Posted on November 29, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan |

https://thewire.in/200623/verna-film-power-politics-rape-taken-pakistan-storm/

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Maj Gaurav Arya addresses the British Parliament …

Posted on November 9, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Pakistan, Personalities |

http://www.republicworld.com/s/11213/delivered-in-the-british-parliament-major-gaurav-aryas-speech-will-make-every-indian-proud

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Deleted Post …

Posted on October 23, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan, Regimental, Searching for Success |

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1971 War – Sabuna Drain Battle -Another Version …

Posted on October 17, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Pakistan |

http://hilal.gov.pk/index.php/layouts/item/1589-memoirs-of-sabuna-bund-battle-sulaimanki-fazilka-sector-3-6-dec-1971

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Gen Rawat speaks ala Timmy n Sam …

Posted on September 6, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Pakistan, Personalities |

From The Indian Express –

Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat today said the country should be prepared for a two-front war, insisting China has started “flexing its muscles”, while there seems to be no scope for reconciliation with Pakistan whose military and polity saw an adversary in India.

Referring to the 73-day long Doklam standoff, the Army chief warned that the situation could gradually snowball into a larger conflict on the northern border.

He said there is a possibility that these conflicts could be limited in space and time or can expand into an all out war along the entire frontier, with Pakistan taking advantage of the situation.

“We have to be prepared. In our context, therefore, warfare lies within the realm of reality,” he said, adding the Army’s supremacy among the three services must be maintained to successfully combat external security threats.

The comments by Gen. Rawat came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on a “forward-looking” approach to Sino-India ties, putting behind the Doklam standoff. The Army Chief said India cannot afford to let its guard down against China.

“As far as northern adversary is concerned, the flexing of muscle has started. The salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner, testing our limits of threshold is something we have to be wary about and remain prepared for situations emerging which could gradually emerge into conflict,” he said.

In military parlance ‘salami slicing’ denotes divide and conquer process of threats and alliances used to overcome opposition. He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies. The Army chief also talked about China engaging in a psychological warfare by using the media and information technology against India during the Doklam face-off.

The Army chief rejected the notion that credible deterrence could prevent war and pitched for adequate budgetary allocation for the armed forces. Talking about Pakistan, Gen. Rawat said there was no scope for any reconciliation with that country.

“As far as our western adversary is considered, we don’t see any scope of reconciliation, because their military, the polity, and the people in that nation have been made to believe that there is an adversary, India, which is all out to break their nation into pieces,” he said.

Gen. Rawat also wondered how long the country will continue to tolerate the proxy war by Pakistan and when it would conclude that Pakistan has crossed the threshold limit, adding the scope of a possible conflict is difficult to predict.

He said it was for the political masters to take a call on the issue.

Rawat also explained that credible deterrence does not take away the threat of war. “Nuclear weapons are weapons of deterrence. Yes, they are. But to say that they can deter war or they will not allow nations to go to war, in our context that may also not be true,” he said.

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1971 War – Pak Wins Sabuna Drain Battle …

Posted on August 17, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Pakistan, Personalities |

As received from Sikander Mirza, who was kind enough to send it to me after reading my version of this Battle. Wonderful that Shahbir Sharif was posthumously awarded Pakistan’s highest Gallantry Award and then later his younger brother became Pak Army Chief following Gen Kayani.

During the 1971 War, India attacked East Pakistan on 21st November 1971. The General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi launched an attack on India on the western front (West Pakistan) on 3rd December 1971. After the Chamb Jaurian thrust Pak still had a 5 Division strong reserve under Gen. Tikka Khan. However at Suliemanke, two companies of 6 Frontier Force were ordered to take the Sabuna Drain.

Bravo Company 6 FF, was under a 1965 War Veteran and a Sitara-e-Jurrat Holder, Major Shabbir Sharif, who was also a Sword of Honor of Pakistan Military Academy Kakul.

The Indian Army had created an artificial Bund, steep on the Pakistani side, with a low incline on the Indian side.. In front of this ridge on the Pakistan side, there was also a Drain. There were only two bridges for vehicular traffic. Inside the Ridge there were camouflaged cemented bunkers.

It was important for Pakistan to neutralize this ridge, for it would pave the way for a Pakistani thrust. The ridge was called Saboona ridge, and the bridge was called Gurmakhera bridge. The other bridge was far away, and is not relevant.

At 4:00 P.M., 3rd Dec 1971, Sharif assembled the soldiers of Bravo Company and said, “Men! The moment for which we were commissioned in the Army has arrived. Today, it is a question of honor of the mothers who have borne us. I will only say one thing. If anyone from amongst you runs away from the battlefield – I will shoot him. And if I run away, then you have to swear by the honor of your mothers and sisters, that you will shoot me. Give me your word that you will die today rather than step back.”

At 5:45 PM, Shabir Sharif launched the attack against Gurmakhera Bridge. Before reaching the bridge, Shabir’s men, around 100 in number, had to pass next to the Indian Village of Beriwala. This village was reasonably well protected by the Indian Army. Bravo company knew that there were landmines in the region and a safe route through was not known.

