The Qualitative Destruction of Pakistan Army between 1955 and 1971

From Major Amin. Originally written in 1999

Why Military Defeat in 1971-The Qualitative Destruction of Pakistan Army between 1955 and 1971 Major A.H Amin (Retired)
Why Military Defeat in 1971-The Qualitative Destruction of Pakistan Army between 1955 and 1971
• August 2020

Research teaching and writing were unproductive jobs in British India since they did not enable a man to be a deputy collector or barrister or doctor! It was a mad race made further mad by frequent outbursts of communal frenzy, which increased as population increased during the period 1890-1940. All this helped the Britishers who had been traumatically shaken by the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 when a largely Hindu majority army had rebelled under Muslim leaders! The British were thus happier playing the role of judges resolving Hindu Muslim disputes rather than performing the more unpleasant task of facing a combined political movement of all Indians regardless of race or religion as in 1857, 1919 or 1922! This is the basis of anti-intellectualism in the Indo-Pak Sub-continent. It is truer for Pakistan since the Muslims were educationally more backward and relatively less true, yet still true and applicable to India too! Pakistan and India have produced very few serious military writers. In Pakistan the situation is worse since an unofficial ban was imposed on military writing by various military usurpers who ruled the country for the greater part of its existence.

The finest summarizing of the incalculable qualitative harm inflicted on the Pakistan Army, by the self-promoted Field Marshal of peace, by a contemporary, was done by Major General Fazal I Muqeem, when he described the state of affairs of the Pakistan Army during the period 1958-71; in the following words: “We had been declining according to the degree of our involvement in making and unmaking of regimes. Gradually the officer corps, intensely proud of its professionalism was eroded at its apex into third class politicians and administrators. Due to the absence of a properly constituted political government, the selection and promotion of officers to the higher rank depended on one man’s will. Gradually, the welfare of institutions was sacrificed to the welfare of personalities. To take the example of the army, the higher command had been slowly weakened by retiring experienced officers at a disturbingly fine rate. Between 1955 and November 1971, in about 17 years 40 Generals had been retired, of whom only four had reached their superannuating age. Similar was the case with other senior ranks. Those in the higher ranks who showed some independence of outlook were invariably removed from service. Some left in sheer disgust in this atmosphere of insecurity and lack of the right of criticism, the two most important privileges of an Armed Forces officer. The extraordinary wastage of senior officers particularly of the army denied the services, of the experience and training vital to their efficiency and welfare. Some officers were placed in positions that they did not deserve or had no training for” 1.

The advent of Yahya Khan and Yahya’s Personality
Immediately after the 1965 war Major General Yahya Khan who had commanded the 7 Division in the Grand Slam Operation was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General, appointed Deputy Army C in C and C in C designate in March 1966 2. Yahya was a Qizilbash3 commissioned from Indian Military Academy Dehra Dun on 15 July 1939. An infantry officer from the 4/10 Baluch Regiment, Yahya saw action during WW II in North Africa where he was captured by the Axis Forces in June 1942 and interned in a prisoner of war camp in Italy from where he escaped in the third attempt4. In 1947 he was instrumental in not letting the Indian officers shift books 5 from the famous library of the British Indian Staff College at Quetta, where Yahya was posted as the only Muslim instructor at the time of partition of India. Yahya was from a reasonably well to do family, had a much better schooling than Musa Khan and was directly commissioned as an officer. Yahya unlike Musa was respected in the officer corps for professional competence. Yahya became a brigadier at the age of 34 and commanded the 106 Infantry Brigade, which was deployed on the ceasefire line in Kashmir in 1951-52. Later Yahya as Deputy Chief of General Staff was selected to head the army’s planning board set up by Ayub to modernize the Pakistan Army in 1954-57. Yahya also performed the duties of Chief of General Staff from 1958 to 1962 from where he went on to command an infantry division from 1962 to 1965.
Yahya was a hard drinking soldier approaching the scale of Mustafa Kemal of Turkey and had a reputation of not liking teetotalers. Yahya liked courtesans but his passion had more to do with listening to them sing or watching them dance. Thus he did not have anything of Ataturk’s practical womanizing traits. Historically speaking many great military commanders like Khalid Bin Waleed, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Eftikhar Khan and Grant were accused of debauchery and womanizing. These personal habits still did not reduce their personal efficiency and all of them are remembered in military history as great military commanders! The yardstick is that as long as a military commander performs his job as a military leader well, debauchery drink etc. is not important. Abraham Lincoln a man of great integrity and character when told by the typical military gossip type commanders, found in all armies of the world and in particular plenty in the Indo-Pak armies, about Grants addiction to alcohol dismissed their criticism by stating “I cannot spare this man. He fights”! Indeed while the US Civil War was being fought a remark about Grant was attributed to Lincoln and frequently repeated as a joke in army messes. The story thus went that Lincoln was told about Grant’s drinking habits, and was asked to remove Grant from command. Lincoln dismissed this suggestion replying “send every general in the field a barrel of it”! Once Lincoln heard this joke he said that he wished very much that he had said it! 6 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, praised by his enemies, i.e. the British, in the British Official History of WW One, as one of the greatest military commanders in world’s history was a great consumer of alcohol and chronic womanizer! It has been alleged that Kemal was a homosexual (a typically Turkish pastime) too and frequently suffered the ravages of venereal disease! The same was true for Petain one of the greatest military commanders of the French Army in WW One!
Gul Hassan Khan who served with Yahya in the General Headquarters in the early 1960s described Yahya as “professionally competent” and as a man of few words whom always approached the point at issue without ceremony.7 Muqeem described Yahya as “authoritarian by nature” and “reserved by temperament”.8 Major General Sher Ali under whom Yahya served assessed Yahya as an officer of the “highest caliber”. Shaukat Riza writing as recently as 1986 described Yahya as a good soldier, as a commander distinguished for his decision making and generous nature and one who gave his total trust to a man whom he accepted as part of his team or a colleague.9
Contrary to Gauhar’s judgement Yahya, at least in 1966-69, was definitely viewed as a professional in the army. His shortcomings in functioning as the Supreme Commander that became evident in the 1971 war were not known to anyone in 1966. No evidence exists, but it appears that Yahya’s sect and ethnicity may have played a part in Ayub’s decision to select Yahya as C in C. Musa writes in his memoirs that Yahya was not his first choice as Army C in C but was selected by Ayub overruling Musa’s reservations about Yahya’s character 10. This further proves that Ayub selected Yahya as the army chief for reasons other than merit. I am not implying that Yahya was incompetent, but merely the fact that Ayub was motivated by ulterior reasons to select Yahya. These reasons had something to do with Yahya’s political reliability by virtue of belonging to a minority! Yahya was not a Punjabi or a Pathan but belonged to a minority ethnic group as well as a minority ethnic group, just like Musa. This was no mere coincidence but a deliberately planned maneuver to have as army chief a man who was not from the two ethnic groups which dominated the officer corps, the Punjabis being more than 60 % of the officer corps and the Pathans being the second largest group after the Punjabis!11 Altaf Gauhar Ayub’s close confidant inadvertently proves this fact once he quite uncharitably, and for reasons, other than dispassionate objective historical considerations, described Yahya as one ” selected…in preference to some other generals, because Yahya, who had come to hit the bottle hard, had no time for politics and was considered a harmless and loyal person”.12
Selection of Army C in C
Foreign readers may note that almost all army chiefs of Pakistan Army were selected primarily because they were perceived as reliable as well as pliable! In Addition ethnic factors Vis a Vis prevalent political considerations played a part in their selection. Thus Liaquat the first premier selected a non-Punjabi as the army’s first C in C since in 1950 Liaquat was involved in a political confrontation with Punjabi politicians of the Muslim League and had established a Hindustani-Pathan-Bengali alliance to sideline the Punjabi Muslims. Thus the most obvious nominee for the appointment of C in C i.e. Major General Raza, a Punjabi Muslim was not selected. Instead Ayub an ethnic Pathan, and one who already had been superseded and sidelined, and with a poor war record was selected as the first Pakistani Muslim army C in C. Similarly Ayub selected Musa simply because Musa was perceived as loyal despite not being competent! Yahya as Gauhar Ayub’s closest adviser and confidant admits, as earlier mentioned, was selected because he had hit the bottle hard; i.e. was harmless, and was loyal, and thus no danger to Ayub! In other words Gauhar advances a theory that Ayub selected Yahya (Gauhar’s subjective judgement) simply because it was politically expedient for Ayub to have this particular type of man as army chief! Gauhar judgement of Yahya has little value since it was highly subjective but Ayub’s reasons for selecting his army chief, as Gauhar describes it speaks volumes for the character of Ayub and I would say the orientation of all Pakistani politicians, both civilian and military! In third world countries every army chief is a military politician! The process was carried on and continues to date but this chapter deals with only 1965-1971, so more of this later!
The same was true for extensions given to the army chiefs. Ayub got three extensions since Iskandar Mirza perceived him as a reliable tool. He booted out Mirza, his benefactor, after the last extension in 1958! Ayub gave Musa an extension of four years in 1962 since he perceived Musa as reliable and politically docile, and thus no threat to Ayub’s authoritarian government. Since 1962 when Musa got his extension of service by one additional term of four years, which prolonged his service from 1962 to 196613, no Pakistani army chief was given an extension beyond his three or four year term. The situation however was still worse since Yahya took over power in 1969 and thus automatically extended his term as C in C till December 1971. Zia usurped power in 1977 and thus gave himself a nine year extension as Army Chief till he was removed to the army and the country’s great relief in August 1988 by Divine Design! Beg attempted to get an extension by floating the idea of being appointed as Supreme Commander of Armed Forces14 but was outmaneuvered by his own army corps commanders, who gave a lukewarm response to the idea and by Ghulam Ishaq who was a powerful president and had a deep understanding of the military mind by virtue of having loyally and successfully served three military dictators.
Yahya Khan as Army Chief-1966-1971
Yahya energetically started reorganizing the Pakistan Army in 1965. Today this has been forgotten while Yahya is repeatedly condemned for only his negative qualities (a subjective word which has little relevance to generalship as proved in military history)! The post 1965 situation saw major organizational as well as technical changes in the Pakistan Army. Till 1965 it was thought that divisions could function effectively while getting orders directly from the army’s GHQ. This idea failed miserably in the 1965 war and the need to have intermediate corps headquarters in between the GHQ and the fighting combat divisions was recognized as a foremost operational necessity after the 1965 war. In 1965 war the Pakistan Army had only one corps headquarter i.e. the 1 Corps Headquarters. Soon after the war had started the US had imposed an embargo on military aid on both India and Pakistan. This embargo did not affect the Indian Army but produced major changes in the Pakistan Army’s technical composition. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk well summed it up when he said, “Well if you are going to fight, go ahead and fight, but we’re not going to pay for it”! 15 Pakistan now turned to China and for military aid and Chinese tank T-59 started replacing the US M-47/48 tanks as the Pakistan Army’s MBT (Main Battle Tank) from 1966. 80 tanks, the first batch of T-59s, a low-grade version of the Russian T-54/55 series were delivered to Pakistan in 1965-66. The first batch was displayed in the Joint Services Day Parade on 23 March 196616. The 1965 War had proved that Pakistan Army’s tank infantry ratio was lopsided and more infantry was required. Three more infantry divisions (9, 16 and 17 Divisions) largely equipped with Chinese equipment and popularly referred to by the rank and file as “The China Divisions” were raised by the beginning of 196817. Two more corps headquarters i.e. 2 Corps Headquarters (Jhelum-Ravi Corridor) and 4 Corps Headquarters (Ravi-Sutlej Corridor) were raised.
In the 1965 War India had not attacked East Pakistan which was defended by a weak two-infantry brigade division (14 Division) without any tank support. Yahya correctly appreciated that geographical, as well as operational situation demanded an entirely independent command set up in East Pakistan. 14 Division’s infantry strength was increased and a new tank regiment was raised and stationed in East Pakistan. A new Corps Headquarters was raised in East Pakistan and was designated as Headquarters Eastern Command.18 It was realized by the Pakistani GHQ that the next war would be different and East Pakistan badly required a new command set up.
Major General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan took over as the army’s Chief of General Staff and thus Principal Staff Officer to the C in C soon after the 1965 war. Yaqub was an aristocrat from a Hindustani Pathan background and was altogether different from the typical north of Chenab breed in depth of intellect, general outlook and strategic perception! In words of Fazal Muqeem a sharp observer and one who was not lavish in praising anyone “planning had taken a turn for the better when Major General Yaqub Khan became the Chief of General Staff”.19

In other words Muqeem was implying that planning level in the army was relatively poor before Yaqub became the Chief of General Staff.

