Crossed Swords,Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within

-Shuja Nawaz , (Oxford University Press,Pakistan , 2008700 pages; 13 black and white photographs, 6 maps; ISBN13: 978-0-19-547660-6ISBN10: 0-19-547660-3)
Book Review by A.H Amin


Crossed Swords is the latest addition to the list of books dealing with Pakistan Army . Written with an eye on the Western audience by a Pakistani who has settled in USA the book is a welcome addition to books on Pakistan Army.It contains some new sources and some new information .Unfortunately most of the information is anecdotal and the narrators are extolling their own performance.

The author’s viewpoint is somewhat subjective as he is a brother of one of the ex chiefs of Pakistan Army General Asif Nawaz.

The book contains some factual errors , some possibly typing errors,expected from Oxford University Press Pakistan which has a reputation of doing this.Some errors are however historical and factual and were entirely avoidable.On page 8 3rd Light Cavalry of Meerut fame is written as 3rd Light Infantry and on page 9 becomes 3rd Light Cavalry.On page 22 Ayub Khan is placed in Assam regiment though Ayub’s battalion officer Joginder Singh specifically stated that Ayub Khan was in Chamar Regiment in WW Two.On page 426 Naseerullah Khan Babar is promoted to lieutenant general and similar fate befalls Major General Sarfaraz Khan on page 223.13 Lancers becomes 13 Cavalry on page 305.On page 470 he changes the ethnicity of Sardar Balakh Sher Mazari a Baloch Seraiki by calling him a Punjabi , an honour that no Baloch would like to have.

A far more serious error Shuja makes while discussing the ethnic composition of Pakistan Army on page 570.He states that Sindhis and Baluchis are 15 percent of Pakistan Army.This is a serious distortion of history.The term Muslim Sindhi and Baluchi abbreviated to MS & B was given to Ranghar/Kaimkhani/Khanzada Rajout recruitment in Pakistan Army in 1950s.The aim was to rationalise the recruitment of Ranghars in Pakistan Army.Later the usuper Zia in order to appease the Sindhis created the Sindh Regiment but Sindhis as far as my resaech reveals are far less than Ranghars/Kaimkhanis/Khanzada Rajputs in the army.The Ranghars are a significant class in fightig arms being some at least 35 % of armour and distinct from Punjabis.The Baloch are hardly represented in the army.As a matter of fact the Pakistan Army has such a reputation in Balochistan that no Baloch would like to join it.All thanks to General Musharraf,Zia and ZA Bhuttos policies.

These are expected errors and more so from Oxford University Press Pakistan known for changing authors photograph with those of their uncles on jackets of books as they did with Colonel M.Y Effendi in his book Punjab Cavalry published by Oxford University Press in 2007.The old prince narrated to me the sad story when I met him and was also quite cheesed off by the fact that the princess running the Oxford Pakistan is too arrogant to meet any author or to even discuss anything on telephone.

The above errors are insignificant.However Shuja has made some asertions which can be classified as serious errors or even distortion of history.On page 71 he asserts that calling off of Operational Venus by Pakistan’s civilian government was one of the reasons why the 1947-48 war failed.I state this because the sub title of the chapter is ” Why the War Failed”.On the other hand he fails to point out the major fatal decision when the Pakistani government refused to allow the armoured cars of 11 PAVO Cavalry to assist the tribesmen in breaking through to Srinagar.Those who are not familiar should know that the main reason why the tribals failed to take Srinagar was because Indian armour counterattacked them and destroyed them at Shalateng.This fact was discussed by Brig A.A.K Chaudhry also in his book.Operation Venus plan came much later.At that time the Indian Army was well established in Kashmir and well poised to meet any threat.Very few participants of the Kashmir War have left any written accounts of their war experiences. General Iqbal who participated in the war and later on rose to the rank of full general and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, long after the Kashmir War made one very thought provoking remark about the Kashmir War in an article in the Pakistan Army Green Book 1992. This particular publication was sub titled ‘Year of the Senior Field Commanders’. Iqbal wrote; ‘During 1948 Kashmir Operations I saw one senior officer sitting miles behind the frontline and counting availability of mules and rations. He had relegated the fighting to a senior battalion commander .In 1963 once Major General Fazal I Muqueem Khan in his book The Story of Pakistan Army .Fazal thus wrote; ‘To the Army’s horror, Pakistan during her greatest hour of triumph in Kashmir agreed to accept the ceasefire…it was difficult to understand why Pakistan let that opportunity pass. Was it assumed weakness; or as a result of pressing advice; or from misplaced chivalry towards an unfriendly neighbour in distress? Whatever the reason,Pakistan’s reluctance to accept the risks of continuing the war,cost her Kashmir at that time. It was a risk worth taking.”

The Pakistani attack force collected for Operation Venus consisted of about six infantry battalions and two armoured regiments. To oppose this the Indians had two infantry brigades (50 Para Brigade and 80 Infantry Brigade) .In addition there were two armoured regiments in the same area i.e. Central India Horse and the Deccan Horse . In addition the Indians also possessed 14 other armoured regiments which were not in Kashmir but in Punjab or Western UP and could move to Kashmir. We shall see in 1965 how Pakistani armour functioned and the reader can keep that as a yardstick in order to appreciate how Pakistani armour and infantry would have behaved in Operation Venus; had it been ever launched!Fazal does not explain how capture Of Beri Pattan bridge would have led to complete collapse of Indian hold over Kashmir,apart from temporary severing of the line of communication to Poonch.Greater part of the Central India Horse was at Nowshera close to Beri Pattan while Deccan Horse in Chamb-Akhnur area was also within striking range and the battle would have been a hotly contested affair!Shaukat Riza did not take the extreme viewpoint similar to Fazal’s when he wrote his book on Pakistan Army.He merely said that ‘On December 30 both sides saw the wisdom of cease-fire’.

Lately in an article General K.M Arif adopted a more rational viewpoint, when he stated that the Kashmir War of 1948 was mismanaged simply because Pakistan was not in a position to fight it successfully summing it up by stating ; ‘It is too hazardous a risk to fight a war on ad hoc basis’.There is no doubt that Pakistan was in a favourable position to win the Kashmir War at least till the first week of November. Mr Jinnah exhibited great Coup de Oeil when he ordered Gracey to employ two brigades and advance with one brigade each towards Jammu and Srinagar. But Mr Jinnah was unlucky in possessing no one like Patel and his Prime Minister and his entire Cabinet proved to be an undoubted failure at least as a war cabinet! Mr Jinnah’s decision not to have a Pakistani C in C although taken in the best interest of the country and the Army as Mr Jinnah saw it ensured that the British acting C in C procedurally blocked the execution of Mr Jinnah’s orders in October to attack Kashmir. Pakistan was unlucky in having a man like Iskandar Mirza at the Ministry of Defence.Mirza did not advise Mr Jinnah correctly and the fact that he had hardly served in the Army and did not understand military affairs further ensured that Mr Jinnah and the Prime Minister remained as ignorant as they were about military affairs as they were when they were in high school. It is incorrect to criticise Liaqat for Operation Venus since in December 1948 the Indian position was much more secure than in 1947.Liaqat can be criticised for not ever visiting Kashmir while the war was on and for not standing by Mr Jinnah in pressurising Gracey in October 1947 to order the Army to attack Kashmir.Had a Pakistani C in C been appointed even in December or in March 1948 the Indians may not have held on to Poonch-Nowshera area at least. Had Major Masud been allowed with his armoured cars on Domel-Baramula Road despite Ghazanfar Ali and Sher Khan’s objections;Srinagar may have been captured by the Tribesmen by first week of November 1947. The Indians were lucky in having comparatively more regular army officers who led from the front and is evident from higher officer casualties among Indian Army officers above the rank of captain vis a vis the Pakistan Army.

The treatment of 1857 is also very superficial.The author states that the Bengal Army which rebelled some 80 % were Purbias (page.7) , but fails to point out that the vast majority of cavalry which led the rebellion notably at Meerut i.e 3rd Light Cavalry which actually captured Delhi was Muslim and mostly Ranghar Muslim.His use of the term British for the pre 1858 period is also factually incorrect as India till 1858 was ruled by the English East India Company using mostly its private Bengal Army ,Madras Army,Bombay Army , its private European regiments and some regiments on rent from British Army to conquer ventire India.

In discussion of Martial Races Theory the author totally ignores the fact that Punjab Loyalty in 1857 to the British was one of the main reasons why martial races theory was evolved.This is a simple point noted even by British writers like Philip Mason.The author also fails to note the politically important fact that the English East India Company’s army was the knight in shining armour which saved the Muslims of Punjab and settled areas of present Pashtun NWFP from the Sikhs who were using Muslim Mosques as stables gunpowder magazines and plastering their walls with cowdung.Perhaps this fact did not suit the martial races ruled by a 10 % minority,the Sikhs in the Punjab and settled Pashtun areas for more than four decades in Punjab and some two decades in modern NWFP’s settled districts.

The author talks about martial races theory and thinks that martial races theory was all about Punjab and Frontier as it is now but perhaps does not know that one of martial races theory’s most famous exponent Major General Macmunn regarded the Khanzada Rajputs of Firozpur Jhirka as the finest fighting race in India.

