It was a day in the thicket of war and situation was getting more adverse everyday as number of casualties was increasing on both sides. In contrast with fortified and well armed Indian Army, some small units of Pakistan Army and Mujahideen were fighting against the unjust occupation of enemy. Enemy had the strength of a full brigade along with support of artillery, air force and tanks.
A 23 years old young man named Naik Saif Ali Janjua of 18 Azad Kashmir Regiment was in his trench. Saif Ali was recently inducted in this unit. He belonged to engineers Sher Riyasti Battalion شیرریاستی بٹالین and after completing his service, he retired in January 1947. But in the recent situation, he was called back by Pakistan Army on January 01, 1948. He was with a handful of his comrades and was sleepless for many days. For about a month, everyday Indian Air Force attacked Pakistani positions. In response to the bombing and shelling by Indian aircrafts, Pakistanis were only able to fire their .303 rifles or some machine guns. Post of Saif was being attacked for many days by Indian Army and Air Force.
October 26, 1948
It was a quiet day when Saif and his comrades heard buzzing of an aircraft. It was an Indian “Tempest” . Saif was on the machine gun. As the aircraft came into sight, it was confirmed that it is an Indian aircraft. Before the aircraft could open fire, Saif Ali opened fire. The aircraft flying on low level was hit by the barrage of bullets and it started emitting smoke. After covering a distance of few hundred meters, it hit the ground. This was unbelievable. Enemy laid wave after wave of attacks but all were repulsed. In the shower of bullets and shells, Saif was standing upright to face it all.
On the second day, enemy started again in the cover of shelling and the top cover provided by a “Tempest”, which was firing at the position of Saif Ali and his troops. They all ducked behind the boulders to avoid the fire. As the tempest flew past their positions, Saif Ali started firing.
Although the aircraft was far but the pin point machine gun bullets punctured the fuselage of the tempest and the black smoke started emit from it. It made the aircraft to return. Now the enemy was alarmed after all this. The enemy kept the post of Naik Saif under intense fire of all kind of weapons. Enemy decided to surround this post, so it started its advance towards the position of Saif, but Saif and his comrades were aware of the situation.
Their post was isolated from rest of the sector. Knowing that Saif Ali stood on his position and started directing fire on the enemy. Meanwhile, an artillery shell landed near Saif Ali. The explosion tossed him many feet above the ground. Before falling on the ground, his soul departed. Saif Ali was Martyred...
Naik Saif Ali Janjua was awarded Hilal e Kashmir, which is the highest gallantry of Kashmir on March 14, 1949. On November 30, 1995, it was made equal to Nishan e Haider, which is the highest gallantry award of Pakistan.
Photograph Courtesy ( diorama ) : Army Museum Rawalpindi.
It was the morning of December 13, 1971 in what was then East Pakistan. 19 year old Second Lieutenant Daniel Utarid and his company had just returned from the previous night’s war mission. The young lieutenant sat down to have breakfast served by a familiar batman, one he had known from his childhood. This was a rare moment of comfort at the time, for Pakistan was in the thick of battle.
Just then he received news: the enemy had attacked a platoon of the 31 Punjab Battalion, and it was coming under serious pressure. The platoon had already suffered casualties and was in dire need of reinforcements. Second Lt Utarid immediately led his men to the war front, and was fatally injured while fending off the enemy assault.
An army doctor who tried to save Utarid’s life by removing the bullets from his chest chronicled this young soldier’s last moments in his notebook. As his life bled out from his many wounds, his last words were a request:
“Give this bullet to my mother as a souvenir and tell her that I took it in my chest while defending my homeland.”
And so the brave soldier laid down his life on 13th December 1971, at the age of 19 years, 8 months and 27 days. Just a day later, 31 Punjab gave up its arms and retreated, and on December 16 the Pakistan Army signed the instrument of surrender in Dhaka.
