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INTRODUCTION
This is a brief account of a crucial and traumatic
phase of Pakistani history based on conversations
with my father who was a grade two operations
general staff officer in Pakistans 16 Division from
1969 to 1971.
The principal historical value of this account is in
understanding perceptions of Pakistani military at
the time of the East Pakistan Crisis of 1971 that led
to creation of Bangladesh.

THE ACCOUNT
I was posted GSO 2 Operations in end July 1969
and took over Aug 1969 . Major General Nawazish
was GOC but left in October 1969.
16 Divisions operational role was defence of
Afghan Border.
There were three brigades , 34 Brigade (Brig M
Shafi-FF) , 124 Brigade (Brigade Nur-FF) 205 RYK
Brigade (Brig Durrani FF) , 25 Indep Brigade (Brig
Ameer Hamza) ,Sulaimanke .
All brigades were located at Quetta.
Comd artillery was Brig Ansari.
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Armour- 33 Cavalry.
As stated Maj Gen Nawazish left in Oct
1969.Brigadier Ansari a highly mediocre officer
who was commander artillery held acting
command of 16 Division on departure of Nawazish.

Major General A.B Awan (Arty/Avn) came end 1969


and left in January Feb 1970 for Comdt Staff
College.In the style of those days he came via
Kabul driving from Pindi via Torkham.
An exercise was held in Usta Mohd (watermanship
trg) .Everyone was supposed to cross Kirthar
Branch . An OR drowned.
A.B Awan came to see the exercise. There was no
accommodation .We requested the Deputy
Commissioner of Jacobadabad DC who asked Mr
Mohibullah Shah the assistant commissioner of
Usta Mohammad .He vacated his room in a mud
house where the GOC slept at night while the
divisional staff slept outside.There was simply no
concept of air conditioners in those days.
Feb 1970- Maj Gen Sharif commanded 16 Division
for three months. Sharif was a forced bachelor as
he had some family issues and was not living with

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his wife.Sharif was deadly weight conscious and
only consumed tea in the tea break. Tea break was
served only once a week.
People were afraid of him specially GSO 1
Lieutenant Colonel Ejaz (Punjab) , AQ Lt Col EAS
Bukhari , while Col Abdullah Saeed was in 303
Tribunal in Pindi.
My relationship was cordial and I was asked by all
staff officers to discuss all issues with him as no
one was willing to enter his office.
One day the GOC asked me to tell his ADC to have
his dinner with him at the GOC house where the
ADC had an annexe.The ADC a Punjab regiment
officer refused as he said that the GOC was too dry
and unbearable company !
Sharif was instrumental in elections being held
peacefully.Akbar Bugti was the only politician who
visited him frequently.
April 1970 Maj Gen Nazar Hussain Shah 3rd Baluch
came from Joint Staff Headquarters Pindi.Col Staff
was Abdullah Saeed (IMA-PMA) till Oct 1970 . Later
succeeded by Col Akbar (Arty/6 PMA).
GSO 1 Lt Col Ejaz went to Fort Leavenworth and
succeeded by Lt Col Ghulam Dastagir.

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At that time FC was headed by full colonel.
16 Division staff was sent to Jacobabad for anti
Bugti operation against Bugti tribesmen who used
to loot crops in Sindh .We were told by the
Intelligence that the Bugti tribesmen forcibly had
sex with sindhi women and the children born
through this affair were called Marata Bugti.We
stayed in Circuit House at Jacoababad but the
operation was called off by the GOC Major General
Sharif as unnecessary .The DC at that time was
Fatima surayas brother, later probably sacked in ZA
Bhutto tenure.
36 Baluch (R and S ) commanded by Aslam Beg
from 1969 to 1970 . Aslam Beg was a good friend
and we had shared accommodation as neighbours
in Lahores Napier Hotel in 1962-64 where he was a
brigade major and I was serving in 4 Engineer
Battalion .He was posted to Kharian 9 Div and
later went to East Pakistan and later came to 1971
war course.
Army held very fair election in 1970 in Baluchistan
and locals really appreciated it.