“If you don’t risk, you don’t win wars. At most there will be a 10 percent casualty rate. Have faith in God and keep moving. I will lead.”
Bravo company passed through this landmine area safely without Shabbir having to lead.

When the company reached the bridge, Farooq Afzal was given the task to take a few men and check out things. Two Indian soldiers could be seen standing in front of the bridge. The Pakistani soldiers took them out and camouflaged Indian bunkers overlooking the bridge – two of which had the entire bridge area covered. The Indian fire halted further progress.

Asking Shabbir Sharif through wireless to provide covering fire, Afzal attacked the bridge from the front by breaking up his men into groups of three with the slogan ‘Allah O Akbar’ to distract the Indians from three different sides. The point being that at least one of the three would crawl up to the bridge and reach the area directly beneath the bunkers, where the Indian guns had no reach. The plan was successful but in the process 6 Pakistani soldiers were killed. Having reached directly beneath the two bunkers which were covering the bridge, the Pakistani soldiers took them down by lobbing hand grenades inside.

Once the two bunkers covering the Gurmakhera bridge were neutralized, Shabbir Sharif and his men joined Afzal. It was time to destroy the rest of the bunkers.

An intense battle developed as the Pakistani soldiers neutralizing the bunkers. In some cases where the Indian soldiers finished their ammunition, they threw out their wireless sets on the Pakistanis. Hand to hand combat was also seen while in a few cases the Indians ran away. The most common scene, however, was one in which grenades were lobbed out, and if the Pakistanis survived they would in turn lob back.

Sharif cleared two bunkers himself. While at the first one, he stood next to the bunker and called out the personnel inside to come out. The usual happened and a grenade was tossed out. Sharif threw it back inside, stunning his own men. This action was to become the topic of discussion in the entire company for the next two days.

The second bunker was cleared without daredevilry.

The entire operation of clearing the bunkers and taking control of the Saboona Ridge took 30 minutes. Shabir took out the signal gun and fired a success signal straight up in the air. The other companies were now aware that Sharif and his men had taken control of the Gurmakhera Bridge and the Saboona Ridge. The other companies were to proceed with their attacks, one of which involved capturing the Beriwala village that Sharif had bypassed earlier.

It was pitch dark, Sharif and a few men started collecting the bodies of the Pakistani soldiers who had died in the assault. Digging of new bunkers, this time on the opposite side of the ridge than the one facing Pakistan also began simultaneously.

It was at that time that an old man’s voice was heard from a distance.
“We need to go back to Gurmakhera Village. The Muslims have attacked Beriwala” Shabbir went closer to the old man. The man could not recognize the Pakistani army uniform due to the darkness and believed he was talking to an Indian soldier.

“I brought my son’s barat (wedding procession) to Beriwala in the afternoon. The muslims have captured the village. We had to run during the rukhsati (last ritual of the wedding).” “Don’t you know that there is a war going on?” Shabbir asked in Punjabi, “This is a silly time to have a wedding, that too when you are so close to the border”

“Please protect us. I have a whole procession with me here. Even the girl’s family is here. We need to get back to our village. The muslims are coming in this direction.” Sharif decided not to waste time, or unnecessarily panic the old fellow. “We will take care of the Muslims. You hurry up and get all your people across. And listen to the radio more frequently for any important announcements”

He then alerted all of his men manning the positions at the bridge that a wedding procession was going to be passing through and there should be no fire on it. While the procession was crossing over the ridge, a soldier asked Sharif: “Sir. These people are legitimate POWs. Why are we letting them cross?” Shabbir smiled. “Have a heart soldier. This is the happiest day of their lives. Let’s not make them spend it inside a cell.”

When the news of the Pakistani attack reached the opposing brigade commander, Brig. Surjeet Singh, he immediately ordered Delta company of 4 Jat and a squadron of T-54 tanks to recapture the the Saboona Ridge and the Gurmakhera bridge.

At 11:00 PM, one of Shabbir’s men informed him that he could hear tanks approaching the Gurmakhera Bridge. After Shabbir himself confirmed it, he positioned his rocket launchers near the bridge. There were three rocket launchers at his disposal, and two men were required to man each one. There was also some ammunition that had been taken from the defeated Indian forces on the ridge. Two of the rocket launchers were placed in such a manner that the tanks would have to go past them before they could come near the Gurmakhera bridge or the Saboona ridge. The third was positioned near Shabbir, to be used as a back up in case the first two failed.

When the tanks eventually came in pitch darkness, Shabbir was stunned to see that they passed by the first two positions without any fire from the Pakistani soldiers. Shabbir immediately called the men through wireless, and asked them why they didn’t shoot? “Sir, these are Pakistani tanks”, a soldier replied from the other side.

“No they are not”, Shabbir screamed, “Why would our tanks come from the side of the other bridge. That is not in Pakistani control. Shoot!”

Despite the clarification, there was so much confusion amongst the ranks that no one fired. Shabbir knew that if these had been Pakistani tanks they would have crossed over the ridge 3 km to the West and come as a reinforcement on the Indian side. He got hold of the rocket launcher which was near him, and fired at one of the tanks. When the tank caught flames and illuminated the scene, Sikhs were seen coming out of it. It was at that time that the entire Pakistani force started firing on the Indians.