Second Lt Utarid’s sacrifice may have seemingly gone in vain, since it did not prevent Pakistan from splitting up, but he received accolades and praise from his commanding officer, Lt Col Riaz Javed, who recommended him for the third highest award of gallantry, the Sitara-e-Jurrat.
The monument at the Punjab regimental centre also bears his name, along with those of others who went down fighting for their country, as a martyr. This young man had the blood of a soldier running through his veins: his father was Lt Arthur Emanuel Utarid (retd) and Lt Col Philip Utarid (retd) was his uncle. He himself was born in the very land that he eventually died in. In 1950, his father was posted to Dhaka, where his wife gave birth to Daniel on February 16, 1952 at CMH Dhaka Hospital.
The family moved to Lahore on their next posting, and Daniel decided to join the Pakistan Army after completing his Junior Cambridge from Saint Anthony’s School. It was not surprising that he was following in his father’s footsteps, as he was brought up on a generous dose of patriotism at home.
He passed out from the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul on November 13, 1971 — just when Pakistan was at the brink of war — after completing the 47th PMA course and receiving a shield for best rifle marksmanship.
Given his passion for the infantry, his first priority was to join the Punjab Regiment. Second Lt Utarid proved his mettle in this when he volunteered himself during the war for a very difficult front in the East, where his uncle, then Captain Philip Utarid, was also fighting.
His father, retired by now, was engaged as a reserve soldier in fighting at Bimbhar, Kashmir. On December 1, 1971, Second Lt Utarid was deputed to 31 Punjab, which at the time was posted in Sylhet, East Pakistan. Later, his colleagues and commanding officer Lt Col Riaz Javed (retd) lauded him as a young man who was always ready for the defence of his country and would enthusiastically volunteer for fighting patrols.
He would return to his unit without so much as looking tired or overwhelmed by the horrors of the war, they would say. It is fitting then, that this son of the soil at least had the honour of being buried in a part of what was once the Quaid’s Pakistan.
Irrespective of where you stand on the divisive Bangladesh conflict, this Christian soldier’s sacrifice deserves to be recognized as an invaluable service to the nation from a soldier who did not see himself as a minority, but a Pakistani. What would it take for the rest of us to accord his community the same respect? Surely that would be more pleasing to his soul than any amount of plaques and awards.
B Company of 6FF captured the strongest position of the enemy in Saboona Sector and it got over the nerves of Indian command. To take this position back, enemy was constantly attacking. It was broad day light and the position was under heavy artillery fire and IAF was attacking wave after wave.
In response, Pakistan artillery was bombing enemy positions and the Pakistan Air Force was also air borne and on its way; meanwhile Pakistani Air Defense weaved a net of fire in the air. At that moment, two IAF MIGs were diving on the Pakistani positions. Suddenly the duo pulled up and the leading aircraft pilot suddenly ejected and the other aircraft turned back.
The open parachute of the pilot could be observed easily. Before the pilot landed, Captain Khalid was present there. He took out his side arm and ordered the pilot to surrender. The pilot resisted and tried to take out his sidearm as well. However Captain Khalid took control and stripped off Indian pilot's jacket and tactical gear.
Khalid took him to his position where he handed him over to Brigadier Amir Hamza. The pilot was identified as Wing Commander Coelho. Brigadier Amir Hamza witnessed the whole situation himself and was surprised about his ejection. He asked him why he ejected.
"The language killed my aircraft", he replied in despair.
"What do you mean?", Brigadier Hamza asked.
"Actually I was about to drop my payload when my wing man shouted, "Tail on fire, tail on fire". In the mean time your air defense started targeting my air craft and it took a jerk as well. I thought I am hit. When I ejected, I saw my aircraft was intact. Then I realized the lingual mistake of my wingman who would have said,"Firing on tail".
Brigadier Hamza laughed loudly and offered him some tea. Which he took with a feeling of gratitude. After the “fantastic tea” he was sent to POW camp.