But Muqeem went further and stated that the army’s war plans in the post 1965 era were still vague about “what action should be taken in West Pakistan if an attack was mounted against East Pakistan”.20

We will discuss more of this later.

Promotions and Appointments
Selection and assessment of officers for higher ranks had depended on one man’s will and his personal likes and dislikes since 1950. Initially it was Ayub from 1950 to 1969 and Yahya from 1969 to 1971.
Irshad responsible as DMI for greatest intelligence failure of 1965 was promoted two star and later three star and played havoc with 1 Corps in 1971 war.
Dictators fear all around them and this was the principal tragedy of the Pakistan Army. Selection and assessment of men was not a plus point in Yahya’s personality. It appears that either Yahya was not a good judge of men. In this regard Yahya continued Ayub’s policy of sidelining talented officers who had the potential of becoming a rival at a later stage! We will first deal with selection for higher ranks vis-a-vis war performance.
Almost no one, who had blundered, except Brigadier Sardar Ismail the acting divisional commander of 15 Division, was really taken to task for having failed in the discharge of his military duties!21

On the other hand Major General Abrar, who had proved himself as the finest military commander, at the divisional level, at least by sub continental standards, was sidelined and ultimately retired in the same rank!22

Lieutenant Colonel Nisar of 25 Cavalry who had saved Pakistan’s territorial integrity from being seriously compromised at a strategic level at Gadgor on the 8th of September 1965 was sidelined. This may be gauged from the fact that at the time of outbreak of the 1971 War Nisar although promoted to brigadier rank, was only commanding the Armored corps recruit training center, a poor appointment for a man who had distinguished himself as a tank regiment commander in stopping the main Indian attack.

A man whose unit’s performance was described by the enemy opposing him as one “which was certainly creditable because it alone stood between the 1st Indian Armored Division and its objective”23 was considered by the Pakistani General Headquarters pedantic officers as fit only to command a recruit training center .
Brigadier Qayyum Sher who had distinguished himself as a brigade commander in 10 Division area in Lahore was also not promoted! Qayyum Sher was one of the few brigade commanders of the army who had led from the front. Major General Shaukat Riza who rarely praised anyone had the following to say about Sher’s conduct while leading the Pakistan army’s most important infantry brigade counter attack on Lahore Front as a result of which the Indian 15 Division despite considerable numerical superiority was completely thrown off balance.

Shaukat stated that “Brigadier Qayyum Sher, in his command jeep, moved from unit to unit and then personally led the advance, star plate and pennant visible. This was something no troops worth their salt could ignore”.24 but the Army’s Selection Boards ignored Qayyum Sher once his turn for promotion came! Qayyum Sher did well in war and was awarded the Pakistani D.S.O i.e. the HJ!

But war performance or even performance in peacetime training maneuvers was, and still is, no criteria for promotion in the Pakistan Army! Qayyum retired as a brigadier, remembered by those who fought under him as a brave and resolute commander, who was not given an opportunity to rise to a higher rank, which Qayyum had deserved, more than any brigadier of the Pakistan Army did.