The Indian foot soldiers were closer to the tanks and they could be easily spotted due to the flames and also due to the aerial advantage that the Pakistani forces had. From the initial 14 tanks that were ordered to attack, only 8 had managed to reach the bridge, and 4 of them had been destroyed in the first 5 minutes of the battle. The others too were safe only because they were out of range of the rocket launchers and Energa grenades (mounted on G3 rifles. The Indian retreat was inevitable. During this skirmish, 10 Pakistanis were killed and 13 injured, while on the Indian side there were 43 killed, numerous injured and 10 were made POWs, including an officer.

Despite the victory, Sharif knew that this was only the beginning and the Indians would definitely try again. He contacted the battalion headquarters and asked for ammunition and landmines. Another mystery was why the Indians had not blown away Gurmakhera bridge, which is usual in such conditions. Around 4:00 AM, an ammunition jeep arrived. In between, there had been a small attack on Sharif and his positions, but had been easily repulsed as the Indians were much less in number and there were no tanks.

When day broke, a search was carried out to find out any Indian soldiers hiding in the captured area. 55 men were rounded up, 3 being officers. Add to these the 10 POWs captured the last night, and Shabbir now had 65 POWs in all. “We should organize a party that escorts them back to our headquarters”, an officer suggested. “It is a long walk. Plus I need every one of my men here”, Shabbir replied.

“But they have to be sent back, we cannot keep an eye on them over here forever.” After a quite moment, Shabbir ordered the officer: “Ask them to take of their shoes” … “What?” exclaimed the officer. “What are we going to do with their shoes”

“Have you ever tried to walk in this area without your shoes?” Shabbir asked, “I have, and I tell you it is next to impossible to go far without them. Firstly you cannot run very fast, and chances of getting injuries on the feet are high.”

The officer assembled all the Indian POWs, “Listen, you see that tree. You will make a line, put your hands above your heads and run to that tree. Our headquarter is over there. Tell them that you will have been sent by Shabbir Sharif. Now, if anyone tries to run away, or break away from the line, I will shoot him and also the man in front and behind him. From this height I will be able to see all that is happening. If everyone starts running at the same time, I will ask my men here to take part in some duck shooting and we will shoot. So do not push me”

The POWs reached the headquarters without any escort. None tried to escape.

Once the POWs had been sent back, Shabbir’s men searched the bunkers thoroughly. A wireless set was found and although it had fixed frequency, the Indians had forgotten to change it during the attack. This gave a tremendous advantage to Shabbir, as he could now listen to the plans that were being made on the Indian side to recapture Gurmakhera bridge.

The other interesting item that was found was a bundle of Indian currency. This was perhaps the salary that was to be distributed amongst the Indian soldiers but had not been done so due to the Pakistan attack. Shabbir ordered the currency to be sent back to the headquarters so that they could give it back after the war – although due to lack of firewood, a small amount of the currency was burnt to make tea.

At 8:30 PM on 4th Dec. 1971, the Indians (4 Jat Regiment) attacked again with a squadron of T-54 tanks. Shabbir knew that they were coming, courtesy the wireless set that had been captured. He was also in a much better position ammunition wise, now having 102 millimeter anti tank guns, and landmines. The battle lasted only 30 minutes, with the Indians retreating with 14 dead, 21 injured and 8 MIAs (missing in action). The Pakistani side suffered minor injuries but no casualty.

Having suffered three defeats in their effort to retake the Gurmakhera bridge or the Saboona Ridge, the Indians finally launched a major attack on Shabbir’s men on the night of 5th Dec 1971. This attack had the support of 4 Jat and 3 Assam and T-54 tanks amidst heavy artillery shelling.

A company commander from the 4 Jat Regiment, Major Narayan Singh, had sworn that he would either retake the bridge or would never return. Narayan Singh was also interested in defeating Shabbir Sharif, as for the last two days he had been hearing from his own men that the Pakistani side had a very tough commander.

While the battle was going on, Narayan Singh with a few men, came close to Shabbir’s position. “Where is Shabbir Sharif?” he called out, “If he has the courage, he should come out and face me like a man”

Shabbir Sharif, being as hot headed as Singh, left his position and jumped in front. Perhaps Narayan Singh could not make out that it was Shabbir Sharif, as it was very dark, and he lobbed a grenade in his direction (it does not make sense for him to call Sharif out and throw a grenade at him). The grenade exploded a few feet away from Shabbir and his shirt caught fire.

A few Pakistani soldiers also came out and tried to put out the fire, as Shabbir himself was only obsessed with Narayan Singh. Seeing the Pakistani soldiers coming out, some of the Indians accompanying Singh were about to open fire when Singh stopped them.

“No firing” he said, “This is a man to man fight” Shabbir too, for his part, told his men to step back. The fire on his shirt had been extinguished. Both the Indian and Pakistani soldiers stepped back, but at the same time never took their guns off each other, or their fingers off the triggers.

