1947: Before, During, After

General Ayub promoted General Musa to Army Chief who was much junior and quite mediocre. He superseded the brilliant General Latif and the able General Sher Ali. Ayub selected Musa for his personal loyalty and a pliable personality. Thus, introduced a new criteria while caused a serious backlash and affected the senior officer corps’ sense of values and performance.’

Major General Sayed Wajahat Hussain joined the British Indian Army in 1946. He witnessed the partition of India. He has recently narrated his memories in his book ‘Memories of a Soldier’. The book provides the insight into the events around 1947. The author remembers Quaid-i-Azam as a perfect gentleman, very fair and correct in his dealings, treated the political leaders opposing Pakistan before its establishment with grace and understanding. He directed ‘We may have had our political differences, but now they are, in all respects, Pakistanis. The Quaid gave instructions that Sir Khizar Hayat Tiwana and Dr Khan Sahib not be harmed in any respect and treated as par with other leaders.

During and after the citizens enjoyed high-class life of freedom, religious tolerance, good governance, clean living with no restriction and no law and order problems. 1948-49 budget was surplus, commonman friendly, with no sales tax on essentials like food, vegetables, milk and oil. Lower paid staff was given an increased salary. The leaders were patriotic who never indulged in corruption and served the nation with selflessness. Major General Wajahat served in the staff of General Gracey the army chief of Pakistan Armed Forces. He has unfold the real story of Quaid-i-Azam-Gracey controversy about Kashmir conflict in the following words:

Later, after General Gracey’s departure, a controversy arose that he had refused to carry out the Quaid’s orders regarding the deployment of the Pakistan Army in Kashmir. The truth runs counter to what has been, and still is, assumed today. The truth is very different. This episode has been reported incorrectly and out of context and as a result, blown out of all proportions.

Strangely enough, this controversy arose years after the death of Quaid-i-Azam and after General Gracey’s tenure had ended as the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army. During the period I was with Gracey, no one ever mentioned it. In 1950 I received Alan Campbell Johnson’s book, ‘Mission with Mountbatten, wherein this matter was first mentioned. Staying with General Gracey on a long weekend, after I had rejoined my Regiment, I showed him the reference and asked, ‘Sir, is it true? After reading it, he smiled and said it was ‘incorrect and wrongly reported. He mentioned, that immediately after the tribal incursion in Kashmir, and the consequent entry of the Indian Army into Srinagar, the Quaid-i-Azam had expressed the desire for Pakistan Army’s moves, through the Ministry of Defence in Karachi. The message was also received by Gracey from Governor Punjab where Quaid-i-Azam was staying. Since he was only officiating, he informed General Messervy about it. The C-in-C was on leave at that time. Messervy, not agreeing with the proposition, directed Gracey to inform Auchinleck, which he did, requesting him to come to Lahore. Field Marshal Auchinleck, who was the Supreme Commander, and as per procedure of the Partition Council responsible for moves of both the armies, arrived in Lahore on 29th October. Auchinleck in his meeting with the Quaid discussed in great detail the adverse implications and serious consequences which could follow in case Pakistani units were sent into Kashmir. Auchinleck told Jinnah that to send our troops to Kashmir at that point in time now that the State had ostensibly acceded to India could constitute an act of aggression. In such circumstances, he, the Supreme Commander, would order the immediate withdrawal of the British officers serving with the Pakistan Army. Since such an act would have made it impossible to reform and reorganise the Army which depended to a far greater extent than the Indian Army on retaining the services of British officers, Jinnah accepted the Supreme Commander’s decision and cancelled his orders.

Auchinleck who was sympathetic to Pakistan, also mentioned that the shares and moves of Pakistan’s stores, Armed Forces Units, officers and their families and Central Government in the process of movement from India to Pakistan, would be jeopardized. Considering all these serious implications and the fact that the Indian Army had already moved overwhelming forces by a massive air lift, any action by Pakistan Army’s meagre and ill equipped forces would be counter-productive, endangering Pakistan’s security. Gracey did advise that in case of an Indian attack, he could not guarantee Pakistan’s defence in view of our limited resources, with the Army not yet ready for any such major operations. Quaid-i-Azam, appreciating the serious implications, and well aware of Indian Army’s strength, discussed the issue in an emergency cabinet meeting late at night at the Government House in Lahore. The Cabinet agreed with the Quaid’s decision and agreed not to commit the army in view of the overriding strategic compulsions.

After General Gracey’s departure, a controversy arose that he had refused to carry out the Quaid’s orders regarding the deployment of the Pakistan Army in Kashmir. The truth runs counter to what has been, and still is, assumed today. The truth is very different.

Mountbatten’s Press Counselor Alan Campbell Johnson writing a day-to-day account in ‘Mission with Mountbatten’ records (On Kashmir Imbroglio, Tuesday 28th October 1947, before Auchinleck left Mr. Jinnah) that Mr. Jinnah had not only called off the order but also invited Mountbatten and Nehru to come to Lahore.’ [pp.139-140]

Major General Wajahat exposes the political ambitions during 1948. He writes: ‘Gracey kept a consistent watch on East Pakistan Garrison’s progress, and soon after, he decided to visit East Pakistan.