Lieutenant Colonel Sultan Ahmad
Sitara-i-Juraat and Bar
On 21 November, Eid day, when our fatigued soldiers had been operating in the most hostile environment for almost ten months, including a month of fasting, the Indian army felt emboldened enough to launch a full scale invasion at over twenty fronts in the east, west and north of East Pakistan . Divisions attacked our brigade positions; brigades attacked our battalion, company and platoon positions, supported by their armor, artillery and air force. When most of our defensive positions, rooted to the ground, could not be overrun, Indian forces after suffering heavy casualties resorted to outflanking moves.
The aggressors could not capture, till the cease-fire; on 16 December, a single town except Jessore, which was not defended for strategic reasons. For the Pakistani soldiers this was their finest hour, fighting against heavy odds with their backs to the wall inflicting heavy casualties, bloodied but unbowed” when an Indian commander, through a messenger asked for our Jamalpur battalion to surrender, encircled by two brigades, the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Sultan Ahmad, Sitara-i-Juraat of 31 Baloch replied in a message wrapped around a bullet which read, “I want to tell you that the fighting you have seen so far is very little; in fact the fighting has not even started. So let us stop negotiating and start the fight."
The Indian brigadier, Hardit Singh Kler, surrounded a Pakistani unit led by Lt. Colonel Ahmed Sultan. On 10 December the two officers exchanged letters. The first, written by the Indian brigadier, was taken across the front line by an elderly man who delivered it by hand.
The Commander Jamalpur Garrison
I am directed to inform you that your garrison has been cut off from all sides and you have no escape route available to you. One brigade with full complement of artillery has already been built up and another will be striking by morning. In addition you have been given a foretaste of a small element of our air force with a lot more to come. The situation as far as you are concerned is hopeless. Your higher commanders have already ditched you.
I expect your reply before 6.30 p.m. today failing which I will be constrained to deliver the final blow for which purpose 40 sorties of MIGs have been allotted to me.
In this morning’s action the prisoners captured by us have given your strength and dispositions, and are well looked after.
The treatment I expect to be given to the civil messenger should be according to a gentlemanly code of honour and no harm should come to him.
An immediate reply is solicited.
Brigadier HS Kler. Comd.
The reply was sent a few hours later by Pakistani Commander:
Hope this finds you in high spirits. Your letter asking us to surrender had been received. I want to tell you that the fighting you have seen so far is very little, in fact the fighting has not even started. So let us stop negotiating and start the fight.
40 sorties, I may point out, are inadequate. Ask for many more.
Your point about treating your messenger well was superfluous. It shows how you underestimate my boys. I hope he liked his tea.
Give my love to the Muktis. Let me see you with a sten in your hand next time instead of the pen you seem to have such mastery over,
Now get on and fight.
Commander Jamalpur Fortress.
Indian brigadier then called in his units to move closer to Jamalpur and establish roadblocks. Starting morning, a number of sorties were flown by the IAF against the Jamalpur garrison. Brig Kler's troops were preparing for an attack on the Jamalpur garrison when the Pakistani commander, on the orders of higher command attempted a breakout. Faced with a cordon, Ahmed's troops tried frontal assault to break up the encirclement and were cut down by murderous fire by indian troops .Pakistanis broke through the besieging enemy on night 10/11 December 1971 .
Lt Col Sultan Ahmed was later awarded,SJ and Bar. He died as Brigadier Retired,SJ Bar.Before his death he had written and published a book regarding 1971 war ” The Stolen Victory “.
“Mount every weapon towards the bridge; cover every inch of the ground. Let no one pass without being shot.”
April 11th, 1971
Paksey Bridge, Ishurdi Town,
13 FF (Athbara) unit of Pakistan Army had just settled in; to relax after a daylong operation of clearing Ishurdi Airfied and town from the rebels, when they were just informed of some activity in the area.
