Dynamics of the Saudi Royal Family

From Dr Hamid Hussain

This piece written in summer of 2017 is a backgrounder for Kingdom at a crossroad.  This will help in understanding the background to my upcoming piece about challenges faced by the Kingdom in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi murder. Stay tuned.

Hamid

Royal Rumble – Dynamics of Saudi Royal Family

Hamid Hussain

 ‘In a western democracy, you lose touch with your people, you lose elections; in a monarchy, you lose your head’.  Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, Former Saudi ambassador to Washington.

 

 In the last two years, Saudi Arabia has gone through many changes.  Absolute monarchies are not easy to decipher.  There are many opacities and it is very difficult for any outside observer to have a real sense of events.  Two main factors are very limited expression by Saudis in their own country and opaque decision making process in the form of decrees with flavor of palace intrigue.  A Saudi will not express his honest view in the presence of another Saudi due to fear factor.  In view of these limitations, the perspective of an outsider has severe limitations.

Current system of governance of the country is based on accession to throne of one of the sons of the founder of the country Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rahman al-Saud (d. 1953).  He works with other family members especially senior princes, Council of Ministers (most of whom are also royal family members) and Council of Senior Clerics in running day to day affairs of the country.  There is a fair amount of competition among all these groups about various issues and King carefully balances his act to avoid open conflict.

In January 2015, Salman bin Abdul Aziz ascended to Saudi throne after the death of his brother Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.  He came quite late into the complex inner power circle of the al Saudi royal family.  He was appointed Governor of Riyadh province in 1962; a post he held until 2011 when he was appointed Defence Minister.  For five decades, his main influence was in business and media through his sons and a half-brother (Sattam bin Abdul Aziz).  His sons controlled different business and media interests.  Abdul Aziz was Assistant & Deputy Minister of Oil and now Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Faisal owned Sharq-al-Awst newspaper and appointed Governor of Medina in 2013.  Sultan is a pilot and worked at Saudi Ministry of Information.  He now heads tourism commission with the rank of a minister.  Khalid is also a fighter pilot and in April 2017 appointed ambassador to Washington.  Turki, Saud, Rakan and Nayef are little known and involved in various business ventures.  Fahad; a business tycoon and Ahmad with media interests died in their 40s from heart disease.  Continue reading “Dynamics of the Saudi Royal Family”

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Why Kill Jamal Khashoggi? (A personal view from Dr Hussain)

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Someone asked my two cent worth opinion on ongoing saga of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. More informed people have commented on the subject and many details are still murky. Based on my own work on the Kingdom’s power dynamics in the past, following is may take;

Thanks. With time, we change and our thoughts also evolve. This may be the case with Mr. Jamal Khashoggi and he may have been genuinely convinced that some kind of people’s participation in government is the way forward. However, we need to keep in mind the broader context as this incident is related to struggle inside the royal family. Khashoggi held some progressive views by Saudi Arabian standards related to extreme austere code of Wahabbism. However, he never questioned the legitimacy of the rule of al Saud family. He advocated increased consultation with population on important issues. He was employed by many government newspapers and any significant alternative view no matter how mild is simply a career ending move. He was not a dissident but mild critic of some policies of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman such as blockade of Qatar, Yemen war etc.

There are many Saudis in exile who are much harsher critics of royal family but why Khashoggi? More important to remember is his links with members of royal family who have been sidelined by the meteoric rise of the mercurial Prince Muhmmad Bin Salman (MBS) in 2015. Government’s view is published by a number of influential newspapers (Arab News, Sharq-ul-Awst etc) run by Saudi Research and Marketing Group. Owner of this group is Prince Turki Bin Salman. Khashoggi worked for some of these newspapers in the past. He also worked with former intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal and billionaire Waleed Bin Talal. He served in some advisor capacity to Turki projecting his softer image to the outside world. In 2015, Waleed opened a satellite channel Al Arab in Bahrain and in this venture partnered with Bloomberg News. Khashoggi was to be the star kid of Al Arab. This channel lasted mere eleven hours on air before it was shut down by Bahrain; a close Saudi ally and dependent on Saudi forces on its soil to protect its royal family from the restless Shia majority population.