The author also fails to note that the Sikhs were in majority in the fighting arms till First World War and were reduced to a minority by being replaced with Punjabi Muslims after First World War because the Punjabi Muslims were regarded as phenomenally loyal , even against Muslims by the British.Thus the author conveniently ignores two important developments of WW One i.e the Singapore rebellion of 129th Light Infantry by Ranghar Muslims and the tribal Pashtun mutinies against British as a result of which tribal Pashtun recruitment was reduced to the gain of Punjabi Muslims.

In discussion of Ayub Khan the author totally ignores allegations about Ayub’s tacfical timidity in Burma.This incident was discussed by three writers of the time.Major General Joginder Singh of Indian Army who was Ayub’s battalion mate , Sardar Shaukat Hayat who was an ex Indian Army officer and Major General Sher Ali Khan.In an article Brigadier Nur Hussain a reliable authority did state that Ayub Khan was close to General Gracey because they drank together.

The authors discussion of old officers is also partial.On page 31 he notes that Brigadier Gul Mawaz got an MC , a medal which many earned but fails to note that Major General Akbar Khan won a DSO which is higher in scale than MC.On page 33 he states that ” Akbar Khan who gained notoriety in Kashmir …..” .Akbar Khan was the pioneer of Kashmir war but Shuja thinks that he was notorious.A strange assertion.

Mr Jinnah’s historic decision of creating two infantry battalions of Bengalis is also not all discussed by the author.It may be noted that Ayub Khan refused to expand the East Bengal Regiment till 1966 as a result of which the Bengalis were further alienated for not being given the due share in the armed forces.this decision was reversed by Yahya Khan in 1966 but by then it was too little too late.

The authors analysis of origin of officer corps is also superficial.He fails to note the 50 % ranker quota that the British kept for Indian rankers in the officers selected for IMA Dehra Dun in order to keep the Indian officer corps slavish and backward.

The author does note the fact that Pakistani SSG captured Indian War Plan on Samba Kathua road before the war actually started but fails to note the fact that it was Pakistan’s Military Intelligence led by Director Military Intelligence Brigadier Irshad who refused to give any serious thought to this discovery and dismissed it as an Indian ruse.This was revealed to this scribe in an interview by Major General Naseerullah Khan Babar in March 2001.

The most serious distortion of history committed by Mr Shuja Nawaz is on page 226 when he gives the credit of 25 Cavalry’s action of 8th September 1965 at Gadgor to Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik.The authority he quotes is Farouk Adam , then a very junior officer and not in 24 Brigade Headquarter.

It must be clarified that a good military historian or analyst’s prime motivation in all writing has been to endeavour to write “what men did” rather than what “they ought ideally to have done” or what “someone later with the benefit of hindsight tried to portray , what they had done”. Thus the analysis of Chawinda Battle done with pure loyalty to service without any inter arm rivalry or nationalistic motivation. Pure and unadulterated military history filtered dispassionately separating fact from fiction and myth from reality. History as Frederick the Great once said can be well written only in a free country and ours has been continuously under civil or military dictators since 1958.
I maintain as one great master of English prose said that “all history so far as it is not supported by contemporary evidence is romance”!

Battle of Chawinda was thus not romance! What many in this country wrote and was outwardly military history was essentially “Romance”! Inspiring, superhuman but a myth promiscuously mixed with reality!Chance plays a key role in battle and at Chawinda chance played a very important role! Nisar, when he deployed 25 Cavalry did not know what was in front of him ! KK Singh Commander 1st Indian Brigade also did not know what was in front of him! This mutual ignorance saved Pakistan on that crucial day ! Later heroes were created! I repeat “Heroes were created” ! The hero had to be from the Salt Range however ! At least Shuja Nawaz wants it this way !
What were the key facts? Most important tangible fact was “casualties” ! These were deliberately hidden since these would have let the cat out of the bag! Everyone would have discovered who really fought and who got gallantry awards on parochial,regimental or old boy links !How many were killed in the biggest military blunder “Operation Gibraltar”! This is Top Secret ! How many infantry men died at Chawinda? Again no mention of any figures! The real motivation here is not national interest but to preserve or more important to “guard reputations”

Now lets talk about the broad front deployment that Shuja Nawaz refers to .There is no doubt that the “broad front deployment” was done by Nisar and Nisar alone and Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik had no role in it. It is another matter that Nisar also did not know what was in front of him. It was like Jutland when both contending fleets were running towards each other at express train speed. Why Nisar behaved as he did and what actually happened even today is hard to understand, whatever anyone may claim now with the benefit of hindsight!

Shuja Nawaz here in his 600 page book offers no tangible proof that the actions of 25 Cavalry had anything to do with what Brig A.A Malik told Nisar. Nisar was told to “do something” as clearly stated by an authority no less than Pakistan Army’s official historian Major General Shaukat Riza,apparently not from Jhelum or from North of Chenab by a twist of fate .There is no doubt that Nisar did something without the least clue of what was in front of him. The important thing is that Nisar did something rather than getting paralysed into inertia and inaction! The “Do Something” order by Brig A.A Malik to Lt Col Nisar CO 25 Cavalry should not have been glorified to something higher by Shuja Nawaz simply on authority of an article written by a person who was a company 2IC in an infantry battalion of 24 Brigade and that too only in 1992.This is a serious historical failing.At least in a military historian but is the Oxford University Press Pakistan run by professionals.One may ask Colonel M.Y Effendi.

The same words of Brig A.A Malik ” Do Something” were repeated by Nisar in his article published in Pakistan Army Journal in 1997. Perhaps Shuja Nawaz did not read all the accounts of direct participants.Perfectly excusable as he is based in USA.But not good military history certainly.The fact is that the 25 Cavalry on 8th September 1965 was functioning in a vacuum.Brig A.A Malik had no clue about armour warfare and Nisar had no higher armour headquarter to guide him.. 24 Brigade had two infantry units, one which had been overrun and dispersed on 8th September i.e 3 FF and 2 Punjab which was at Chawinda. The crucial action took place at Gadgor few miles north of Chawinda in which 25 Cavalry faced the entire Indian 1st Armoured Division. This was an extraordinary situation and Nisar acted on his own best judgement since Malik had abdicated to Nisar by stating that he should do something. It is another thing that Nisar also did not know what was in front of him and acted boldly and unconventionally. Had he known what was in front of him he may have been paralysed by inertia and inaction! But this is speculation and some part of history always remains unfathomed and hidden! Nisar acted through sheer reflex and deployed his unit in an impromptu manner. The fire fight which took place at Gadgor between 0900 hours and 1200 hours was a pure tank versus tank affair. 25 Cavalry versus two leading tank regiments of Indian 1st Armoured Division! Thus the Indian Armoured Corps historian stated “The Armoured Brigade had been blocked by two squadrons of Pattons and in the first encounter had lost more tanks than the enemy had…the worst consequence of the days battle was its paralysing effect on the minds of the higher commanders. It took them another 48 hours to contemplate the next move. This interval gave Pakistanis time to deploy their 6th Armoured Division…in fact the golden opportunity that fate had offered to the 1st Armoured Division to make worthwhile gains had been irretrievably lost” (Refers-Pages-393 & 394-History of Indian Armoured Corps-Gurcharan Singh Sandhu-Vision Books-Delhi-1990). Thus the Indians acknowledged “This regiment’s (25 Cavalry) performance was certainly creditable because it alone stood between the 1st Indian Armoured division and its objective, the MRL canal”.(Refers-Page-395-Ibid).

This is not the only source.Major Shamshad a direct participant has already stated on record that SJs were awarded to some officers for an attack in which not a single man was killed on both sides! Here he refers to Major Farouk Adam.This reminds me of an incident in armour school Nowshera in 1991.I was an instructor in Tactical Wing.The Senior Instructor incharge of the Young Officers Tactical course asked us , ” Should we give an Alpha Grade” . My lone reply was that no Sir , since Armour School gives Alpha to sons of generals only .This was a norm then .The Infantry School where I did the junior tactical course but later on it started giving alphas after 1985 to oblige some sons of generals.But that is how Pakistan Army is.

The historical fact remains that 25 Cavalry was part of 24 Brigade but all that Nisar its CO did on the crucial 8th September at Gadgor was based on his own judgement. On 9th and 10th September no fighting took place as Indians had withdrawn their armoured division to the crossroads. On 10th September, 6 Armoured Division took over and 24 Brigade was a part of 6 Armoured Division. On 8th September there was a vacuum and Nisar acted in a sitaution which can be classified as one characterised by “absence of clear and precise orders”!
Shaukat Riza’s book is basically a compilation of existing facts. It has historical value since Riza was allowed access to official records.Shaukat had no axe to grind . Shuja Nawaz by his own confession is a close relative of A.A Malik.

Shuja also forgets Brig A.A Malik’s request to withdraw when Indian tanks had crossed the railway line on 16th September and occupied Buttur Dograndi and Sodreke. This fact was brought to light not by the much criticised Shaukat Riza but by the then GSO-2 of 6 Armoured Division Major (later General K.M Arif), first more bluntly in Pakistan Army Green Book-1993 and again a little tactfully in his recently published book Khaki Shadows.

Thus no connection with 3 FF, an infantry unit which as far as I know suffered more casualties than any other infantry unit at Chawinda. 3 FF fought admirably but was launched thoughtlessly as brought out by Major Shamshad in his letter published in Sept 2001 DJ and consequently suffered enormous casualties at Sodreke-Buttur Dograndi area. Shamshad was the tank troop leader in support of 3 FF when it disastrously attacked Buttur Dograndi. In opinion of Shamshad, the attack had failed not due to any fault of 3 FF but because of poor planning by Commander 24 Brigade.