The unit spent the whole day in clearing the traitors of East Bengal Rifles and such news was not a good surprise for them. CO of 13FF Lieutenant Colonel Amir Nawaz Khan got the intel that some elements have been noted moving around Paksey Bridge, also known as Hardinge Bridge . It was over a mile long bridge connecting areas of Ishurdi and Bheramara. The bridge had vital importance for supply and communication of the troops in the area. Moreover, its capture by the enemy could create a vast gap between troops on the both sides. By the sunset, enemy acted fast and captured the bridge on the both sides; digging trenches and mounting its heavy weaponry.
It was a point of do and die for 13 FF, because any delay meant adding strength to the enemy and facing numerous hurdles to retake the bridge. But the tired soldiers after a day long battle and limited amount of the weapons and ammunitions were saying to wait for the supplies. Enemy was heavily armed and it could result in heavy damage if attacked without proper arrangements. The unit had its men scattered and it could take time to gather them.
April 12th, 1971
Neglecting all odds, Lieutenant Colonel Amir Nawaz decided to move forward and hit the enemy harder than before. Paksey bridge was a steel bridge made of steel girders. Colonel Nawaz ordered Major Sabir Kamal, officer commanding of B Company to collect his men and move forward, taking cover from girder to girder so that the enemy fire could be avoided. But the men of B Company were scattered and it could result in providing ample time to the enemy to make its arrangements stronger. It was about 0500 HRS when Major Sabir Kamal took Captain Ishrat Ullah Qadri along with handful of his men and moved towards enemy position.
“Mount every weapon towards the bridge; cover every inch of the ground. Let no one pass here without being shot”, was the order issued by Colonel Amir Nawaz to 13 FF.
He ordered Major Sabir to advance and ordered the remaining men of B Company to be collected. On his order, every weapon was already pointing towards the enemy position, including every recoil-less rifle and rocket launcher of the unit. Advance started on its devised time, facing stiff resistance from the enemy. Major Sabir and his men kept on moving from girder to girder. But it was over a mile long bottle neck and enemy had concentrated its fire on the advancing men. When Sabir and Ishrat were in the middle of the bridge, it was looking impossible to advance any further.
In the meantime, Colonel Amir Nawaz was able to gather the remaining men and he decided to lead these men himself to aid the advance party. Like a tidal wave, remaining men in his command hit the bridge, recoilless rifles and rocket launchers also started crushing the enemy like a sledgehammer. This was the decisive moment in the battle.
It was 0930 HRS when enemy started running but the riflemen were not agreeing to offer any concession to the enemy. They stood upright neglecting every danger and started sniping the enemy. Enemy was crushed badly. After a battle of about 5 hours, enemy left behind a large cache of weapons and dead bodies and never came back. The bridge was retaken from the enemy in less than 12 hours.
This battle earned Sitara e Jurrat to Lt. Col Amir Nawaz Khan and Maj Sabir Kamal , besides that 13 FF earned one Tamgha e Jurrat and three Merit Certificates (Imtiazi Sanad).
Photograph Courtesy : Mr. Javed Nawaz Khan, Son of Col Amir Nawaz Khan SJ.
Sector Shakkar Garh Narowal 20 Lancers Field Head Quarters
On your request and enthusiasm, I am attaching you with the troop of 2nd Lieutenant Farasat Ali Shah. Are you happy now? . This was the question asked by the battalion commander from his jawan.
Yes Sir! I will try my best to fulfill this responsibility, jawan answered.
This jawan was now in field with the troops.
It was about 2100 hrs and the night was dark, but it was being lit up by the exploding shells, fired by the 400 guns of enemy. No doubt that it was the rain of death covering every inch of the ground. Exploding shells, scattering splinters and the erupting fire made it a theater of death.
In spite of all these factors, the Jawan was observing the area with the binoculars. Suddenly, he jumped out of his bunker and rushed towards the troop commander Farasat Ali Shah.
Sir! Enemy tanks are advancing towards us in the cover of shelling. I can clearly see them, jawan told his commander.
Yes I can see them but I can't contact Captain Amin Mirza, the field telephone is out, Firasat Ali replied.