MSB started grand purge on two fronts. One front was to sideline powerful brokers in royal family such as Crown Prince designate Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef; former interior minister, Prince Mitib Bin Abdullah; former head of Saudi National Guard (SNG). Head of SNG is a powerful position as SNG is royal family’s insurance policy against army coup. SNG recruits on tribal basis and head inserts his loyalists at various levels of positions. The second front was to weaken the financial muscle of some princes. This resulted in famous/notorious Ritz Carlton saga of billionaire princes hauled up there until they coughed up billions to get their limited freedom. Waleed was the prized prisoner of Ritz Carlton; the world’s only five star jail. Members of both groups cannot leave the country. On the other hand, other family members who have kept their heads down in the tent like Prince Turki are allowed to travel. With this in background, alleged rumor of an assassination attempt on MBS by his guards raised the fear factor by several degrees. Some reports suggest that most of his inner circle of security is now manned by foreigners.

Where Khashoggi fits into this picture? He was the window of these disgruntled royal family members to the outside world. Everybody in Washington who wanted to know what was happening in the Kingdom would knock at Khashoggi’s door. This was the main threat that MBS feared that angry royal family members may attempt to make some kind of deal with Washington to pull the royal rug from under his feet. A close study of MBS personality suggests that he acts rashly without thinking through and no one around him would even suggest an alternative thought. Hence, a very sloppy operation which is not even an intelligence operation. A rag tag team of guards, special forces people and a forensic doctor was to emulate a Mossad style overseas hit a la 2010 Dubai saga of assassination of a Palestinian operative.

Looking at the fall out of the operation, Khashoggi’s own words seem prophetic that ‘Saudi brand has been severely damaged’. What will be MBS likely response? The old Arab bedouine tradition is that when a big dust storm come down furiously (haboob), the Arab ducks down in his tent covering his head and wait until it passes away. For the next few weeks, MBS will be spending more time in his $500 million yatch parked in red sea than in his palaces. The only suggestion one can give to MBS is the words of one his own elders late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz; “a friend is someone who tells you the truth; not someone who believes in you’.

“Man’s history is waiting in patience for the triumph of the insulted man.” Rabindranath Tagore

Regards,
Hamid

Postscript:

Follow up intelligent questions from well informed people were inevitable thus a follow up. I wandered a little bit further as my personal quest of learning about military and conflict is to paint the horrible picture of the killing fields so that we can all avoid filling more graves.

Thanks Sir. You are correct. Trump will give him cover in view of personal/business relationship. However, there is a little bit shift in other power centers. In senate, recent vote to approve munitions to KSA was 53-47; a significant shift against KSA. If in mid-term, democrats take house of representatives, then there will be little more heat. In the long run, KSA is important and MBS cannot be pushed aside without arrangement with alternative leadership from royal family. This usually takes time. However in short term, single point agenda of getting Iran is making things complicated and they don’t want to quarantine MBS/KSA at this stage.

Anti-Iran camp of current administration coupled with almost messianic change in Bibi Netanyahu personality where he thinks his historic role is to strike nuclear assets of Iran is the possible ‘escape hatch’ for MBS. If Bibi wins in elections called early then watch for who he picks for IDF chief; who is retiring by the end of the year. In 2009-15, IDF COS, heads of all three intelligence agencies (Mossad, MI & Shin Bet) pushed Bibi back on military strike against Iran. This was complemented by Obama administration warning to Israelis that they will be alone in the mission with no military or diplomatic cover. Bibi wants a security team that will not second guess his mission. Bibi has covered a lot of ground by appointing his former national security advisor Yossi Cohen as head of Mossad, a more mellow head for Shin Bet and a new director of MI. The only chip left is COS. Two top contenders (Yair Golan & Aviv Kochavi) are their own men especially Kochavi is considered a ‘prince’; very well respected and highly professional man who cannot be bullied. Bibi may go for one of the two juniors ones for the post. If two conditions are met; first Bibi wins elections and still PM and then he picks one of the juniors as IDF COS, then I’ll put chance of Israeli strike on Iran around 50%. To hold the Arab bag, they will need MBS with General Sisi playing the second fiddle. Water is too muddy in the middle east to read tea leaves.