Analysis and reappraisal after the 1965 War

The 1965 War was rich in lessons and many lessons were learned; however the army’s reorganization was badly affected by the political events of 1968-71. The two major areas of improvement after the war were in the realm of military organization and military plans. It was realized finally that infantry and armored divisions could not be effectively employed till they were organized as corps with areas of responsibility based on terrain realities.
The post 1965 army saw major changes in terms of creation of corps headquarters. On the other side no major doctrinal reappraisal was done after the 1965 War except raising new divisions and corps no major reform was undertaken to produce a major qualitative change in the army’s tactical and operational orientation. Today this is a much criticized subject. The events of 1965-71 however must be taken as a whole. When one does so a slightly different picture emerges. A major start was taken soon after 1965 after Yahya had been nominated as the deputy army chief, towards improving higher organization and corps were created, but this process was retarded by the much more ominous political developments which increasingly diverted the army chief’s energies into political decision making from 1969 onwards.
The 1965 War was a failure in higher leadership. This was true for both sides. However, qualitative superiority by virtue of superior doctrine strategic orientation and operational preparedness became relatively far more important for the Pakistan Army than the Indians.
The Indians had already embarked on a program of rapid expansion since the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962. The material and numerical gap between the Indian and Pakistan armies started widening from 1962 and after 1965 it reached dangerous proportions! Further because of the 1965 War the Indians got an opportunity to improve their command and control procedures. The Indians the reader must note were already one step ahead of the Pakistanis in higher organization since their army was organized to fight as corps since 1947-48 while the Pakistan Army had fought the 1965 War organized in divisions.
The Indians had failed to make good use of their considerable numerical superiority in infantry in 1965 but, they had learned many lessons which. This meant that in the next war the Indians could employ their numerically superior forces in a relatively better manner than in 1965. Further Pakistan had lost its major arms supplier the USA which had imposed an arms embargo on Pakistan. Thus the technical superiority in equipment which Pakistan had enjoyed in 1965 was nullified after 1965. On the other hand India had a much larger economy and thus far greater potential to buy from the open market than Pakistan. All these factors demanded a major qualitative change. One that would ensure that Pakistan could survive another war with India. It was an entirely new situation.
The year 1965 was a watershed in Pakistani military history. Till 1965 Pakistani planners thought in terms of liberating the Pakistani Alsace Lorraine i.e. Kashmir! The issue in the next war was no longer adding more territory but merely preserving the country’s territorial integrity! The country was in the grip of serious internal and external crisis. The Internal crisis stemmed out of 11 years of military rule which had sharply polarized the country into two wings i.e. the Eastern and the Western Wing and even within the Western Wing the bulk of the populace was alienated with the Ayub regime. It appears that this major change in the overall geostrategic position was not grasped by those at the highest level. It appears that till December 1971 no one in the Pakistani GHQ seriously thought that the Indians would overrun East Pakistan. Too much hope was based on US or Chinese intervention. The Chinese could not possibly have intervened since all Himalayan passes were snowbound in Nov-Dec 1971. The United States on the other hand made no serious effort to pressurize India into not attacking East Pakistan. To make things further complicated the country’s internal cohesion was seriously weakened by the political conflict between the East and West Pakistan Provinces and the countrywide anti Ayub agitation which finally led to the exit of the self-promoted Field Marshal Ayub from power in March 1969. The situation was extremely delicate, complicated and only a truly great leader at both civil and military level could have remedied the situation. Unfortunately for the Pakistan Army and the country there was no such man to steer the country’s ship out of troubled waters.
It appears that 1965 war was not rationally analyzed in Pakistan at all. In this regard the Pakistani military decision-makers were swept away in the emotional stream of their own propaganda! The fact that the Pakistan Army was in a position to inflict a decisive defeat on the Indians in the war, but failed due to primarily poor leadership at and beyond brigade level, and due to doctrinal and organizational deficiencies at the higher level was not accepted! It was a natural result of the fact that Pakistan functioned as a pseudo democracy under one man! This in turn had led to a ban on frank and open analysis of the army’s performance and role! On the other hand the Indian Army’s poor performance was openly and frankly analyzed and the Indian critics did not spare the Indian C in C General Chaudri.25 It would not be wrong to say that the Indians thanks to a democratic system in which the army was not a sacred cow, unlike Pakistan, analyzed their failings in 1965 in a more positive and concrete manner. Shaukat Riza the officially sponsored historian of the Pakistan Army admitted this fact. Shaukat thus observed, while briefly analyzing the Commander in Chief’s General Training Directive of 1968, that “We admitted that the enemy would have better resources in number of troops, quality of equipment, research, development and indigenous production. In face of superiority we were relying solely on quality of our troops to win a war against India. But there was nothing in our satchel of organization, tactical doctrine or even quality of professional leadership, which could substantiate this confidence. This was self-hypnosis where we were not really hypnotised”.26 It may be noted that the General Training Directive identified the enemy threat relatively realistically only in an extremely vague and rudimentary sense but gave no solution or tangible doctrine to combat it except, operations on broad front for all formations except those in Kashmir, Mountain Warfare for formations in Kashmir and Baluchistan, Snow Warfare for troops in the Northern Areas, Desert Warfare for formations located in Sind Baluchistan and Bahawalpur, Jungle and Riverine Warfare for formations in East Pakistan and Frontier Warfare for all formations in NWFP and Baluchistan!27 It was a piece of extreme naivety and was probably drafted by a staff officer after reading the recommendations of the last two years training directives and was merely signed by the army chief 28. The 1969 training directive dealt with attack by infiltration and anti-infiltration measures29, something, which was just a whimsical fancy in a staff officer’s mind! Infiltration was buried soon and in 1971!
Strategic and Operational Dilemmas
Fazal Muqeem quite correctly described the adverse strategic situation in the post 1965 period in the following words, “with the almost daily expansion of the Indian Armed Forces since the 1965 war, it had become economically impossible for Pakistan to keep pace with her. The policy of matching Indian strength with even 1/3 or _ in numbers had gradually gone overboard. Under these circumstances all that Pakistan could do was to avoid war with India and to strive to resolve her disputes through political and diplomatic means”.30 The only problem with this quote is the fact that, at that time i.e. the period 1965-71 no one at the helm of affairs was ready to think so realistically and rationally! Fazal’s wisdom is the wisdom of hindsight, expressed some two years after Pakistan Army had fought the most disastrous and humiliating war in its history and Pakistan was dismembered into two countries. The Pakistani nation had been fed on propaganda about martial superiority of their army! Brigadier A.R Siddiqi who served in the army’s propaganda/media management wing known as the ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations Directorate) states that “the 1965 war had exalted the military image to mythical heights”. 31 The common man drew false conclusions and to compound things further, the 1965 war was viewed differently in West and East Pakistan. The West Pakistani populace and particularly the majority West Pakistani ethnic groups i.e. the Punjabis saw the war as a triumph of a preponderantly Punjabi Muslim army over a numerically larger Hindu army! The East Pakistanis viewed the war as a war fought by a West Pakistani dominated army to protect West Pakistan, where some 90 % of the army was stationed! The Indians had not attacked East Pakistan deliberately since their strategy was based on the fact that in case the bulk of Pakistan Army in the West Pakistan provinces northern half i.e. Punjab was destroyed Pakistan would automatically sue for peace or collapse! Thus they had concentrated the bulk of their army against West Pakistan in the 1965 War. On the Eastern Front the Indians outnumbered the Pakistani troops defending East Pakistan by more than three to one but did not attack East Pakistan out of fear of Chinese Army the bulk of which was concentrated opposite India’s Assam Province and the North East Frontier Agency. Later after the 1965 war the Indians with the benefit of hindsight painted this timid action in not attacking East Pakistan as an act of grand strategic dimensions. In any case the harm was done as far as East Pakistani perceptions about the war were concerned. The East Pakistanis increasingly started viewing the army as a west Pakistani entity created to defend only West Pakistan. The seeds of secession were firmly sown as a result of the 1965 War.
The strategic and operational dilemmas faced by the Pakistan Army can only be understood in terms of the complicated political situation in the period 1969-1971. Yahya Khan attempted to solve two highly complicated political problems that he had inherited from his predecessor and who were also the father and architect of both the problems. These were restoration of democracy and resolving the acute sense of deprivation which had been created in the East Pakistan province as a result of various perceived or real injustices during the period 1958-1969. Secessionist tendencies had emerged in the East Pakistan province where the people viewed Pakistan’s federal government with its capital in the West Pakistan as a West Pakistani elite dominated affair. A government which was Muslim in name but West Pakistani (Punjabi, Pathan and Hindustani in order of merit) 32 dominated in essence and which had been exploiting the East Pakistan province like a colony since 1947! We will not examine the details of this perception since it is beyond the scope of this book. We are only concerned with the fact that this perception made things very complicated for the Pakistan Army. The bulk of the army was concentrated in the West Pakistan province in line with the strategic doctrine that defense of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan. The likely political danger now lay in the fact that the East Pakistanis were increasingly viewing the army as a foreign and hostile entity. This perception could make things difficult for the lone infantry division of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan. The Indian Army had been rapidly expanded since 1965 and the Indians now possessed a military capability to overrun East Pakistan while part of its army kept the bulk of the Pakistan Army stationed in the West wing in check. The situation was made yet more complex by fears in West Pakistan about the East Pakistani majority leader Mujeeb’s intention to reduce the army in case he won the 1970 elections that Yahya had promised. Further Mujeeb’s “Six Point Formula” if enforced would have led to virtual disintegration of Pakistan since it envisaged a confederal system with a very high level of provincial autonomy. What would happen in case a civil war started in the East wing after the 1970 elections and India decided to take advantage of the adverse internal political situation by invading East Pakistan? The military planners in the GHQ knew clearly that in case an armed insurrection broke out in the East Pakistan province one infantry division would not be control it. In case troops were sent from the West wing to reinforce the East Pakistan garrison, the war plans in the West Wing would be compromised. These were serious questions, which no one in the GHQ could answer in 1969. No one exactly knew what would happen in the first general elections of Pakistan. How could anyone know? This basic right had been denied to the common man in both the wings since 1946!
Yahya Khan and the Political Situation- 1969-1971
Now a word on Pakistan’s internal political situation in 1969 and its negative effects on the Pakistan Army. It appears that, had not Ayub Khan alienated the East Wing by his pro West Pakistani elite policies and also had not alienated the West Pakistani and East Pakistani populace by his self-serving policies, there would have been no East Pakistan problem which resulted in Pakistan’s break-up in 1971 or any anti-Ayub agitation in both the country’s provinces of East and West Pakistan that finally led to the fall of the Ayubian system of government in March 1969. The foreign readers may note that the East wing versus West wing rivalry had been constitutionally resolved through the passing of the 1956 Constitution, once the representatives of the East wing had most large heartedly accepted the principal of 50 % parity in the country’s legislature despite the fact that their actual ratio in the country’s population entitled them to 54 % seats in the assembly! Both the wings now started coming closer since issues were settled inside the parliament rather than by subversion or agitation. However Ayub in league with the president Iskandar Mirza repeatedly conspired to derail democracy and in league with Iskandar Mirza finally usurped power in the country by imposing the first Martial Law in October 1958. He sidelined Mirza in less than a month and imposed a one-man rule on the country. Ayub despised the East Pakistanis and as Army C in C had stopped more raisings of infantry battalions of East Pakistanis. The East Pakistanis on the other hand were anti-Ayub and resented Ayub’s policies of allocating a predominantly large part the resources of the country on the development of the West Wing. Further during the Ayub era, the strategic doctrine that defense of East Pakistan lay in concentrating the bulk of the Pakistan Army in the West wing was developed. This further alienated the East wingers since there was an unofficial ban on recruitment of Bengalis in the fighting arms of the army and the expanded army increasingly became a West Pakistani army, instead of being a national army.33