A hand to hand combat followed between Sharif and Singh. The soldiers in the direct vicinity were standing close by as armed spectators. The rest of the soldiers (on the ridge) were at the same time involved in the fierce battle that was taking place due to the Indian attack.

Singh had his sten gun in his hand, and Shabbir held his wrist to prevent him from firing. After a short struggle, Shabbir managed to throw Singh on the ground and put his knee on his chest. Taking the sten gun from his hand, he emptied it in Singhs chest. While the Pakistani soldiers came to Sharif to check whether he was alright, those accompanying Singh disappeared in the darkness.

The attack petered yet again in an Indian retreat, although this was done after testing Shabbir’s men to their fullest capabilities. During this attack, there were 3 killed and 11 injured on the Pakistan side, while there were 19 killed, 45 injured, and 34 taken as POWs on the Indian side. 9 Indian tanks were also destroyed in this attack by the Pakistan artillery shelling and anti tank guns (2 or 3 of these tanks were rendered useless for they got stuck in the land before they were taken out).

Later, it was revealed that Major Narayan Singh was given Vir Chakra by India, a medal that is equivalent to the Pakistani Sitara-e-Jurrat, for his performance on the battlefield in 1971.

Shabbir’s right shoulder was badly burnt due to the fire that he had caught while fighting with Singh. When asked by one of his subordinates to go back and get some treatment, he said:, “I didn’t leave men fighting on the battlefield when I was not responsible for them. This time around I am their commander. Do you think I am going to go back leaving these men who I am supposed to command?”

He was referring to the 1965 war, when he as an ordinary Lieutenant, had been injured severely in the arm. Having gone back to the hospital for treatment, his arm was put in plaster and he was told that he cannot take part in the war anymore. He however, escaped from the hospital and went to the front, where he fought the rest of the war with one arm in plaster!

The 5th Dec attack created despondency amongst the Indians. Terming it a crisis, both GOC Major Gen. Ram Singh, and his Artillery Advisor Brig G.S. Reen took effective charge from Brigadier Surjeet Singh.

The Indians attacked yet again at 11:00 AM on 6th Dec. 1971. Shabbir was manning a 102 millimeter gun when a tank fired in his direction. He fired back at the tank and took it out. With a second tank lurking nearby, Shabbir could have abandoned the gun and saved his own life. He instead decided to keep firing at the tank in an attempt to render it useless before it caused any further damage. However, the tank’s shell landed only inches away from Shabbir and exploded throwing Shabbir and two other Pakistani soldiers 5 feet up in the air. Shabbir died seconds after he fell on the ground.

His last words were: “Don’t lose the bridge”

Having seen Shabbir dead, the Pakistani soldiers fought with even more vigor, more out of revenge than for anything else. The Indian attack was beaten back but at grave cost.

After the War, one of the Indian commanders, Col. Shashi Pal, came to the headquarters in the Pakistan area for talks. He was given the currency that Shabbir had sent back from the bunkers with due apologies for the currency that had been burnt for making tea. Shashi Pal shook his head slightly and said, “Politics apart, he was a fine soldier”.

Later it was also found out that the Indians did have the explosives in place to blow up Gurmakhera bridge. But the remote detonation had not worked for one reason or another.

Shabbir’s men had been saved by God, and nothing else.
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This seems a colorful version but broadly more detailed than my version which is not first hand but as gleaned from some who took part and a recce of the ground before and after the battle. Shows how different sides see things.
https://improveacrati.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/battle-of-sabuna-drain-1971-indo-pak-war-in-the-west/

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India n Pakistan “I” Days …

Posted on August 12, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan |

From a lover of India n Pakistan and their Militaries – HAMID HUSSEIN … …. Happy independence day to iNDIA and PAKISTAN. Wishing both countries peace and prosperity.

Apas mein doonon mulkoon ka parcham badal gaya Kal raat us key gham sey mera gham badal gaya. A poem by late Pakistani poet Ahmad Faraz titled ‘to my Hindustani friends’ summaries my own feelings about the two countries.

گزر گے کی موسم، کی رتیں بدلیں
اداس تم بھی ھو یارو اداس ھم بھی ھیں
Guzar gaye kai mausam, kai rutein badlein
Udaas tum bhi ho yaro, udas hum bhi hein.

فقط تمھی کو نھیں رنج چاک دامانی
جو سچ کہیںں تو دریدہ لباس ھم بھی ھیں
Faqat tumhi ko nahin ranj-e-chaak damaani
Jo such kahein to dareeda libaas hum bhi hein.

تمھارے بام کی شمعیں بھی تابناک نھیں
مرے فلک کے ستارے بھی زرد زرد سے ھیں
Tumharey baam ki shamein bhi taabnak nahein
Merey falak key sitarey bhi zard zard sey hein

تمھارے آینا خانے بھی زنگ آلودھا
مرے صراحی و ساغر بھی گرد گرد سے ھیں
Tumhare aeena khaney bhi zang alooda
Mery surahi o saghar bhi gard gard sey hein.