MBS is following the footsteps of all autocrats; thinking that they are invincible and normal rules don’t apply to them even if they see things like Saddam caught like a rat and Qaddafi dragged on the streets. This they watched with their own eyes and not something read in history books of decades or centuries old events. Power has its own logic not comprehended by commoners like us.

I can only think about words of Voltaire when I closely review personalities of three main actors on the stage for coming production; Trump, MBS & Bibi Netanyahu. “If you are desirous of obtaining a great name, of becoming the founder of a sect or establishment, be completely mad; but be sure that your madness corresponds with the turn and temper of your age. Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagances, and to not forget to be excessively opinionated and obstinate. It is certainly possible that you may get hanged; but if you escape hanging, you will have altars erected to you”.

As far as bankrupt leadership is concerned, Arab poet and philosopher Nizar Qabani has summed up nicely;

Every twenty years

Comes to us a gambling man

To stake our country and culture

And resources and rivers

And trees and fruits

And men and women

And the waves and the sea

At the gambling table

We die; broken, hated

Cursed like dogs

While our philosopher in his shelter cogitates destruction into victory

In the post-world war II period, in mad search for security, humanity has invented modern and more lethal killing machines to find itself less secure and living in fear. A whole new model of peaceful co-existence emerging from the wretched of the earth is needed. War mongers are busy 24/7 while those who wish peace are sleeping. They need to wake up, shake dust of their clothes and reach to the ‘other’ over the head of their leaders. The question for present generation is whether they will continue to fight the wars of their grandfathers and fathers on the altars of religion, nation etc. or choose a new path.

“Ishmael, my brother hear my plea

It was the angel who tied thee to me

Time is running out, put hatred to sleep

Shoulder to shoulder, let’s gather our sheep”

Shin Shalom, an Israeli Jewish poet

Regards,

Hamid

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Pakistan and the Great War

From Dr Hamid Hussain

2018 is centenary of the end of the Great War. This piece was written for a magazine published in England about Indian military history. I tried to highlight participation of areas and units of future Pakistan army in that epic struggle to honor countless who served all over the globe.

Hamid

Pakistan and the Great War

Hamid Hussain

“We know that it was not strategy nor tactics nor leadership that really gained us the victory, but the spirit of sacrifice”. General Sir William Birdwood’s address on unveiling of the Punjab Frontier Force (PIFFER) Memorial at Kohat October 23, 1924.

It is impossible to narrate the story of the Indian Army in the Great War on ethnic or religious lines as some modern observers are tempted to do. It is equally futile to attempt a “revisionist” narrative through the nationalist lens of modern India and Pakistan. What were then Indian soldiers of many different religious and ethnic backgrounds fought in the Great War under their regimental standards as imperial British subjects of the Indian Empire on a global battlefield.

In 1947, British India and its armed forces were divided between the two new nations of India and Pakistan. Punjab Province, which had provided the bulk of the old regular Indian Army, was carved up with a few strokes of the cartographer’s pen. Ambala and Jullundur divisions and Amritsar and Gurdaspur of the Lahore division became part of India. Punjabi Muslims, Muslim Rajputs and Pathans of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) became Pakistani citizens while Sikhs, Jats, Dogra and Rajput Hindus became Indian citizens. All of this cut across the traditional structures and allegiances of the old Indian Army, and the Great War experiences of men such as Subedar Major Parbhat Chand, a Hindu Dogra, who won a Military Cross fighting under the colours of the 59th Scinde Rifles, which would later become the 1st Frontier Force Regt. of the Pakistani Army, the many Punjabi Muslim sepoys who served under the colours of the 125th Napier’s Rifles and 101st Grenadiers which were allotted to India in 1947, and medical officers Capt. Indrajit Singh of the 57th Rifles and Major Atal of the 129th Baluchistan Infantry who died alongside their Punjabi Muslim and Pathan comrades. While these and other factors discourage any attempt to interpret the conflict in light of the later partition of the subcontinent, there is no reason why the war-time experience of what is now Pakistan, especially the Punjab, should not be studied in the same way that, for example, the impact of the war on the north of England and regiments raised there are examined for insights. Continue reading “Pakistan and the Great War”

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Book Review: Pakistan Adrift by Asad Durrani

Book review by Dr Hamid Hussain

Former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (DGISI) Lieutenant General ® Asad Durrani’ s memoirs Pakistan Adrift will be released in Pakistan in the second week of October 2018. It is a memoir of a former DGISI and ambassador and his perspective about events of the last two decades.

