The Kashmir War - 1948
One of the problems left behind by the British Raj, who handed over power on August 14th, 1947 was that of the Indian States. It was left to the States themselves to join either of the two Dominions, India or Pakistan. They were discouraged to remain independent. Here we will only discuss the three states of Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir and the eventual political action that each state had to undergo. Junagadh was a small state and its ruler opted clearly for Pakistan. The Indian Government said that this was nonsense and invaded the territory and took it over by force of arms.
The Nizam of Hyderabad the largest princely state, equivalent to many countries of the world ), wished to remain independent. This, too, was invaded by the Indian Army, under the pretext of 'police action'.
Now came the turn of Kashmir. There is no room in a history of this type to enlarge on the Radcliffe Boundary Commission which awarded the district of Gurdaspur, a Muslim majority area, to India. This award enabled India to be linked with Kashmir and Pakistanis have always felt, justifiably, that this was an invidious award, perhaps deliberately connived at. Anyway Kashmir's Hindu ruler decided to join the Indian Dominion. The Governor General of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, accepted the request on behalf of the Government of India.
The people of Pakistan had all along, perhaps naively, thought that Kashmir would definitely become part of Pakistan - the 'K' of Pakistan. For the partition of India was made on the basis of the majority of the population of each region. Kashmir, directly linked with Pakistan, and with its vast majority of Muslims, made this quite an obvious solution. Not for the Indian Government. They had treated Junagadh and Hyderabad differently, and now it was the turn of Kashmir.
In addition it must not be forgotten that for the Indian Government in Delhi the infrastructure of their armed forces was as well formed as before, with only a few changes caused by the influx of the non-Muslim elements front Pakistan. India was also fortunate in that it had as its Governor General Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was a supreme commander in World War II and who had the knowledge and experience of combined operations-especially the problems of moving a large body of troops by air. India rushed troops by air to Kashmir and came to the aid of the Hindu ruler.
Meanwhile on the Pakistan side we had a government which had not yet been formed and an army which was in the process of reorganization and an economy which was problematical. However, every Pakistani had the spirit of a new country which was hard to beat. "The breeze from Hedjaz" was blowing pretty fiercely and it affected the tribes on the Frontier when they realized the ambivalent attitude of the Indians towards Kashmir.
Tribal lashkars commandeered buses and trucks from the weak local administration and set out on their Jihad for Kashmir. Initially the tribesmen fared well. However, the tantalizing prospects of the rich city of Srinagar was unfortunately there and instead of occupying the military objective of Srinagar airfield they proceeded to the more worldly satisfying aspects of the city itself.
If any proof is needed as to whether Pakistan had a military hand in these affairs, the failure to occupy the airfield makes it clear to any reader that the government and its military command had no hand in this project.
With the Srinagar airfield left open, the Indian Array poured troops into Srinagar and started pushing back the tribal lashkars. As the lashkars withdrew from Srinagar under the pressure of the Indian Army it was quite apparent that the Indians, if not stopped, could even threaten Pakistan from the north. Officer volunteers in civilian dress were only too eager to join the lashkars to create some sort of order at this stage. At the same time, other personnel in civilian clothes also volunteered to make sure that some sort of defense line was made as far forward as possible.
The next stage came in 1948 when the Pakistan Army itself sent brigade strength forces to defend the many approaches into Pakistan. Once the Pakistan Army had joined the fray and operational direction was coordinated, the rest was easy. Towards the end of 1948 a decisive action was planned secretly in the area of Beri Pattan. Here as much artillery as could be spared was secretly brought forward and concentrated under one command. Troops were earmarked to follow up this bombardment.
The intensity of the artillery firing and its concentration on Beri Pattan quickly made the Government of India realize that their military posture was unsound if Beri Pattan was to fall. The Indian Government sought a cease fire from the United Nations and the Pakistan Government, in its openheartedness, agreed to it perhaps naively. It must be remembered that Pakistan was beset with nation-forming problems at this stage.
The whole matter was placed before the United Nations by the Indian Government and the Security Council decided to hold a plebiscite under its auspices. This cease fire, on January 1st, 1949 and the United Nations call for a plebiscite gave the Indian Army time to reorganize and readjust its positions and to expand its armed forces.
The situation is still more or less as was left by that cease fire but through one excuse or another the Indian Government has gone back on its international agreement to a plebiscite in Kashmir. Superpower politics have also ensured that nothing is done in this area to upset the large Indian nation, even if it does go back on its obligations. This is especially so when the Indian Union is backed by Russia. And anyway, who wants to take up cudgels on behalf of a small state?
In this outline lies the genesis of the Kashmir problem which has bedeviled the relationship between the Indian Union and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This chapter, however, relates only to the part played by the Pakistan armed forces in 1948 to the cease fire on January 1st, 1949 in Kashmir. The Pakistan Army in 1948 became officially involved in the Kashmir War. Here various Piffer units played their part nobly as always.