We flew in the PAF’s DC-3 cargo plane, used as a VIP aircraft, furnished with the paratroops canvas folding hard seats. Stopping at Lahore Airport for refueling, the Chief and I sat in the small bare waiting room, used for VIPs. With my back towards the window on the tarmac, we heard the arrival of Orient Airways flight from Dacca. The Chief, facing the tarmac, suddenly stiffened while watching the passengers coming out and exclaimed, ‘Is that Ayub coming out of the aircraft? Have you not informed him of my visit?’ Turning around I saw Gernal Ayub waking out. ‘Yes Sir, we did send signals with your detailed programme.’ Go and ask him to come here.’Darting across, I met General Ayub, saluted him and said, ‘Sir the Chief would like to see you! Oh, yes the Chief is going to Dacca! On entering the room, the Chief in his soft tone said, ‘Ayub what are you doing here? Sir, I am proceeding to Karachi to see the Prime Minister. What have you got to do with the Prime Minster? I know nothing about it, he has not told me. Here I am doing everything possible to get your Division on its feet, wanting to know your problems, and here, you are more interested in running to Karachi. Turning to me he said, Get the General’s baggage from the Orient flight, put it in my aircraft and tell the Wing Commander I will need another seat. There was no dearth of seats in our aircraft. Promptly the baggage was placed. General Ayub, rather crestfallen, followed the Chief. The Chief immediately, as if nothing had happened, started chatting in his good humour’ [pp.112-113]

In early 1956 on finishing my tenure at the Tactical Wing, I went on leave to England and stayed with General Gracey. In the morning, settling down for breakfast at General Gracey’s table, the first question he asked me was ‘When is Ayub taking over the country? I was stunned and said, ‘Sir, at my level we have no idea. Though politically things are bad, I cannot see the possibility of such an action taking place. He replied, Wajahat, as you know the biggest problem in Pakistan is that the senior officers with ambitions are trying to take over the country, and Ayub is very ambitious. Mark my words, he will take over the country and is just waiting for the chance. Adding further, As you know, after the death of Iftikhar we had a difficult task in selecting a C-in-C. Out of the three, Nasir, Reza and Ayub, I considered Ayub to be the best, the only one with some experience of command. Very reluctantly I had to recommend him, but I did warn Liaquat that he had political ambitions, and that he had to be watched. After the death of Liaquat, I did not know who was going to watch him. His prophetic words proved correct two years later. [pp.190-191]

The author has revealed two personal observations about General Zia-ul-Haq which expose his personal character.

At the end of the new assignment in June 1977, while I was waiting for the Agreement from Athens, Zia rang me up to come over to Rawalpindi immediately to discuss some important matters with him. At the Army House, with just the two of us, he discussed the prevailing political deadlock facing the country. Sensing that he was toying with the idea of taking over the country, as I had always suspected, I spoke against any military action. Whereupon he quipped, ‘Taking over is no problem, I could do it tomorrow! I said, ‘Taking over is easy as we both have experienced as Brigade Majors in the 1958 Martial Law, but your problem will be how to get off the tiger? You will not like to give up the power, come what may! Besides, military action will have serious political repercussions generated by Bhutto’s removal. With his characteristic gesture, swearing and putting both hands on his chest, he responded, ‘By Allah, I promise it will be for only 90 days, on the 91st day I will blow the whistle, acting as a referee, to hold elections. Not believing him I urged, Zia you must avoid military action; instead, keep military pressure on Bhutto, make him commit to the political agreement made with the Opposition Parties, implementing his part without trying to squeeze out of it. That would be the best solution. You must make matters work politically! We continued the discussion during lunch. Knowing he could not face Bhutto, being always scared of him, he was waiting for his chance to take military action at Bhutto’s expense. [p. 266]

While Pakistan was having serious internal stability problems, in the Middle East, the PLO, under Yassar Arafat (supported by Syria) clashed with Jordan’s King Hussain, and suffered heavily. The episode was known as the Bloody Black September Affair. In direct contravention of the Pakistan-Jordan Agreement, (regarding Pakistan’s Armed Forces Advisory Delegations not to get involved in local conflicts) Brigadier Zia-ul-Haque, disobeying the order, got actively involved in the conflict. General Nawazish, the Head of Mission immediately returned Brigadier Zia-ul-Haque to Pakistan, under a special report, for disciplinary action. General Yahya ordered Zia’s Court Martial. Luckily, in the confusion of the impending war (1971) and with Gul Hasan’s active support, no action was taken. Again to Zia’s good luck, General Nawazish died of heart failure in Amman. Zia also managed, through Gul Hassan, the attachment with 1st Armoured Division, as second-in-command, while no such appointment existed. On Gul Hassan’s taking over the Army Chief, he made Zia GOC 1st Armoured Division.

After the war I once asked Zia about the Jordan incident. He said, ‘Yaar, I did not do very much. I was summoned by King Hussain for help in the middle of the night, when the Syrians had attacked Jordan, and the Jordanian Armoured Brigade, with which I was associated, was running away towards Amman. I stopped them on the main Damascus Amman road and gave them a pep talk and turned them round to face the advancing Syrians.’ Yassar Arafat’s account was quite different for which he never forgave Pakistan. [p. 251]

General Wajahat reveals that when Liaquat Ali Khan was murdered in Rawalpindi the first person who rushed to hold him, when he was shot was the Deputy Commissioner, James Hardy, an Englishman, while all others dithered. When James opened the sherwani of Liaquat Ali Khan, he found old worn out shirt, soaked in blood. His bank balance, declared after death, was just over two thousand rupees.

General Ayub promoted General Musa to Army Chief who was much junior and quite mediocre. He superseded the brilliant General Latif and the able General Sher Ali. Ayub selected Musa for his personal loyalty and a pliable personality. Thus, introduced a new criteria while caused a serious backlash and affected the senior officer corps’ sense of values and performance, writes Major General Wajahat. [Selected from the book ‘1947’ Before, During, After by Major General Wajahat Hussain.

By: Qayyum Nizami


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