Once Ayub handed over power to Yahya Khan on 25 March 1969 Yahya inherited a two-decade constitutional problem of inter provincial ethnic rivalry between the Punjabi-Pathan-Mohajir dominated West Pakistan province and the ethnically Bengali Muslim East Pakistan province. In addition Yahya also inherited an eleven-year-old problem of transforming an essentially one-man ruled country to a democratic country, which was the ideological basis of the anti Ayub movement of 1968-69. Herein lies the key to Yahya’s dilemma. As an Army Chief Yahya had all the capabilities, qualifications and potential. But Yahya inherited an extremely complex problem and was forced to perform the multiple roles of caretaker head of the country, drafter of a provisional constitution, resolving the One Unit question 34, satisfying the frustrations and the sense of exploitation and discrimination successively created in the East Wing by a series of government policies since 1948. All these were complex problems and the seeds of Pakistan Army’s defeat and humiliation in December 1971 lay in the fact that Yahya Khan blundered unwittingly into the thankless task of cleaning dirt in Pakistan’s political and administrative system which had been accumulating for twenty years and had its actual origins in the pre-1947 British policies towards the Bengali Muslims. The American author Ziring well summed it up when he observed that, “Yahya Khan has been widely portrayed as a ruthless uncompromising insensitive and grossly inept leader…While Yahya cannot escape responsibility for these tragic events, it is also on record that he did not act alone…All the major actors of the period were creatures of a historic legacy and a psycho-political milieu which did not lend itself to accommodation and compromise, to bargaining and a reasonable settlement. Nurtured on conspiracy theories, they were all conditioned to act in a manner that neglected agreeable solutions and promoted violent judgements”. 35
The irrefutable conclusion is that Yahya failed as an Army Chief not because he lacked the inherent capabilities but because he tried to do too many things at the same time. This as we earlier discussed was the prime reason for failure of the Pakistan Army to develop and function as a dynamic entity beyond unit level in the 1965 war and in the pre-1965 era.
In all fairness one cannot but admit that, Yahya Khan, sincerely attempted to solve Pakistan’s constitutional and inter provincial/regional rivalry problems once he took over power from Ayub in March 1969. The tragedy of the whole affair was the fact that all actions that Yahya took, although correct in principle, were too late in timing, and served only to further intensify the political polarization between the East and West wings. He dissolved the one unit restoring the pre 1955 provinces of West Pakistan, promised free direct, one man one vote, fair elections on adult franchise, a basic human right which had been denied to the Pakistani people since the pre independence 1946 elections by political inefficiency, double play and intrigue, by civilian governments, from 1947 to 1958 and by Ayub’s one man rule from 1958 to 1969. However dissolution of one unit did not lead to the positive results that it might have led to in case “One Unit” was dissolved earlier. Yahya also made an attempt to accommodate the East Pakistanis by abolishing the principle of parity, thereby hoping that greater share in the assembly would redress their wounded ethnic regional pride and ensure the integrity of Pakistan. Instead of satisfying the Bengalis it intensified their separatism, since they felt that the west wing had politically suppressed them since 1958. Thus the rise of anti-West Wing sentiment in the East Wing, thanks to Ayub Khan’s anti East Wing policies, had however reached such tremendous proportions that each of Yahya’s concessions did not reduce the East West tension. Yahya announced in his broadcast to the nation on 28 July 1969, his firm intention to redress Bengali grievances, the first major step in this direction being, the doubling of Bengali quota in the defense services 36. It may be noted that at this time there were just seven infantry battalions of the East Pakistanis. Yahya’s announcement although made with the noblest and most generous intentions in mind was late by about twenty years!
Yahya cannot be blamed for the muck that had been accumulating for more than two decades. Yahya’s intention to raise more pure Bengali battalions was opposed by Major General Khadim Hussain Raja, the General Officer Commanding 14 Division in East Pakistan, since the General felt that instead of raising new purely Bengali battalions, Bengali troops should be mixed with existing infantry battalions comprising of Punjabi and Pathan troops.37 Such was the strength of conviction of General Khadim about not raising more pure Bengali battalions that once he came to know about Yahya’s orders to raise more East Pakistani regiments, he flew to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to remonstrate against the sagacity of raising more pure Bengali units. Khadim’s advice that Bengali troops could not be relied upon in crisis situations should have been an eye opener for all in the GHQ. No one at least at that time took his advice seriously. It appears that the generals were convinced that the Bengali was too meek to ever challenge the martial Punjabi or Pathan Muslim
The Bengalis were despised as non-martial by all West Pakistanis. However much later an interesting controversy developed in which the Punjabis and Hindustanis blamed each other for doing so! The Hindustanis blaming Aziz Ahmad etc. and the Punjabis blaming many Hindustani ICS old foxes of the 1950s! There is no doubt that this exercise in Bengali degrading was neither totally or exclusively Punjabi led but a true for all West Pakistanis business!
The foreign reader may note that Bengalis were despised as a non-martial race from the British times. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan a Hindustani Muslim and an eminent Muslim leader of the North Indian Muslims in late 19th century made open fun of Bengalis in his various speeches, notably the one delivered at Lucknow in 1887. I.H Qureshi another prominent Hindustani Muslim and a post 1947 cabinet minister declared in a roundabout manner that the Bengalis were an inferior race. Ayub made various remarks implying that the Bengalis were an inferior race in his memoirs written in 1967.38
Inflated Perceptions about Pakistani military effectiveness
The essence of the whole business was the fact that the Pakistani GHQ placed entire reliance on the “Superior Valor and Martial Qualities of the Pakistani (Punjabi and Pathan Muslim soldier) vis a vis the Hindu Indian soldier, as proved in 1965 war” and felt that somehow, in the next war to miracles would occur and the Pakistan Army would do well! The tangible military facts of the Indo Pak politico-military scenario were not analyzed in their true dimension! It was a classic case of perceptual distortion and losing sight of reality. Eric Berne an eminent psychologist defined “adjustment” as “ability to change one’s images to correspond to a new reality”. Berne rephrases “adjustment” as “flexibility” which he defines as “ability to change your images as they should be changed according to reality”. This in Berne’s view is more important than intelligence. Berne thus concluded that ‘the successful man is the one whose images correspond most closely to reality, because then his actions will lead to the results, which he imagines”.39 This as a matter of fact are one of the prime functions of a military and political leader. The success of the western democracies lay in the fact that one man was never totally in command but civil and military functions were divided and shared between various appointment holders aided by a host of staff officers and research Organizations. This sadly was not Pakistan’s case where one man from 1958 wielded all power, both civil and military onwards. The situation was not so complicated till 1965 since Pakistan enjoyed material and technical superiority till 1965 and because the troop ratio between Pakistan and India was relatively manageable40. Unfortunately in Pakistan after 1971 all blame was heaped on Yahya’s shoulders. The fact that the psychosis that had afflicted the Pakistani decision makers in the period 1966-1971 and finally led to the great humiliation of 1971, had a close connection with the nature of Pakistan’s experiences as a nation in the period 1947-1971 was not accepted and instead Yahya was made a scapegoat for all that had gone wrong. We will analyze more of this in the next chapter. I will quote Berne once again to define greatness or the lack of it in Pakistan during the period 1947-1971. But before we do it we must understand that man is not fully autonomous but is a prisoner of historical environmental and physiological circumstances. There are very few truly great men who act more autonomously than the multitude. Berne thus defined individual human greatness as “A great man is the one who either helps to find out what the world is really like or else tries to change the world to match his image. In both cases he is trying to bring images and reality closer together by changing one or the other”. In the period 1966-1971 Pakistan did not have the resources to change the world to match its images nor great men who had the depth of character and intellect to find out what the world is really like and changing their images!
Many Pakistani intellectuals with the naivety of a provincial farm maiden try to heap the whole blame on liquor and Yahya or on liquor alone! This unfortunately is too simplistic a view! The Pakistanis as a nation were forming wrong and unrealistic images right from 1947! Too much faith was based on ideology (Islam) to unite two entirely diverse regions of East and West Pakistan! Even Shaukat Riza a pro establishment historian, commenting on religion as a common factor between the East and West wings caustically noted that “Twenty four years is too long to gamble on one card”41 History was distorted to show that the Muslims were ruling the timid Hindu when the British snatched power from the brave Muslims by treachery! This was sadly not the case! In reality the Muslims were saved from total defeat by the British advent in India! A false image was formed by official propaganda right from 1947 that the Muslims were more martial than the timid Hindus were! It was a poor modification of the “Martial Races Theory” of the British, which was a purely imperialist theory to “Divide and Rule” India! But once Pakistan was defeated in 1971, all blame was heaped on Yahya and liquor, disregarding the fact that Yahya was merely the tip of the iceberg, and the irrefutable fact that many great commanders in history were absolutely incorrigible and compulsive womanizers and drinkers!
This fact was noted by some officers soon after 1965 but the majority were victims of the psychosis of Islamic Martial Military superiority that overwhelmed the West Pakistani psyche during the period 1966-1971! Brigadier A.R Siddiqi in his book on the Pakistan Army’s press image thus narrated a thought-provoking incident soon after the war. Siddiqi met Brigadier Qayyum Sher who as just discussed had distinguished himself as an infantry brigade commander in the battle opposite Lahore. Qayyum Sher was unhappy about the unrealistic expectations and myths that were being created as a result of the official propaganda. Qayyum Sher told Siddiqi, “Miracles he mused, ‘may indeed have happened, but they happen only once. Let me tell you that your press chaps are doing a lot of harm to the soldier psychologically by publishing all those foolish stories. I wonder what they are really trying to tell the world. That the Pakistani soldier can fight his war only with the help of his celestial allies. That he is facing an enemy inferior to him in all respects. I admit God’s help is of the utmost importance but it’s no substitute for one’s own performance. It would be quite stupid to forget that the Indian soldier is as much of a professional as his Pakistani counterpart. He has been trained in similar military systems and institutions and fights like hell when he has to. The only reason why the Pakistani soldier put up a comparatively better performance in this war was that he fought largely on his own home ground as a defender”. Siddiqi further noted that “The Pakistani image makers, however, had little use for such sterile talk. They had their own mental picture of the war and regarded it as the only correct one. Anybody who dared to speak of the war more realistically simply betrayed a ‘diffident and defeatist mentality’ …The merest suggestion of the criticism of the military performance became a taboo”.42 Sher was not alone in entertaining these views. Major General Tajammul Hussain Malik who very ably commanded the 3rd Baluch opposite Lahore on the BRB states in his memoirs that the Indian superiority opposite Lahore was not as overwhelming as later portrayed in the Pakistani official propaganda. Tajammul thus stated, “We had Patton Tanks whereas Indians had mostly Sherman Tanks which were comparatively much inferior. Similarly our artillery guns out ranged the Indian artillery guns. They had an overall superiority of infantry, perhaps of about 1 to 2 but most of their divisions were comparatively ill equipped and untrained and they had to guard a much bigger frontier”. 43
Many years earlier one of the greatest thinkers of this world Sigmund Freud rightly noted that “the irrational forces in man’s nature are so strong that the rational forces have little chance of success against them”. Freud thus concluded that “a small minority might be able to live a life of reason but most men are comfortable living with their delusions and superstitions rather than with the truth”. As a matter of fact whole nations can be victims of delusions. This has happened many times in history. The same was true for the Pakistani nation, or the predominantly West Pakistani elite!
Sultan Khan who served as Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary with Yahya during the fateful year of 1971 noted at many places in his memoirs that most Pakistani generals thought that the Pakistani soldier was more martial and would somehow emerge successfully through the East Pakistan War. Gul Hassan, Sultan thus noted, was one of them and firmly believed in the power of bayonet to solve all problems! The tragedy is that after the war all the blame was heaped on Yahya and the fact that the whole elite and all those who mattered were under influence of highly irrational ideas was deliberately suppressed. Till this day in presentations and studies carried out in Pakistan Army’s schools and colleges of instruction, Yahya is made the scapegoat for the entire 1971 fiasco and the fact that the whole of West Pakistani was under influence of a psychotic state is ignored.