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In Dec 1970 GOC Maj Gen Nazar Hussain Shah 3rd
Baluch took over as GOC.Disturbances in East
Pakistan had commenced.One day he called me
and said that as you know the GSO I Lt Col Ghulam
Dastagir is a Bengali and I dont want to put him in
a difficult situation.
Top secret SITREP from GHQ will come and you will
receive from SIG Centre and not show to GSO 1 .
Sitreps started coming about trouble in east
Pakistan.Only two persons saw ,myself and GOC as
there was no colonel staff and were filed in safe.

In early 1969 Yahya Khan issued secret


instructions that ML may be imposed and GOC 16
Division would be MLA.
In Dec 1970 an Ex without troops was held in
Muzaffargarh .
General Yahya Khan came and bridge on Chenab
was made by 1st Engr Bn comd by Lt Col Syed
Jawwad Hussain Naqvi.
Col Staff Akbar , GSO 2 Ops and GSO 2 Int went
and 2 Corps GSO 1 ops was shah rafi alam.
In Jan 1971 Yahya Khan announced LFO.

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Assembly session postponed and strong reaction
in east Pakistan commenced . We frequently
discussed this issue and most thought thast
assembly session must be called with or without Mr
ZA Bhuttos agreement.
On 1st Mar 1971 order came from GHQ that 34 Bde
(three battalions- 27 FF ,22 Baluch , 4 FF) should
move to East Pakistan.Move from Quetta to Karachi
by rail and Karachi to dacca by air-Only rifles ,
company and battalion weapons and wireless were
carried.No artillery was taken.
First week of March 1971 the move took place. 57
Bde holding DACCA city.
On 10th March 1971 205 Brigade moved to
Chittagong.
On 26 Mar 1971 HQ 16 Div asked to move.
124 Bde stayed in Quetta.35 FF stationed in
Chaman.Maj Basit Ali Khan (8 PMA) a very fine
officer was BM 205 Bde.
Nasrullah FF-ssg was BM 34 Bde. Jalil Bengali was
25 Bde BM .
26 Mar 1971 reached Dacca (6 hours) early
morning.

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Eastern command received us and our
arrangements were made at the MNA Hostel which
also housed 34 Bde mess. AC did not exist at that
time and I am surprised today when I see the
amount of ACs being used in the army .
ISSB HQ given to 16 Div as HQ in Dacca.
Next day 27 March 1971 we were ordered to go to
Rangpur . We travelled in a 5 Seater with ceiling of
8000 feet belonging to plant protection. The GOC ,
Colonel Staff and myself travelled . The instructions
were that Rajshahi division would be under comd
16 div.
At Rangpur we landed on a football field as there
was no airfield.

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Abdullah Khan Malik Bde Comd 23 Bde received
us . 29 C was commanded by Lt col
sagheer.Rangpur absolutely calm.
Same day we came back to Dacca.
Dinajpur 26 FF part of 23 Bde absolutely peaceful.
34 Bde was grouped with 57 Bde in Dacca.
1st April 57 bde (Brig Jahanzeb Arbab) ordered to
move to Pabna Ishaurdi Nator Rajshahi Santahar
and come to Bogra.
All population used to disappear before army
reached and there was no fighting.
34 Bde ordered 2nd april to follow 57 Bde. 34 Bde
established HQ in Nator .34 Brigade Commander
who was a handsome man was sacked for
cowardice and replaced by Brig Aslam Niazi famous
for being a phenomenally heavy drinker.
25 Punjab CO Lt Col Shafqat Baloch in Rajshahi ( 23
Bde ) was sacked by Mitha for cowardice and
replaced by Lt Col Abdullah (7th or 8th PMA) .
25 Punjab placed under 34 Bde. 32 Punjab already
under 34 Bde. 12 Punjab also part of 34 Bde.
4 FF was in 205 Brigade (Col Abbasi -5th OTS- good
offr) 8 Baluch also part of 205 Bde.
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57 Bde went to 9 Div Kushtia in April 1971.
1ST WEEK OF april 1971 16 Div haq went to Ishurdi
by C 130 .
No transport .
There was no transport so I got hold of a civilian
Bus which I mysel drove . Diesel was arranged
from an abandoned fuel train on the station.
Drove to Nator palace of Hindu Raja.Raja had
migrated to India long ago and palace held by
govt.
No fighting in Rajshahi division except Pabna where
some people of 25 Punjab. Santahar many Biharis
but not more than 400 were killed.
Bogra no fighting.North west Bengal.
We discovered that whole trains were taken to
India including DC of Rajshahi by force . He came
back after one month and stayed as DC Rajshahi.
Patrolling done but area peaceful.
Eastern comd revealed in end August 1971 indian
attack plan revealed by eastern comd. The plan
was exactly the one executed by Indians with same
force ratios.

