Pakistan and India are now seen through the prism of mutual hostility. However, armies of both countries share a common heritage. During the Raj, an amazing feat was achieved when a fine army consisting of local soldiers and commanded by British officers was built from scratch. Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Gurkha soldiers served together on all battlefields. After First World War, officer rank was opened for Indians and a number of young men joined the army after graduating from Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and then Royal Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. A generation which trained together and fought together as comrades in Second World War later served with Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh armies.
First native Commander-in-Chief of Indian army General K. C. Cariappa (nick named Kipper) and first native Chief of Staff (COS) of Pakistan army Lieutenant General Nasir Ali Khan were both from 7 Rajput Regiment (it consisted of 50 percent Punjabi Muslims and 50 percent Hindu Rajputs). In August 1947, when army was divided between the two countries, Muslim element of Rajput Regimental Center at Fatehgarh consisting of four officers and six hundred other ranks was given a cordial farewell. Among the four officers was Tajjamal Hussain who joined 7 Rajput as a young man but later fought against India in 1965 and 1971 wars. His parent regiment was fighting from Indian side. In more recent times, a Pakistani officer deployed along border walked to the Indian sentry who was a Rajput and started a conversation. The Pakistani officer told him that they were also Rajputs. Indian soldier promptly replied that ‘taan Ranghar nain; kyon key taan zamin te daroo donoon chad ditte’ (you are no more Rajput because you have given up both your land and alcohol’.)
In 1927 a young man from Hazara left for Sandhurst to become officer in Indian army. He was in number 5 company. One of his course mates in the same platoon was a Bengali Hindu boy. A picture of the platoon shows both young lads who were commissioned on February 02, 1928. Both served with British Indian army; Muslim boy joining 1/14 Punjab Regiment (now 5 Punjab of Pakistan army) and Hindu boy elite 7th Light Cavalry (now an armor regiment of Indian army). In 1947 after partition of India, they joined the armies of newly independent India and Pakistan. In 1965 war, the young Muslim man from Hazara Field Marshal Ayub Khan was President of Pakistan while Bengali Hindu General Jayanto Nath Chaudri (nick named Mucchu Chaudri) was Commander-in-Chief of Indian army.
In Sandhurst, two young men Brij Mohan Kaul (nick named Bijji) and Akbar Khan were together. In 1942, Kaul and Akbar were again together for staff course in Quetta. In 1947 Kaul was defense attaché in Washington but came back to India when hostilities between Pakistan and India started over Kashmir. He was with Jawaharlal Nehru on his trip to Jammu while from the other side now Brigadier Akbar Khan was orchestrating the war with code name of General Tariq. After graduating from Sandhurst, B. M. Kaul joined 5th Battalion of 6th Rajputana Rifles (5/6 RR). Battalion Quartermaster was Captain Umrao Singh. Battalion was stationed in Razmak, Waziristan. At the same time another battalion stationed at Razmak was 6th Battalion of 13th Frontier Force Rifles (6/13 FFR). Lieutenant Muhammad Musa of 6/13 FFR (now One Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army) was Kaul’s friend. In Razmak, Waziristan at one time there were several young Indian officers serving with elite 6/13 FFR. The list included Muhammad Musa (later General), Akbar Khan (later Major General), Mohammad Yusuf (later Major General) and Mohindar Singh Chopra (later Major General). After a stint at Army Service Corps when Kaul tried to get back to infantry, he asked for transfer to his friend’s 6/13 FFR (then commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Russel nick named Russel Pasha) but could not get the transfer. Hostilities between India and Pakistan started in the fall of 1947 in Kashmir and continued for over a year. An audacious Kaul rang up now Lieutenant Colonel Musa stationed at Lahore that he was going to visit him. The uniforms of both armies looked alike. Kaul crossed the border and all along he was saluted and waved by Pakistani soldiers. He went to Lahore cantonment and showed up at Musa’s office. Musa was shocked to see him in his office as Musa’s boss Major General Muhammad Iftikhar Khan was in the next room. Musa quickly put Kaul in a jeep and under escort sent him safely back to India through Ferozpur border. Kaul later became Chief of General Staff (CGS) and Corps Commander of Indian army and Musa commander-in-chief of Pakistan army.
Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan was the scion of princely state of Pataudi. He graduated from Sandhurst and joined one of the oldest cavalry regiment; 7th Light Cavalry. After partition, he opted for Pakistan. In 1947-48 Kashmir war he was commanding 14th Parachute Brigade. His parent battalion was also in Kashmir theatre fighting from Indian side. Tanks of Pataudi’s parent battalion 7th Cavalry then commanded by Lt. Colonel Rajindar Singh ‘sparrow’ (later Major General) captured Zojila. This was a first rate performance by 7th Cavalry operating tanks at such high altitude.