Durrani is considered a cerebral officer by his peers and had a good career profile. Like most officers in the business of intelligence, the most controversial part of his career was his stint as head of Military Intelligence (MI) and ISI. This book is his perspective about the events but provides the reader an insight into the dynamics of power at the higher echelons. He is candid in accepting his own mistakes especially role in distributing money to politicians. Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing this case.

Two segments about his stint as ambassador to Germany and Saudi Arabia are his views about these two societies. The most interesting segment is the chapter on terrorism when he seriously discusses the subject, its various shades and the use of this term by various states to pursue their own interests. He also elaborates on the consequences of recent destructive policy of United States of dismantling fragile states that has unleashed new demons. Very little academic and policy discussion has been devoted to this crucial subject that has made world more dangerous, violent and unstable.

Durrani devoted a significant segment towards the issue of Afghanistan. His own personal experience as DGISI and observations on later events where he had some contact in the form of ‘track two’ parleys accurately reflects thought process of majority of Pakistani officers. This view is based on a genuine national security interest of Pakistan about its western neighbor as country bears the fallout directly. As these officers interact with Afghans in official capacities therefore they sometimes get blindsided. Pakistan has influence over some Afghan clients, but Afghans are very good at playing one against the other. They survived as an independent nation based on mastering this art. Amir Dost Muhammad Khan’s letters to Czar of Russia, Shah of Persia and British Viceroy of India in nineteenth century sums up the foreign policy of the country. A good friend of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai told me in 2002 what Afghans thought about the new phase? Many key Afghan players were of the view that ‘in the previous round, neighbors played their game and we ran away from the country. This time around, we are staying put and if neighbors don’t behave, we have sworn that we will make sure that the winds of chaos will not stay in Afghanistan but blow in the other direction’. Afghan and Pakistan liaisons with Americans in Kabul share a space. At prayer time, Afghans always insist that Pakistani counterpart lead the prayer. A Pakistani can be seriously mistaken by this gesture. When with Americans, Afghans are unanimous in their view that real problem is not Afghanistan but Pakistan. Like any other intelligence agency, ISI is a large bureaucratic organization and not monolithic. Mid-level officers of the organization may have a unique perspective about an event and in some cases not in agreement with policies adopted by the high command. My own work on the subject to get opinion of the boss and his subordinate about a given event or policy provided some limited insight about many shades of grey.

In this work, Durrani is confident in claiming that ‘since leaving service, I have spilled a few beans, so to speak, but not once have I been cautioned or charged with indiscretion’. This claim was severely tested recently. Three months ago, his informal conversations with former Indian intelligence chief about diverse topics were published in a book ‘The Spy Chronicles’ that caused an uproar in Pakistan. He was severely criticized and, in some cases, abused by his uniformed colleagues. Pakistan army headquarters summoned him for explanation and an inquiry was initiated. Hopefully this work will help in understanding his views and not add more indiscretions to his charge sheet.

Durrani’ s book provides a useful insight into the thought process of senior brass. Shaky civil-military relations with deep mistrust on both sides is explained by Durrani with many anecdotes. Recent events have shown that this Achilles heel of Pakistan has not shown any sign of improvement. In view of the recent events of Pakistan and in the neighborhood, it looks that Pakistan’s policy has been consistent about what it views as its core interests. This book should be on the reading list of those interested in Pakistan.

Asad Durrani. Pakistan Adrift: Navigating Troubled Waters (London: Hurst & Company), 2018, pp. 273

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Judicial Jitters in Pakistan. A look back..

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Controversy about judiciary is seen as a novel phenomenon in Pakistan.  Found this piece from the vault written in 2007.  It is long but provides context of current status.  There is a coming ‘food fight’ among senior judges.  A sitting senior judge has leveled the accusation that court benches are formed at the advice of intelligence agencies and that phones of judges are being taped.  This is the first salvo and more fireworks in store.   When politics is militarized and judiciary and army brass politicized, then system will always be wobbly.  Read it if you have some spare time but I’ll advise to take some aspirin before reading it.