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It is shocking that our GHQ planners took no action
following discovery of this plan which as per force
ratios clearly proved that Indians would overrun
East Pakistan.
Eastern comd issued op instructions that defence
will be fortress defence.
Pabna fortress , Natore Fortress rajshahi Fortress,
Hill Fortress, Dinajpur,Thakurgaon, Rangpur , Bogra
stocked with ration and ammunition for at least six
weeks.
Concept was that when war will start army will
fight as fortresses because of Indian air superiority
and fear of mukti bahini.This plan was made by
Eastern Comd under lt gen Niazi.
In june 1971 33 Div was formed and I came to
hand them over all secret docs.Staff college
instructors requested for briefing as my cousin
Lieutenant Colonel Agha Manzur Rauf also a DS
informed them.
I was shocked that there was great optimism which
I would call misplaced optimism and staff college
instructors were CONVINCED that if war starts
Pakistan would win.

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I briefed staff college instructors about operations
situation under control except that during night
mukti bahini was active.
Indians did arty firing all along the border from
april 1971. Indians had fixed timings so at that
time people did not go out.fixed ration of five to six
rounds.

Essence of my briefing was that during war Indian


air will knock out dacca airfield on first day of the
war so day movement would not be possible due
to Indian air and night movement would also be
very difficult due to Mukti Bahini and the chances
were that East Pakistan would be overrun.
Limpid mines magnetic soviet origin were used . no
ship was sunk but delayed.
Mines planted by mukti bahini near cut tel lines.
Railways massively damaged.
September end posting order came 6 engr bn
part of 14 div going by ship from Khulna came with
27 baluch.
Flew to Karachi 7 oct 1971.
Reached Jhelum 15 oct 1971.
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20 Oct 1971 took comd .
Unit reached Jhelum on 16 oct 1971.
200 soldiers deserted but we took no action as
they were desperate due to prolonged stay in east
Pakistan. Most returned to unit in 2 to 4 days .
Only action taken against those who overstayed for
long duration one or two people.
25 oct 1971 sent to 8 div to lay minefield.
Also 7 engr (8 div) and 8 engr (6 armd div) also
took part in minefd laying.
21 nov minefield finished.
Went to chak jhumra22 nov .
Bridge trg on bangle khudadad on small canal.
3rd dec 1971 went to ballewala between arif wala
and sahiwal.
Two bridges on eastern sadiqiya canal one at
jalwala (7 div)and one at gulab ali on hakra branch
for first armd div.
Jalwala rafi alam suggested that area was boggy
and armour would get stuck.
2 corps engr comd was saad tariq.

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CONCLUSION
ARMY OP WAS NOT FEASIBLE IN EAST PAKISTAN.
NO EFFORT WAS MADE TO ENGAGE SH MUJIB UR
REHMAN.
NAVAL POWER DID NOT EXIST
AIR POWER DID NOT EXIST
USA A SUPER POWER WAS TRYING TO GET OUT OF
VIETNAM.
YAHYA KHAN WAS KEPT IN PABBI REST HOUSE FOR
FGCM.
ARMY ACTION DECISION IN 1971 WAS TAKEN
IMPROMPTU.
ARMY WAS HOLDING MAXIMUM 10 PERCENT AREA.
DAYLIGHT MOVEMENT WAS NO PROBLEM AT ALL
AND NO ONE EVER ATTACKED ARMY.
ARMY LEADERSHIP SIMPLY FAILED TO CLEARLY
ASSESS THE SITUATION.
The greatest failure was at strategic level where
Pakistan Army had no plan to save East
Pakistan as I harshly discovered when I was
posted to Pakistan Armys Military Operations
Directorate in 1973 as GSO -1 Plans.

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The galaxy of inflated and overrated
strategic failures in this exercise include
Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan Gul Hassan and
Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan.

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