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Forgotten Pioneers - Hazara Pioneers, Hazaras & General

Muhammad Musa Khan -My Comments at the end of the

post-Major A.H Amin (Retired)
August 14, 2011

Several questions regarding background of Hazara recruitment in Indian army, details

of British officers and VCOs of Hazara Pioneers, General Musa's connection with the
battalion and controversies related to his promotion resulted in the following piece. Only
for those who are interested in military history of a bygone era.

Warm Regards,


Forgotten Pioneers - Hazara Pioneers, Hazaras & General Muhammad Musa


Hamid Hussain

Hazara are an ethnic group of Afghanistan inhabiting central highlands. They are Shia
and have peculiar mongoloid features. In late 1800s, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of
Afghanistan conquered their area and persecuted them. Large numbers of Hazara were
killed and many enslaved. This persecution forced many Hazara to migrate to British
Baluchistan, Central Asia and Mashhad in Iran in large numbers. Hazara had worked as
migrant workers in Baluchistan for a long period of time but it was in late 1800s that
large scale migration to Baluchistan occurred. Hazara were recruited in small numbers
in British Indian army after Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1880. They were mainly
concentrated in 124th and 126th Baluchistan Infantry (each battalion had a company of
Hazaras). For a while Guides Cavalry recruited a troop of Hazara but later it stopped
recruiting Hazara. Recruitment in Indian army provided Hazara not only physical safety
from persecution but also opened new avenues for their future generations. Education
combined with hard work helped in upward social mobility of Hazara in British India and
later in the successor Pakistani state.
Hazara Pioneers was raised in 1904 by Major Claude William Jacob. Claude was born in
India and had a long family tradition of military service in India. His grandfather was
Lieutenant Colonel William Jacob who served in East India Company (EIC) army. His
father was Major General William Jacob (19th Bombay Infantry). Two of his uncles
Lieutenant Colonel John Jacob and Colonel Swinton Jacob also served in Indian
army. Jacob after commission served for two years with 29th Foot (now First Battalion of
Worcestershire Regiment) before transferring to Indian army. He served initially with
130th Baluchistan Infantry (later 5/10 Baluch and now 12 Baloch of Pakistan army) and
later with 126th Baluchistan Infantry (later 2/10 Baluch and now 7 Baloch of Pakistan
army). When raising eight companies of 106thHazara Pioneers, he brought Hazara
companies from 124th and 126th Baluchistan Infantry that formed the nucleus of the new
regiment. Jacob commanded the regiment for seven years. Jacob later rose to become
Field Marshal. He was Colonel of Hazara pioneers from 1916 to 1933. He was also
Colonel of 2/10 Baluch Regiment (old 126th Baluchistan Infantry) as well as
Worcestershire Regiment. Jacob's younger brother Arthur Le Grand Jacob succeeded
the command of 106th Hazara Pioneers in 1911 and commanded it for four years. Arthur
was commissioned in his brother's battalion; 130th Baluchistan Infantry. Later, he spent
a long career on the frontier and was an expert on Mahsud and Wazir tribes. He served
as second-in-command of South Waziristan Militia before taking command of Hazara
Pioneers. Claude's brother in law Lieutenant Colonel Whyte commanded Hazara
Pioneers in 1926.

Pioneer regiments were mainly engineer battalions responsible for military road
work. They were also trained as infantry to protect themselves in case of
attack. 106th Hazara Pioneers mainly served in Baluchistan and North West Frontier. In
First World War, one company of 106th Hazara Pioneers was sent to Iraq to serve with
107th Pioneers. In 1922-23 reorganization, only four pioneer regiments remained in
Indian army. 106th Hazara Pioneers was re-named first battalion of 4th Hazara
Pioneers. Other three pioneer regiments were Ist Madras, 2nd Bombay and
3rd Sikh. Hazara soldiers were very good marksmen. They won many competitions of
Indian army including Meerut Cup, Carnatic Gold cup and Rawlinson Shield. Two
Viceroy's Commissioned Officers (VCOs) Jamadar Kalbe Raza and Jamadar Yaqub Ali
won King's Medal in Meerut for best shots. In sports, Hazara soldiers were very good
hockey players. They played all over India and in 1926 many Hazara were in the hockey
team of Indian army that toured New Zealand.
Subedar Major Ali Dost spent his long career with Hazara Pioneers and when he was
compulsory retired, he went to Kabul. He was given the title of honorary Major General
by Kabul authorities and he tried to discourage Hazara recruitment in British army. His
son Dr. Zamin married daughter of Hazara leader in Kabul Nadir Ali Khan Jaghori who
was at one time senator in Afghan parliament. In 1933, all pioneer regiments of Indian
army including 4thHazara Pioneers were disbanded.