Historical Background of Superiority Complex in the Pakistan Army

It is necessary to examine the historical reasons for this false feeling of superiority in the Pakistan Army in 1969-71. It may be noted that the vast bulk of Muslims, just like the vast bulk of Hindus of the Indo Pak Sub Continent were caught in a vicious square of “ethnicity” “ideology” “exploitation by feudal and capitalist classes” and above all “British Colonial rule” during the period 1858-1947. In 1857 the common soldiers (sepoys), both Hindu (some three fourth) and Muslims (around one fourth) from modern UP province attempted a rebellion against the British. This rebellion was crushed by the Britishers using European as well as Punjabi (largely Muslim and relatively less Sikh and Hindu) Pathan (less in number than Punjabis) Gurkha and Madrasi troops. The rebellion’s end in 1858 marked a major turn in British policy in India. Till 1857 British policy as executed by various Viceroys of the private English East India Company was markedly egalitarian and anti-feudal. A major policy change was introduced from 1858 onwards once the British crown took over the governance of India. Feudals who were viewed as unnecessary anachronisms by Dalhousie were now viewed as allies against future rebels while ethnic/religious factors which were not important in army recruitment before 1857, now became a matter of careful policy, since the pre 1857 was largely one in which soldiers were mixed down to platoon level regardless of race or religion. The British policy now changed since the Hindustani44 Hindus and Muslims regardless of race or religion had jointly rebelled. Thus from 1858 onwards the British introduced the concept of One class companies with soldiers from one religious as well as ethnic class in any single infantry company or cavalry troop. Due to various reasons discussed in detail in the previous volume of this history the British actively followed a policy of Punjabising from 1858 to 1911. As a result by 1911 the Indian Army was largely a Punjabi although not a Punjabi Muslim dominated army45.
The reader may note that during the period 1885—1911 when the ethnic composition of the British Indian Army changed from a Hindustani majority/Hindu/Non-Muslim dominated army to a Punjabi Majority/Punjabi Muslim heavy army in 1911; no major war took place; that could prove that Punjabi troops or Punjabi Muslim troops were better than Hindu troops or the Hindustani troops, and the concept that the British changed the ethnic composition based on proven fighting ability in actual combat; has no connection with any reality of military history. Thus the “Martial Races Theory” was based more on political considerations than on any tangible or concrete military effectiveness or relative combat effectiveness in any war! In any case the pre 1947 Indian Army was never a Muslim majority army at any stage of its history. Many Britishers were crystal clear about the situational or historical relativity of the so called martial effectiveness even in the first half of the nineteenth century. Henry Lawrence a Civil Servant of the English East India Company thus summed up the whole business about martial effectiveness once he said “Courage goes much by opinion; and many a man behaves as a hero or a coward, according as he considers he is expected to behave. Once two Roman Legions held Britain; now as many Britons might hold Italy”. On the other hand, the reasons why the British preferred the Punjabis in the army in preference to other races were rationalized by many Britishers by stating that the British preferred the Indian Army to be composed of “Martial Races”46.
The “Martial Races Theory” in reality was an Imperial gimmick to boost the ego of the cannon fodder. Various British writers like Philip Mason frankly admitted that the real reason for selective recruitment was political reliability in crisis situations which the Punjabis had exhibited during the 1857-58 Bengal Army rebellion.47 Another British officer thought that “Martial Races Theory” had a more sentimental and administrative basis rather than anything to do with real martial superiority. C.C Trench thus wrote, “Reasons for preferring northerners were largely racial. To Kipling’s contemporaries, the taller and fairer a native, the better man he was likely to be…There was a general preference for the wild over the half educated native as being less addicted to unwholesome political thinking…Brahmins had been prominent in the mutiny, and their diet and prejudices made difficulties on active service48. The “Special Commission appointed by the Viceroy” to enquire into the organization of Indian Army was more blunt in outlining the political reliability factor once it stated that “lower stratum of the Mohammadan urban population, the dispossessed landholders (many of them, off course, Muslims), the predatory classes, and perhaps the cadets of the old Muhammadan families (as)… the only people who really dislike British rule” 49. The reason why the Punjabis whether Sikh Hindu or Muslim were more loyal to the British at least till 1919 lay in complex socio-political background of the province and the complex relationship between the Sikhs Hindus and Muslims of the province. Its discussion is beyond the scope of this work. The fact remains that in the First World War the Punjabi case for priority race for recruitment to the army was once again reinforced when the Punjabi soldiers, Sikh Muslim and Hindu loyally served the British in France Mesopotamia Egypt Palestine and Gallipoli. Philip Mason thus wrote that the “Punjabi Muslims were steady as a rock” while “a faint question mark hung over the Pathans” 50. Such was the difference in reliability within the units that when two Pathan squadrons of 15 Lancers passively refused to fight against the Turks in Mesopotamia, the Punjabi Squadrons remained staunch and the Pathan squadrons were disbanded and replaced by Hindustani Hindu Jat Squadrons from 14th Murray Jat Lancers! The Hindustani/Ranghar Muslims were also further discredited once the 5th Light Infantry a pure Hindustani/Ranghar Muslim unit composed of Delhi region Hindustani Pathans, and Ranghar Muslims rebelled and seized Singapore for about a day in 1915.51 It was more a question of political reliability than being more martial that led to further Punjabisation of the army after the first world war. Thus in 1929 as per the “Report of the Statutory Commission on Indian Constitutional Advancement”, military ability was not evenly distributed in the entire population and, the capacity to fight was confined to the martial races! The commission ignored the fact that recruitment was done to fill ethnic quotas as decided by the Indian government and was not open to all classes! As per this commission’s report some 86,000 or some 54.36% Indian Army combatants out of a total of 158,200 were from Punjab province. These did include some Ranghar Muslims who were administratively Punjabi although Hindustani ethnically/culturally, but there is no doubt that the vast bulk of these men were ethnically Punjabi. The important part of the whole business was the fact that once 19,000 Nepali Gurkhas, who were in reality foreigners, included in the above mentioned total of 158,200 men are excluded the Punjabi share in Indian Army rose to 61.8%. The Pathans thanks to their political record in the First World War had been reduced to just 5,600 men 52 or just 4.02% out of which at least a thousand were non Pathans!
The same state of affairs continued till the outbreak of the Second World War with the major change being the Punjabi Sikhs who became relatively less reliable politically because of being under communist influences 53. However the reader may note, so as not to be led astray by any false claims that in 1939 the Indian Army was only 37% Muslim, the rest being non-Muslim including about 12.8 % Sikhs 10.9% Hindu Gurkhas and 37.6% other Hindus54. Immense demands of WW Two forced the British to diversify the recruitment pattern of the Indian Army and although Punjab remained the top contributor of recruits, it provided about 754,551 out of a total of 24, 61,446, or 30.65% recruits to the Indian Army between 3rd September 1939 and 31 August 1945. 55 The reader may note that some 314,356 or a total of 41.66% from the Punjab contribution and 12.77% recruits were Punjabi Muslims56. Thus although Punjab led position wise as a province in recruitment, there never was any Punjabi Muslim majority or even Punjabi Muslim majority or even near majority in recruitment to the Indian Army in WW Two. However a myth was widely propagated in Pakistan that the Punjabi Muslims were the most martial race and the Pathan Muslims were the second most martial race57. I may add that I heard this ridiculous and irrational myth thousands of times in the course of my 13 years’ service in Pakistan Army. On the other hand the knowledge of historical knowledge may be gauged from the fact that as late as 1992 in a book written and published in the staff college a brigadier made the Mughal Emperor Humayun fight the second battle of Panipat, at a time when Humayun was already dead!
In August 1947 the British Indian Army was divided into the Pakistan and Indian armies. Two divergent recruitment policies were followed in both the armies. The Indians broadened their army’s recruitment base, officially declaring that recruitment was open to all Indian nationals.58 thus the post 1947 Indian Army drifted away from being the pre 1939 Punjabised army. In Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah the politician-statesmen who created Pakistan almost single-handedly, as the country’s first Head of State, adopted a sensible policy, to make the army a national army. Jinnah ordered immediate raising of two infantry battalions of Bengali Muslims in 1948 reversing the anti-Bengali policy of the pre 1947 British colonial government.59 Jinnah’s far sighted as well as just policy of bringing Bengalis in the fighting arms of the Pakistan Army was discontinued by General Ayub Khan who was the first Pakistani Muslim C in C of the Pakistan Army and became the Army Chief in January 1951. Ayub although allegedly guilty of tactical timidity in the WW Two in Burma60 had a low opinion61 about the Bengalis and discontinued the expansion of the East Bengal Infantry Regiment from 1951 to 1966. Thus by 1966 the Pakistan Army was a predominantly West Pakistani (Punjabi dominated) army. In addition the vast bulk of it except one infantry division was stationed in West Pakistan in line with the strategic concept evolved in Ayub’s time that the defense of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan. Thus the “Martial Races Theory” was carried on till 1971 and in 1971 the vast bulk of West Pakistanis really felt that they were a martial race. This superiority complex played a major part in the wishful thinking in the Pakistani High Command that somehow the Indians would not invade East Pakistan in strength or even if they did so, the troops of this martial race (which was subdued by an 8 % Sikh minority from 1799 to 1849, till it was liberated by the English East India Company!) would frustrate the Indian Army, despite all the tangible numerical and material Pakistani inferiority. Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan’s memoirs are full of the existence of this irrational belief in the Pakistani High Command. Whatever the case at least the 1971 War proved that the real reason for the Indian Army’s martial fervor or relatively better performance was the British factor, keeping in mind the net total available resources of British Empire or its allies in the two world wars.
New Raisings – 1966-1971 and the army’s operational plans
New raisings as discussed earlier were done right from 1965-66 onwards. The Pakistani high command correctly assessed that lack of infantry played a major role in the failure of Pakistani armor to translate its convincing material and technical superiority into a major operational or strategic success. New raisings became more essential since US military aid, which had enabled Pakistan Army to function relatively more effectively as compared to the Indians, was no longer available because of the US ban on arms exports to both India and Pakistan.
SER NO 1965 REMARKS 1966-1968 REMARKS 1968-1971 REMARKS
1 7 DIV Peshawar Part of 2 Corps. Reserve Division to Support 1 Armed Div Operations in Bahawalnagar area.
2 8 DIV Sialkot. 1 Corps Part of 1 Corps Defence of Shakargarh Bulge. Under 1 Corps
3 10 DIV Lahore 1 Corps Part of 4 Corps. Defence of Ravi-Sutlej Corridor. Part of 4 Corps
4 11 DIV Ditto Part of 4 Corps.
5 12 DIV Headquarters In Murree Defence of Azad Kashmir
6 14 DIV East Pakistan Defence of East Pakistan
7 15 DIV Sialkot Part of 1 Corps. Defence of Sialkot Sector.Under 1 Corps
8 1 ARMD DIV Multan 1 Corps Part of 2 Corps. Strategic Reserve.Stationed at Multan. Under 2 Corps.
9 6 ARMD DIV Kharian 1 Corps Part of 1 Corps. Strategic Reserve.Stationed at Kharian. Under 1 Corps.
10 9 DIV Reserve Div. Raising completed at Kharian by 1968. Airlifted to E.Pak in March 1971
11 16 DIV Reserve Div. Quetta. Raising complete by 1968. Ditto
12 17 DIV Kharian. Raising complete by 1968. Reserve Division To support 6 Armored Division operations
13 18 DIV Raised at Hyderabad in June-July 1971 for defense of 560 miles area from Rahimyar Khan to Rann of Katch.
14 23 DIV Raised at Jhelum in June-July 1971 for Chhamb-Dewa Sector previously in area of 12 Div.
15 33 DIV Raised in December 1971.Reserve Division of 2 Corps later split between Shakargarh Bulge and Sindh in the war.
16 37 DIV Raised in Dec- 71 Jan-72.
The table of raisings above is self-explanatory. The most important organizational changes which occurred in the army till the 1971 war were as following. Firstly the army was organized into three corps i.e. the 1 Corps, 2 Corps and 4 Corps and 12 18 and 23 Divisions. The 1 corps headquarter was designated to command four divisions i.e. 8, 15, 17 InfantryDivisions and 6 Armored Division63. 15 and 8 Infantry Divisions were responsible for defense of Sialkot Sector and the Shakargarh Bulge respectively while 17 Infantry Division and 6 Armored Division were the strike force of the corps and also part of Pakistan Army’s strategic reserves. In addition the 1 Corps also had an independent armored brigade (8Armoured Brigade). 4 Corps consisting of 10 and 11 Infantry Divisions, 105 Independent Infantry Brigade and 3rd Independent Armored Brigade was responsible for the area between Ravi River and Bahawalpur. The 2 Corps with its headquarters at Multan was a strategic reserve corps. This corps consisted of the 1st Armored Division (Multan), 7 Infantry Division and later 33 Infantry Division. Three infantry divisions i.e. the 12, 23 and 18 Infantry Divisions were directly under GHQ and responsible for defense of Azad Kashmir, Chhamb-Dewa Sector and Sind-Rahimyar Khan respectively.