Even at formation level Chawinda was not a big battle in terms of casualties since the Indian 1 Corps suffered less casualties than 11 Indian Corps in Ravi Sutlej Corridor.

A.A Maliks poorly planned counterattacks leading to bloody casualties for Pakistan Army were also discussed by Major General Fazal i Muqeem in his book on 1971 war.

On page 233 while discussing the main Pakistani offensive the author fails to point out that the Pakistanis had a 7 to 1 superiority in tanks and yet they failed.Further he fails to point out the fact that major failure of Paskistani 1st Armoured Division occured ion the 4th Brigade where its commander Brigadier Bashir ordered its tank regiments every night to return to leaguer at their start point every night thus abandoning all territory they had gained during the day.

In the treatment of Chamb Operation of 1971 the most significant decision of Major General Eftikhar to switch from North to South is not discussed at all.This was one of the most landmark operational decisions in history of Pakistan Army.The author also fails to highlight the cowardly action of then Brigadier Rahimuddin Khan in not joining 111 Brigade on pretext of dealing with Shiekh Mujibs trial.This great warrior later rose to full general in Pakistan Army.

Shuja also gives no thought in his worthy analysis to Pakistan Army’s launching a pre-emptive attack on India in September 1971.This if done in the words of Indian Commander Western Command General Candeth would have thrown all Indian plans to attack East Pakistan to the winds . (Refers-The Western Front -Candeth).

In the chapter dealing with Z.A Bhutto Shuja does not discuss the cadrisation plan proposed by ZA Bhutto and his tasking of Pakistan Army’s Military Operations Directorate to implement it.This plan if implemented would have reduced the standing army in size and enabled the Pakistani government to spend more money on training.This plan was scrapped by Zia in 1977.

On page 471 Shuja glorifies General Kakar for having no liking for politics.He ignores the fact that Kakar was not groomed for higher ranks and was promoted because of ethnic biases.Simply because a Pashtun president was comfortable with a harmless compatriot.He also fails to note that General Kakar acted against Nawaz Sharif not because Kakar was a democrat but simply because he feared Nawaz as a threat to his chair of army chief.General Musharraf has himself acknowledged in his book that General Kakar was parochial and was favouring Pashtun officers.No compliment to an army chief who is supposed to be a much bigger man.No wonder that Kakar had been packed off to a backwater in Quetta by General Baig.

The author lauds caretaker premier Moin Qureshi’s role in making the state bank independent but forgets Qureshi’s most controversial release of advance to Bayinder Turkey for Islamabad Peshawar Motorway while also stating that this project was uneconomical.This gained nothing but total loss for Pakistan as Bayinder repatriated many million dollars without doing anything and later successfully sued Pakistan for huge damages in International Court of Justice at Hague.

On page 480 Shuja extols Talibans wild west justice in hanging Afghan President Dr Najeeb but fails to note the allegation that Pakistani agencies were suspected to be behind the assasination of Mulla Borjan the most popular and independent leader of the Taliban.

On page 481 Shuja quotes Benazir to prove that General Kakar was a brilliant strategist.What did Benazir know about strategy and what strategy did Kakar ever successfully execute other than removing a Punjabi Kashmiri president against decision of supreme court just to assist a fellow Pashtun president.What is Shuja trying to prove .

In discussing tenure of General Jahagir Karamat Shuja ignores totally the Ukrainian tank deal commissions.Nawaz Sharif the then prime minister tasked ISI to launch an investigation.Major General Zulfiqar then in ISI was tasked to investigate.He went to Ukraine and Azerbaijan and compliled a thick volume on the whole transaction and commissions taken.This was used by Nawaz later and one of the reasons why Karamat quickly stepped down.The information was given by a staff officer of major rank with DG ISI of that time and confirmed by an Intelligence Bureau officer.

As an officer who served from 1981 to 1993 how would I sum up the Pakistan Army.1981 to 1983 a cheap emphasis on being good Muslim, growing a beard to get a good report from Zia.Further Zia used religion to get dollars.This was the basic motivation.Begs time saw for the first time a tradition of some criticism being accepted.Asif Nawaz time saw emphasis on starch but no change in the army.Kakars time saw parochialism par excellence with a chief at the head who used to count cherries in his garden and was upset when some guards ate some.A petty man elevated to the highest rank.Karamat I did not see in service and did not serve with so I cannot comment but is reported to be a mild man.Musharraf as I saw him as a major general was flashy,extrovert,egoistic but dynamic.The present army from what I learn from serving officers is again business as usual.Nothing much to write about.The agencies off course play the usual games for money and for their own naukri and Islam being misused for operational reasons.

The most serious criticism of Shuja’s analysis is in treatment of Islamic fundamentalism in the army.Shuja on page 585 consoles the audience of his book that Islamic fundamentalism is still not a threat in Pakistan Army.Shuja ignores the more dangerous fact that the army has misused Islam as a slogan to mobilise the populace to achieve its narrow institutional agenda.This is more dangerous than being Islamist.Now this policy may go out of control.Right from Zia in 1977 the army generals used Islam as a slogan to fight a proxy war in Indian Kashmir and Afghanistan.Events may prove that this would be the undoing of Pakistan as it stands in its present form.Now Pakistan is perceived in the west as part of the problem and not the solution.Particularly its army and intelligence agencies are seen as the heart of the problem.India is continuously preparing for a war although a low intensity one and no solution has been achieved in Kashmir.Afghanistan is increasingly hostile and a strange but logical Indian-Russian-Iranian-NATO un declared strategic alliance has come into place in Afghanistan against Pakistan.All these are serious developments.The coming ten years may vindicate this assertion.

The Pakistan Army and its generals may be remembered in history as one of the reasons for Balkanisation of Pakistan.Not a good omen for Pakistan.The army’s involvement in Pakistan’s politics and government is now a serious reason of imbalance for Pakistan’s political system.No hope appears in sight as we hear rumours that the agencies are still active in destabilising Pakistan’s own elected government.

Shuja has burnt his midnight oil.He has compiled and collected all the facts in a nice way but his analysis has been shallow.We expected something far more profound than this.600 pages written in vain.

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10 Comments

Filed under Army, Pakistan

10 responses to “Crossed Swords,Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within

  1. As I am still reading the book, all I can say is that its true that the book has its limitations on various points; however it would be entirely unjust to call it a ‘shallow analysis’.

    Considering the scale of Shuja’s project, the book is a welcome addition to the extremely limited works on Pak Army. Anybody who tries to analyze various roles of Pak Army and juxtapose it with historical continuum of times on such a large scale cannot remain prone to analytical disagreements from the audience. Moreover, the book is one of the least prejudiced and unbiased works that I have seen. Of course, I am excluding works by foreign researchers; for instance those of Brian Cloughley and Stephen Cohen. In my humble view, it is better than both as far as breadth of analysis is concerned.

    Nevertheless, hats off to Major A.H. Amin for this fine and educating review.

    wassalam
    -Aasem

  2. Hossp

    Kudos to Agha for nailing the on going history distorting efforts by yet another, most probably army commissioned and financed book. And, off course saving me whatever the heck this book would have cost me. I can spend that on some worthwhile book.

    Pakistan army’s history is not about its wars with India or Bengal but its about interference in Pakistani politics. Some people have to come forward and call this army what it is.
    Agha is 100% correct in making the assertion that if Pakistan were Balkanized, it would entirely be due to this unpatriotic and in fact, anti-Pakistan army.

    Recently, I read some US State Dept and CIA unclassified documents and it is quite clear that the first coup in Pakistan was not in 1958 but actually in 1951 supported by the army. Gen. Ayub Khan appeared to have mentioned back in 1953 that he would ensure that the civilian politicians and the people of Pakistan remain loyal to the country. What a Jerk!
    The General politicians have destroyed the country and we are reading histories of their adventures in 1948, 1965 and 1971.

    We should get to read which General did what in 1954, 1958, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1977, and from 1989 to 1999. There is no end in sight yet!

  3. It is a bitter fact stated by Amin sb in his review on the book….that Generals may only be remembered for their role in bringing Pakistan on the verge of Balkanization….as planned by the masters….let us hope that the present high command of The Army has realised that….and he will face such conspiracies with the alliance of political forces…but the political forces should show more sensibility…Zardari stated so many times in the interviews that Benazir Bhutto was murdered by the powers who want balkanization of Pakistan….but I cant say whether “it is a piece of rhetorics” or he has taken it seriously…till now his practices like his excellencies…summoning the acting prime minister to Dubai in his darbar…and all the things come out of their baggages till now…have nothing to give some hope…

  4. Majumdar

    Amin sahib,

    Srinagar may have been captured by the Tribesmen by first week of November 1947.

    You have missed one crucial reason why the kabailis failed to conquer Kashmir- their propensity to rape and plunder. When they reached Baramula they spent a lot of precious time looting Hindoos, Sikhs and Muslims alike and also raping young girls and boys. The most notorious being their escapades in St. Josephs convent. The few hours they wasted in Baramulla proved critical. Had they pressed on, they would have captured Srinagar airport before the Sikhs could have landed there.

    The tribals kaley karnamey ended Pak’s dreams.