General Mohammad Musa is the most famous Hazara soldier. He was born in 1908 in
Quetta. His father Subedar Sardar Yazdan Bakhsh had migrated from Afghanistan in
1890 and joined 126th Baluchistan Infantry. In 1904, when Hazaras of 124th and
126th Baluchistan Infantry were transferred to raise 106th Hazara Pioneers, he also came
to 106th Hazara Pioneers. In 1923 Waziristan expedition, he served as acting Subedar
Major when Subedar Major Ali Dost was on leave. Jealousies among VCOs resulted in
compulsory retirement of Yazadan at the rank of Subedar. Two officers of the battalion
Major Greer and Captain Stephenson (Adjutant) advised Yazdan to have his son Musa
enlisted in the battalion and he joined the battalion as recruit in November 1926. Musa
served in the ranks for four years and promoted to the rank of Naik.

In 1930, he attended Army School of Education at Belgaum that prepared non-

commissioned officers. He joined the first batch of Indian Military Academy (IMA) in
October 1932 and was commissioned in 1935. He spent first year with Ist Battalion
Royal Norfolk Regiment. Commanding Officer (CO) of 6/13 Frontier Force Rifles (now 1
Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army) Lieutenant Colonel Bunbury who had served
with Musa's father arranged for Musa's appointment to 6/13 FFRif.

In 1936, Musa's brother officer in 6/13 FFRif. was Lieutenant Kanhaya Lal Atal (later
Major General and brother of Major General Hira Lal Atal). During Second World War,
he spent only a short period of time with his battalion in Middle East and didn't see any
major action. He came back to India in December 1941 to attend Staff College course
at Quetta. After that he served as GSO-II at Officers Training School (OTS) Mhow for
six months and then three years in Intelligence Bureau in Quetta. In October 1946, he
was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Armed Forces Nationalization Committee where
he became friends with Secretary of the committee Lieutenant Colonel B. M. Kaul (later
Lieutenant General of Indian army). In October 1946, orders were issued posting him to
Ist Sikh Light Infantry (a wartime raised battalion consisting of Mazhabi and Ramdasia
Sikhs) but Musa didn't respond for few months. Later, the chaos of partition prevented
Musa from joining Sikh Light Infantry.
In August 1947, he was appointed GSO-1 of Lahore Area Headquarters followed by the
command of 103rd infantry Brigade in Sialkot and 52nd Brigade in Quetta. He
commanded 14th Division in East Pakistan. Later he served as Deputy Chief Of Staff
(COS), Chief of Joint Services Secretariat at Ministry of Defence and COS. After 1958
coup, General Ayub Khan appointed him C-in-C. In 1962, he was given extension of
another four years and he retired in 1966. He died in 1991 and according to his wishes
was buried in Mashhad in Iran.