In December 1924, S. P. P. Thorat and Nawabzada Agha Mahmud Raza sailed together from Bombay to join Sandhurst. Thorat joined 1/14 Punjab (now 5 Punjab of Pakistan army). In December 1928, in Aurangabad, Second Lieutenant Muhammad Ayub Khan joined the battalion. Thorat as a senior Indian officer groomed newly arrived Ayub Khan. After 1947-48 Kashmir conflict, Thorat visited Lahore several times as part of Indian delegation. Every time, he made sure to visit his parent battalion; the rear party of which was stationed in Lahore. Raza became Major General in Pakistan army and Ayub Khan Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Pakistan army. 1930 batch of Sandhurst included Mian Hayauddin (4/12 Frontier Force Regiment, now 6 FF) and Umrao Singh (5/6 RR). Hayauddin (nick named Gunga) served with the Sikh company of the battalion and was fluent in spoken and written Gurmukhi (Sikh language). In 1948, he was commanding Bannu Brigade and fought against India in Poonch sector in Kashmir winning gallantry award of Hilal-e-Jurat. He later rose to become Major General in Pakistan army. Umrao commanded 5th Infantry Brigade of Indian army in Kashmir in the same conflict (he was wounded in action). He later became Lt. General and in 1962 Indo-China conflict with China was commanding XXXIII Corps.
K. S. Thimayya (nick named Timmy) joined 4/19 Hyderabad regiment (now 4 Kumaon Regiment). His colleagues were Lieutenant Ishfaq ul Majid, Captain Kunwar Daulat Singh and Captain S. M. Shrinagesh. Thimaya became Adjutant of the battalion and groomed many new officers including Mohammad Azam Khan. Thimayya became Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Indian army and Azam Lieutenant General and Corps commander in Pakistan army. Captain Akbar Khan and Captain T. P. Rajan served together with 7/13 FFR when battalion was stationed in Kohat. Akbar became Major General in Pakistan army while Rajan retired as Colonel of Indian army. During Second World War, several Officers Training Units (OTUs) were established in India to grant emergency commissions to new officers. The first one was established in Mhow. Three company commanders chosen for this OTU were Majors Mohammad Musa, Moti Sagar and Pritam Kirpal. Musa trained many non-Muslim officers who served with Indian army and Sagar and Kirpal many Muslim officers who later served with Pakistan army. Moti was from 1 Rajput and later rose to become Lt. General and GOC-in-C of Southern command of Indian army.
Gul Hassan joined 9/13 FFR in 1942 and served with the Sikh company of the battalion. Later he served as Quarter Master and Adjutant of 3rd Cavalry when it was commanded by Lt. Colonel K. M. Idris. After partition, he joined 5th Probyn’s Horse (where he served as Adjutant, Second and in command and finally Commanding officer). Later, he became Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan army. Many of his comrades served with Indian army and his old 3rd Cavalry fought in many conflicts with Pakistan. Muhammad Khan Jarral was commissioned in 1942 from Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. His company commander at the academy was Major Satyawant Mallanah Shrinagesh (He served as Adjutant of 4/19 Hyderabad and commanded 6/19 Hyderabad). Jarral joined 2nd Jammu & Kashmir Rifles (J&KR) and fought in Second World War in different theatres. Pakistan and India got entangled in Kashmir immediately after independence. Jarral was appointed adjutant of Gilgit Scouts. In Zoji La he was commanding A and B wings of Gilgit Scouts against Indian troops. Lieutenant General Srinagesh was commanding Indian troops in Kashmir. Jarral fought against his previous company commander at Dehra Dun in this conflict.
During Second World War, in African theatre, several British Indian army regiments fought against Italians. In the battle of Keren, 6/13 FFR, 3/2 Punjab and 2/5 Marhatta fought side by side. 6/13 FFR was commanded by Lt. Colonel Dudley Russel (he won Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Military Cross (MC) and later rose to Lt. General rank). Subedar of the Sikh company of 6/13 FFR just before the attack told his men ‘Guru de saun, Unnath di kasam, char jao’ (in the name of Guru, swearing by 59th, attack). 59 was the old number of 6/13 FFR when it was designated 59th Sindh Camel Corps. In view of many troubles which the battalion caused in the past, it was also nick named ‘Garbar Unnath’ (troublesome 59th). Captain Anant Singh Pathania (later Major General) of 6/13 FFR won MC in this battle and another officer of the battalion Major Vidya Dhar Jayal (later Brigadier) won a DSO. Both officers served with Indian army later. 6/13 FFR is now One Frontier Force (FF); senior most battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army.