Alright sir, let me do something, jawan said. To Firasat Ali's wonder, the Jawan came out of the bunker and rushed towards the bunker of Amin Mirza, right between the exploding shells.
Within a few minutes, Amin Mirza re-directed artillery fire and now the enemy started suffering loss. Pakistani artillery fired in such a perfect way that a company of enemy was destroyed and the tanks fled back.
Shelling from the Indian side started again, jawan went out of the bunker and started shouting at the enemy.
"Hey you coward Hindus! Come forward if you dare"
It was observed that a nearby village Giddar Pur went under enemy control. Being the high ground, this village had a strategic importance.
Firasat Ali sent 4 troopers under the command of that jawan to confirm the target visual, but after half an hour, intense firing was heard from that side. Firasat Ali rushed towards the village, fearing that the small party of jawans is under attack by the Indians. But to Firasat's wonder, the four troopers had made enemy to run away from the village, leaving their supplies behind. This village was now under Pakistani control.
After a few hours, it was told by the jawan that enemy tanks are advancing towards Gajgal. Pakistani posts readied their RR Guns for the reception. As the first tank came 200 meters closer, Gunner Saif ur Rehman fired the first shot which lit the tank into flames. Now the enemy was scattered.
Indian and Pakistani guns started shelling. All this completely camouflaged the view and it became impossible to see the advancing Indian tanks. Moreover, Indian MIGs also started to fire rockets at the Pakistani posts.
In this shower of bullets and shells, everyone was in his bunker. But the jawan came out of the bunker and rushed towards Indian tanks. He located the first Indian tank and told the nearby RR Gunner.
The shell was fired and the tank was blown like a water ball. He rushed towards the other gun, telling the location and the second tank was destroyed. It puzzled the enemy so much that they were unable to come forward. The attack was repulsed and the Jawan went back to Giddar Pur on his OP.
About 1800 hrs Jawan informed that enemy is gathering his infantry and armor between Guddar Pur and Khaira. Necessary welcome arrangements were made for the enemy in time.
Enemy attacked on 1900 hrs. Under the cover of armor and artillery shelling, infantry started advancing. But had to turn back.
1400 hrs, enemy tanks advanced for further attack, because of Pakistani firing; three Indian tanks were destroyed and the rest went back.
Jawan was watching all this very carefully. He observed from a high post that enemy is gathering its force in a garden, near Pakistani positions.
Jawan went to Artillery Observer Amin Mirza and informed about the enemy gathering. Intense artillery fire was sent from Pakistani guns and the enemy started to panic. In response Indian guns opened heavy fire on the high post. Amin and Farasat ordered the Jawan to pull back from the location.
"Sir I am not going anywhere", was the answer by Jawan.
After one hour the enemy MIG formation came and started firing. Two Pakistani RR guns along with their operators were destroyed. It was the first loss from Pakistani side, whereas enemy suffered hundreds of casualties and about a dozen of its armor was crushed
The guns were taken forward. But soon they were under heavy artillery fire. It was clear seen that there is an enemy observer nearby. Jawan took the responsibility to find him. Soon he located the observer on a near by tree. Fire! Fire! Jawan shouted. Farasat Ali ordered a tank to fire. The tree was blown and the observer was blown into pieces. It blinded the enemy artillery.
Farasat Ali went to his batallion commander Major Akram, who was present at the scene at that time.
What is it Farasat?, asked Major Akram.
"Sir I request you to award Tamgha e Jurrat to the Jawan", Farasat requested.
Major Akram approved the recommendation with a smile.
Enemy continued its attacks. Every attack comprised of at least a tank regiment and a battalion of infantry. Whereas there was a less than a battalion of infantry and only 4 RR guns, as 2 guns were already been destroyed.