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

Hamid

Defence Journal, June 2007

Judicial Jitters in Pakistan – A Historical Overview

Hamid Hussain

‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please’.   Mark Twain

Pakistan is in the throes of a judicial crisis since March 2007.  On March 09, 2007, general Pervez Mussharraf summoned chief justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudry to army house.  He was asked some tough questions and then asked to resign.  Chief justice held his ground and refused.  He was kept at army house for several hours so that an acting chief justice could be sworn in.  Justice Javed Iqbal was sworn in as the senior most judge justice Rana Baghwan Das was out of country.  Chaudry was given the title of ‘suspended’ chief justice and his case referred to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for action.  This started a crisis where majority of the people denounced the cavalier manner in which general Mussharraf dealt with the chief justice.  Legal community fully supported chief justice by boycotting courts and bringing out processions on the streets.  Now every one is waiting for the final scene of the drama which may take a while.  Current crisis has brought judiciary in the lime light.  This article will give a historical overview of the role of judiciary in Pakistan and its interaction with both civilian and military rulers.

In every country, there is a continuous struggle for accumulating more power between different state institutions.  Executive tries to get a free hand and does not like legal restraints.  Judiciary tries to put some breaks on unchecked powers of the executive.  This struggle keeps some semblance of balance of power.  However, a politicized judiciary is as dangerous as an uncontrolled power hungry executive.  Continue reading “Judicial Jitters in Pakistan. A look back..”

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Forbidden Fruit: Military and Politics in Pakistan (and beyond)

From Dr Hamid Hussain

While browsing through some old material, found an old piece written in 2003 when General Pervez Mussharraf had just completed the political engineering project. It is lengthy and indulges in some theories but gives some context to what is happening now. While pondering over it, I found words of Amjad Islam Amjad as best description;

Hum loog;

dairoon mein chalte hein

dairoon mein chalnen se

daire to barhtey hein

fasley nahin ghatey

aarzoen chalti hein

jis taraf ko jate hein

manzilein tammana ki

saath saath chalti hein

gard urhti rehti hey

dard barhta rehta hey

rastey nahin ghatey

subhe dam sitaroon ki

tez jhilmilahat ko

roshni ki amad ka

pesh baab kehtey hein

ik kiran jo milti hey

aftab kehte hein

daira badalne ko

inqilab kehtey hein

Enjoy if you have some extra time on hand.

Hamid

Forbidden Fruit – Military & Politics

Hamid Hussain

2003

Introduction

Politics and profession of soldiering has nothing in common. They are totally different but essential elements of any society. Politicians and soldiers have an interesting relationship in all societies. In societies where civilians are in control, military officers act in accepted boundaries though ready to defend their turf against civilian encroachment. In societies where political institutions are weak and there is lack of consensus on legitimate course of succession, soldiers gradually expand their area of influence. They gradually restrict the role of civilians in various areas and sometimes directly take over the state replacing the civilians. This generally accepted model does not mean that military as an institution has no relevance to the important policy decisions. Even in countries where the tradition of civilian supremacy is well established, military has a political role relating to national security, albeit a different one. One commentator has correctly pointed that “the military’s political role is a question not of whether but of how much and what kind”. [1]

This article will evaluate soldier’s attitude towards political activity and how it develops. This will be followed by the details of Pakistani experience of politicization of officer’s corps and how repeated and prolonged military rules have militarized the politics. In the end, the complex relationship between soldiers and politicians will be summarized. Continue reading “Forbidden Fruit: Military and Politics in Pakistan (and beyond)”

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Book Review: Monsoon War (the war of 1965)

From our regular contributor, Dr Hamid Hussain. (btw, maybe the gentlemanly conduct of both sides would be better described as chivalry?)

Book Review – The Monsoon War
Hamid Hussain

Lieutenant General Tajindar Shergill and Captain Amarinder Singh’s book The Monsoon war is an encyclopedic work on 1965 India-Pakistan war.  It is a detailed account of operations of all phases of 1965 war from the perspectives of junior officers.  Authors have used extensive Indian material as well as Pakistani sources to provide a detailed picture of the conflict.