Musa was a gentleman but almost all agree that there were many other qualified senior
officers and Ayub chose him for his loyalty. He was not seen as a potential threat to
Ayub's own ambitions. His promotion resulted in many premature
retirements/resignations of other senior officers. October 1956, when Musa was
appointed COS, then Chief of General Staff (CGS) Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi
put in a representation to government arguing that he was more qualified. Sher Ali was
retired on December 31, 1956 and General Head Quarters (GHQ) sent a signal to
formations stating that Sher was removed because of doubts about his loyalty. Ayub
already had problems with Sher going back to 1951. When Sher was serving as
Adjutant General (AG), newly appointed first native C-in-C Ayub wrote a negative
remark in his Annual Confidential Report (ACR) in May 1951. When Sher represented
against this, Ayub recommended Sher's removal from the service to the
government. However, then Defence Secretary Iskandar Mirza overruled Ayub and had
negative remarks removed from Sher's file. Careers of Major General Nasir Ali Khan and
Major General Muhammad Abdul Latif were also cut short as Musa climbed promotion
ladder. In October 1959, COS Lieutenant General Habibullah Khan Khattak was
prematurely retired after serving for only ten months under Musa.

Musa could be criticized on professional grounds, however many used derogatory

remarks referring to his humble background and being commissioned from
ranks. Generally, officers commissioned from the ranks were considered low in the
social hierarchy of officer corps and were often called 'rankers'. However, the most
uncharitable remarks were made by Major General Sher Ali when he wrote in his
autobiography that ''Why are we so particular, before purchasing a horse, a dog, or a
cat, to check its pedigree? And yet when selecting the most sophisticated animal the
man- we do not always apply this rule". He was obviously referring to preference of
Musa as COS over him highlighting his blue blood heritage of being the scion of a
princely family against the humble origins of Musa.
Like many other tribal groups, Hazara also lost their semi-independent status in
Afghanistan in late 1800s when a centralized state asserted control over semi-
independent regions.

The only difference was that Hazara were systematically persecuted by the state that
left a deep wound on Hazara psyche that is visible even today. Many Hazara were
enslaved in Afghanistan and even after formal abolition of slavery in early twentieth
century their social status remained at the bottom of the society. The history of this
suffering was transmitted through oral traditions to later generations.

Confronted with systemic and prolonged persecution, many such communities such as
Jews, Ahmadis and Bahais develop a sense of perseverance and they work extremely
hard to excel in the chosen fields to prove that they are not inferior. A similar spirit is
seen among some Hazara. Many broke enormous barriers to be successful in different
fields. In Pakistan, many Hazara served with distinction in armed forces and police.

In Afghanistan, after the fall of Taliban, a Hazara renaissance occurred in the last
decade. In education and female emancipation Hazara are at the forefront. Male and
female literacy and higher education is on the rise and many Hazara are excelling in
higher education both inside Afghanistan as well as internationally. It is to the credit of
Hazara that they have produced a female human rights pioneer, a female mayor, a
female governor of the country and many female army and police officers.

Hazara were discriminated because of their peculiar features therefore many decided to
wear that badge with honor. Many Hazara in Pakistan adopted the name Changez
(some proudly use the last name as Hazara). Two most successful Hazara are retired
Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi (he is married to General Musa's daughter Azra) and
Major General Changez Dil Khan; a first rate cavalry officer currently commanding an
elite armored division and destined for higher posts. Large scale massacre of Hazara
occurred during Taliban rule and in Pakistan they have been the target of sectarian
killers in Baluchistan. This is bringing back the painful memories of Hazara persecution
of the nineteenth century; however Hazara spirit is still strong.

Selected Readings:
3- General (R) Mohammad Musa. Jawan to General: Recollections of a Pakistani
Soldier(Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1984), Reprint 2008.
4- Major General Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan Pataudi. The Story of Soldiering and
Politics in India & Pakistan (Lahore: Wajidalis, 1978)
5- Major General (R) Shaukat Riza. The Pakistan Army 1947-1949 (Rawalpindi:
Services Book Club, 1989)
6- Shuja Nawaz. Crossed Swords: Pakistan Its Army, and the Wars Within (Karachi:
Oxford University Press, 2008)

Hamid Hussain

August 13, 2011

Defence Journal

15 August, 2011
Hazara Pioneers
Hazara Pioneers and comments and reflections on Hazaras as I saw them

An excellent article on Hazara Pioneers.