PAVO Cavalry (FF) (now 111 Cav (FF))
Anyone who knows the terrain in Kashmir must realize that normal armor operations cannot take place except in the low-lying area before one reaches the higher hills, or in the valleys once one can reach them. The PAVO Cavalry, however, did take part in several actions in support of Pakistani troops in the area. They fought in the Puna-Tundar area, Somani-Bhimber area, Bhimber and Muzaffarahad-Bara Mulla. They were ever ready to take on the enemy in this most difficult terrain and they were handled with great boldness by Lieutenant-Colonel Masud Khan (Tommy).
Piffer Artillery Units.
It will be recalled from the preface that two of the original Piffer mountain batteries are now serving in Pakistan with 1 (SP) Field Regiment Artillery. At the time of partition 21 Mountain Regiment was apportioned to Pakistan and was renamed 1 Mountain Regiment. Later, in 1957, when 1 Mountain Regiment was re-equipped with S.P. guns it was renamed 1 (SP) Field Regiment of Pakistan Artillery.
In February 1948 the regiment was ordered to move to Kashmir. 3 (P) Mountain Battery (FF) under Major Muhammad Adalat, M.C., together with a company from 4th Battalion The Frontier Force Rifles 1 now 9 (FF) with some units entered Kashmir. The Piffer battery became the first artillery unit to move into Kashmir in this struggle.
3 (P) Mountain Battery FF supported the attack on Poonch city in March, 1948 and was very effective both in the C.B. role and in the close support to the infantry. The guns kept the city and the airstrip under constant fire. One Indian Dakota was destroyed on the air strip while another was damaged as it tried to land. Such was the accuracy of the gunners that the Indians were denied the use of their airstrip during the daytime and they had to resort to supply drops which were very inaccurate.
After a cease fire had been called in the Poonch sector, 3 (P) Mountain Battery FF was pulled out and sent to the Uri sector. Here it gave support to the forces on Pandu feature and also to the 1st Battalion (Coke's) The Frontier Force Rifles now 7 FF at Bara Galli. Our forces on Pandu were attacked by the enemy at the end of May and withdrew. During the same enemy offensive, Coke's Rifles stuck to their position and mauled the enemy.
However, let it now be stated that the forces that came back from Pandu successfully attacked and recaptured Pandu in July, 1948 and again 3 P Mountain Battery (FF) gave them excellent support. In passing, it may be noted here that one of the F.O.O.s with the leading troops was Major A.R. Shami who tragically lost his life in the Khem Karan area in 1965 while commanding a divisional artillery.
In this battle of Pandu, Major A.R. Shami and 2/Lieutenant Khan Zaman Khan were both mentioned for their high conduct, as was Lance Naik Ghulam Mohammad.
While all this was going on in the Uri sector, 2 (K) Mountain Battery ( FF) were having an exciting time in the Titwal sector. The Indians during their advance had captured point 7229 along the Chunj feature and later in the same month of May, 1948 they captured point 7802 and point 4297 (see also account subsequently of Guides Infantry in the same area).
It became essential, in order to recapture these features, to have some direct artillery support much nearer to the battle. However, guns could not be brought across the river due to the lack of bridges. The rope bridge at Ghori could only be crossed by men one at a time. An attack on any of these features would have had little chance of success without artillery support, however meager. It was decided to strip a 3.7in. Howitzer and carry it across the river.
The gunners, with the help of engineers, produced a sling and a pulley by which the dismantled gun and ammunition boxes were pulled across the Kishanganga River and carried to point 9444 above Chunj. This operation was completed in two days and the gun was re-assembled and put in action in a position overlooking the enemy defense on Chunj and point 7229. The gun was called 'Shahzadi'.
For the interest of gunners, the objective was only 1,600 yards away at a height of 8,600 feet and was well below the gun. As such the gun had to fire upper register in a reversed form. This necessitated tying the trails of the gun to a boulder which in turn was tied to two trees and tying this way the required depression was achieved.
On July 8th, 1948, at dawn the attacking troops accompanied by the F.O.O., Captain Rao Farman Ali, crossed the start line. 'Shahzadi' opened up and started picking out enemy bunkers one after the other. In addition to this direct fire by 'Shahzadi', the fire of the remaining guns further south was also directed on the objective. 2 (K) Mountain Battery (FF) fired nearly 500 rounds on point 7229. Within an hour the enemy company position was eliminated and they left behind some thirty dead and thirteen prisoners of war.
It would not be out of place to mention here that there was an accident in 'Shahzadi' gun position. There was a premature burst in which one O.R. was killed and two people wounded, including the Subedar Major who was doing G.P.O.
So you see the Brits evil plans.
The Kashmir War - 1948
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