    Regards

  5. Mohammad Bashir

    A H Amin’s critique of ” Crossed Swords” lacks a sense of proportion and perspective, and seems actuated by something akin to spite. It seems like Mr Amin sees himself as the foremost military historian of the sub continent, and all that does not accord with his conclusions and research, he is apt to throw onto the dung heap. To point out errors is OK, but Mr Amin has gone much beyond the pale of academic or
    scholarly critique–he has accused the author of deliberate distortion of history. But he goes further than that. He denigrates sources quoted by the author where such sources help the author to come to conclusions other than those held dear by Mr Amin!
    This is the most constipated and narrow-minded review of any book I have ever read. It is unprofessional and it is dishonest. I suspect that the author of ” Crossed Swords” has pinched a raw nerve in Mr Amin merely by publishing a work that has pushed Mr Amin off his self-allotted perch of being the foremost historian of the Pakistan Army! This critique is more vitriol and froth than honest critique.
    Mohammad Bashir.

  6. YLH

    A H Amin is no doubt one of those geniuses in the field of military history who prefer accuracy over sensationalism…

    I am not sure why Muhammad Bashir has a problem with him.

  7. ahmad hassan

    may be bashir is a relative of shuja nawaz or a jhelumi or chakwal mercenary from the salt range.he sure has a pain in some very sensitive part of his body

  8. Don

    I saw this post on a blog called —

    http://military-security-review.blogspot.com/

    Its quite relevant to this discussion.

    regards

    DON
    ””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’
    LETTERS TO EDITOR

    DEFENCE JOURNAL AUGUST 2001

    Farouk Adams Letter

    The Battle of Chawinda

    I refer to Agha Humayun Amin’s article on the Battle of Chawinda, and also being “direct participant, would like to share with your readers, some of my knowledge on the subject. Since I am writing from memory, I will touch only upon those incidents and aspects of the battle, of which I am certain.

    About a week before the war started, an A. K officer from the Gibraltar Force, exfiltrated, and brought to HQ 24 Brigade, certain Indian Army documents. These purported to show the presence of the 1st Indian Armoured Division opposite us. Brig Abdul Ali Malik accordingly informed the higher HQ, and GHQ detailed Maj. Mahmud of the Army Aviation to physically carry these documents to GHQ for evaluation. GHQ’s assessment was that these documents were part of an Indian deception plan. Brig Malik disagreed with this assessment. So it is incorrect to say that he had no idea what he had against him, though it is correct that when the attack came, he had no way of knowing that this was the main effort of the enemy. But neither did anyone else.

    When the Jassar fiasco took place, Brig Malik advised 15 Div. not to move him, because he expected a strong attack against his positions. HQ 15 Div. did not agree.

    HQ 15 Div. ordered 24 Brigade to clear the imaginary enemy bridgehead at Jassar. Brig Malik tasked 2 Punjab Regiment (my unit) to do the needful. The Commanding Officer, Lt Col Jamshed MC Bar, SJ, suggested an attack at first light, instead of a night attack, because we had no idea about the enemy location, terrain etc etc. But 15 Div. orders were clear and inflexible, and so Col Jamshed, decided to lead the attack in person. But before this could be done, the actual situation in Jassar became clear, and the attack was called off.

    At about first light on 08 September, an NCO of the Engineers came into our positions. He told of a heavy Indian attack that had severely mauled 3 F.F Regiment which was deployed as screen. He was immediately taken to the Brigade HQ, where Brig Malik questioned him in the presence of Col Jamshed and Major Aslam Shah, who was the B.M.

    If Brig Malik had any doubt about a serious enemy thrust in his sector, that was now removed. It took him about a minute to take, what many consider, the most important decision of the war i.e. to advance on a broad front and engage the attacking enemy forces. This decision was entirely Brig Malik’s, and it saved Pakistan. Had it gone wrong, he would have been court martialled. Since he suspected that HQ 15 Div. was prone to panic, he ordered Maj. Aslam Shah to break wireless contact with the Div. HQ (which was re-established when the enemy had been engaged, and Tikka Khan had taken over 15 Div). Brig Malik then gave the operation orders to his unit commanders, including Lt Col Nisar, CO 25 Cavalry. It is, therefore, absolutely incorrect to say that Brig Malik “abdicated” his command to a unit commander. Indeed, after that first day, 25 Cavalry was not involved in operations as regiment, because the situation warranted squadron actions in support of infantry. And this support these squadrons unstintingly and heroically provided. But this by no stretch of the imagination can be taken to mean the de facto command of the Chawinda Battle was at any time exercised by Co 25 Cavalry. This remained firmly in Brig Malik’s hands who remained unswerving and steadfast and central to the battle, right till the very end.

    After the first three days of almost continuous battle we had suffered serious depletion in numbers, and had suffered extreme exhaustion both physically and mentally. And so we were withdrawn from the FDLs to recover, but that same evening the situation at the front became so alarming that we were thrust right back into the battle. It is a fair comment on the morale of 24 Brigade group that despite our bedraggled state and the mauling we had received, there was no hesitation on the part of anyone to rejoin battle. From then, to the end of the war, 24 Brigade held its position and survived — but barely. It is difficult to explain what extreme weariness really is.

    There is mention in the article under reference, of Brig Malik’s request to be moved to the “rear”, which was refused by Gen Abrar. If a Brigade Commander is to make such a suggestion, he cannot just say “rear”. He has to give an alternate plan of operations which he must work out with his staff. Gen Aslam Shah (then B.M) denies that any such suggestion was ever made, and this fits into the experience of people like me, who were quite clearly told that for 24 Brigade, this was to be a “last man last round battle”. Therefore, if such a suggestion is recorded, either its context is missing, or it is the result of a misunderstanding. When we were suddenly pulled out of recuperation and sent back into battle (refer sub-para above) we were told that we will be pulled back for refitment at the first possible opportunity. Perhaps this could be the context.

    2. And now I would like to make few general comments as under:-

    Anyone reading the article under reference is bound to come away with the impression that the Battle of Chawinda was fought exclusively by Brig Amjad Chaudhry, Lt Col Nisar, Maj. Muhammad Ahmed, and the “direct participant” Maj. Shamshad. The infantry, it seems was just not there. As authentic history, therefore, this article will be seen as trifle lop-sided. The truth is that by sheer coincidence some very brave and steadfast men got thrown into what was 24 Brigade. With the courage of these men, came a good deal of luck by providence — and the combination made for quite a number of gallant actions by all arms, and all ranks.

    Brig Muhammad Ahmed was heroic, and so was Lt Col Nisar, but how can the rest of 25 Cavalry be put into the dustbin of anonymity? Indeed I can’t think of one officer or tank commander who did not perform.

    Yes, General Abrar was a good commander. He was calm and poised and did not foist needless interference on 24 Brigade. Brig Amjad Chaudhry too had a reputation of a good artillery officer, though I would have to be a very brave man to declare him the best gunner officer in the sub-continent. These officers held their nerve, and did not panic. And nor did they need to. They were never within the sights of the enemy. But people like Lt Col Shinwari, Lt Col Jamshed and Maj. Aslam Shah constantly were, and yet they kept their calm. And last but not the least the composure of Brig Abdul Ali Malik deserves to be saluted. Throughout the battle his HQ was either in the FDLs or not more than 400 yds in the rear. He kept his cool in the face of direct enemy fire for days at end — comparison between him and the others is like comparing a fighter in the ring with the audience. When Lt Gen (Retd) Tariq, S. J came on PTV two years ago on the occasion of Defence Day, he talked of his experiences of the Battle of Chawinda. He was generous in his praise of many gallant actions. But he singled out Brig Malik beyond all the rest as the man whose battle it really was, while all the rest of us revolved around him. Having seen him at close quarters, I cannot disagree with this assessment.

    3. Lastly, to call a respected senior officer “a VCO type” General, was not in very good taste.

    Farouk Adam Khan S. J
    27 June 001

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    A.H Amin’s Reply

    I refer to Ex Major Farouk Adam Khan’s S.J letter on my article “ Battle of Chawinda” .

    I have only touched “incidents and aspects” of the battle about which “I could be certain” based on the “authority of tangible concrete and precise” records in the form of “ official sources of the Pakistan Army” like Major General Shaukat Riza’s “The Pakistan Army-War 1965” sponsored and published by the Pakistan Army and printed by the Pakistan Army Press in 1984 , The Pakistan Army Green Book-1992 the official yearbook of the Pakistan Army published by the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters and accounts of direct participants like Major Shamshad. I had the opportunity of meeting other participants like Brigadier Ahmad in 1982 , Lieutenant Colonel Raza in 1993 and Major Shamshad in 2000. In addition, I met a large number of participants while serving in 11 Cavalry from 27th March 1983 till 9th April 1985.

    l Firstly the assertion by the worthy critic that the Indian mailbag was captured by an exfiltrating element of Gibraltar Force. The Gibraltar Force was a fiasco of magnanimous proportions and very few exfiltrated in good shape what to talk of capturing a mail bag. The mail bag was captured by a deliberate ambush launched under the direction of Headquarter 15 Division under direction of Col S.G Mehdi. The official account on this episode is clear. Thus Shaukat Riza states “Lt Col Sher Zaman (MI Directorate) ordered Col S.G Mehdi (15 Division) to lay an ambush on the road (Samba-Kathua), and get some prisoners. At 0100 hours night 3rd/4th September, Zaman had a call from an excited Mehdi. An Indian despatch rider had been captured. His message bag contained mail for HQ Squadron 1 Indian Armoured Division. The bag was immediately flown to Rawalpindi.” (Refers-Pages-133 & 134-The Pakistan Army-War 1965-Shaukat Riza-Army Education Press-1984).