نا تم کو اپنے خدو خال ھی نظر آیں
نا میں یے دیکھ سکوں جام میں بھرا کیا ھے
Na tum ko apney khado khaal hi nazar ayen
Na mein ye dekh sakoon jam bhi bhara kya hey

بصارتوں پے وہ جالے پڑے کے دونوں کو
سمجھ میں کچھ نھیں آتا کے ماجرا کیا ھے
Bassartoon pey wo jaaley pare key donoon ko
Samajh mein khuch nahin ata key maajra kiya hey

تمھیں بھی ضد ھے کے مشق ستم رھے جاری
ھمیں بھی ناز کے جور و جفا کے عادی ھیں
Tumhein bhi zid hey key mashq-e-sitam rahe jaari
Hemhein bhi naaz key jor-r-jafa key aadi hein

تمھیں بھی ظعم مھا بھارتا لڑی تم نے
ھمیں بھی فخر کے ھم کربلا کے عادی ھیں
Tumhein bhi zum maha bharta lari tum tein
Hamein bhi fakhar key hum karbala key aadi hein

ستم تو یے ھے کے دونوں کے مرغزاروں سے
ھواے فتنہ و بوے فساد آتی ھے
Sitam to ye hey key donoon key marghzaroon key
Hawae-fita or boey fasad aati hey

الم تو یے ھے کے دونوں کو وھم ھے کے بھار
عدو کے خوں میں نھانے کے بعد آتی ھے
Alam to ye hey donoon ko waham key bahaar
Udu key khoon mein nahanein key baad ati hey

سو یہ معال ھوا اس درندگی کا کے اب
شکسستہ دست ھو تم بھی شکستہ پا میں بھی
So yey maal hua iss darindagi ka key ab
Shakista dast ho tum bhi, shakista paa mein bhi

چلو کے پھر سے کریں پیار کا سفر آغاز
چلو کے پھر سے ھم اک دوسرے کے ھو جاہیں
Chalo key phir say karein piyar safar ka aghaz
Chalo key phir sey hum ek dosrey key ho jaeen

تمھارے دیس میں آیا ھوں دوستو اب کے
نا سازو نغمہ کی محفل نہ شاعری کے لیے
Tumhare des mein aya hoon dosto ab key
Na saaz-o-naghma ki mehfil na shari key liye

اگر تمھاری انا ہی کا ہے سوال تو پھر
چلو میں ھاتھ بڑھاتا ھوں دوستی کے لیے
Agar tumhari ana hi ka hey sawal to phir
Calo mein haath barhata hoon dosti key liye

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Loving Tribute to a Soldier by a Lover of Soldiering …

Posted on July 20, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan, Uncategorized |

Brigadier ® Jafar Khan (18 August 1939 – 11 May 2017) – Hamid Hussain

Brigadier ® Jafar Khan passed away in May 2017. Jafar belonged to a family with long association with the army. His grandfather was Khan Bahadur Risaldar Major Malik Muhammad Gulsher Khan Gheba. Born in 1860, young Gulsher was an expert horseman. In 1880, he rode into Mardan with his horse and servant to join legendary Guides (then a mixed regiment of cavalry & infantry).

As far as regimental pride and reputation was concerned Guides was ‘it’. Eager young Pathan, Punjabi Muslim, Sikhs, Afghan, Gurkha and even men from Persia and Turkistan showed up at Guides headquarters in Mardan. Discipline was not maintained by regulations but a simple threat of being discharged from Guides was shameful enough for any man to show slackness. Guides were never short of funds and raised money from willing recruits. Some were willing to pay the princely sum of 300 rupees to join the regiment. At any given time, as many as thirty would be recruits attached themselves with Guides without pay and bringing their own horse and servant. They accompanied the regiment in the battle with the hope that if a man became casualty they would be enlisted on the spot.

This was the Guides that Gulsher joined. After eleven years of service with the regiment, he retired in 1891 at the rank of Daffadar. This short service was norm for some young men of landed aristocracy as they went back to administer their agricultural lands. His close friend and regimental buddy was Malik Muzzafar Khan Tiwana of Shahpur. Muzzafar retired as Jamadar of Guides. Gulsher accompanied his friend to Shahpur to manage the land. Muzzafar recommended Gulsher to British authorities when a remount depot was established at Sargodha. Gulsher was recalled and appointed Viceroy Commissioned Officer (VCO) Risaldar of the depot. He remained at the depot as Chief Native Officer until his death.

Gulsher was an expert horseman and given the title of “Shahsawar-e-Hind” (Horseman of India). He attended coronation Durbar in Delhi on 09 December 1911. A young English woman Ethel Grace Smith; wife of Sergeant Major Fred Killburn of 2nd Regiment Royal Artillery was in the audience at Delhi Durbar. She remembered the ‘tattoo’ in the evening and it was a scene from a fairy tale. A handsome Indian on his horse appeared against the night sky. Gulsher riding his favorite mare ‘Gul-e-Mahboob’ climbed about hundred stairs lit by lamps on both sides of the main platform and then climbed down with the same grace. The man and the horse performed like a symphony to a dazzled audience and this was Gulsher at his best. Little did she know that her family will be linked with the family of this Indian? Ethel’s grand-daughter Rosemary Young married grandson of Gulsher; Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan in 1955. Gulsher died suddenly from possibly a brain hemorrhage in 1913 at the age of fifty three.

