BOOK REVIEW

A HISTORY
OF THE
PAKISTAN ARMY

-BRIAN CLOUGHLEY (REVIEWED BY MAJOR A.H AMIN-RETIRED)

Brian Cloughley’s book on the Pakistan Army is a welcome addition to the extremely limited number of books on the Pakistan Army.The fact that such a book was not written by a Pakistani soldier or a civilian scholar does not paint a very bright picture about the state of history writing,or to be more specific military history writing in Pakistan.Brian Cloughley has the singular advantage of having served for a relatively long period in Pakistan as a UN Official and as a military attache.In addition he is also a soldier and thus his perception of military affairs is different from a scholar who is a civilian and thus suffers from certain limitations which can only be overcome by extraordinary analytical ability and painstaking hard research.Brian Cloughley has made an honest attempt to present things as they are or as he percieved them to be with whatever facts he could lay hands to and the result is a relatively significant work on Pakistani military history with reference to on ground military performance of the Pakistan Army in three Indo Pak wars.

On the whole Cloughley’s account is fairly balanced and the layman reader can form a fairly continuous picture of the progress of the Pakistan Army from 1947 to date.The initial history of the Pakistan Army however is given a broad brush treatment and the British Indian Colonial social and military legacy is totally ignored.This leaves the reader with an impression that the Pakistan Army was an entity created in 1947 and all that it did from 1947 onwards had little connection with the pre 1947 British Colonial policy and the military experience of the Indian Army in the two world wars.The 1947-48 Kashmir War where the Pakistan Army got its baptism of fire as the independent army of a sovereign country is hardly discussed.Thus important military controversies like the Operation Venus Controversy etc are not discussed at all.The conduct of Kashmir War by the Pakistani civilian leadership and and its resultant impact on the army’s perception of the civilian leadership is not discussed.The British recruitment policy and their irrational advocacy of the "Martial Races Theory" is not discussed at all.The impact of the conservative British military heritage on the intellectual development of the post 1947 Pakistani military leadership is totally ignored.The Ayub period has been given a relatively more detailed treatment and the conduct of 1965 war is reasonably detailed and the analysis of military operations is objective,critical and thought provoking.No serious effort is however made to explain why the Pakistan Army failed to achieve any decisive breakthrough despite having technically superior equipment as well as numerical superiority in tanks.The 1971 war which was more of a one sided show and a war in which Indian victory in the Eastern Theatre in words of Field Marshal Mankekshaw was a "foregone conclusion" keeping in view the overwhelming Indian numerical superiority1 ,has been discussed in much greater detail than 1965 war.This is a serious draw back since 1965 deserved more space because it had more lessons keeping in view the fact that both sides employed their strategic reserves.The post 1971 history of the army has been given a better treatment and enables the layman reader to understand many aspects of the present state of confrontation in the Sub Continent.

There are many factual and analytical errors in the book which were entirely avoidable and were not beyond the author or the publishers control.The publisher shares a major responsibility in ensuring accuracy of facts while analytical errors or analytical drawbacks are more within an authors sphere of responsibility.15 Lancers was not raised in 1948-50 but in 19552.Iskandar Mirza was not from the ICS (Indian Civil Service) but the Indian Political Service3.The author has asserted that Ayub Khan was "gallant in combat" 4but there is no record of it in terms of gallantry awards or mention in despatches.On the contrary Ayub was accused of tactical timidity in Burma5.Akhnur has been mentioned as the only road link to Kashmir6 whereas Akhnur ,as a matter of fact was the only road link to Poonch Valley only.The Indian 50 Para Brigade was not moved on 7th September to relieve the 54 Brigade as asserted on page-87 but made its appearance in the 15 Division area only on 10th September and that too in the Hudiara Drain area7.On page-96 the author states that 13 Dogra in 4 Indian Mountain Division area captured Bedian but was driven out by 7 Punjab’s counter attack the next day.In reality 13 Dogra never attacked Bedian ,nor was Bedian defended by 7 Punjab.Bedian was defended by 7 Baluch and attacked by 17 Rajput.Further Bedian was not attacked by a unit from the 4 Mountain Division but by a unit of 7 Indian Division which failed to capture it in the first place8.Jassar was not defended by a Pakistani Tank Troop as written on page-110 but by the whole 33 Tank Delivery Unit9.The Jassar operation did not result in release of a whole Indian tank regiment but release of two infantry battalions and a squadron minus10.4 FF was not part of 6 Armoured Division as stated on page-117.The whole "Order of Battle" of the Pakistan Army on the Western Front as given on page-225 is incorrect.Formations of the I Corps have thus been shown as formations of 11 Corps and vice versa.8 Armoured Brigade which was a part of 1 Corps has been shown as part of 4 Corps.Rahimuddin Khan has been promoted to Zia’s son in law on page-275 whereas Ejaz ul Haq was Rahim’s son in law. Aziz Ahmad the famous civil servant has been described as Aziz Ali9a.The order of battle of the Pakistan Army on page-284 has also some factual errors;eg Pakistan Army does not have any mechanised infantry divisions whereas the author has shown two divisions as mechanised divisions.One tank unit allotted to Pakistan in 1947 ie the 19 Lancers has not been listed at all in the list of armoured units allotted to Pakistan10.