    l What happened after this at least on paper was a mystery till Gen N.U.K Babar cleared this point on paper in an interview conducted by this scribe and published in DJ April 2000 issue by stating that the mail box was dismissed as an Indian deception by the then DMI Brigadier Irshad.

    l In paragraph 1 the worthy critic states about Brigadier Malik i.e “It took him about a minute to take the most important decision of the war i.e to advance on a broad front and engage the attacking enemy forces”. Now this is a figment of the worthy critics imagination. In “Summer 1997“ issue of “Pakistan Army Journal“ Brigadier Nisar the Commanding Officer of 25 Cavalry gave his version of the Battle of Gadgor-Chawinda. Nowhere in the article did Nisar state that Brigadier Malik gave him any order on the decisive 8th of September “to advance on a broad front and engage the enemy”. On the other hand this point has been treated very clearly by Shaukat Riza in the Pakistani GHQ’s officially sponsored account. Shaukat describes the initial situation on the crucial morning of 8th September 1965 in the following words “At about 0600 hours 24 Brigade received the news that 3 FF had been overrun. Brigadier Ali Malik got on to Col Nisar and ordered 25 Cavalry to do something”. (Refers Page – 148-Shaukat Riza-Op Cit) That was the only order Malik gave. All the subsequent deployment was done by Nisar and the brunt of the Indian attack was borne by “Bravo Squadron” of 25 Cavalry commanded by Major Ahmad. It was Col Nisar and Nisar alone who did the broad front deployment without any orders to resort to any broad front deployment from Brigadier Malik.

    l In paragraph 1 the worthy critic states that Brigadier Malik never made a request for a withdrawal on 16th September. My source for stating that Brigadier Malik made a request for withdrawing from Chawinda position is none other than a major direct participant staff officer of the battle i.e Major K.M Arif the then GSO-2 (Operations) 6th Armoured Division at Chawinda. It was 6th Armoured Division Headquarters which controlled the battle after 9th September. It is very strange that the critic finds my narration odd rather than contesting the authority which I quoted to support my assertion. In an article published in Pakistan Army Green Book-1992-Year of the Senior Field Commanders, General K.M Arif (Retired) made the following assertion i.e “The battle raged with considerable intensity on September 16. After its failure to capture Chawinda the enemy failed to envelop it by a two pronged attack. In the process the villages of Sodreke fell and Buttur Dograndi came under attack. The severe fighting resulted in many casualties. The situation was confused and the outcome uncertain .So fluid the situation became that at 1630 hours 24 Brigade Commander requested permission to take up a position in the rear.Abrar told the brigade commander on telephone, “You know what is there in the kitty. There is no question of falling back.We shall fight till the bitter end from our present positions.” His words proved a timely tonic. 24 Brigade fought gallantly. Soon the danger subsided.” (Refers -Page -6-” Abrar’s Battlefield Decisions”-Pakistan Army Green Book-Year of Senior Commanders-Pakistan Army-General Headquarters-Rawalpindi-1992). This assertion was made by one of the principal staff officers of the 6th Armoured Division who was present on the scene and not a figment of my imagination.

    l Even 6th Armoured Division’s War Diary contains a record of the above mentioned telephone call.

    l As to the worthy critic’s assertion in paragraph 1 about de facto command of Chawinda Battle remaining in Brigadier Malik till the end. All that I stated was that during the most decisive encounter of the whole battle at Gadgor on 8th September it was Nisar and Nisar alone who exercised coup d oeil deploying his regiment entirely on his own without any orders from 24 Brigade about “any broad front deployment” or any “specific orders to deploy in any particular disposition”. After this decisive encounter at Gadgor the Indians did not do anything till 11th September. From 10th September 6th Armoured Division entered the scene and controlled the Chawinda battle, 24 Brigade being one of the many brigades that it commanded.

    l Refers the criticism in paragraph 2 that “the battle was fought exclusively by Amjad Chaudhry,

    Lt Col Nisar, Major Mohammad Ahmad and the direct participant Major Shamshad” all I can say is that the critic did not read my article but only scanned through it.On map opposite Page-40 it is written that C squadron i.e Shamshad’s squadron arrived opposite Gadgor area at 1130 hours after the situation had been stabilised. On various pages I have stated eg “ 25 Cavalry was to Pakistan Army’s good luck, a newly raised but extremely fine tank regiment” (Refers-Page-43). The same point is repeated on various pages.

    l About Abdul Ali Malik’s command qualities Gen Fazal Muqeem notes in his “Pakistan’s Crisis in Leadership” “The few counterattacks which 8 Division tried during the war were most noticeable by their lack of planning.The units were hurled into battle without having been given enough time for planning and preparations .The worst example of this attack was on December 17 when against all protestations of its very gallant commanding officer , 35 FF was sent into battle for almost certain massacre” (Refers-Page-215 and 216-Pakistan’s Crisis in Leadership-Major General Fazal Muqeem Khan (Retired)-National Book Foundation-Lahore-1973).

    l Chawinda was an armour battle and this is proved by casualties suffered by tank and infantry units. How many infantry units except 3 FF could match the casualties of 11 Cavalry in 1965 i.e 34 killed. As a matter of fact the direct participant Major Shamshad has referred to one counter attack in which an infantry company of 2 Punjab had Nil killed and two officers got the SJ. Even in Chamb during Grand Slam 11 Cavalry lost 19 killed on 1st September 1965 alone while 14 Punjab lost a total of 3 killed in the entire Grand Slam. (Refers-Page-108 1 & 109-Pak Bharat Jang-Colonel Mukhtar Gillani -Rawalpindi-April -1998). As a matter of fact 11 Cavalry suffered more casualties in Grand Slam than all ten infantry units except one i.e 13 Punjab which had lost 24 killed as against 11 Cavalry’s 19 killed.But then the strength of an armoured regiment is around 400 vis-a-vis 800 of infantry.

    l Lastly the reference to VCO. This was purely symbolic and had nothing to do with rank or status in the literal sense. Sher Bahadur’s efforts to divide and distribute the 4 Corps Artillery Headquarter before the 1965 War have been discussed by an authority no less eminent than Pakistan Army’s last C in C, Gul Hassan.This if done would have seriously compromised chances of Pakistani success in Grand Slam and Chawinda.Without concentrated artillery at Grand Slam or in Chawinda none including Abrar or Malik could have defeated the Indians.

    Kind Regards

    A.H Amin
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    Major Shamshads Rebuttal of Farouk Adams Letter of August 2001 , published in Letters to Editor Defence Journal September 2001

    The Editor
    Defence Journal
    Karachi.
    Dear Sir,

    Brig (Retd) Muhammad Ahmed
    The May 2001 edition of your esteemed magazine carries a letter by Brig (Retd) Mohammed Ahmed which mentions as under,
    “Major Shamshad is right, in a way, when he says only Charlie Squadron went up to Pasrur. The little difference being that only Charlie Squadron went up to Pasrur the others were turned back half way when the Jassar fiasco was discovered.

    I would like to correct the record here.

    The entire action of night 7/8 and 08 Sept has been covered in a single article appeared in Oct 1997 edition of DJ. I have nowhere stated or recorded what Brig Ahmed has ascribed to me. An editing error has appeared in the March 2001 edition of DJ which the Brig should have corrected rather than confirming it.

    The fact is that entire regiment moved to Pasrur on its way to Jassar. The regiment was detained at Pasrur while Charlie Squadron was despatched to Jassar which reached Narowal at 0300 hours and turned about to reach Pasrur at 0500 hours.

    BATTLE OF CHAWINDA

    The August issue of DJ carries a letter by Farooq Adam SJ on the subject and another by Mr A H Amin who is on the panel of D J. Both the gentlemen have made reference to me. I, therefore, feel obliged to put in my word to keep the record straight.

    Farooq Adam, as a direct participant appears to have reservations about the description of the battle by A H Amin who was not a participant. He has merely conducted research and has adequately defended his point of view by quoting his source of knowledge. A H Amin has quoted Gen Fazle Moqeem who has reflected upon command quality of Brig Ali and how 35 FF was massacred in Nawa Pind in 1971. To support the opinion of Gen Fazle Moqeem I can quote one out of several ill planned attacks which fizzled out in initial stages, ordered by Brig Ali in 1965. On the morning of 17 Sept 3rd FF were ordered to attack Jassora with a company. A detailed discription has been published in May 1998 issue of DJ. For those who could not reach that edition and also to prove inanity of command I shall describe the attack precisely. The company was commanded by Capt Raheem Shah and was supported by my troop of three tanks.

    I submitted to CO 3FF that before attacking Jassoran, which was 2000 yards away from Railway line, we had to clear Buttardograndi half way between Railway line and Jassoran. I also informed him that area Jassoran-Buttardograndi is occupied by a tank regiment supported by an infantry battalion which I faced on 16 Sept and eventually my troop was shot up by that force. It was impossible to dislodge an armoured brigade by attacking with a company and three tanks. My plea was brushed aside with remark that Butterdograndi had been cleared during the night. As we formed up behind railway line heavy artillery fire was dropped on us causing casualties to our infantry. In the FUP we located a centurian in Battalion one which was destroyed. Finally we attacked without artillery. Capt Raheem Shah and his company displayed tremendous courage.