Gulsher named his son Malik Muzzafar Khan Gheba (1901-1989) after his close friend. On the recommendation of another Tiwana stalwart Malik Omar Hayat Khan, Muzzafar was appointed Jamadar of Remount, Veterinary & Farm Corps (RVF&C). In 1941, he was commissioned as an officer and retired in 1956 at the rank of Captain. He was recalled during 1965 war and promoted Major. Muzzafar’s three sons joined army and all were PIFFERS. Brigadier Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan was from 8 Frontier Force Regiment (8 FF), Colonel Muhammad Mumtaz Khan was from 5 FF and Jafar joined his grandfather’s regiment Guides Cavalry.

Jafar was educated at Lawrence College at Ghora Gali (Peak House 1949-57). College’s alumni are known as Gallians. He joined 21st Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) course and commissioned on 23 April 1960. He excelled at PMA and passed out on top of merit list winning coveted sword of honor.

He joined his grandfather’s legendary Guides Cavalry. Later, he was appointed Adjutant of President’s Body Guards (PBG) in 1964 and he proceeded to command PBG in 1967-68. He reverted back to his regiment in 1968 and attended 1970 staff college course at Quetta. In 1971, he was appointed Brigade Major (BM) of Dacca based 57th Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) Muhammad Jahanzeb “Bobby” Arbab.

Jafar was with his brigade commander Bobby Arbab on 20 March 1971 when 2nd East Bengal Regiment refused to open fire on the crowd blocking the railway crossing at Joydevpur. They fired 62 rounds over the heads of the mob and managed to clear the obstacle without killing anybody. However Brigadier Arbab took their action of refusing to fire into the civilian crowd as “disobedience of lawful command” on their part, the CO 2 East Bengal was removed two/three days later. After the fall of East Pakistan, Jafar was Prisoner of War (POW) in India. Jafar’s brother Sarfaraz after command of 31st Punjab in Sylhet was commanding a Mujahid battalion in East Pakistan theatre and also became POW. To my knowledge, this is the only case of two real brothers who became POWs in 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

Major Jafar Khan (right) Commandant of President’s Body Guards and Captain Badruddin (left) Adjutant. Badruddin is also sword of honor winner and commissioned in Guides Cavalry.

Jafar was repatriated in 1973 and he raised 52nd Cavalry in Kharian. He commanded his parent Guides Cavalry in Quetta. In 1977, he was appointed Directing Staff (DS) at Staff College Quetta. In 1979, he was promoted Brigadier and appointed Chief Instructor at Staff College. In 1980, he briefly commanded 2nd Independent Armored Brigade at Malir before proceeding to Royal College for Defence Studies (RCDS) course in London. On his return, he commanded 5th Armored Brigade based in Multan. After he was superseded, he served at Personnel and Administration (PA) directorate and then appointed instructor at National Defense College (NDC); now National Defense University (NDU). He retired on 17 August 1992 after thirty two years of distinguished career in the army.

It is not the rank but personality of an officer that is remembered long after they fade away.

Jafar performed very well at RCDS course and came back with the report that ‘an officer destined for highest ranks in Pakistan army’. This was not to be and there were several factors responsible for it. Old regiments have many godfathers and senior officers of the regiment have a major say in appointments and promotions. Command of an old regiment is a very difficult task. If Commanding Officer (CO) is too strict or refuse favors, he is labeled as a ‘difficult’ person and if he is lenient, he is accused by rival regiments for favoring regimental buddies and succumbing to the regimental ‘bhai bandi’ (regimental brotherhood).

Jafar’s command of Guides Cavalry was not an easy one. Officers who have family connection with the regiment are known as ‘claimants’. Jafar himself had a claim on the regiment but there were several ‘claimants’ serving under him. Lieutenant General Fazl-e-Haq ‘Fazli’ was a close friend and confidant of General Zia ul Haq. Jafar had served under Fazli in Guides as well as PBG. Both were very strong headed personalities and relationship was not always smooth. Sons of several former officers of Guides including Colonel ® Pir Abdullah Shah (ex 14th Scinde Horse, Colonel ® Muhammad Umar Khan, Colonel Abbas Durrani and Major General ® Jahanzeb Khan had followed their fathers to Guides. Jafar commanded the regiment without any favor or prejudice.

He was also a strict disciplinarian and this may have resulted in some friction. When Jafar came back from London with an excellent report, General Zia ul Haq told some people that he would like to meet Jafar but a formal official invitation was not sent. Jafar was encouraged by his friends and family members to contact Chief’s office but he refused. He said that the invitation for the meeting has not come from General Head Quarters (GHQ) therefore he will not seek it.

It was also communicated to him that he was being considered for the Military Secretary (MS) to the President position but he informed that he was not interested in the post. The final straw was his relationship with his GOC Major General (later Lieutenant General) Raja Saroop Khan when he was commanding 5th Armored Brigade in Multan. Saroop gave him a very weak Annual Confidential Report (ACR) and Corps Commander Lieutenant General (later General) Rahimuddin Khan concurred with it.