Hazara Pioneers were employed by Brigadier General Dyer of Jallianwalla Bagh notoriety
in Sarhad District of Iranian Baloch in First World War.

In his book Raiders of Sarhad Brigadier Dyer writes words to the effect that Hazara
Pioneers were panting to kill the Reki and other Baloch of Sarhad district who being
Sunni the Pioneers regarded as infidels and that this would guarantee them a place in
paradise.Words to this effect.I read the book in 1977 or 1978.

I will try to find it and would quote Dyers exact remarks.

It is a sad history of how the Britishers divided India and this region and used one tribe
against another !
The Punjabis against Hindustanis , Gurkhas against Pashtuns , Turi Shias against non
Shia Pashtuns , Hazara Pioneers against Baloch , a Punjabi Police force in Quetta to
control Quetta , Hindustanis against Santhals , Hindustanis against Mysore and so on.

Dost Mohammad Khan had a soft corner for Shias as his mother was a Qizilbash but the
persecution of Hazaras was taken to highest limits by Amir Abdul Rahman Khan .In his
tenure Hazaras were forced their most beautiful girls to the Emir anually.

But note that Abdul Rahman was equally harsh with Pashtun and Uzbek and all

Personally I have many Hazara friends having studied with them at Quetta in 1968-
77.They were the most adventurous and sports loving people.

Whenever I climbed the Murdar Garh Mountain near my house in Quetta I would see
Hazara men on their morning walk climbing Murdar Garh.Never or hardly ever saw any
Pashtun or Punjabi or Baloch other than a lone Baloch who had land in Murdar Garh and
visited via its northern approach via the Sor Garh ring road circling Murdar.

My Afghan American NGO boss a Pashtun always employed Hazara staff at house and
told me once that he liked them because they were far more cleaner in personal hygiene
and more hard working than Pashtuns or Tajiks ! Note that this gentleman himself was a
Pashtun ! Taking his tip I also employed a Hazara maid and she turned my house at
Kabul into heavens on earth.

Indeed I would say that 70 % of maid servants in Kabul were Hazaras.

The assertion of Husseini in Kite Runner about masters of the house fathering sons from
Hazara maid servants is a hard fact of Afghan history.

What I liked about Ismaili Hazaras was their liberal attitude towards religion.My
girlfriend never distinguished between Ramzan or other months of the year.
In Afghanistan again on my morning walks to Tapa i Bibi Mahru I saw Hazaras
exercising and jogging.I hardly ever saw any ethnicity doing it.

My Khalqi friend a senior leftist regime member loved Hazara women as he said they
were hairless unlike many non Hazara women.

Note that this officer had been friends with women of Naghmas stature in beauty and
fame !

To sum up the Hazaras are a great people and it is sad that they have been tageted
becase of ethnicity and sect.

Personally I dont think that Changez Dil Khan is a Hazara.He as far as I know belongs
to Shamsabad near Attock and is brotherin law of Lieutenant General Salahuddin Tirmizi.

An outstanding Hazara officer missed here is Brigadier Khadm Ali Changezi from 11
Cavalry who played a crucial role in 11 Cavalry battles at Chamb in 1971.He was also
founder of Cadet College Mastung.

It is right that Hazaras were persecuted in Afghanistan.However the leftists altgough

Pashtun dominated finished this discrimination and Sultan Ali Kishtmand was given
prime ministers position twice by the Khaliqis and Parchamis .

The true liberators of Hazaras were the leftists as well as the USSR who gave them
respect and political acceptance.

The Pakistan sponsored Afghan Taliban are die hard enemies of Hazaras.

In Quetta starting from 1990s Hazaras have been systematically attacked by Afghan
Taliban and the Hazaras are now migrating to Karachi and Punjab.

Parachinar also has some Hazaras from the Fauladi clan.

Jughuri in Ghazni Province Afghanistan has one of the highest literacy rates in

with Mulla Izzats brother in law at Qargah Lake
With Greg Polk and Begjan
with Beg Jan at Tapa i Bibi Mahru
with 15 Lancers officers and then Major Changez Dil 1995