    8 Gharwal was entered in the middle of 5 feet high maze crop. As our men reached the trenches they were fired at from point blank range. Many of them fell other turned and went to ground. They were surprised: I saw this massacre standing in cupola from a distance of 50 yards. I moved the tank up and mounted the trenches. By this time I had reached the killing range of enemy tanks deployed in Jassoran. My tank was shot up and went into flames. My second tank was also hit and damaged. The third tank turret # 1, tank commanded by LD Kamal prudently did come up and was saved. In this swift action two enemy tanks were also destroyed. Here the attack fizzled out.

    It is now for the reader to assess the competence of higher command. In my opinion it was callous act to launch a company and three tank against an armoured brigade. To further illustrate my point of view, a quotation from a book (Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman) will be in place.

    Quote “When the moment of live ammunition approaches, the moment to which his professional training is directed, the issue of the combat, even the fate of the campaign may depend on his decision. What is happening in the heart and vitals of a commander. Some are made bold by the moment, some irresolute, some carefully judicious, some paralyzed and powerless to act” Unquote. I place ours higher in the last category.

    After having gone through the letter of Farooq Adam and his two earlier scripts, on the subject (“Hero of Chawinda” published in daily The News in April/ May 1992 and “THE ALI OF CHAWINDA”published in UNIFORM Sept 1994 issue) I can say that his writing is more of fiction than honest description of the events on the battlefield. On reading his script of 1992, I expressed my views which have been published in daily THE NEWS of May 1992. I reproduce below the opening paragraph of the article which delivers goods to those who are interested to know the facts.

    Quote”On the outset I shall mention here that I have never served in the direct command of Brig Ali. Hence there is no possibility of having ill will or malice towards him. However, I feel that both the writers have tried to aggrandize the revered general out of proportion. I hold this opinion as I have first hand knowledge about the Battle of Chawinda. I was a troop leader and squadron commander in 25 cavalry which was a part of Brig Ali’s brigade. Mr Agha Babar should show Adam’s article to his literary friends in Newyork to be appreciated as a good piece of literature. Anyone with little knowledge about army matters and warfare will confront him with awkward questions such as, Why should Brig Ali ask Col Nisar as to how many tanks did he have? Was he ignorant of the organisation and deployment of his only tank regiment?. Why did Farooq Adam leave his defensive position when enemy tanks were still more than a mile away? Why did he not wait for the tanks to destroy once they reached the killing zone of his ante tank weapons? Why was Chobara captured and abandoned time and again?. Was a pitched battle fought at Chobara? If so what was the score of casualties? And many more such questions.’Unquote.

    The knowledge which Farooq Adam wants to share with the readers is of no consequence unless he first fixes his position in a fighting unit. Was he a platoon /company commander or a staff officer. I have gone through his three scripts mentioned above. Only at one place (UNIFORM Sept 1994) he said that he was attached to Major Mohammad Hussain whose company was to follow 25 cavalry tanks on the morning of 8 Sept. Was he attached to Major Mohammad Hussain to advise him.

    I will not go in details here, which of course I have, to prove that whatever Farooq has written is all truth. Only one example is enough to prove what I state.

    On page 59 of the periodical UNIFORM of Sept 1994 he writes while describing the dialogue between Brig Ali and Col Nisar. “How many tanks do you have? One squadron of tanks right here, another dismounting from transporters nearby”. He claims that these words were exchanged at Chawinda in the morning at Chawinda on 8 Sept. This is totally untrue. The whole regiment was concentrated at Pasrur. Col Nisar was called by Brig and told “enemy had come think about it”. He must have also told him that enemy tanks were advancing on Charwa-Cawinda track. What happened thereafter has been recorded by me in the form of 8 articles in D J starting from Oct 1997 to May 1998. 9th and concluding article will appear in near future. My suggestion to Farooq is to write an account of 17 days as he saw the battle moving day by day, mere eulogy is not welcomed.

    Passing orders is a simple affair.The quality of effort a commander makes to insure the implementation of the order is what that matters. The extent of personal involvement, his control and direction of the events, his presence at the place and time where the fate of the battle is being decided are the factors which go in to assess the competence of a commander. In this light I found our leader wanting.

    Maj (Retd) Shamshad Ali Khan
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    Brig Kamal Alam and Colonel Anwars Criticism of Chawinda and A.H Amin’s Reply Defence Journal January 2002

    Dear Major Sehgal,

    In his letter in Defence Journal of Aug 2001, Mr . Amin says that in the Pak Army Journal (Summer 97) Brig Nisar does not mention any order coming his way from his Brigade Comd on 8 Sept 1965. I am no historian but some questions immediately come to mind viz. Does Col Nisar also mention that the Brigade Commander told him to “do something”? If not who is to be believed, Brig Nisar or Gen Riza. And if he was not told to “do something“, what major event galvanized him into taking this unilateral action against the enemy advance? Did he get information about the enemy advance himself, or did someone give it to him, and if so who? When he got his information, was he in the presence of the Brigade Commander , or was in wireless contact with him? And when he decided to strike out on his own, did he at least inform the Brigade? And if so what transpired; or did the rest of the Brigade merely follow 25 Cav through guess-work?

    The point I want to make is that in order to be classified as “history“ we have to first establish whether 25 Cav was a part of a larger formation, or was acting in a vacuum. And if it was subordinate to

    24 Brigade, did it take itself out of the Brigade ORBAT on its own, or did if take the Brigade under its own command. This relationship can only be settled by the communication between the two. So far it has been considered a settled fact beyond any controversy, that this Brigade and all its components fought an outstanding action. After all there have been M Ds and presentation on the subject for the last 36 years and most officers have had a chance to take part in one or another of these. And no adverse comment has come to tarnish the reputation of any officer of the brigade.

    It is only recently that through one sentence of Maj Gen Shaukat Riza ‘s Book almost all infantry actions of this battle seem to have been nullified, and the brave conduct of the Bridge Commander has been found fit to be relegated to those who functioned below par.

    I am afraid that Gen Riza’s Book is primarily the amalgam of various war diaries, with very little original research , “officially sponsored” to give the “official view“. A very good insight into its historical value and credibility lies in what it has to say regarding the change of command in Chamb, which is a scandal that has refused to be hushed up despite the best official efforts. On page 121 of the book Gen Riza blatantly states that change of Command in Chamb was pre-planned. And then he goes on to brazenly assert that this was confirmed by most officers in GHQ and 12 Div. He forgot that this was a deliberate, set-piece attack, the operation orders for which per force would have to be attended by GOC 7 Div, if the command was to change, and all the lower formations would have known about it, and at least some shred of documentary evidence of this effect would have survived, at least in GHQ. But there is not a word extant to corroborate this cover-up. And what is worst is that immediately after the war in Staff College under, Gen Riza was serving “a 12 Div officer” who was the GOC of this Division. He was Gen Akhtar Malik. At a time when even subalterns like me could question Gen Malik on this subject and get a candid reply, it is impossible to believe that Gen Riza did not know all details of this change from the horse’s mouth. And knowing this and then wilfully distorting history is deserving of the strongest opprobrium. And then DJ takes one line of this “history” and knocks out all infantry actions, and goes further to malign the commander of Chawinda Brigade! And now this is to pass for history?

    Brig (Retd) Kamal Alam, TJ
    House No. 5
    Street # 25 F-7/2,
    Islamabad
    14 Dec 2001
    To : The Editor Defence Journal
    Karachi
    Sir,

    I refer to letter by Mr. Farouk Adam and Mr. Amin on the Battle of Chawinda (Defence Journal Aug 2001). In 1972, in company of some regimental at officers I met Gen A .A Malik in Mangla. The question of 3 F F came up. He said the heaviest attacks seemed to come wherever this unit was deployed. As such at one point he had to ask the Div HQ if there was any possibility for this unit to be relieved and rested. The Div HQ said this was not possible. War diaries are often not written immediately . There are often inaccuracies in them. Is it possible that this event is being referred to by both writers? At any rate 24 Brigade War Diary should also be consulted.

    Mr. Amin quotes Gen Riza’s Book i.e. Brig Malik got on to ……………” From this it is obvious that it means the communication was by wireless or telephone. But I have attended an M D on this battle and also heard its narration from Brig Shinwari. Both were nearer to Farouk Adam’s explanation of events of

    8 Sept. Mr. Amin says he has referred to “official sources” and “officially sponsored” GHQ account of this Battle. This is its weak point. Our “officially sponsored accounts” unfortunately have been cover-ups. Gen Riza wrote about such an important battle without interviewing any infantry CO, or any officer of the Brigade HQ, when they were all alivel! What sort of history is this?

    I heard the talk by Lt Gen Tariq S. J to which Farouk Adam has referred. I have also heard him on the subject in person. He said that all units gave their very best but also that the Brigade Commander’s conduct, whose HQ was often in line of direct fire, was most inspiring.

    After reading the original article one gets the impression that the whole battle was fought by Col Nisar and Maj Ahmed ably supported by Brig Amjad Chowdhry’s guns. It seems infantry was non-existant! Granted it was a tank battle and very well done by 25 Cav. But I can’t recall any DEFENSIVE tank battle over two weeks duration without an infantry firm base. And if Chawinda base did not hold, that would be the end of the tank battle also. But the infantry did hold, better than any infantry brigade on either side. And the Brigade Commander showed more pluck than any officer of his rank, also on either side. I am willing to stand corrected on this. And if not corrected, will not this make these units and Brig Malik deserving of credit?