The author rightly wonders why some military commanders guilty of timidity in Khem Karan were not immediately sacked!But he fails to mention that one of them was promoted to the rank of major general few years after the war.His analysis of the Khem Karan operations is considerably thought provoking.But the major reason for failure of the Khem Karan offensive ie poor initial planning which led to traffic congestion and poor engineers effort and delayed the concentration of the Pakistani 1st Armoured Division has not been discussed at all.The author however rightly points out that failure to carry out thorough reconnaissance was one of the major reasons of failure of the Pakistani armoured thrusts failure in Khem Karan.However his assertion that the Indians had considerable reserves to contain Pakistan Army even if it had achieved a breakthrough is not based on material facts.India did have its 23 Mountain Division,but this formation was nowhere near Khem Karan when the Pakistani offensive was launched.In any case a Mountain Infantry division could have been of little value against the Pakistani 1 Armoured Division.

The analysis of the tank battles in Sialkot is not comprehensive and lacks depth.The authors assertion on page-120 that the ad hoc force under direct command of the I Pakistani Corps forced the Indians back to the border is not correct11.The 24 Brigade which did so was a part of the 15 Division and 25 Cavalry the tank unit which in the words of Indians stopped them acted on orders of its commanding officer alone and 1 Corps Headquarter had little idea of what 25 Cavalry did in stopping the Indians till the evening of 8th September.The author has not mentioned 25 Cavalry at all which in words of the Indian Armoured Corps’s historian; was the unit whose " performance was certainly creditable because it alone stood between the Indian 1st Armoured Division and its objective,the MRL Canal 11a" and stopped the 1st Indian Armoured Division on 8th September,all by itself.The authors reproduction of the Indian writer Verghese’s views that the Indian 1st Armoured Division dashed forward rashly is not based on facts.The Indian advance was fairly balanced and it was halted on 8th September not because the Indians had completely committed their armour but because the Commander 1st Armoured Brigade lost his nerve because of false and unsubstantiated reports of his flanks being under counter attack at a time when both the advancing Indian tank regiments had committed a total of only three squadrons with three squadrons uncommitted and the Indian 1st Armoured Division had a third tank regiment totally fresh and in a position to easily outflank the Pakistani armour in Gadgor area12.The author has also not discussed at all the Indian armours total lack of activity on 9th and 10th September.This inactivity at a time when there was just one tank regiment to oppose five Indian tank regiments was the main reason for the Indian main attack’s failure in Sialkot Sector.

The treatment of the 1971 war is far more detailed than 1965 war.All the emphasis is however on the Eastern Theatre where the Indian victory in words of the Indian Chief was a foregone conclusion.The author has highlighted actions of bravery at small unit level and has shown that the Pakistan Army put up a good show in East Pakistan as far as the junior leadership was concerned.The battles on the Western Theatre have however been largely ignored and the battle of Chhamb which was described by the Indians as "the most serious reverse suffered in the 1971 war 13" has not been discussed in much detail.Major General Eftikhar was the finest commander at the operational level as far as the Pakistan Army is conerned and any history of Pakistan Army is incomplete without discussing Eftikhar’s brilliant opearational leadership in Chhamb.Eftikhar was one of the only two Pakistani senior commanders praised by the Indian military historians.One Indian military historian described him as one who "showed skill and determination in carrying out his mission" .14

The analysis of the Bhutto period is quite comprehensive and the personality of Mr Bhutto and his attitude towards the army has been described quite correctly.The sycophantic persoanlity of Zia has however been given a generous treatment and many of Zia’s well known antics to please Mr Bhutto like orders to all officers of Multan Garrison to line up their wives to greet Mr Bhutto’s cavalcade passing through the Fort Colony have not been discussed at all.The intelligence and operational failure in Siachen on part of the ISI and the formation responsible for the defence of Siachen as a result of which the Indians were able to infiltrate 35 miles inside Pakistani territory have not been discussed at all.On the contary General Pirdad who was the formation commander during the Siachen debacle has been praised as an admirable officer15.The authors assertion that English language was neglected during the Zia era is not based on facts.I was a cadet in Zia’s tenure at the Pakistan Military Academy.Any cadet who failed in English was not promoted to the next term and English teaching and examination standards were very tough.The crux of the problem was the overall deteriorating English standards in Pakistan following Bhuttos nationalisation of educational institutuins and the relatively poor material joining the army in the post 1971 era.The post Zia era has been covered in a very incisive manner.The authors assertion that the "Director infantry" was a post that any infantry officerw ould welcome is incorrect.Mahor General Zahir Ul Islam Abbasi was posted as Director Infantry following a diasastorous Charge of the light Brigade type attack in Siachen which he had ordered without prior approval of his next senior operational headquarter. in which one of the Pakistani units suffered unnecesarily high casualties including the death of a brigade commander.The authors criticism of the ISI is forthright,accurate and thought provoking.In this regard he has shown courage in criticising a top heavy agency whose much trumpeted reputaion is not matched by actual on ground performance and which suffers from a tendency to embark on private wars.

Brian Cloughley has done a remarkable job in writing a fairly critical history of the Pakistan Army.Most of the factual errors were avoidable but something which should have been taken care of by the publishers who knew that the author was a foreigner and did not have the time to cross check or recheck all the facts because of not permanently residing in Pakistan.The author appears to be too much of a gentleman to critically analyse many of the Quixotic blunders of Indo Pak military history. Nevertheless Brian Cloughley’s book has filled a void in Indo Pak military history by at least constructing a continuous and fairly comprehensive picture of one of third worlds important armies.Regardless of the fact whether any one may agree or disagree with Cloghley’s analysios.the book by and large retains the position of a book which is compulsory for any layman or foreigner doing research on the Pakistan Army.

 

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