In 1968, Jafar married daughter of Major General Shahid Hamid (ex 3rd Cavalry & RIASC) resulting in linking of two military families. Jafar was a horse lover and inherited this love for horses from his grandfather. He was great polo player and after retirement retreated to his sanctuary; a farm house named ‘spurs’. He enjoyed his sunset years surrounded by his loved ones and soothing is soul with poetry, bird watching and above all the company of his horses.

Brigadier Jafar was a fine officer and a gentleman. He is remembered with fond memories by many who came in contact with him in professional and personal life. Major General Charles Vyvyan of British army who attended National Defence College (NDC) where Jafar was his instructor had these words for him, “We were in awe of him at NDC – of his unprecedented range of personal qualities and professional abilities, of his huge reserves of moral courage and physical stamina, of his intellectual curiosity, of his integrity, and of his humanity which few could match. There was a craze amongst the younger generation at the end of the last century, to wear bracelets with ‘WWJD’ engraved on them: ‘what would Jesus do’. To me, it always asked ‘what would Jafar do’ – for me, Jafar was someone who’s wisdom, whose advice and guidance, and whose generosity was always a lone star!”

The author of the history of the Guides wrote about the shrine of Guides in Mardan ‘a little kingdom barely a mile square, but full of happy associations for all who have lived there. It is a quiet, unassuming spot, which year by year has bred, and sent forth to fight, many a gallant officer and brave soldier; and which in future years hopes to keep bright the shining record of great deeds that have gone before’. Jafar was a link in that chain. Jafar has now joined his fellow PIFFERS gone before him and I’m sure he is happy in the company of officers, VCOs/JCOs and Other Ranks (ORs) reminiscing about the deeds of valor done over one hundred and sixty years history of the regiment.

Old Soldiers Never Die – They just Fade Away

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Hamid Hussein’s Second Post on the ‘Arab’ World …

Posted on July 1, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan, Uncategorized |

On June 05, 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and also placed land and air embargo. The simmering differences between Qatar and its Arab neighbors reached the boiling point.

Qatar is a small country but in the last two decades it has shown its presence on the international scene. Qatar began as a broker of negotiations and mediator of conflicts. This combined with humanitarian and cultural interactions earned recognition and respect. However its recent involvement in armed conflicts had negative fallout. Its policies clashed with interests of Saudi Arabia and Egypt – two heavy weights of the Middle East.

Older generations of Saudi royal family worked on the Bedouin traditions and avoided public clashes with fellow Arabs. The new generation is removed from the traditions of their fathers, are more ambitious and at times reckless.

There are three main players in the current showdown and include the 37 year old Emir of Qatar Shaikh Tamim bin Hammad al Thani, 31 year old son of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman (known in western circles as Mr. Everything) and 56 year old Crown Prince of UAE Shaikh Muhammad Bin Zayed al Nahiyan. Their interests are a complex set of ideology, opportunism, ambition, tribal, clan and family dynamics.

The Q – How did Qatar embark on an ambitious foreign policy agenda that ran afoul of these powerful countries?

The 1868 treaty with Britain ensured Qatar’s territorial integrity especially against the expanding power of al Saud – next door big brother. British guarantee came with control of its foreign policy. In 1971, Britain departed and Qatar’s territorial integrity was guaranteed by the United States but Qatar now controlled its own foreign policy. And Qatar hosted a U.S. Air Force base (al-Udeid base near Doha).

Internally, Qatari population is more cohesive with majority Sunni. Qatar is the only other country apart from Saudi Arabia that adheres to Wahhabi school albeit a softer version and ruled by a Sunni Arab tribal family al-Thani considered first among equals (this is in contrast to neighboring Bahrain where a Sunni family rules a disenfranchised Shia majority).

Native Qatari population of a little over 300’000 out of a total of about 2.2 million and with a sovereign wealth of over $240 billion makes the job of rulers easy. They provide cradle to grave benefits to all native Qataris. Natives are content with free education, overseas education scholarships, first rate healthcare, secure lucrative jobs and a worry free future. This ensures legitimacy of al-Thani ruling family and there is no threat from a disgruntled population.

It is in this background that Qatar felt confident and embarked on policies that ran contrary to the policies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Qatar also hosts Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera that gives coverage to dissidents of many Arab countries. This has been a bone of contention between Qatar and several Arab countries. However, major irritant is Qatar’s support for Islamist groups of the Arab world especially Muslim Brotherhood branch of Egypt.

Initially, Qatar tried to mediate between Islamist opposition groups and ruling Arab regimes.

The Arab spring of 2011 changed Qatar’s calculus. Qatar saw it as an emerging trend and tried to ride the wave. It openly supported President Muhammad Morsi of Egypt and provided $12 billion to prop up his government amidst economic crisis. But a year later, Morsi was overthrown by strongman Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sissi . Saudi Arabia and EAE rushed to his aid provided financial support worth of several billion dollars.

Sissi cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood and several leaders found refuge in Qatar. Now Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE are in one corner and Qatar is in the other.

In 2011, Libya erupted and Qatar supported Libyan Islamists with arms and money. Qatar’s two main armed proxies in Libya were Ali al-Sallabi and Abdul Hakim Belhaj. After Gaddafi’s removal and death, the country fractured into militia fiefdoms. Two main rival umbrella groups are now involved in civil war of Libya between Islamist controlled General National Congress (GNC) and secular Libyan House of Representatives (LHR).

Different armed groups and militias have joined these rival groups for control of the country. Qatar is supporting armed groups of GNC and rival armed groups of LHR are supported by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar is the head of Libyan National Army; the name given to LHR armed groups.

Qatar replicated the Libyan template when protests started in Syria against President Bashar al Assad in 2011. Shaikh Hammad (Tamim’s father) was a personal friend of Bashar and their wives were also close friends. Hammad dumped his friend and provided arms and money to opposition groups – mainly Islamists.

Muslim Brotherhood played a major role in Syrian National Congress (SNC); an umbrella group of different opposition groups. Qatar had significant influence over SNC in view of general support of the Brotherhood. However, when Iran and Hezbollah openly sided with Bashar and early military gains of the opposition groups were reversed, Qatar also hedged its bet.

It now embarked on a dangerous journey in search for a more effective armed proxy and found itself in bed with Jabhat al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate). This was followed by support for Ahrar al Sham al Islamiyyah; a salafist militant group that became most effective in the military campaign against Assad.

In the byzantine world of Middle East conflicts, Saudi Arabia was initially supporting salafist militant groups but later Qatar and Turkey became main supporters of Ahrar al-Sham. Saudi Arabia is now supporting Ahmad al Jarba whose fighters are trained by U.S. Special Forces.

In Palestine and occupied territories, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also supporting opposing groups. Qatar has been supporting Hamas in Gaza strip while Saudi Arabia and Egypt support Palestinian Authority (PA) in West Bank. Qatar’s financial support to Hamas and residence of some Hamas leaders in Qatar is resented by PA. They are of the view that Hamas rule in Gaza would have collapsed long time ago without Qatar’s help.

Qatar and Iran have shared economic interests and Qatar kept economic, diplomatic and security channels open with Tehran despite hostility of Saudi Arabia and UAE towards Iran. Qatar tried to walk a fine line to avoid open hostility of both Saudi Arabia and Iran. If one policy ran afoul, Qatar tried to compensate with other gestures.

For example in Syria, Qatar was openly supporting armed groups fighting Iranian and Hezbollah fighters but softening the friction by directly signing security and economic treaties with Tehran. Qatar also supported U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that all other Arab countries opposed. It cooperated with Saudi Arabia in many areas to allay their anxieties.

The biggest unknown is unpredictability of new US president Donald Trump. The most serious concern will be if President Trump throws his lot with Saudi Arabia. In that case a simple threat of moving the U.S. troops from al-Udeid base in Qatar to neighboring UAE will take out the life insurance policy of Qatar. This will force Qatar to make concessions.

This move may also embolden Saudis and end up in more reckless decisions. Qatar on its own part will try to appease the new American administration by another American weapons purchase binge.

Kuwait is the preferred mediator as it understands local dynamics. There are several concessions that Qatar will likely offer especially in areas not directly affecting Qatar’s vital interests. The list will include asking Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood members as well as Hamas leaders to find a new home most likely in Turkey and pulling some support from its proxies in Syria and Libya.

It will also ask Al Jazeerah to tone down criticism of neighboring countries. Qatar’s relations with Iran will be kept at current levels with no new agreements in the short term.

If these concessions satisfy Saudi Arabia and Egypt then de-escalation process can start. However, it must be remembered that Shaikh Tamim is also an Arab and he will need some face saving to maintain his dignity and not be seen as capitulating.

A side show of the side show will be the impact on occupied territories in Palestine. PA is taking advantage of the precarious situation of its main backer of Hamas. It has decreased payment to Israel for electricity supply to Gaza and increased tariffs on diesel fuel that may result in forty percent cut down of electricity supply to Gaza. PA has already stopped medicine and medical equipment supply to Gaza. This is complemented by complete blockade of Gaza by Egypt. The hope is that this squeeze of Gaza population will force them to re-think about their support of Hamas.

Thoe new Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was summoned to Egypt and read the riot act. He was bluntly asked to start thinking about rolling back Hamas rule in Gaza and allow some space for Muhammad Dahlan – an old PA hand in Gaza and potential successor of Mahmud Abbas. Dahlan is based in Dubai and close friend of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed and Egyptian President al-Sissi.

Hamas is already feeling the heat from several directions and considering concessions on many grounds. The clear and present danger is that this multi-faceted conflict between Palestinians and worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza will provide the perfect breeding ground for Daesh to get a foothold in the fertile terrain of hopelessness, misery, anger and resentment.

Thanks to Palestinian infighting and changed ground realities, if ever a deal is reached it will not be a two state but a three state solution.

The price of brinkmanship is usually paid by subjects and ripple effect goes beyond the borders of their countries. Leaders surrounded by court jesters and with modus operandi of making decisions on whims and in fits of anger without serious thought and without informed counsel usually end up in blind alleys.

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