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13 Punjab in 1971 war

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This is the first of the volumes of book devoted to
Pakistan Army infantry battalion performance in 1971
war.
This volume will deal with Punjab Regiment infantry
battalions which participated in 1971 India Pakistan war ,
regardless ...
Units performance in the war summed up and assessed.
What was the battalions net impact in the war.
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13 Punjab in 1971 war

  1. 1. This is the first of the volumes of book devoted to Pakistan Army infantry battalion performance in 1971 war.
  2. 2. This volume will deal with Punjab Regiment infantry battalions which participated in 1971 India Pakistan war , regardless of the fact , whether they saw action or not. The analysis will follow the format below:-- Brief summary of the battalion’s war services and its area of employment. Total fatal casualties of the battalion which is an important relative factor in assessing a battalions war performance. Another important factor to judge a units level of leadership which is assessed by studying if its officers were leading from the front or not ? Galllantry awards won by the battalion which may or may not indicate a battalion’s performance in war.
  3. 3. Units performance in the war summed up and assessed. What was the battalions net impact in the war.
  4. 4. The battalion was initially reserve battalion of 15 Division but placed under command 8 Division 26th November 1971.1 The battalion was deployed to defend the hub of third minefield layer position at Tola under direct command of 8 Infantry Division. 1 Page-385- VETERAN CAMPAIGNERS-A HISTORY OF THE PUNJAB REGIMENT-1759-1981-Op cit.
  5. 5. On 4th December 1971 13 Punjab was placed under command Changez Force comprising 20 Lancers , 33 Cavalry , and commanded by Brigadier Nisar , SJ , the famous war hero of 1965 war who had repulsed the Indian tank division with just two tank squadrons at Gadgor on 8th September 1965. As a result of this new reorganization, a platoon of B company 13 Punjab was placed under command 20 Lancers , C squadron at Giddarpur (first minefield layer) commanded by Major Akram (later three star). As per Brigadier Jafri’s account 2 , this squadron abandoned the Giddarpur position without informing the platoon of 13 Punjab. Colonel Yahya Effendi of my regiment recollected in his war account that C Squadron, 20 Lancers did abandon Giddarpur position without seeking clearance from his regimental headquarters but was checked by colonel Nisar who ordered it back. 2 Page-386- VETERAN CAMPAIGNERS-A HISTORY OF THE PUNJAB REGIMENT-1759-1981-Op cit.
  6. 6. Effendi’s account confirms Brigadier Rizvi’s assertion that C Squadron 20 Lancers , less one tank troop abandoned the Giddarpur position . However where Brigadier Rizvi is wrong , is in stating that both squadrons of 20 Lancers abandoned the Giddarpur position . Only one squadron of 20 Lancers was at Giddarpur , so two squadrons could not possibly abandon Giddarpur position. Brigadier Rizvi was also totally wrong in stating that C Squadron 20 Lancers unjustified and unsanctioned withdrawal from Giddarpur , compelled , Changez Force to abandon the first minefield layer . The first minefield layer was abandoned on night 6th December while C Squadron 20 Lancers was forced back to redeploy at the first layer at Giddarpur on the morning of 6th December 1971.
  7. 7. The major failure of the war occurred at Chakra on 11th December 1971 , for which Brigadier Rizvi blamed 33 Cavalry squadron and Colonel Sardar
  8. 8. Yahya Effendi blamed 13 Punjab company commander.
  9. 9. Rizvi stated that 33 Cavalry squadron abandoned Chakra position 3. 3 Page-387- VETERAN CAMPAIGNERS-A HISTORY OF THE PUNJAB REGIMENT-1759-1981-Op cit.
  10. 10. 33 Cavalry’s performance throughout Changez Force battle was highly incompetent and one cannot simply dismiss Rizvi’s allegation that 33 Cavalry squadron (two troops) was the first to abandon Chakra position . Twice 33 Cavalry squadrons abandoned their positions without higher headquarters permission .In one case 33 Cavalry squadron commander Major Alamdar was sacked and replaced by Sardar Yahya Effendi .
  11. 11. In the second case 33 Cavalry squadron simply abandoned its position and , fled the battlefield .In this case the squadron commander Major Zarif Malik was sacked from command and sent back to the
  12. 12. armoured corps centre. However later he rose to the rank of brigadier. On the other hand Rizvi’s exaggerated account about 13 Punjab actions is also highly questionable.
  13. 13. The bottomline of a battalion or regiments performance are the fatal casualties suffered by that unit. In this regard both 33 Cavalry and 13 Punjab suffered unusually and shockingly low casualties. 33 Cavalry lost only six killed in whole of 1971 war. 13 Punjab casualties are more unexpectedly shocking , because despite being an infantry unit with almost double the manpower of an armoured regiment 13 Punjab only lost four killed in 1971 war.4 13 Punjab had an outstanding war record in 1965 in Operation Grand Slam and was not like 33 Cavalry ? But what happened in 1971 war has never been carefully examined.To this scribe’s mind , the very concept of placing a foot infantry battalion to conduct a mobile battle with tank regiments was a massive blunder . 4 Page-509- VETERAN CAMPAIGNERS-A HISTORY OF THE PUNJAB REGIMENT-1759-1981-Op cit.
  14. 14. On 16th December 1971 , 13 Punjab and 11 Punjab repulsed an attack much exaggerated by Brigadier Rizvi.
  15. 15. The battalion suffered four fatal casualties in whole of 1971 war , which convincingly indicate that the battalion did not see much action . NIL. Nil. The battalion was asked to perform an unrealistic and impossible task , being foot infantry , and expected to support two armoured regiments in a
  16. 16. mobile battle. The only place where the battalion was tested was the company at Chakra . Here the whole action was a fiasco. It is impossible today to find out if the debacle occurred because of 33 Cavalry , a habitual offender and a regiment with a notoriously bad reputation in 1971 war or because of 13 Punjab company. The consoling fact however is that Indians were so incompetent that the Chakra debacle was not exploited and Pakistan side successfully retained and preserved its operational and strategic balance and equilibrium . Chakra while regrettable, and a serious tactical setback , was a failure which did not cause a Pakistani operational defeat . Indian 1 Corps was pathetically led and Changez Force because of exceptionally dynamic leadership of Brigadier Nisar, SJ , retained its operational ascendancy and dominance all through the 1971 war. Changez Force trapped Indian 54 Division for
  17. 17. four days between first and second minefield layer . The greatest Pakistani operational failure occurred at 1 Corps level where Pakistan Armys Lieutenant General Irshad was pathetically incompetent and unequal to the task. 13 Punjab , barring Chakra , which may possibly have been an armour failure performed well. Frankly the battalion was never really tested and did not face any serious operational odds at any stage in 1971 war.

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