Farewell, Brig Ahmed (SJ)

Brigadier Ahmed belonged to the cadre of great officers and soldiers, who in a limited time frame, trained their Regiments and Squadrons just before the 1965 War. Initially commissioned in the famous Guides Cavalry in 1950, young Major Ahmed was posted to 25 Cavalry on 9th Jun 1962 and joined the ranks of legendary officers like Lt Col Nisar Kaka (SJ), Maj Raza Khan (SJ), Capt Mahmud Ali Durrani (later Maj General and NSA) and Capt Shamshad Ali Khan.

The Indian crossing of the border on September 6 formally initiated the proceedings of a general war. While Lahore was selected as the secondary effort and the psychological target, India played her trump card in the Ravi Chenab Corridor by launching her 1st crack Corps spearheaded by Black Elephant or the 1st Armored Division on September 8th. Kashmir and Rajasthan desert were subsidiary efforts to tie down Pakistan Army all along the international border.

25 Cavalry (Men of Steel) was tasked to get deployed in Ravi Chenab Corridor, mainly looking after areas in the Sialkot-Chawinda sector. An episode east of Narowal along the banks of Ravi had created ripples in the formation headquarters and it stretched the 25 Cavalry to her operational limits. Jassar salient was attacked by Indian troops and the reporting channels of 60s technology snowballed this information into a monster; forcing Pakistani command to send reinforcements to stabilize the situation. The 25 Cavalry, being the only mobile force available to higher command, was asked to rush from Chawinda to Narowal on 6th September. When it was discovered that Jassar was a feint, the higher command asked 25 Cavalry to fall back to Chawinda and take on the Indian Armour head on.

The regiment moved at break neck pace and was about to reach the objective when Indian Armour crossed the international border and entered the battle field of Chawinda. This created a strategic vacuum along the Indian thrust line as there was no major armored force available to contest the advance from Chawinda to Pasrur.

25 Cavalry reached Chawinda at night, the tanks were refueled and Lt Col Nisar issued orders based on a tactically brilliant but simple plan (common sense). The men and officers had travelled 100 miles for two continuous nights and started placing tanks in their positions, early morning the regiment had deployed in a bold fashion, all abreast with just few tanks in reserve, not knowing that the David was about to collide with the Goliath in an epic battle.

September 8 to 10 saw the finest hour of Men of Steel in the largest tank battle of South Asia recording a legend of steel and fire. All three squadrons of the 25 Cavalry fanned out and the central one commanded by Maj Muhammad Ahmed struck the two leading squadrons of 16th Cavalry forcing them to recoil. Maj Ahmed destroyed five Indian tanks but was seriously injured with his one hand burnt out, despite that he kept fighting and leading the famous Bravo Squadron of 25 Cavalry from the front.

By mid-day 9th September, the Men of Steel under the command of Lt Col Nisar Kaka, Maj Ahmed and Maj Ginger Raza had established moral and operational ascendency on the pride of Indian Armored Division, the crack Indian regiments like 16th Cavalry and 17 Poona Horse had been badly mauled with enormous losses of tanks (approximately 55 Indian tanks were destroyed in seven hours).

Lt Col Nisar Kaka was awarded Sitara e Jurat along with four others, in addition 10 soldiers and JCOs of 25th Cavalry were awarded Tamgha e Jurat, making this regiment to be the most decorated unit in a single battle in Pakistan Armoured Corps. The 25th Cavalry was given the battle honor of ‘Men of Steel’ by Gen Musa Khan after the war.

As one of the leading Squadron Commanders of the 25 Cavalry, Maj Ahmed helped the regiment in thwarting the breakout of Indian crack Fakhr e Hind Armoured division and saved Pakistan by standing like a rock against a wall of fire. The Indian First Armoured Division spearheading it’s Strike Corps was aiming to cut GT Road near Gujranwala, but it had to lick its wounds due to courage of men like Maj Ahmed (SJ).

We sincerely pray for the departed soul of Brig Ahmed (SJ) and offer our condolences to his family; we pray to Almighty Allah that he grants him a deserving place in heavens and showers his blessing upon his family. Ameen.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt