Maj Gaurav Arya addresses the British Parliament …

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

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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 |

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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.

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.

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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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Hamid Hussein’s First of Two Posts on the Arab World …

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

Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) has upped the ante with a soft coup of his own securing the Crown Prince seat by breaking tradition and family agreement – that a sovereign will not appoint his own son as heir.

Let’s see how Qatar reacts. If it stands its ground then its only external support from Turkey will take the conflict into Arab – Non Arab within the Sunni community.

However, Turkey is on shaky ground. In addition to diving head first into the Syrian civil war with all its negative fallout, Erdogan is also fighting his own rearguard action with a whole lot of angry jobless, police, intelligence and military personnel.

In addition, the Kurdish genie is trying to get out of the bottle. Iran is another potential supporter of Qatar but there is vigorous internal debate within Iran between moderates and hardliners. Hardliners in the forefront of the war in Syria with a number of fighters killed fighting against the very forces financed and armed by Qatar are happy to see Qatar biting the dust. They are advocating a hands off policy and let the Arabs stew in their own juice even if not pouring kerosene on the fire.

Moderates are arguing that there is golden opportunity provided by internal Arab conflict to weaken the coalition against Tehran. They advocate using this back door to Qatar to divide Arab camp. So far Tehran has only provided some food supplies to Qatar and at least earned some goodwill of Qataris.

Media is another weapon of war and in Arab world only Qatar has this weapon. Qatar has the widely watched and respected al-Jazeerah which they can unleash on their foes.

Saudi Arabia has provided bad optics to Arabs by fawning over the most unpopular U.S. President in Muslim world and who is embroiled in his own ‘twitter tantrums’ and a cloud of investigations.

On this landscape, Qatar is just a blimp. Al-Jazeerah can tap into this discontent in the Arab street by beaming into their homes unpalatable truths about naughty and reckless princes.

If this escalation scenario unfolds then both Qatar and Saudi Arabia will question the very legitimacy of the ruling family and support the dissidents. Not a pleasant scenario with each prince retreating into his own tribal, clan or family.

This may open the ‘mother of all mayhem’ which Arab rulers and societies are oblivious of despite watching on their television screens every day. There is fertile ideological ground for Daesh in Arab societies especially in Saudi Arabia. In many Arab countries, societies fearful of Daesh accepted the lesser evil of autocracy with significant restriction on their freedom and participation in the affairs of their country.

Whenever there was a call from civil society for more freedom or participation in the decision making process, the rulers quickly pointed that look at Iraq – this is what democracy looks like. Do you want that? If not then take this check, enjoy yourself and leave the dirty business of governance to us.

Nation states ruled by autocrats are artificial states and as soon as the ‘man with the longest knife’ is removed either by outside forces or internal revolt, the society collapses from its own weight. One need not look too far – Iraq, Libya, Syria are good examples.

If legitimacy of rulers is severely compromised by their own ill-conceived policies in context of oncoming battlefield defeat of Daesh on the killing fields of Syria and adjacent Iraq then all surviving members will retreat to their native lands. And just like a rabid dog rapidly spread the disease to other healthy dogs, there could be exponential growth of Daesh.

The Arabs returning from the killing fields of Afghanistan called Aghansi returned to Egypt and Algeria and perpetrated horrendous atrocities. Not too many people know but this culture of slaughtering humans like sheep was first performed by these Afghansi in Algeria.

The theological stance of Daesh is very clear and they have repeatedly articulated in their publications. They consider all Arab ruling regimes as apostate and hence deserving the treatment worse than that afforded to an infidel. Bombing of the most holy Muslim sites is as fair as bombinga on the streets of Manchester, Berlin and Brussels.

These societies are sleep walking towards the gates of hell and they don’t know it. A thoughtful citizenry and even a half witted leadership should be able to grasp this and change course.

I may be totally off the mark, but I have come to a bizarre conclusion. Real degradation of Daesh will most likely come from a very unexpected source and that is Israel.

Daesh already has a strong presence in Syria and Sinai in Egypt, rising its profile in Jordan and now if it is able to get a foothold in Gaza (less favorable terrain for it in West Bank) then Israel will be surrounded on four sides with the threat of Daesh. If Israeli strategic community perceives it as a strategic threat to its own well being, then only Israel has clear thought process, necessary skills, competence and ruthlessness on the operational plane.

These are the essential elements of a policy to degrade the threat to a level where it becomes more a nuisance rather than affecting the social and economic health of a nation. If this happens, this will be the second most prized gift of Jews to Muslims after contribution of Jewish philosophers and physicians of Muslim Spain.

Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal once said to a CIA operative, ‘ we don’t do operations, we only write checks’. These suckers are going to write many more checks to strangers but see their own people die in most miserable conditions. Just one example; Yemen is facing famine and cholera epidemic and UN has sent an urgent appeal for merely $ 2 billion. Major chunk has been contributed by non-Muslim countries.

On the other hand Saudis are buying ships for littoral seas worth several billion dollars for which they don’t have any Saudi sailors to man. They don’t realize that the real threat is from a Saudi who puts explosives in his own ass and come to meet interior minister to blow him up (this actually happened but small amount of explosive that can be deposited in one’s own rectum meant that only the creative operator died without harming anyone else).

A fancy ship and slick, shiny F-16 will not work against this threat. Qatar will be spending $500 million per MONTH (it is month and not a year) for the next two years to prepare for soccer world cup. Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Tamim’s mother has bought a 200 million sterling pound property in London to convert into her palace. At least this is a better fall back plan so that in case ruling family loses or the country collapses, they will have a comfortable exile. Arab societies consist of some of the most charming people one can meet, thoughtful men and women, poets and artists and they deserve much better.

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of our adversities”. Sophocles

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16th Light Cavalry n Other Units – A Look Back but Not in Anger …

Posted on June 6, 2017. Filed under: Pakistan, Personalities, Regimental |

By Hamid Hussein –

In September 2013, militants attacked the officer’s mess of 16th Cavalry in Kashmir.  Luckily, all officers were at gun cleaning after morning physical training (PT).  CO Colonel Avin Uthaiya and Second-in-Command Lieutenant Colonel Bikramjeet Singh had come back after morning PT.  Bikramjeet and one jawan ran towards the guard room to grab weapons.  Both were shot dead by militants.  CO and Quick Reaction Team (QRT) surrounded the militants and engaged them.  CO was hit and his elbow was shattered.  Regiment had brought out few tanks and CO climbed on one of the tanks with his shattered arm and tried to run down a militant outside the building.  CO was shot second time in the chest and evacuated.  Probably first time in an armor unit history, Captain Arpam Bose leveled his gun on the regiment’s own mess and shot off two high explosive shells into the building.  An officer of 2 Sikh was attached to the unit doing a computer course.  He rang up his unit and pretty soon QRT of 2 Sikh was at the scene.  They were joined by soldiers from 9th Special Force (SF) battalion.  They carried out the mopping up and cleaning operation of the buildings killing all three militants (These events were narrated by an officer of 16th Cavalry and published in The Times of India, 02 October 2013).

Now a look Back to the OLD TIMES – First a Historic Photo in which needed corrections are given.PP3

Corrected as follows – First Row Seated: Left to Right: Captain Khalid Jan, Captain Hira Lal Atal, Second-in-Command (2IC) Major Basil Holmes, DSO, Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Williams, MC (with dog in his lap), Major Faiz Muhammad Khan, Captain K. M. Idris (11), Risaldar Major Ugam Singh (12). First Row Standing: Left to Right: Unidentified VCO, Lieutenant Inder Sen Chopra (3), Lieutenant Enait Habibullah (4), Lieutenant K. K. Verma (5), Captain S. D. Verma (6), Captain M. S. Wadalia (7), Lieutenant Ghanshyam Singh (8), Lieutenant J. K. Majumdar (9), Lieutenant P. S. Nair (10) and unidentified VCO.

 16th Light Cavalry was one of the first cavalry regiment of the Indian army that was Indianized.  7th Light Cavalry was the second cavalry regiment that was Indianized and later 3rd Cavalry was also earmarked for Indianization.  Disproportionately, large number of future senior cavalry officers of Indian and Pakistani armies belonged to these three Indianized cavalry regiments. They were the founding fathers of armored corps of Indian and Pakistan armies.

King Commissioned Indian Officers (KCIOs) were graduates of Sandhurst and Indian Commissioned Officers (ICOs) were trained at Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehra Dun. During the war, Indian officers were commissioned as Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs) after only six months of training. The picture is circa 1936, therefore most Indian officers are KCIOs and only two ICOs as first IMA batch known as ‘pioneers’ was commissioned in December 1934. Both are from the first IMA course.

Major Basil Holmes: In this 1936 picture, he was Second-in-Command (2IC) of the regiment. He was an Australian and served with Australian army during First World War.  He was ADC to his father Major General William Holmes who was killed by a shell in France during a tour. He won Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in First World War. After the war, he transferred to Indian army and after a career of twenty one years in India, retired as Colonel and went back to Australia.

Lieutenant Colonel Austin Henry Williams (1890-1973): He was commissioned in 38th Central India Horse in 1909. In Great War, he fought with his regiment in France and won Military Cross (MC).  In 1922, 38th and 39th Central India Horse regiments were amalgamated to form 21st Central India Horse. He served as Adjutant and later squadron commander of the regiment. In 1933, he was transferred to 16th Cavalry as Second-in-Command of the regiment. In 1934, he was appointed Commanding Officer (CO) of the regiment and he held this position until 1938. He then served as commandant of Equitation School at Saugor and when this school was closed in August 1939, he became commandant of Small Arms School. He retired at Brigadier rank and after partition of India in 1947 moved to South Africa.  He was an accomplished international polo player and was member of Indian army polo team that visited United States in 1927.

Lieutenant Harbhajan Singh: He came to IMA via Patiala State Forces.  As evidenced from his picture, he was very tall and was member of the color party of IMA.  He retired as Brigadier of Indian army.

Lieutenant Muhammad Afzal: He was member of a military family and son of Risaldar Major Fazal Dad Khan (12th Cavalry). His five brothers; Major General Muhammad Akbar Khan (Probyn’s Horse & RIASC), Major General Muhammad Iftikhar Khan (7th Light Cavalry), Major General Muhammad Anwar Khan (Engineers), Brigadier Muhammad Zafar Khan (RIASC) and Brigadier Muhammad Yousef Khan (RIASC) served with Indian and Pakistan armies.

He later transferred to Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC).  He retired as Brigadier of Pakistan army.

Captain Khalid Jan: He was the scion of Afghan royal family section settled in Peshawar.  He was the grandson of legenry Colonel Sardar Muhammad Aslam Khan of Khyber Rifles and son of Brigadier Sir Hissam-uddin Khan.  He attended Royal Indian Military College (RIMC) at Dehra Dun.  He was commissioned in August 1928 from Sandhurst.  In 1940, he went to Indian Cavalry Training Centre (ICTC).  During Second World War, he served with Persia-Iraq command in Middle East.  In 1946, when he returned to India, he served with Guides Cavalry for a short period of time before assuming command of 25/8 Punjab Regiment (Garrison battalion).  In 1947, he commanded 3rd Mahar Regiment during internal security duties in East Punjab.  In 1947, he opted for Pakistan army and his Pakistan Army number was 13 (PA-13). He was the first native commanding officer of 1/12 Frontier Force Regiment (now 3 Frontier Force Regiment) from October 1947 – October 1948.  He later transferred to Remount, Veterinary and Farm Corps (RV&FC). He retired at Lieutenant Colonel rank of Pakistan army. His elder brother Ahmad Jan was commissioned in 1927 in 7th Light Cavalry.  He retired at Brigadier rank of Pakistan army.

Captain Hira Lal Atal (1905-1985):  He was a Kashmiri pandit and son of Major Dr. Pyare Lal Atal of Indian Medical Service (IMS).  He was medical officer of 59th Scindh Rifles (later 6/13 Frontier Force Rifles and now 1 Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army).  He died in First World War in November 1914 in France when the house serving as hospital collapsed from artillery shelling. Hira Lal was commissioned in January 1925 from Sandhurst and joined 16th Light Cavalry. He served with 47th Cavalry on frontier duty during the war.  He later commanded 18th Cavalry in 1945.  After partition, he commanded 1 Armored Division of Indian army and also served as commander of UP Area. He was the first native Adjutant General (AG) of Indian army.  He retired as Major General of Indian army.

His younger brother was Kanhiya Lal ‘Bagga’ Atal (1913 – 1949).  He was from the first IMA course and commissioned in 6/13th Frontier Force Rifles. His father had died with his boots on while tending to the wounded comrades of the same battalion in France.  He fought Second World War on Eritrean front.  In 1948 Kashmir war, he commanded 77 Para Brigade.  In 1949, he was Brigadier when he died at the age of 35 from heart attack during a hunting trip.

Major Faiz Mohammad Khan: He was commissioned in July 1921 from Sandhurst.  He was the first Indian commissioned officer posted to 16th Cavalry. He was from the ruling family of the state of Maler Kotla. In 1927, he was seconded to Indian Political Service (IPS) for six years.  He spent three years as Military Secretary to Maler Kotla State Forces and returned back to 16th Cavalry in September 1936.  Two years later, he was posted to 15th Lancers (then converted into a training regiment). At the time of partition, he was the second senior most Pakistan army officer and assigned Pakistan Army Number 2 (PA-2).  He transferred to Army Services Corps (ASC) and served as director RV & FC.  He retired at Brigadier rank of Pakistan army. His grandson Colonel Sohail served with 26th Cavalry of Pakistan army.

Captain Khairuddin Mohammad Idris: Known as K.M. ‘Shrimp’ Idris.  He was commissioned in September 1925 from Sandhurst.  He later raised and commanded war time raised 44th Cavalry.  At the time of partition, he was commanding 3rd Cavalry.  Muslim component of 3rd Cavalry was detached and regiment left for India.  His Pakistan Army number was 4 (PA-4). He commanded 3rd Armored Brigade of Pakistan army.  He retired at Brigadier rank of Pakistan army. He was a great polo player.  His two sons Major Owais Idris (13th Lancers) and Lieutenant Colonel Shuaib Idris (12th Cavalry) also proudly served Pakistan army.

Lieutenant Inder Sen Chopra: He was commissioned in January 1931 from Sandhurst.  He transferred to Indian Political Service (IPS) early in his service in 1937 and served as political officer of Loralai in Baluchistan.  Later, he joined Indian Foreign Service.  In early 1950s, he was chief of protocol.  As a former cavalry officer steeped in traditions of appropriate and formal dress, he had many nightmares when politicians showed up at president house in native dress despite reminders about formal attire.  He served as ambassador to Sweden, Iraq and Argentina.

Lieutenant Enait Habibullah: Shaikh Enaith Bahadur Habibullah was from a taluqdar family of Oudh and son of Shaikh Muhammad Habibullah who served as Vice Chancellor of University of Lucknow.  Muhammad was an enlightened feudal and wanted a different course for his children.  He sent all three sons to England for education.  Enaith was educated at Clifton College and commissioned in August 1930 from Sandhurst.  During Second World War, he served with 16th Cavalry.  In 1947, he opted for Indian army.  He was the first commandant of National Defence Academy (NDA). He retired at Major General rank of Indian army. His two brothers Issat Bahadur Habibullah and Ali Bahadur Habibullah opted for Pakistan.

Lieutenant Krishna Kumar Verma:  K. K. ‘String’ Verma was commissioned in February 1933 from Sandhurst.  He later transferred to 3rd Cavalry when this regiment was Indianized.  At the time of partition, he was serving at Quarter Master General (QMG) branch.  He retired at Brigadier rank.

Sardar Mohinder Singh Wadalia: He was nick named ‘Wad’.  He was commissioned in January 1929 from Sandhurst.  He was originally commissioned in 4/19 Hyderabad Regiment but later transferred to 16th Cavalry. He served as Chief of General Staff (CGS) and Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) and retired at Lieutenant General rank of Indian army.

Captain Shiv Dev Verma: He was from Lyallpur (Pakistan). He was commissioned in January 1929 from Sandhurst.  In 1947, he was instructor at Staff College at Quetta and was responsible for taking the Indian share of Staff College to India.  He managed to get the Camberly Owl silver trophy for India by arguing that the inscription stated that it was presented by Camberley staff college to ‘Indian staff college’ and as staff college at Quetta will not be called Indian staff college therefore it should go to Indian staff college whenever it is established. He was the founding father and first commandant of Indian staff college and responsible for selecting Wellington as the home for staff college.  He served as Corps Commander and retired at Lieutenant General rank of Indian army.

Verma adopted the Quetta staff college emblem Owl and motto ‘Tam Marte Quam Minerva’ for new Indian Staff College. The survival battle that ‘owl’ fought in India and Pakistan is interesting. In Pakistan, the motto was changed to a Persian saying ‘peer shu be amooz’ (grow old by learning) in 1950 but owl survived.  In 1979, owl lost the battle when Pakistan replaced the owl with an Arabic word ‘Iqra’ (read). Owl also had a hard time in India. Initially Army Headquarters (AHQ) rejected the owl symbol and motto insisting for an Indian symbol and motto.  The debate went on for a while when in 1957, Major General P. S. Gyani argued for retaining the owl as it was used by commonwealth staff colleges. In 1964, the decision was finalized when a Hindi motto ‘Yuddham Pragnaya” (to battle with wisdom) was adopted but owl survived proudly perching on crossed swords. The owl lost in Pakistan but won the battle in India thus keeping a link with the past.

Lieutenant Ghanshyam Singh: He was nick named ‘Popeye’ and commissioned in February 1934 from Sandhurst.  Later transferred to 3rd Cavalry when this regiment was Indianized.

Lieutenant Jai Krishna Majumdar: He was nick named Joy ‘sunshine’ Majumdar. He was son of Captain P. K. Majumdar of Darjeeling.  He was commissioned in August 1933 from Sandhurst.  He died in a plane crash.

Lieutenant Palat Sankaran Nair: He was from Kerala and grandson of Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair; an eminent jurist who served as member of Viceroy’s Council and President of Indian National Congress.  P.S. Nair nick named ‘Bosco’ was commissioned in September 1932 from Sandhurst.  He was originally commissioned in 3rd Cavalry and later transferred to 16th Cavalry. He retired at Brigadier rank of Indian army.

There are several other Indian officers of 16th Cavalry who are not in the picture.  Some were not with the regiment in 1936 while others joined after 1936.  Mirza Rashid Ali Beg was from a respectable Hyderabad family.  His grandfather served as a Rissaldar in Royal Deccan Horse.  His father was an educated government servant and rose to become the first Indian to become Vice President of Council of India in London.  He moved his family to London and Baig lived in England from 1910 to 1923 attending the prestigious Clifton school.  He was selected for Sandhurst and after commission joined elite 16th Light Cavalry in 1925.  For the first time in his life he experienced racial prejudice when he came close to British in military setting.  He along with two other Indian officers (Faiz Muhammad Khan and Sheodat Singh) lived in a separate bungalow called ‘native quarters’.  He resigned his commission in 1930.  He was more of an intellectual bent and felt constrained by highly disciplined military life; however his personal unhappy experience in the army due to racial bias probably was the main reason for his resignation.  Later, he served a long career in Indian diplomatic corps.

Raol Dilawarsinhji Dhansinhji was from the princely state of Bhavnagar. He was educated at Dulwich College in London and commissioned from Sandhurst in 1927.  He resigned his commission in 1933 and then served with Bhavnagar State Forces. Thakur Sheodatt Singh is not in the picture as he was attending Staff College. He retired at Major General rank. Y. S. Paranjpe transferred to infantry battalion 1/7th Rajput regiment.  He commanded a para brigade and retired at Major General rank.

Those who joined after 1936 include Sangram Keshary Rey, Leslie Sawhney, Nawabzada Agha Khan Raza and Zorawar Singh.  S. K. Rey was son of Captain Dr. K. Rey of Indian Medical Service (IMS).  He retired at Brigadier rank and died in 1971 in a tractor accident at his farm. Leslie Sawhney left army early at the rank of Colonel.  He married Rodebeh; younger sister of business tycoon Jahangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata know by his initials JRD. Leslie had great leadership qualities and JRD was planning to make him chairman of Tata Sons. Tragically, in 1966, Leslie dropped dead on the golf course from a massive heart attack.

N.A.K. ‘Windy’ Raza later transferred to 3rd Cavalry.  After partition, he opted for Pakistan and commanded 10th Guides Cavalry (November 1947 – November 1948).  He was the first native to command Guides Cavalry.  He served as Military Attaché in Washington and retired as Brigadier of Pakistan army.  Zorawar Singh ‘Zoru’ (14 February 1920 – 24 December 1994) won the coveted sword of honor on graduating from Indian Military Academy Dehra Dun in 1941. He was commissioned in 16th Light Cavalry but later transferred to Central India Horse (CIH).  He was the first Indian to command CIH in 1947. In 1947-48 Indo-Pakistan war over Kashmir, CIH tanks managed to get to and capture Rajouri under his command in April 1948. He retired at Major General rank of Indian army.

By the end of Second World War in 1945, Temporary Lieutenant Colonel (later General) J. N. ‘Mucchu’ Chaudhuri (ex-7th Cavalry) was commanding 16th Cavalry.  His Second-in-Command was Major S. D. Verma and Captain Shamsher Singh Puri was Adjutant.  Puri later commanded 16th Cavalry.  He served as Military Attache in Germany and retired at Brigadier rank.  Several officers were not with the regiment and attached to other postings.  Major Faiz Muhammad Khan was at recruiting staff, Thakur Sheodat Singh was at Military Intelligence directorate, K. M. Idris was commanding  44th Cavalry and Captain Khalid Jan had gone to 8 Punjab Regiment. M.S. Wadalia and Enait Habibullah were GSOs and N.A.K. Raza was at training centre.

Class composition of the regiment was Rajputs, Jats and Kaim Khanis.  In 1946, it was decided to change the class composition of the regiment and convert it into a South Indian class regiment.  This was finally completed in March 1947.  In 1947 division of armed forces, 16th Cavalry went to India.  It was South Indian single class regiment; therefore there was no headache of interchange of class squadrons.

Acknowledgements: Hamid Hussein thanks many Indian and Pakistan army officers for many details.  All errors and omissions are the author’s sole responsibility.

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