Sept 6 reflections

September 17, 2019

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THIS is apropos the letter by Umar M. Makhdumi (Sept 6). September 6 is an important milestone in the history of Pakistan. Fifty-four years ago two-thirds of our population did not exist or was too young to recall certain happenings.

I was a young captain and happened to visit Chamb-Jaurian, Sialkot and Kasur sectors during the war between Sept 9 and 22. I venture to delineate some observations before officers of my generation wither away.

After the Kutch crisis of April 1965, we deployed our troops in many areas in proper defensive positions. But when an accord was reached as a result of arbitration by an international commission in July, some troops were pulled back from forward areas, although many units and formations remained in their concentration areas.

When Operation Grand Slam was launched on Sept 1, 1965, in Chamb-Jaurian sector, the requirement of taking appropriate defensive measures on the eastern borders was not given because of the notion that Indians will never cross international borders.

On the morning of Sept 6, we had only screens (a small number of forward troops) at BRB canal in Lahore sector. We were members of CENTO and SEATO but our mighty friends never informed us about the Indian designs.

Despite Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s anouncement of opening a ‘front of own choice’ his words were not taken seriously. Our troops fought bravely and at places desperately. They suffered heavily when a battalion was asked to attack a battalion position of the enemy.

The people of Pakistan showed unprecedented unity and stood as one. The crime rate fell to zero. Black out at night was religiously observed. The morale of the troops and people remained high. Many countries of the world got to know of Pakistan, its resilience and potential.

We do not need a certificate from any one, especially the Indians, as to who won. The fact remains that a big country with seven to eight times greater in number of its armed forces could not achieve a decisive victory. It is in this context that some of my comrades developed feeling of victory.

As far as Gen JN Chaudhri’s declaration of victory is concerned let it be known that after his dream to capture Lahore was shattered, this C-in-C of Indian army issued orders for troop withdrawal to the East bank of river Sutlej.

Brig (retd) Khalid Hassan Mahmood
Karachi

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019