Book starts with the background of the conflict that culminated in open war in 1965.  This is followed by details about the Run of Kutch conflict that was prelude to the war.  Chapter five is especially a good read as it provides details of armor equipment of both armies and advantages and disadvantages.  This helps the non-military reader to understand strengths and weaknesses of rival armies during the conflict. Authors provide details of some of the challenges faced by Indian army in the aftermath of Indo-China conflict of 1962. Rapid expansion of Indian army resulted in poorly armed and poorly trained formations.  If Indian army was producing ‘nine months wonders’ for Indian army officer corps, Pakistan army was producing ‘pre-mature’ officers from Officers Training School with only eight months of training.  In early 1960s, Pakistani officers were not happy with the pay as it had remained stagnant as well as lack of accommodations.  When troops were used to construct accommodations, there was resentment among soldiers as they saw it below their dignity to work as laborers.  Pakistani tanks had not carried out any tank firing for over two years as training ammunition provided by Americans was hoarded as ‘war reserve’. However, when war started majority of officers and soldiers on both sides fought to the best of their abilities.

Contrary to popular perceptions in Pakistan about Muslims of India, it is interesting to note that a number of Muslim soldiers and officers fought on Indian side.  Lieutenant Colonel Salim Caleb (later Major General) was commanding 3rd Cavalry. 4th Grenadiers was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Farhat Bhatti (later Major General) and class composition of the battalion was A and B Jat, C Kaim Khani Muslim and D Dogra companies. GSO-3 of a division was Abdul Rasul Khan of 4th Grenadiers (later Colonel). Lieutenant Colonel Salim Chaudhri was CO of 4th Rajputana Rifles, Major A. K. Khan was 2IC of 8th Garhwal Rifles and B Squadron of 18th Cavalry was a Muslim squadron. Ironically, the platoon that ambushed Pakistani Brigadier A. R. Shami’s jeep in which he was killed was a Muslim platoon of 4th Grenadiers. Company Quartermaster Havaldar Abdul Hamid of 4th Grenadiers won a posthumous highest gallantry award Param Vir Chakra (PVC).

On page 108, it is suggested that change of command of 12th Division in the middle of operations from Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik to Major General Yahya Khan may be due to the fact that Malik was an Ahmadi (a heterodox sect of Muslims) and high command wanted to deny him the honor.  The question of change of command has never been explained but sectarian factor was probably not the reason.  Official ostracization and persecution of Ahmadis started much later in 1970s.  At the time of 1965 war, disproportionately large number of Ahmadis was serving in all branches of armed forces.  A number of Ahmadis were senior officers and many performed very well.

Book gives some insight into regimental intrigues.  It is claimed that Corps Commander XV Corps Lieutenant General Katoch due to resentment over not being appointed Colonel of Sikh Regiment was responsible for not forwarding gallantry awards recommendations for 2nd Sikh Regiment. It is to the credit of Indian army as well as government that people were taken to the task for the acts of omission and commission.  161st Field Artillery Regiment serving under 10th Infantry Division abandoned its guns.  Later, CO of the regiment was court martialled and GOC of 10th Division Major General B. D. Chopra was relieved of his command.  GOC 15th Division Major General Niranjan Prasad was relieved of his command on September 07 and replaced by Major General Mohindar Singh.  In fact irate Corps Commander XI Corps Lieutenant General Jogindar Singh Dhillon threatened Prasad with an immediate court martial in the field with the likelihood of being found guilty and shot. CO of 15th Dogra Lieutenant Colonel Indirjeet Singh was one step ahead of his retreating soldiers when panic struck the battalion.  He first went straight to brigade headquarters and despite Brigade commander’s efforts raced all the way back to division headquarters.  He was promptly placed under arrest, later court martialled, dismissed from service and given three year imprisonment sentence.  CO of 13th Punjab was also removed from command. 48th Brigade Commander Brigadier K.J.S. Shahany was also relieved of his command and replaced by Brigadier Piara Singh. Pakistan army also penalized some officers but many were simply removed from the command and no detailed inquiries were conducted.