Tangibles and Intangibles – The Pakistan and Indian Army’s military worth by January 1971
By January 1971 the Pakistan Army was a reasonable military machine. Its main battle tank was the Chinese T-59 which was almost as good as any Indian tank.Its strategic reserves had the potential to deter any Indian aggressive military move. It was on its way to becoming a really national army since Yahya’s announcement of 1969 to allow recruitment of Bengalis in the fighting arms. Organisationally the command was coherently and logically distributed in corps and divisions and the organizational imbalances of 1965 had been totally removed. Yahya Khan had not failed as the C in C.
The Indian Army was numerically larger but the advantage was not overwhelming since the Indian Army was divided between the Chinese Border West Pakistan and East Pakistan. Technically the Indians had relatively better Soviet tanks but numerically the Pakistani armor was larger than Indian armor and possessed more higher organizational flexibility by virtue of having two full fledged armored divisions as against one Indian armored division.
Later events of 1971 clouded our perception and we in Pakistan tend to view things as entirely simple for the Indian military planners. The Indian military dilemma was a possible three front war with the Indian Army divided between West Pakistan East Pakistan and the Indo Chinese border. The Pakistani defense problem was a two front war with its army divided into two parts i.e. one defending the East Pakistan and the major part defending West Pakistan. The Pakistani planners had evolved a clear-cut strategy to overcome this dilemma. The Indian strategy as it was later applied in 1971 war was based on a choice of time which reduced the likely threats that it faced from three to two since the December snow effectively nullified chances of Chinese intervention and enabled release of Indian Mountain Divisions earmarked for the Chinese Border to participate in a war against Pakistan. Even then the final Indian plan was a gamble and would have failed if Pakistan had launched a pre-emptive attack in October 1971. The C in C Indian Western Command admitted this fact. General Candeth who was C in C Western Command states in his book that “the most critical period was between 8 and 26 October when 1 Corps and 1 Armored Division were still outside Western Command. Had Pakistan put in a pre-emptive attack during that period the consequences would have been too dreadful to contemplate and all our efforts would have been trying to correct the adverse situation forced on us”.64
There were however major shortcomings in both the armies at the higher leadership level. These pertained to the “Intangible aspects of military leadership”. The mercenary origins of the pre 1947 Indian Army had resulted in the creation of an orders oriented machine! This was true for both Indian and Pakistani Armies. These shortcomings had their origin in the pre 1947 British era and were common with the post 1947 Indian Army. The Indian Army’s military worth was retarded and downgraded because of a civilian leadership which viewed the army as a reactionary entity consisting of mercenaries who had collaborated with the British rulers. This attitude was revised once India suffered serious loss of prestige in the Sino-Indian Border War of 1962. However changes in military spirit of an army occur very slowly and by 1971 Indian Army was still trying to recover from many teething problems. The Pakistan Army in 1947 had consisted of relatively talented as well as spirited officers. The Rawalpindi Conspiracy of 1951 had however started a witch-hunt and many dynamic officers were removed or sidelined. This conspiracy against originality and boldness had intensified when Ayub Khan started manipulating extensions from politicians and the army was reduced to a personal fiefdom of Ayub during the period 1951-1969! In the process the Pakistan Army lost the services of many more experienced officers simply because they were sidelined through political supersession or were retired. The gap between the two Indo Pak armies in quality of experience may be gauged from the fact that the first Indian C in C was eight years senior to Ayub in service and the course mate of Musa, the second Muslim C in C of the Pakistan Army i.e. Manekshaw became the Indian C in C eleven years after Musa! This may have worked positively for the Pakistan Army had Musa been a man with an independent outlook! Musa on the other hand as Gul Hassan’s memoirs revealed lacked independent judgement dynamism or talent! The Pakistan army during the period 1951-71 became a highly orders oriented machine! Smart on the drill square, tactically sound but strategically barren and lacking in operational vision! One whose first Pakistani C in C was more interested in political intrigue and industrial ventures than in the basics of higher military organization or operational strategy!
The reader must bear in mind that the only major difference despite all other differences between the Indian and Pakistan Armies was that the Indian Army was numerically larger than the Pakistan Army was. In quality of higher military leadership both the armies by virtue of being chips of one pre 1947 block were little different from each other! Both the Indian and Pakistan Armies of 1971 were like the Austro-Hungarian armies of 1809. They consisted of perhaps equally brave junior leaders but were severely handicapped since rapid expansion since the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and since the 1965 war. Having more corps and division despite being impressive on paper had not made the Indian or Pakistani military machine really effective because of poor training at divisional and brigade level. Both numerically larger than they were in 1965, but were organisationally ineffective beyond battalion level, having dashing young leaders but tactically and operationally inept brigade divisional and corps commanders from the older pre 1947 commissioned generation whom were initially supposed not to go beyond company level, had the transfer of power not taken place in 1947. The strike corps was a new concept and the Indian 1 Corps which was shortly created before the 1965 war was a newly raised formation whose corps commander and armored divisional commanders were about to retire in 1965 when war broke out. The Indian commanders beyond unit level, as was the case with Pakistan Army, consisted of men who had experience of infantry biased operations in WW Two and did not understand the real essence of armored warfare. It was this lack of understanding that led to the failures in achieving a decisive armor breakthrough in both sides. It was a failure of command as well as staff system where even the staff officers on both sides were too slow for armored warfare and worked on yards and furlongs rather than miles. Their orientation was position oriented rather than mobility oriented and their idea of a battlefield was a typical linear battlefield. Their Burma or North African experience where the Japanese and Germans frequently appeared in their rear had made them extra sensitive about their flanks. These were men who thought in terms of security rather than speed. Conformity rather than unorthodox dynamism, having been trained in the slavish colonial orders oriented British Indian Army was the cardinal script of their life. It was this British system in which every senior commander was more interested in doing the job of those one step junior to him that led to the lack of dash and initiative at brigade and battalion level. They were trained that way and there behaviour as far as the timidity at brigade and divisional level has to be taken in this context. Yahya was not a superman who could clean up the Pakistani political system and reform Pakistan Army within an year or two! He started the job of reorganizing and reforming the Pakistan Army but had to leave it half way once he was forced to clean up the political mess in 1969. He made an admirable attempt to clean the political garbage which had accumulated since 1948 but was over taken by the tide of history which in 1971 was too powerful to be manipulated by any single man!
The Indian Army of 1971 was much larger than the Indian Army of 1965! It was many times superior strategically and operationally to the 1965 Indian Army in terms of material strength, technological strength and numerical strength. The Pakistani defense problem was far more complex in 1971 than in 1965. Even in terms of foreign policy Pakistan had just been ditched by one superpower in 1965. The situation in 1971 was far more worse since India had been adopted by another superpower which, unlike the Naive half hearted, American Village maiden, was resolutely poised to go with India through thick and thin! Yahya made unique and brilliant moves to bring the USA and China together and vainly hoped that the Americans would help him! Unfortunately the US betrayed a country which had been loyally served US interests since 1954! Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan’s memoirs recognise Yahya’s contributions and dismiss many myths about Yahya having gone out of his way to annoy the Soviets. This aspect is however beyond the scope of this article.
The Pakistan Army and Yahya inherited a complex historical problem, which had many fathers, at least half of whom were civilians and politicians! The Bengali alienation started from 1948 over the language question, was increased through Liaquat’s political intrigues to sideline Suharwardy and delay constitution making and thus holding elections which held a threat of a Bengali prime minister challenging the Hindustani-Punjabi dominance of Muslim politics! The first sin was committed once Suharwardy was sidelined! This was followed by coercion and intrigue to force parity on the Bengalis! They even accepted this unjust formula in 1956! Ask the Punjabis today to agree to a 50% parity as against all three provinces and then evaluate the generosity and magnanimity of the Bengalis! The death verdict of Pakistan’s unity came in 1958 when Ayub took over and allied with the West Pakistan civil-military-feudal-industrialist clique to sideline the Bengalis for eternity from the corridors of power! Familiar names , and a familiar combination constituted the ruling clique! A Punjabi financial wizard, one Dawood, some generals, some civil servants, some Hindustani specialists, one old fox who knew how to twist the law, then young, and some younger whiz kids constituted the ruling clique! They took Pakistan back to 1864 or even 1804! Local bodies, two huge provinces like the Bengal and Bombay Presidency etc.! The seeds of the division were laid between 1958 and 1969! Yahya Khan whatever his faults was a greater man than Liaquat or Ayub! He held the first ever general elections based on adult franchise! Something that the so called Quaid e Millat had failed to hold for four long years, not withstanding all hollow rhetoric by his admirers that he was going to make a great announcement on 16 October 1951, the original D-Day in 1999 too! Yahya restored provincial autonomy, brought the Bengalis in the army, and reorganised the army! He did everything that was right but it was too late! He was fighting against the tide of history! The Pakistan Army was tossed into a volcano whose architect enjoyed total power for eleven years and retired peacefully to enjoy his hard earned wealth. Ayub’s son has remained in the corridors of power in one form or another and is still a running horse! Yahya Khan is much criticized for problems with which he had nothing to do! For having done a job which Liaquat should have done in 1950! The Pakistan Army was a relatively good fighting machine in 1971! Great reforms were made in organization, education and training! It was recovering from the curse of one-man rule! The cyclone of 1970 in words of an Indian general destroyed everything! Yes there was a far more dangerous intangible and invisible cyclone that had been building up since 1948! This cyclone had four great fathers! Yahya Khan was not one of these four great men! The “Martial Races Theory” that played a major role in Pakistani overconfidence in 1971 before actual operations had many fathers and dated from British times.These British officers had in 1930s described Jews as non martial! Compare the four Arab-Israeli wars with this attitude! The military action in 1971 was widely hailed in West Pakistan! Yet in December 1971 only Yahya was blamed! Yahya was not the architect of the problems that destroyed the united Pakistan of 1971! He paid for the sins of all that ruled Pakistan from 1947 to 1969! He could do little more than what a midwife can do in birth of a child as far as the child’s genetic codes are concerned! The failure of 1971 was not an individuals failure but failure of a system with flawed constitutional geographic philosophic and military organizational and conceptual foundations! I find nothing better to repeat once again the saying that “Success surely has many fathers and failure is an orphan! We must however not forget that the failure of 1971 had roots that go back to 150 years of history!
References and Explanatory Notes
1Page-258 & 259- Pakistan’s Crisis in Leadership-Major General Fazal Muqeem Khan (Retired)-National Book Foundation-Ferozsons-Rawalpindi-1973–Fazal I Muqeem was a sycophant, but a clever one in the sense that once he wrote his first book “The Story of the Pakistan Army”, he was in the run for promotion and naturally had to play the sycophant which most men who rise to higher positions do! In 1973 Fazal was a retired man and under no external motivation to please Ayub! Any dispassionate reader can gauge Fazal’s caliber as a writer from reading both his books. It was certainly much higher than Shaukat Riza whose three books on the Pakistan Army in some ways are harder to decipher than the Dead Sea Scrolls!
2Page-125- The Military in Pakistan-Image and Reality –Brigadier A.R Siddiqi (Retired)-Vanguard-Lahore-1996.