In the mean time, a formation of 4 SU-7 jets arrived at the battle scene from Indian side. Pakistani troops requested for aerial support which was approved by sending only 2 F-86 Sabres. There was no comparison as SU-7 was far more superior than old F-86. But within a few seconds, a F-86 turned the brand new SU-7 into a ball of flames. The other 3 ran away for their lives. After destroying it, the F-86 destroyed 2 Indian tanks and flew towards the base.
After the attack, Jawan went to the trench of Farasat Ali and started telling him some jokes about Hindus and Sikhs, he was not wearing his steel helmet.
"Buddy wear your helmet. Don't you know that you are in battle field? Just a single splinter of a bomb can take your life", said Farasat to the jawan.
"Don't worry sir! I am here to die or kill. Right now I am killing, when the time will come; I will embrace death like a man", jawan said with a smile.
The jawan went to its trench and started making tea. Meanwhile, enemy started heavy shelling. But ignoring all this, jawan picked the cup of tea and went towards the trench of Farasat as if its a war movie not a war front.
Late night, jawan took a party of engineers to the front and guided them to lay land mines.
0900 hrs: Pakistani positions were under heavy fire. Enemy was firing artillery shells along with rockets by SU-7. It was like rain. At least 400 cannons were firing from the indian side and nothing could be seen but fire and dust from the exploding shells.
The Jawan was moving in this heavy fire like a thunder bolt. Carrying heavy ammunition boxes, he went zto every trench and distributed it. He also took another responsibility. He observed the position and location of every enemy tank and directed the RR guns for firing. It was not an easy task at all as the tanks were camouflaged in the dust and smoke and it was almost impossible to spot them, but the jawan went closer to the enemy tanks, come back to the gun position and directed fire. Now the enemy tanks were in defensive position as they were being blown one by one.
When an RR gun fires, it erupts heavy smoke and flame from the back side called recoil. It can be harmful for the person standing behind it. Jawan was also standing behind an RR at the time when it fired. The recoil made him fall backwards. Everyone ran towards him but he stood up quickly, telling everyone that he is alright and again rushed towards the Indian tanks.
2IC of the regiment Major Aman Ullah was present at the scene at that time. He contacted Regiment Commander Colonel Tufail Muhammad.
"Sir this jawan is really a hero and he should be given the highest military award of Pakistan", he said at the end of his conversation.
At that time, 16 Indian tanks were destroyed because of his directions. He saw another tank and rushed towards the nearby RR Gun. The RR fired and the tank also fired its machine gun. The tank was destroyed, but the jawan also fell down as he received the full burst of machine gun on his chest. He embraced shahadat but repulsed another attack by the enemy.
Today the world knows the brave Jawan as Sawar Muhammad Hussain Shaheed (Nishan e Haider),
The Major Stood Tall While The Enemy Rained Bombs, Shells
Hero of “The Battle of Chawinda”, Sialkot, Major Ziauddin Ahmad Abbasi Shaheed (Sitar-e-Jurat).
Major Ziauddin Ahamd Abbasi Shaheed is one of the bravest soldier of Pakistan Army. He sacrificed his life on September 11, 1965 in a war against India in the battlefield of Chawinda. Abbasi Shaheed Hospital was constructed by the city government Karachi in the name of Major Ziauddin Abbasi.
Major Ziauddin Ahmad Abbasi sitting on the floor (left), also in the photograph Major Fazal i Haq, Major General Shahid Hamid, General Ayub Khan, Colonel Pir Abdullah Shah and others.
Shahadat of Major Ishaq on 21 Nov in Teh Kulachi Distt DIK while searching the house of Taliban (absconder) Zahir Shah. Father of the Zahir Shah was inquired about the presence/ return of the Zahir Shah which he replied in negative.
Maj Ishaq (Patrol Party Comd) tried to check the other room of house when suddenly the They opened fire on Patrol Party followed by lobbying of a Hand Grenade, resulting in multiple injuries to Maj Ishaq in abdomen and Arms. Officer was immediately evacuated to CMH DIK where he succumbed to injuries of bullets and splinters / Pallets of HG and Embraced Shahadat.