Book mentions role of some officers in 1965 war with amazing life experiences. Brigadier Anthony Albert ‘Tony’ Lumb was commander of 4th Armored Brigade of Pakistan army consisting of 5th Probyn’s Horse and 10th Frontier Force (FF).  He was commissioned in 9th Royal Deccan Horse and this regiment was allotted to India in 1947. Tony opted for Pakistan army.  In Khem Karan theatre, Tony was fighting against his old regiment Royal Deccan Horse of Indian army. In 1947 when Indian army was divided, Proby’s Horse and Deccan Horse had exchanged squadrons. In 1965, old Probyn’s squadron now carrying regimental color of Royal Deccan Horse was fighting against its own old regiment as Probyn’s Horse was part of 4th Armored Brigade.  Tony was a Gallian; alumni of Lawrence College Ghora Gali. He migrated to Canada in 1967 where he died in 2013.

Major General Niranjan Prasad was commissioned in 4th Battalion of 12th Frontier Force Regiment (now 6 Frontier Force Regiment). This is parent battalion of current Pakistan army Chief General Raheel Sharif.  Prasad was later seconded to Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) as Flight Lieutenant and fought Second World War with air force. He served with No: 1 Squadron commanded by K. K. Majumdar.  Even in this capacity, he saved his battalion.  4/12 FFR was in Burma and during withdrawal towards Sittang and in the fog of war was strafed by RIAF planes. Prasad recognized the markings of his own battalion and helped in stopping the strafing by calling off further attacks.  Later, he commanded No: 8 Squadron.  Many other army officers also joined RIAF and never reverted back to army.  Asghar Khan later became Air Marshal and C-in-C of Pakistan air force and Diwan Atma Ram Nanda retired as Air Vice Marshal in Indian air force.  Prasad reverted back to army as he had problems with his commander.  In 1962 Indo-China war, he was commanding 4th Division, was blamed for the disaster of 7th Brigade and sacked.  A humiliated Prasad went to the airfield alone and not even a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) was sent to see him off.  He petitioned the President against his sacking and was re-instated.  15th Division was raised in October 1964 and Prasad was appointed GOC.  After the war games, his Corps Commander and Army Commander recommended his removal as he was found not fit to command. In a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS), he was only given warning but not removed from the command.  Chief gave the reason that Prasad had influence with higher authorities in Delhi and that they should ‘go easy on him’. Poor command cost Indian army dearly and a day after the start of the war Prasad was removed from the command. He had already written a representation against his sacking and Pakistanis got hold of it when his jeep was captured that contained his brief case.

Lieutenant (later Major) Shamshad Ahmed of 25th Cavalry of Pakistan army was the grandson of legendry Risaldar Major Anno Khan of 17th Poona Horse.  Anno Khan decided to stay in India at the time of partition. His one son Yunus Khan also stayed in India, serving with 17th Poona Horse and retired as Risaldar.  Anno’s other son Mehboob Khan had also served with 17th Horse and retired as Daffadar.  In 1947, Mehboob decided to come to Pakistan.   Mehboob’s son Shamshad Ahmad joined Pakistan army.  In 1965 war, he was serving with 25th Cavalry of Pakistan army and his regiment fought against 17th Poona Horse; his family regiment.  If Mehboob had decided to stay in India, it was very likely that his son Shamshad would have joined his family regiment and fighting against 25th Cavalry.

Indian and Pakistan armies are continuation of the Raj and they learned good sportsmanship from their British predecessors.  They kept those traditions even during the war. In June 1965 during Run of Kutch operation Major Khusdil Khan Afridi (later Lieutenant General) of 8th Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army was captured.  Afridi was winner of sword of honor of 4th Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) course.  He was captured by Major Venky Patel (later Lieutenant General) then serving as OP of 1 Mahar commanded by Lieutenant Colonel (later General) K. Sundarji. Famous Indian actor Raj Kapoor’s hit movie Sangam was the talk of the day and Afridi requested if he could see the movie.  He was taken under military escort to Ahmadabad to a theatre to watch the movie and then flown to Delhi to enjoy the fond memory of the movie during his captivity. Two pictures reproduced below taken immediately after ceasefire reflects the professionalism on both sides.  In one picture Major Hira Singh is embracing Major Shafqat Baloch for putting up such a good show.  In second picture, Indian officers are posing with their arms around their Pakistani counterparts when they met after cease fire.  I remember another incident in 1971 war when an Indian officer after accepting the surrender of Pakistani officers took them to the mess and ordered a round of drinks before sending them off to captivity.