3 Qizilbash is a Persian speaking tribe of Turkish origin employed as mercenary soldiers by Safavid kings of Iran and by Nadir Shah who himself was a Turk but not a Shia unlike the Qizilbashes. Once Ahmad Shah Abdali became the first king of Afghanistan after its independence many Qizilbashes entered his service and were based in Kandahr and later Kabul. Many Qizilbash nobles were posted in Peshawar as Nadir Shah’s officials once Nadir Shah invaded India in 1739. In addition many Qizilbashes were granted estates by Ahmad Shah Abdali and some came and settled in Lahore after the First Afghan War. The Qizilbash were Shia by sect and Persian speaking. Yahya Khan was from the Peshawar branch of Qizilbashes. Those living in Peshawar identified themselves as Pathans and spoke Pashto as a second language but were distinct from Pathans as an ethnic group. Yahya’s father was from the Indian Police Service and served in various appointments as a police officer during the British Raj. Yahya’s brother was also in the Police Service of Pakistan and later served as Director Intelligence Bureau.
4 Page-122- The Pakistan Army-War 1965 –Major General Shaukat Riza (Retired)-Army Education Press-Rawalpindi-1984.
5 The Indians deny this assertion but this is something which is accepted in Pakistan as an irrevocable fact of history. It is of little military bearing since few officers make use of libraries anyway! This career profile may not be very accurate since I do not have access to official records. These details are based on various references to Yahya’s military career. Refers—Page-111- Memoirs of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan-Lieutenant General Gul Hassan Khan -Oxford University Press-Karachi-1993. Pages-131 & 144- The Story of the Pakistan Army- Major General Fazal I Muqeem Khan-Oxford University Press-Lahore-1963. Pages-47 & 122- Shaukat Riza-Op Cit. Page-37 Brig A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit.
6Pages-192 & 194- Partners in Command- – Joseph.T.Glatthaar- The Free Press-New York-1994.
7Page-238-Gul Hassan Khan-Op Cit.
8 Page-28-Fazal Muqeem-Crisis in Leadership–Op Cit.
9Page-154-The Story of Soldiering and Politics in India and Pakistan-Major General Sher Ali (Retired)-First Printed-1976-Third Edition-Syed Mobin Mahmud and Company-Lahore-1988. Page-122-Shaukat Riza-1965-Op Cit.
10 Page-187-Jawan to General—General Mohammad Musa- East and West Publishing Company-Karachi-1984.
11The Punjabis as an ethnic community were the largest community in the officer corps of the pre 1947 Indian Army. No exact statistics exist but by and large the Sikh/Hindus of Punjab were the largest group in the officer community followed by Punjabi Muslims survey of Indian officer cadets done in 1954-56 showed that majority of the officer cadets were from Indian Punjab or from Delhi which was a Punjabi majority city (Indian Parliament Estimates Committee-1956-57-Sixty Third Report-Ministry of Defence Training Institutes-New Delhi-Lok Sabha Secretariat-Appendix-Seven–Quoted by Stephen Cohen-Page-183-The Indian Army-Stephen.P.Cohen-Oxford University Press-New Delhi-1991) after 1947 The Punjabi Muslims were however denied the top slots in the army during the period 1947-72, Ayub being a Hindko speaking Pathan, Musa being a Persian speaking Mongol-Hazara and Yahya being a Persian speaking Qizilbash. Tikka was the first Punjabi chief of the army.In my course of stay in the army I had various discussions with old officers and almost all agreed that there were groupings in most units on parochial lines which were mostly Punjabi and Pathan groups. The Punjabis of areas north of Chenab river tended to be more clannish with stress on district or sub regional groupings like Sargodha, Chakwal, Pindi, Attock Khushab etc. The Punjabis of areas south of Chenab river which were more economically prosperous and more educationally advanced were by and large not parochial having acquired the big city or urban mentality. These tended to look down upon groupings based on caste and district lines and operated more on relations based on personal rapport than kinship on village and district basis. There was definitely a strong feeling in Punjabi officers (something which was most natural) of the pre 1971 era that the army was Pathan dominated.Both Ayub and Yahya although not Pashto speaking were viewed as Pathans by Punjabi officers. Musa was viewed as a rubber stamp and as a mere shadow of Ayub. The Hindustani Muslims the third largest but relatively better educated group (although not distinguished for any unique operational talent) were not united because they were mostly from urban backgrounds and had like the Punjabis from big cities south of Chenab the selfish or self centred big city mentality. Thus as individuals the Hindustani Muslims like the urban Punjabis did well but were not parochial like the Pathans or the Punjabis from north of Chenab river. They were viewed as politically more reliable by virtue of being an ethnic minority but were sidelined from higher ranks in most cases. The most glaring of all was the case of Major General Abrar Hussain who was not promoted despite outstanding war performance at Chawinda.Sahibzada Yaqub who later refused to agree to military action in East Pakistan was also a Hindustani Muslim. Yahya’s circle was not based on ethnicity on the principles of companionship. Thus Peerzada was from Bombay, while Umar and Hameed were Punjabis. Bilgrami another close associate was Hindustani. Lieutenant General Chishti described Yahya’s attitude towards selecting officers for higher command ranks the following words; “Do you see this. I told you, we do not need educated people in the Army” (Quoted by Lieut. Gen. F.A Chishti- Betrayals of Another Kind-Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti-Asia Publishing House-London-1989). It is not possible to cross check Chishti’s statement and it may be an exaggeration.Yahya however did promote some ex rankers and known Yes Men with extremely limited intellect like Tikka and Niazi. Chishti was not an ex ranker. His book on the Zia era is thought provoking and is compulsory reading for anyone who wishes to understand the post 1971 Pakistan Army. Chishti is one of the few generals from the Zia era who did not establish huge business empires like sons of the ex ISI Chief Akhtar Abdul Rahman etc. Chishti’s book contains valuable insights into the sycophantic nature of Zia!
12Page-407 & 408- Ayub Khan-Pakistan’s First Military Ruler –Altaf Gauhar-Sang –I-Meel Publications-Lahore-1993.Altaf Gauhar had the reputation of a “Sycophant Par Excellence” while serving with Ayub as “Information Secretary”. Gauhar a civil servant who had joined the coveted “Civil Service of Pakistan” without sitting in the Indian Civil Service Competitive Examination, having initially been inducted as a Finance Officer, was the man principally responsible as Ayub’s information man for destroying Pakistan’s free press. He was Yahya’s rival and harboured political ambitions. His biography of Ayub is a defense of his benefactor and an attempt to portray Ayub in a favourable light and one who was led astray by evil minded advisors like Bhutto who was again Gauhar’s rival in sycophancy with Ayub, and was far more talented than Guahar. Gauhar was instrumental in the personality assassination campaign of Ayub against Bhutto when Bhutto fell out with Ayub. Later when Bhutto became Prime Minister, Gauhar was booked under law and prosecuted for having the copy of an old “Play Boy” Magazine and half a bottle of Whiskey!
13Page-115-Brigadier A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit.
14This was in 1991 while this scribe was serving in the army and a letter from GHQ was circulated to all headquarters for comments on the proposal of having the appointment of supreme commander of the armed forces.
15Page-239-India and the United States-Estranged Democracies – Dennis Kux-National Defense University Press-Washington D.C-June 1993.
16Arms Trade Register-Arms Trade with Third World-Stockholm International Peace Research Institute- (SIPRI)-1975 and Page-120-Brig A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit.
17Page-148-Fazal Muqeem-Op Cit. It may be noted that during the 1965 war and immediately after cease fire two infantry battalions were raised and added to each existing infantry division. In addition soon after the war one infantry division and two independent infantry brigades wee raised. (Refers-Page-147-Ibid). A new corps headquarter i.e. 4 Corps Headquarters at Lahore was also raised
18Till 1965 East Pakistan was defended by a two brigade infantry division known as 14 Infantry Division. This division had no tank regiment.
19Page-106-Fazal Muqeem-Ibid. Lieutenant General Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was born in 1920 and commissioned in 1940 he served in the Middle East Theatre in WW Two where he saw action in North Africa and became a German/Italian prisoner of war like Sahibzada Yaqub Tikka and Yahya (who later successfully escaped) and later commanded 6 Lancers and 11 Cavalry. He graduated from Command and Staff College Quetta in 1949 and Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Paris and Imperial Defence College London later. Appointed the Vice-Chief of General Staff in 1958, Yaqub was at Staff College Quetta when the 1965 War started. He was sent to Headquarter 1 Corps in order to supply the Headquarters with badly needed Grey matter and was appointed the Deputy Corps Commander of 1 Corps. He later commanded the 1st Armored Division and later appointed Corps Commander and Commander Eastern Command, from where he was sacked by Yahya in March 1971 following Yaqub’s refusal to carry out a military action against the population of East Bengal. Yaqub was later appointed as an ambassador of Pakistan to France was in February 1972 and to the USA in December 1973. He later served as Ambassador to the USSR in 1979-1980 and later as Foreign ministers during the Zia regime from 1980 to 1985. Yaqub was a Hindustani Pathan from Rohailkhand. His ancestors were Yusufzai Pathans, from the Kabul river valley of present NWF Province of Pakistan and had settled in Rohailkhand in modern UP in the 18th century. Yaqub was a fourth generation aristocrat from a family with considerable landed wealth. He was serving in Viceroy’s Bodyguard at the time of partition and later served with Mr. Jinnah as the first Pakistani Muslim Commandant of the Governor General’s Body guard. The unit is now known as President’s bodyguard and is now commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
21Ismail was not as guilty as his corps commander i.e. Lieutenant General Bakhtiar Rana, but was penalised, and sacked. Ismail was sacked because of the Jassar Bridge crisis and replaced by Major General Tikka Khan as General Officer Commanding 15 Division on the afternoon of 8th September 1965. (Refers-Page-153-Shaukat Riza-1965-Op Cit). Brigadier Sardar Ismail Khan was an Army Service Corps Officer and should not have been placed as an infantry division commander in the first place .It is a tribute to General Musa’s intellect that a non fighting arm officer from the services was acting divisional commander of one of the most crucial divisions of the Pakistan Army!
22Many were promoted despite known military incompetence in the 1965 war at brigade level. These included one Brigadier Bashir. Bashir was commanding the 5 Armored Brigade of the 1st Armored Division in Khem Karan area in the 1965 War, and was responsible for its poor handling on 7th 8th and 9th September. Gul a seasoned armor officer squarely condemned Bashir for inefficiency and inaction as commander 5 Armored Brigade. Gul described Bashir’s conduct as that of one who had “drifted into stupour”, one who was not in command of his faculties, and one who did not prod his staff into action! (Refers-Page-214-Gul Hassan Khan-Op Cit). Gul highlighted the deficiencies in Bashir and expressed wonder as to why a career officer who had served as an instructor at the command and Staff College performed so poorly! (See Page-210-Ibid). Bashir was a Kaimkhani Rajput from Rajhastan and had attended the Army War Course in 1964. (Page-35– National Defence College-Rawalpindi-Alumni Directory—Research Cell-National Defence College-Rawalpindi-May 1992) It appeared that Bashir had a good rapport with Yahya and Hamid and survived the Khem Karan fiasco. He became a major general and commanded the 6th Armored Division, the newly raised 23 Division and the newly raised 37 Division. Bashir was retired in 1972 by Tikka since he was perceived as one close to Yahya. He became a Minister in the Zia era. Lieutenant General Yusuf presently serving in the GHQ is a relation of Bashir.
23Page-395- The Indian Armour-History of the Indian Armored Corps-1941-1971–Major General Gurcharan Singh Sandhu-Vision Books-Delhi-1994.
24Page-203-Shaukat Riza-1965 War –Op Cit.
25Pages-116 & 117-Brig A .R Siddiqi-Op Cit.
26Page-67-The Pakistan Army-1966-1971–Major General Shaukat Riza (Retired)–Wajid Ali’s Private Limited-Lahore-Services Book Club-1990. This was the last book in Shaukat Riza’s trilogy. The book is poorly written but extremely valuable in terms of basic facts about organization, order of battle, and names of commander’s etc. It has occasional flashes of insight, which came to Shaukat Riza, and which escaped the simpleton and pedantic although extremely narrow scrutiny of the pedants in the Military Intelligence Directorate, though relatively infrequently. The readers may note that all articles published in the army journals are vetted in some manner by the Military Intelligence Directorate. The book is not reliable in terms of battle accounts, has extremely poor battle maps and does not even give the total casualties of the army. However, due allowance must be given to the author who was not in the prime of his health and was forced to write the book according to the GHQ’s myopic and petty requirements.
27 Page-66-Ibid.
28 This is the standard practice in units, headquarter and schools of instruction. The clerical staffs are such experts that they bring a Solomon’s Solution based on an old letter written in a similar situation, as DFA (Draft for Approval) and the concerned officer signs it with minor alterations! I am sure that the Indians must be operating similarly!
29Page-67-Shaukat Riza-1966-1971-Op Cit.
30Page-111-Fazal Muqeem Khan-Op Cit.
31Page-121-Brig A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit.
32The East wingers viewed everyone from the West Wing as a Punjabi. Punjabi was more of a term to describe all non-East Pakistanis or to be more precise all non-Bengalis. It may be noted that Ayub who ruled the country from 1958-1969 was not a Punjabi, nor was Yahya, nor Bhutto, who was later accused by many to be the principal culprit in 1971 of creating the political crisis which finally led to the March 1971 military crackdown in East Pakistan and finally the 1971 war.
33See Page-136- Sher Ali –Op Cit, for the development of the strategy “defense of East Pakistan lies in West Pakistan”. In 1963 the Bengali representation in the army was just 7.4% in the rank and file and 5.0% in the officer corps. (Refers-Government of Pakistan, National Assembly of Pakistan,Debates,March 8, 1963 as reported on pages-30 & 31- Pakistan Observer- Dacca-Issue dated 27 June 1964.