    Lt Col Mohammad Anwar
    Flat No. 123 — C
    Askari Housing Complex
    Walton – Lahore
    5 Dec 2001
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    REPLY TO CRITICISM OF BRIG ALAM AND COL ANWAR ON ARTICLE “BATTLE OF CHAWINDA” AND SUBSEQUENT LETTERS PUBLISHED IN DJ MARCH 2001 ISSUES AND AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 2001 ISSUES

    It is amusing as well as encouraging to note that this scribe’s article on Chawinda Battle of 1965 published in Defence Journal March 2001 issue continues to attract flak from critics!

    The latest in the series are two letters , both written by retired officers . First of all I must clarify that my sole motivation in all writing has been to endeavour to write “what men did” rather than what “they ought ideally to have done” or what “someone later with the benefit of hindsight tried to portray , what they had done”. Thus the analysis of Chawinda Battle done with pure loyalty to service without any inter arm rivalry or nationalistic motivation. Pure and unadulterated military history filtered dispassionately separating fact from fiction and myth from reality. How far I succeeded is for readers to judge.

    History as Frederick the Great once said can be well written only in a free country and ours has been continuously under civil or military dictators since 1958. Enters Defence Journal which in its resurrected form from 1997 picked up the gauntlet of serving as a medium of intellectual honesty and forthright criticism and published facts which were unpalatable for some and welcomed by the vast multitude. A breath of fresh air in a country reduced to intellectual stagnation because of years of censorship and intellectual persecution! I had written for the Pakistan Army Journal and Citadel but had left military history writing when in 1998 through a dear friend I discovered that there is a new Defence Journal in Karachi which is open to some critical writing!

    I maintain as one great master of English prose said that “all history so far as it is not supported by contemporary evidence is romance”! Battle of Chawinda published in DJ March 2001 was thus not romance! What many in this country wrote and was outwardly military history was essentially “Romance”! Inspiring, superhuman but a myth promiscuously mixed with reality!

    Chance plays a key role in battle and at Chawinda chance played a very important role! Nisar, when he deployed 25 Cavalry did not know what was in front of him ! KK Singh Commander 1st Indian Brigade also did not know what was in front of him! This mutual ignorance saved Pakistan on that crucial day ! Later heroes were created! I repeat “Heroes were created” ! This was what the article was all about !

    What were the key facts? Most important tangible fact was “casualties” ! These were deliberately hidden since these would have let the cat out of the bag! Everyone would have discovered who really fought and who got gallantry awards on parochial,regimental or old boy links !How many were killed in the biggest military blunder “Operation Gibraltar”! This is Top Secret ! How many infantry men died at Chawinda? Again no mention of any figures! The real motivation here is not national interest but to preserve or more important to “guard reputations”

    Brigadier Kamal Alam’s Letter

    a. I stick to the assertion that the “broad front deployment” was done by Nisar and Nisar alone and Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik had no role in it. It is another matter that Nisar also did not know what was in front of him. It was like Jutland when both contending fleets were running towards each other at express train speed. Why Nisar behaved as he did and what actually happened even today is hard to understand, whatever anyone may claim now with the benefit of hindsight! Brigadier Alam offers no tangible proof that the actions of 25 Cavalry had anything to do with what Brig A.A Malik told Nisar. Nisar was told to “do something” and Nisar did something without the least clue of what was in front of him. The important thing is that Nisar did something rather than getting paralysed into inertia and inaction! I may add a personal note here. I understand that Alam’s elder brother Brig Mujahid Alam COS 31 Corps while this scribe was commanding 5 Independent Armoured Squadron was a fine soldier.

    b. Alam raises the question about the controversial “Do Something” order by Brig A.A Malik to Lt Col Nisar CO 25 Cavalry. The same words were repeated by Nisar in his article published in Pakistan Army Journal in 1997. Then Alam raises the question about 25 Cavalry functioning in a vacuum. 24 Brigade had two infantry units, one which had been overrun and dispersed on 8th September i.e 3 FF and 2 Punjab which was at Chawinda. The crucial action took place at Gadgor few miles north of Chawinda in which 25 Cavalry faced the entire Indian 1st Armoured Division. This was an extraordinary situation and Nisar acted on his own best judgement since Malik had abdicated to Nisar by stating that he should do something. It is another thing that Nisar also did not know what was in front of him and acted boldly and unconventionally. Had he known what was in front of him he may have been paralysed by inertia and inaction! But this is speculation and some part of history always remains unfathomed and hidden! Nisar acted through sheer reflex and deployed his unit in an impromptu manner. The fire fight which took place at Gadgor between 0900 hours and 1200 hours was a pure tank versus tank affair. 25 Cavalry versus two leading tank regiments of Indian 1st Armoured Division! Thus the Indian Armoured Corps historian stated “The Armoured Brigade had been blocked by two squadrons of Pattons and in the first encounter had lost more tanks than the enemy had…the worst consequence of the days battle was its paralysing effect on the minds of the higher commanders. It took them another 48 hours to contemplate the next move. This interval gave Pakistanis time to deploy their 6th Armoured Division…in fact the golden opportunity that fate had offered to the 1st Armoured Division to make worthwhile gains had been irretrievably lost” (Refers-Pages-393 & 394-History of Indian Armoured Corps-Gurcharan Singh Sandhu-Vision Books-Delhi-1990). Thus the Indians acknowledged “This regiment’s (25 Cavalry) performance was certainly creditable because it alone stood between the 1st Indian Armoured division and its objective, the MRL canal”.

    (Refers-Page-395-Ibid).

    c. At Gadgor on 8th September it was 25 Cavalry and 25 Cavalry alone which saved the day. Major Shamshad a direct participant has already stated on record that SJs were awarded to some officers for an attack in which not a single man was killed on both sides!

    d. 25 Cavalry was part of 24 Brigade but all that Nisar its CO did on the crucial 8th September at Gadgor was based on his own judgement. On 9th and 10th September no fighting took place as Indians had withdrawn their armoured division to the crossroads. On 10th September, 6 Armoured Division took over and 24 Brigade was a part of 6 Armoured Division. On 8th September there was a vacuum and Nisar acted in a sitaution which can be classified as one characterised by “absence of clear and precise orders”!

    e. Shaukat Riza’s book is basically a compilation of existing facts. It has historical value since Riza was allowed access to official records.

    f. The change of command aspect about which Alam asserts is correct and was officially hushed up but why should Shaukat Riza have any sympathy for the armoured corps of 1960s which was arrogant and looked down on artillery as I personally witnessed right till 1980s as a young officer in Kharian and Multan? Artillery officers were never welcomed in armoured corps unit messes unless real exceptions based on personal ties and armour officers rarely visited artillery messes.

    g. Chawinda was a tank battle, thus armour suffered more casualties. On the other hand Lahore was an infantry battle where the indomitable 1st Baluch lost something like around 30 killed in battle , more casualties than most infantry units in the much trumpeted Grand Slam.

    h. Now I offer some figures for the readers to form their own conclusions.

    KILLED-CASUALTIES GRAND SLAM
    UNIT KILLED CASUALTIES
    6 PUNJAB 9
    9 PUNJAB 15
    13 PUNJAB 24
    14 PUNJAB 3
    15 PUNJAB 8
    8 BALOCH 10
    11 CAVALRY 19
    13 LANCERS 14

    REFERS-PAGE-109-PAKISTAN BHARAT JANG-1965-COL MUKHTAR GILLANI-RAWALPINDI-JULY 1998 AND UNIT SOURCES 13 LANCERS AND 11 CAVALRY

    The above casualties prove that Grand Slam was both an infantry and armour battle yet armour suffered proportionately more casualties since the effective battle strength of a tank unit is half that of an infantry unit. 14 Punjab lost just 3 killed while 10 Guides Cavalry at Chawinda lost 3 killed in officers alone apart from 12 OR/JCOs killed! 11 Cavalry lost more in killed casualties in 1965 War than any of the above units of the Grand Slam i.e 34 killed. No fault of infantry since Chawinda was an essentially a tank battle.

    i. Brigadier Alam does not give any figures which prove that infantry suffered more casualties at Chawinda. I have already admitted in my letter that the only infantry unit which bore the brunt of Indian assault was 3 FF on the 8th September. 3 FF aside the brunt of the attack at Chawinda was borne by armour units since Chawinda was a tank battle. At Lahore, the brunt of the attack was faced by infantry since Lahore i.e 10 Division battle was an essentially infantry battle. Thus, there were units like 1st Baloch and 16 Punjab which suffered tremendous casualties.1st Baloch suffering casualties of 31 killed in 10 Division Area (Refers-Page-139-Col Gillani-Op Cit). 16 Punjab suffering casualties of 106 killed and 70 missing most of whom were killed (more than total of all regular infantry units in Grand Slam) (Refers-Page-138-Col Gillani). On the other hand there were formations which in words of Colonel Mukhtar Gillani exaggerated the fighting and suffered nominal casualties like the 103 Brigade in 10 Division area (Refers Page-143-Col Gillani).

    j. Even at formation level Chawinda was not a big battle in terms of casualties since the Indian 1 Corps suffered less casualties than 11 Indian Corps in Ravi Sutlej Corridor.

    k. Brigadier Alam has mixed inter arm rivalry with operational leadership and personalities. Infantry had a role in Chawinda. Every arm and service had a role. If I have not discussed infantry actions in detail it is not because infantry did nothing at Chawinda but simply because Chawinda was a tank dominated battle with artillery playing a crucial role. Had I been biased I would not have stated in various articles that the greatest tank commander of Pakistan Army at operational level was Maj Gen Iftikhar who was an infantry man. Similarly Ibrar whose conduct I pointed out as most decisive was again an infantry man .