Picture: 1. Major Hira Singh of Indian army embracing Major Shafqat Hussain Baloch of 17 Punjab of Pakistan army after cease fire for outstanding performance.

Figure: 2. Officers of 3 Jat of Indian army and 8 Baluch of Pakistan army meeting after ceasefire.  Note Sikh Indian officer with his elbow on the shoulder of the Pakistani officer and Pakistani officer putting his arm around Indian officer.
On page 1 is mentioned that Iskander Mirza was a former Major General in the Pakistan army and then transferred to the political service.  This statement is incorrect as Mirza never served in Pakistan army.  He was the first Indian commissioned from Sandhurst in 1920.  Mirza joined his parent 33rd Cavalry Regiment stationed at Jhansi in 1922 after serving a year with a British regiment.  Around the same time reorganization of Indian army was under way and 33rd Cavalry and 34th Cavalry were in the process of amalgamation to form 17th Poona Horse.  Mirza remained with his regiment for only four years and transferred to Indian Political Service (IPS) in August 1926.  He was Captain when he resigned his commission.  He became Secretary Defense in newly independent state of Pakistan.  Later, he became Governor General and President of Pakistan.  Mirza was given the honorary rank of Major General for protocol purposes.

On page 2 it is mentioned that Ayub Khan’s father Mir Dad Khan was Risaldar Major of Hodson Horse.  Mir Dad retired as Risaldar and not Risaldar Major of 9th Hodson Horse.  He was enlisted in 1887 and during Great War; he went to France with his regiment in October 1914.  He was evacuated to India due to ill health in 1915.  He served with the regimental depot and retired in August 1918.  He was awarded Order of British India (OBI) for his long and meritorious service but no gallantry award.  During war, regiment’s list of Risaldar Majors includes Mir Jafar Khan, Malik Khan Muhammad and Dost Muhammad Khan.   Mir Dad’s lifelong best friend and regimental buddy was Risaldar Muhammad Akram Khan and this friendship extended to the next generation.  Mir Dad’s son Filed Marshal Ayub Khan and Akram Khan’s son Lieutenant General Azam Khan (4/19 Hyderabad Regiment) were close friends but in the end got estranged when jealousies of power crept in the relationship.  On Page 83 CRPF is described as Central Reserve Peace Keeping Force but it should be Central Reserve Police Force.

On page 108, it is mentioned that ‘Yahya Khan was a Shia and a Pathan, as was Musa Khan’. This is only partially true as both were Shia but not Pathans.  Major General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was Shia but Persian speaking Qazalbash from Peshawar while General Muhammad Musa Khan was a Shia but Persian speaking Hazara from Quetta. On page 233, it is mentioned that Lieutenant Khizar Ullah of 3 SP Field Artillery Regiment had won sword of honor at PMA Kakul.  I have list of all sword of honor winners of PMA Kakul and didn’t find the above named officer. It may be a mistake.

Monsoon war is an excellent and very thorough work about the conflict.  It is to the credit of both authors that despite close personal relationship with some senior officers, they have remained objective and critically evaluated the conduct of war by senior brass.  This book should be on the shelves of every military institution of training and instruction of India and Pakistan.  Three works are essential in the library of anyone who is interested in the history of 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.  In addition to Monsoon war, the other two works are Lieutenant General ® Mahmud Ahmad’s and Major ® Agha H. Amin’s encyclopedic work on Indian-Pakistan war of 1965.

Lieutenant General Tajindar Shergill and Captain Amarinder Singh.  The Monsoon War: Young Officers Reminiscence 1965 India-Pakistan War (New Delhi: Lustre Press Roli Books, 2015)

Hamid Hussain
coeusconultant@optonline.net
April 29, 2016

Defence Journal, May 2016.

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