34The “One Unit” was an absurd administrative arrangement legalised in the 1956 constitution and resented by the smaller provinces of West Pakistan. “One Unit” meant the concentration of the previously four provinces, states and territories into one huge monster of a province known as West Pakistan disregarded the huge differences between the old provinces/territories/states in terms of ethnicity language social and cultural differences and distribution of resources. The “One Unit” was viewed as an instrument of imposing Punjabi domination on the population wise old smaller provinces/states/regions/commissionerates of Sind Baluchistan NWFP Bahawlpur etc.
35Page-104-Pakistan-The Enigma of Political Development – Lawrence Ziring—William Dawson and Sons –Kent –England—1980.
36Page-9- Witness to Surrender – Siddiq Salik—First Published—1977—Third Impression-Oxford University Press-Karachi-1998.
37Siddiq Salik has dealt with the issue in considerable detail and has described Yahya’s final compromise decision of, mixing Bengalis with West Pakistani troops in existing infantry battalions and also raising more purely Bengali battalions of the East Bengal Regiment, as the decision of an indecisive commander. Salik says that Yahya ordered raising of two more battalions (Refers Pages-9 & 10-Siddiq Salik-Op Cit) but Shaukat Riza states that Yahya ordered raising of three more battalions (Refers Page-79-Shaukat Riza-1966-1971-Op Cit). This as per Shaukat Riza happened “some time in 1970” (all praise to staff officers who assisted Shaukat in terms of preciseness of simple facts like dates!!!!!). (Refers-Ibid.).
38The reader must note that Shaukat and Siddiq Salik criticized Yahya’s decision to raise more pure Bengali units with the benefit of hindsight; i.e. Salik doing it eight years after the war and Shaukat leisurely doing so some twenty years later. I remember as a school student in the period 1969-70 in Quetta where my father was a grade two staff officer of operations in the 16 Division in Quetta, that even schoolchildren (most of them being sons of army officers, Quetta being a very large garrison town) used to joke about Bengalis, bragging that one Punjabi/Pathan was equal to ten Bengalis! This was common thinking at that time and what was later branded as Yahya’s blunder, much later after the 1971 fiasco, was an indisputable assertion believed as a common fact in 1970 ! The foreign reader may note that Bengalis were despised as a non martial race from the British times . For Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s anti Bengali views see Page-308-Aligarh’s First Generation – David Lelyveld- Oxford University Press-New Delhi-1978 . For I.H Qureshi’s views see Page-28-Ethnicity and politics in Pakistan-Dr Feroz Ahmad-Oxford University Press-Karachi-1999. For Ayub’s remarks see Page-187-Friends not Masters- Ayub Khan-Oxford University Press-Karachi-1967.
39See Chapter One-Pages-31 to 62- A Layman’s Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis—Eric Berne-Penguin Books-England-Reprinted-1984.
40 Page-Story of My Struggle- Major General Tajammul Hussain Malik (Retired) – Jang Publishers-Lahore-1990.
41Page-80-Shaukat Riza-1966-1971-Op Cit.
42Pages-108 & 109-Brig A.R Siddiqi-Op Cit.
43Footnote on page-78-General Tajammul-Op Cit.
44The inhabitants of areas south of Ambala in Indian Punjab and till Indian Bihar inclusive in the east and till the southern boundaries of modern UP Province of India were referred to as Hindustanis. The bulk of these were Hindus but Muslim Ranghars (also in Hindustani category) and Hindustani Muslims of mostly Pathan descent were predominant in the pre 1857 Bengal Army’s cavalry, which as an arm was far smaller than the much larger infantry. It was this Bengal Army (it had no Bengali soldiers, Bengal only being an administrative classification since the entire area from Burma till the Afghan border till 1858 was known as the Bengal Presidency) which had rebelled in 1857. In addition there were two smaller armies of the Bombay and Madras Presidencies known as the Madras and Bombay armies. These armies had stayed loyal. In 1895 all three armies were merged into one British Indian army.
45See chapter Five, “Pakistan Army Till 1965”–Major Agha Humayun Amin (Retired) –Strategicus and Tacticus –Lahore-17 August 1999. Also, page-7, “Recruiting in India Before and during the War of 1914-1918 “-Army Headquarters, India, 1919. Also see page-Pages-51 & 58- India and World War One-S.D Pradhan –Columbia University Press-1978. There are no exact figure about the ethnicity of fighting arms in 1914. Pradhan places the figure of ethnically Punjabi soldiers at about 50%. These were roughly assessed from the approximate statistics of 1096 infantry companies out of which 431 were wholly Punjabi and 221 were partly Punjabi, and 155 total squadrons of cavalry out of which 95.5 were wholly Punjabi and 47.5 were partly Punjabi.
46Lord Roberts a Bengal Artillery officer who served as C in C of the Madras Army from 1881 to 1885 and the Bengal Army (which meant that he was also C in C India) from 1885 to 1893 was one of the principal exponents of this theory. Roberts was in favour of recruiting the Punjabis and Pathans over Hindustanis who were the vast bulk of the Bengal Army at least as late as 1885 when Roberts became C in C of the Bengal Army. Roberts rationalized his anti Hindustani bias by theorising that the Hindustanis had degenerated as a result of the benefits of the British rule and : not enough adversity. Pages-441 & 442-Forty One Years in India-Volume Two –Lord Roberts- William Bentley and Son-1897. Roberts policy of Punjabising the Indian Army was followed by his successors i.e. Creagh Kitchener etc. till WW One.
47Page–314, A Matter of Honour–Philip Mason, Jonathan Cape–London-1974.
48Page-11-The Indian Army and the King’s Enemies-1900-1947–Charles Chenevix Trench-Printed in German-1988.
49Page-10-Report of the Special Commission appointed by His Excellency the Governor General in Council to enquire into the Organisation and Expenditure of the Army in India – Simla – Government of India Printing Press-1879.
50Page-442-Philip Mason-Op Cit. The layman reader may note that the Pathans had wavered in terms of loyalty to the British once fighting against the Muslim Turks and Germans; with many Tribal area Pathan soldiers defecting to the German lines in France (Page-418 & 425-Ibid), the Turkish lines in Mesopotamia and Egypt/Palestine and some units which even attacked British officers like the 130 Baluchis (Refers-Page- 427-Ibid)
51Page- 426-Ibid.
52Map on page-96–Report of Indian Statutory Commission-Volume One-Calcutta–Government of India–Publication Branch– 1930.
53Page- 349- Fidelity and Honour – Lieut Gen S.L Menezes – Viking- Penguin Books India-New Delhi – 1983. Pages – 514 & 515 – Philip Mason – Op Cit. Page-
54Page-210- Making of Pakistan: The Military Perspective – Noor ul Haq – National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research–Islamabad-Pakistan–1993. Major part of this book is based on the book mentioned in the next footnote, however relatively speaking the author has made a commendable effort in doing some very interesting research about the recruitment policies of the British. The book however suffers from the harm inflicted by Fazal Muqeem once he most fallaciously declared that there were no all-Muslim units in the British Indian Army. A statement which was erroneously accepted first by Cohen the American writer, and later by many more like Noor ul Haq (See page-8-Ibid) as the gospel truth.
55Appendix –16- Expansion of Armed Forces and Defence Organisation-1939-1945–S.N Prasad and Dharm Pal-Combined Inter Services Historical Section-India and Pakistan-1956.
57This myth has the status of being the gospel truth in Pakistan till to date, although the 1971 War and the relatively poor performance in 1965 war did slightly deflate this myth. After 1971 the army’s stature was slightly reduced but soon Mr. Bhutto gave the army a chance to improve its self-image by employment against the Baloch Muslims in the 1974-77 insurgency. The army’s inflated image got a further boost when US aid started flowing inside Pakistan after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Kargill Operation launched in 1999 was a manifestation of this myth. A major general, a certain Jamshed writing in Dawn Daily in May 2000 asserted that the Pakistani Muslims were more martial than the Indians were. Reference is made to Muslims being more martial than all infidels, but the ulterior meaning always is that the Punjabi or Pathan Muslims are more martial!
58Footnote-25-Page-187– Cohen/Indian Army Op Cit.
59Page-7, Brigadier A.R Siddiqi, Op Cit. Jinnah made a historic speech on the occasion of the raising of the 1st Battalion of the East Bengal Regiment. Jinnah thus said “During the foreign regime you were classed as non martial. It is your own country, your own state now and it is up to you to prove your worth”. (Refers-Ibid). Ayub Khan who took over as C in C in 1951 reversed the policy of Mr. Jinnah and no further battalion of the East Bengal Regiment was raised till 1966. Thus the Pakistan Army remained a Punjabi dominated army . The infantry’s regiments i.e. the largest Punjab regiment was more than 65% Punjabi, the remaining being Pathans or Ranghars (Rajput Muslims from East Punjab/Hariana and previously a sub category of Hindustani Muslims of the pre 1947 British Indian Army). The “Baluch” and “Frontier Force” Regiment also being West Pakistani with a 60% Punjabi majority in the “Baluch” regiment and a “Pathan-Punjabi ” parity in the “Frontier Force” Regiment. The Azad Kashmir regiment of the post 1971 war, which was known before 1971 as the “Azad Kashmir Regimental Force” or the “AKRF” was also almost hundred percent Punjabi with the bulk of troops being from the Punjabi speaking districts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir known as “Azad Kashmir” in Pakistan. The other arms like artillery engineers services etc. were also Punjabi dominated. The armored corps (tank corps) was roughly divided into one-third Ranghar Muslims and about 40% Punjabi Muslims and about 30% Pathans. However, some Bengalis were introduced as a small percentage in the 1960s. The recruitment to all infantry and tank regiments was governed by fixed class quotas of “Muslim Sindhi and Baluchi or MS & B” under which all Ranghars were enrolled, “Punjabi Muslim or PM” and “Pathan Muslims or Ptn”. Even promotion of the “Other Ranks” i.e. all rank and file other than officers was governed by class quotas. Much later in 1980-81 the “Sindh Regiment” of infantry was raised. The Sindh regiment was largely Punjabi but from 1989 the Sindhi Muslim proportion was increased and brought to figures varying battalion wise from 15 to 50%. The junior most infantry unit i.e. the “NLI or Northern Light Infantry” was recruited from men of the Gilgit and Skardu Regions of the Federally Administered Northern Areas. The NLI’s origins dates from the 1971 war and it became a regular battalion of infantry in 1998-99. It is almost wholly recruited from the “Northern Areas” which are inhabited by a racial/ethnic group totally different from the Punjabis or Pathans.
60 The reader may note that Ayub ordered destruction of all documents pertaining to his war performance in Burma after he became the Pakistan Army C in C in January 1951. Ayub was C in C till 1958 and President of Pakistan and supreme commander of the armed forces from 1958 till 1969 and thus it was no problem for him to remove all documents that proved his tactical timidity in Burma. However there are other sources that prove that Ayub’s war record was not very illustrious in Burma. Joginder Singh who was his unit officer in the 1930s says that Ayub used to visit his house in 1944 and was not considered fit enough to command a battalion of his parent “Punjab Regiment”. (Refers-Page-30-Behind the Scene-An Analysis of India’s Military Operations-1941-1971-Major General Joginder Singh (Retired)-Lancer International –Delhi-1993). As per Sardar Shaukat Hayat who was an officer in WW One having been commissioned from Indian Military Academy Dera Dun in August 1936.Shaukat states that he met Major General Reese who at that time was commanding the Punjab Boundary Force in 1947. Reese had been Ayub’s General Officer Commanding in Burma and in 1947 was assisting Reese again as Pakistan Army representative. Reese thus told Shaukat; “Shaukat, whatever has come over your people, that against the fine soldier that India has selected to represent their country on the Boundary force, you have selected a man whom I had sent back from Burma when he showed tactical timidity, after the death of his commanding officer? He was therefore posted to the training command in India. How do you expect him to be of any assistance to you, and how could I learn to depend on his wisdom after what he had done in the past? “(Refers- page-182-The Nation that lost its Soul”-Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan-Jang Publishers-Lahore-1995. Sher Ali cited Messervy the first

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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

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3 years ago

Hope major Amin will write something on Qualitative Destruction/Upgrade of pakistani army now

Ali Choudhury
Ali Choudhury
3 years ago
Reply to  VijayVan

If he has something to say about this I hope he finds an editor. His writing is very long-winded. Hope I never have to sit next to him at a wedding.

3 years ago

LOL, i find the approach of retried Pak army officers and retired Indian bureaucrats very similar. Perhaps because they are the ‘permanent establishment’ of respective countries. Both groups find enlightenment after retirement.

In last few weeks, a host of Indian ex Governers, deputy Governors, and even random board members of Reserve Bank have launched tell all books on how to fix the Indian economy. Pity that when they were in power none of them came up with these path breaking ideas.

3 years ago

Long winded, a lot of repitions, but it does not reveal anything new than what has already been written and talked about. It just reaffirms the Pakistani mindset that has resulted in the country losing a half. Based on what the Majorbsays, militarily and politically, Pakistan has not moved from the 1950’s. Army running industries, Army chief’s selected by favouritism, Army as defacto ruler, why don’t the Pakistanis read history?

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