    l. If Brigadier Alam wants to highlight the infantry side of the battle he is free to write an article on the “Role of Infantry at Chawinda”.

    m. I have also compiled some casualty figures of armour units in 1965 which will give the reader a fair idea of who did what and who suffered more or less:—

    UNIT Killed casualties Battle area Remarks
    4 CAVALRY 17 KHEM KARAN
    5 HORSE 5 KHEM KARAN
    6 LANCERS 20 KHEM KARAN
    GUIDES 15 CHAWINDA Including 3 Officers
    11 CAVALRY 34 CHAMB
    CHAWINDA Including 1 Officer
    12 CAVALRY 8 KHEM KARAN Did Traffic Control / Flank Protection etc. being Recce Regiment
    13 LANCERS 14 CHAMB
    JAURIAN
    AKHNUR Including 3 Officers
    15 LANCERS 8 KHEM KARAN
    19 LANCERS 18 CHAWINDA Including 2 Officers
    20 LANCERS Nil SIALKOT
    22 CAVALRY 1 CHAWINDA
    23 CAVALRY 18 10 DIVISION Including 2 Officers
    24 CAVALRY 14 KHEM KARAN Including 2 Officers
    25 CAVALRY 16 CHAWINDA
    30 TDU 3 RAVI-SUTLEJ
    CORRIDOR
    31 TDU 7 SIALKOT
    32 TDU 7 RAVI-SUTLEJ
    CORRIDOR
    33 TDU 9 JASSAR

    Note:—These casualties were compiled personally and may not be wholly or totally accurate.

    n. Lastly, Alam’s assertion that DJ is distorting history. A bit naive since articles published in journals are opinions of individual writers and not of the management. This is true for all journals whether it is Pakistan Army Journal or Command and Staff College Citadel.

    o. Finally, Brigadier Alam’s letter was crude and lacked common courtesy that one would associate or expect from one holding the rank of a brigadier.

    Lt Col M. Anwar’s Letter:—

    a. I was not referring to 3 FF when I discussed Brig A.A Malik’s withdrawal request of 16 September. Hence, Col Anwar has misunderstood the point. Brig A.A Malik had requested permission to withdraw when Indian tanks had crossed the railway line on 16th September and occupied Buttur Dograndi and Sodreke. This fact was brought to light not by the much criticised Shaukat Riza but by the then GSO-2 of 6 Armoured Division Major (later General K.M Arif), first more bluntly in Pakistan Army Green Book-1993 and again a little tactfully in his recently published book Khaki Shadows. Thus no connection with 3 FF, an infantry unit which as far as I know suffered more casualties than any other infantry unit at Chawinda. 3 FF fought admirably but was launched thoughtlessly as brought out by Major Shamshad in his letter published in Sept 2001 DJ and consequently suffered enormous casualties at Sodreke-Buttur Dograndi area. Shamshad was the tank troop leader in support of 3 FF when it disastrously attacked Buttur Dograndi. In opinion of Shamshad, the attack had failed not due to any fault of 3 FF but because of poor planning by Commander 24 Brigade.

    b. About the assertion of Col Anwar that official sources are cover ups, all that one can state is that if these are cover ups why don’t experts like Brigadier Alam and Farouk Adam or Col Anwar or Lt Gen Tariq devote some time to writing serious military history.

    c. In my writings I have relied on official, unofficial and personal as well as Indian accounts. If someone has better knowledge of facts he is most welcome to apply his intellect and come out with a better account.

    d. Anwar has a point that infantry was holding a firm base. I have not denied this anywhere. My emphasis, however, was on the real battle, the armour battle which was fought at Chawinda. It is up to a reader to form subjective conclusions.

    e. Anwar states that infantry has been ignored, I contend that the real fact which has not been favourably received by some is that Brig A.A Malik has not been projected as much in my article as he had been before. Infantry, is an arm and I have great respect for it , A.A Malik was an individual who did well and rose to three star rank despite launching poorly planned counter attacks as brought out by

    Gen Fazal i Muqeem in 1971 War as a GOC .

    Lastly I want to quote a great captain of war :—

    “ I am not publishing my memoirs, not theirs and we all know that no three honest witnesses of a brawl can agree on all the details. How much more likely will be the differences in a great battle covering a vast space of broken ground, when each division, brigade, regiment and even company naturally and honestly believes that it was the focus of the whole affair! Each of them won the battle. None ever lost. That was the fate of the old man who unhappily commanded”.

    “Memoirs of General Sherman”

    Lastly my humble submission; Chawinda was about operational leadership, not small unit actions or projecting individuals or maligning them. If someone feels otherwise it is his subjective opinion.

    Kind regards

    A.H Amin

  9. Hussain

    some more observations on the book from http://www.chowk.com are as follows=

    Crossed Swords-Shuja Nawaz

    Book Review 2

    On page 477 he states that “ Abbasi was the man who had been removed from his command in the Kargil area of Kashmir…………after having undertaken an unauthorized and costly foray into Indian held territory in 1990”.Now this comes straight from a man who repeatedly claims nearly total access to all direct participants.

    Now the facts of the above situation. Poor General Abbasi had done nothing in Kargil.

    First the use of the word Kargil by Shuja Nawaz is unwarranted and irrelevant and above all totally out of context! Abbasi’s command was not just Kargil only but a much larger area i.e. the entire Northern Areas of Pakistan.

    Second the foray he Shuja refers to was not launched in 1990 but in 1992 when Shuja Nawaz’s very own brother was the army chief!

    Third the foray was not as unauthorized as claimed by Nawaz. Abbasi was commanding the FCNA, part of 10 Corps Rawalpindi and his corps commander Lieutenant General G.M Malik,a man of extreme ambition had a tacit understanding with Abbasi that in case he succeeds he was a part of the team and if Abbasi failed G.M did not knew about the attack ! A very typical and known phenomenon in all armies, organizations and bureaucracies all over the world.

    Fourthly poor Abassi’s unauthorized foray was not in Kargil but in Siachen an area far away from Kargil.

    Lastly Abbasi had been packed off to the FCNA in late 1990 a time when snow made any foray in Kargil or Siachen impossible. This happened once Abbasi expressed disagreement with the then corps commander 4 Corps Lahore Alam Jan Mehsud.The incident was narrated by this scribe to then Brigadier Salahuddin Tirmizi (later lieutenant general).Alam Jan thought that Abbasi should be posted to FCNA where he could catharsize his spirit of Jihad on those snowy rocky icy pinnacles of Siachen Glacier.Catharsize he did, with disastrous and bloody results in 1992.Not 1990 as this privy to inside sources in the army claims. And that too when his brother was army chief.A sad reflection on how an operation was mounted by an overzealous divisional commander, with secret authorization of his direct superior corps commander, while keeping a so called professional army chief in absolute darkness ! A sad but logical end to the career of Abbasi who was a more upright and internally motivated general officer and shoulders above most of the general officers that I saw in my army service.

    Shuja Nawaz repeats the above assertion again on page.509 when he states that “among the many attempts to gain advantage at Kargil was a failed attempt in 1990 by……Major General Zaheer ul Islam Abbasi”.

    On the same page again Shuja once again repeats the same totally incorrect assertion “without clearance from the army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg,Abbasi launched an attack on the LOC” .Poor Beg the target practicing range of Shuja Nawaz had no connection with Abbasi’s ill fated attack in 1992 ! Beg had retired in August 1991.

    Burhanuddin Rabbani promoted or demoted to Mullah Burhanuddin Rabbani by Shuja Nawaz on page.479 was the president of Afghanistan in 1992 and not “subsequent” to 1994 as stated by Shuja.

    In footnote.2 on page.502 Shuja Nawaz has forcibly thrust the honour of being Chief of Staff 12 Corps on General Kakar, when he states that Kakar served as Chief of Staff of 12 Corps at Quetta under Rahimuddin (famous for not joining his command in Chamb in 1971 thus making his then commanding general Major General Eftikhar state that he would court martial this man after the war. To Rahimuddin’s good luck Eftikhar embraced martyrdom in the war and Rahimuddin survived).This is a factual error as 12 Corps at Quetta did not exist at that time. This corps was raised somewhere in 1985 when Rahimuddin was already the chairman joint chiefs.

    In the same footnote Shuja Nawaz states that Kakar was wounded at Chawinda in 1965 war .When the 1965 war started Kakar was at intelligence school in Murree.This assertion of Kakar being wounded while possible is questionable .Its possible that Kakar joined his unit in later part of the war.

    On page.508 Nawaz states that “one of the first actions in 1948 Kashmir war was the securing of Kargil heights by Pakistani forces.This is a serious factual error. The first major action of the 1947-48 Kashmir war was the attack on Muzaffarabad in October 1947 and the seizing of heights near Kargil happened much later in May 1948 by the Eskimo Force of Gilgit Scouts under Captain Shah Khan (later an air force officer).As a matter of fact Kargil itself was captured by the Gilgit Scouts and they had then captured Zojila Pass and advanced across it. But all this happened much later after October 1947.

    Good in details, written from the relative calm and safety of USA, this book possibly written with good intentions, got lost in the woods of details and failed to present the broad picture.

    Many Bhagwans of military history reviewed it and failed to find any fault with it!

  10. ZAB

    Crossed Swords is an exagerration about the internal battles of PAK ARMY……………Half Truth/Half Myths