In the battle of Casino in the spring of 1944, 17th Infantry Brigade consisting of 4/12 FF (now 6FF), 1/10 Baluch (now 6 Baloch) and 19th Infantry Brigade consisting of 6/13 FFR and 3/8 Punjab (now 3 Baloch) participated. Muslim, Hindu and Sikh soldiers and officers fought under the same flag. When Pathan company of 6/13 FFR was severely mauled, Dogra company led by Major Kashmir Singh Katoch (later Lt. General) cleared many machine gun nests. In 1965 war, Kashmir Singh was Lieutenant General commanding XV Corps of Indian army against Pakistan. Kashmir Singh’s parent battalion (now 1 FF of Pakistan army commanded by Lt. Colonel Shabbir Ali Khan) was fighting Indian army in Khem Karan area. In the spring of 1945, at the battle at Gothic Line, 1/5 Marhatta (now 1 Marhatta Light Infantry of Indian army) and 6/13 FFR (now 1 FF of Pakistan army) fought together. Both battalions were held by heavy German machine gun fire. Soldiers of both these battalions fought with utmost gallantry against the common foe and won two well deserved Victoria Crosses. Namdeo Jadhao of 1/5 Marhatta and Ali Haider of 6/13 won Victoria Cross for their bravery. On Burma front, two elite cavalry regiments 5th Probyn’s Horse and 9th Deccan Horse were part of 255 Tank Brigade. 5th Horse is now elite regiment of Pakistan army and 9th Horse holds the same position in Indian army. In Rangoon, many young officers including Captain Gul Hassan, Captain Riaz ul Karim (nick named Bacchu Karim later became Major General), Captain I. U. Babar, Captain S. S. Mustafa, Major S. S. Kalha (Artillery), Major Ranbir Singh (7 Rajput Regiment), D. C. Basapa (16th Cavalry) and many others belonging to different religions and ethnicities lived and fought together.
Sam Manekshaw (later Indian army chief) and Haji Iftikhar Ahmad (later Major General in Pakistan army) were buddies at military academy in Dehra Dun. Sam won his Military Cross in Burma with his parent battalion; 4/12 Frontier Force regiment (now 6 FF of Pakistan army). His friend in the battalion was Atiq ur Rahman (nick named Turk). In 1947, Lieutenant Colonel Sam, Major Yahya Khan (later Pakistan army chief) and Major S. K. Sinha (later Vice Chief of Army Staff of Indian army) were serving together at Military Operations Directorate in Delhi. After 1971 war, when Sam came to Pakistan for negotiations, his host was now Lieutenant General Atiq. Dinner was served in silverware of Sam’s parent battalion; 6 FF.
Second Lieutenant Permindra Singh Bhagat of 21 Field Company was attached to 3/12 Frontier Force Regiment (now 5 FF) when he won his Victoria Cross at the battle of Keren. Bhagat later rose to become Lt. General of Indian army; however he still had some bond with old PIFFERS (nick name of Frontier Force). At the time of partition, Sikh company of 3/12 FF was absorbed in Sikh Light Infantry (SLI). Bhagat remained Colonel of SLI even after his retirement. Zorawar Chand Bakhshi (nick named Zoru) joined 16/10 Baluch Regiment and was posted to Pathan company. He fought Second World War with his Pathan comrades. Once he was asked by his Commanding Officer (CO) to take Dogra company soldiers for a task and Zoru was not happy as he wanted to take his own Pathan soldiers. It was in this action led by Zoru that Sepoy Bhandari Ram won Victoria Cross. In 1965 war he fought against his former Pathan comrades now part of Pakistan army as Brigadier (commanding 68th Brigade) and in 1971 as Major General (commanding 26th Division).
In Libyan theatre, Rommel’s Africa Corps overran 7th Armored Division of Indian army (GOC Major General Frank Messervy escaped capture by posing as an orderly). Many Indian officers became prisoners and the list included Major P. P. Kumaramangalam (2nd Field Regiment of Artillery), Yahya Khan, Tikka Khan and Yaqub Khan (18th Cavalry). Many of these prisoners were housed in a camp together. This camp had the distinction of holding a record number of future senior officers including three future army chiefs of two countries under its roof. The senior most officer Major Kumarangalam (later General and Indian army chief) was appointed commanding officer of the camp. His assistant was Lieutenant Shamsher Singh, his adjutant Captain Yahya Khan (later General and Pakistan army chief) and Quartermaster Captain Tikka Khan (later General and Pakistan army chief). Other inmates were Captain Yaqub Khan( later Lieutenant General of Pakistan army but demoted to Major General rank when he declined to launch military action in 1971 in East Pakistan), Ajit Singh (later Lieutenant General), Captain Kalyan Singh (later Major General), Naravne (later Major General), Lieutenant Shamsher Singh (later Brigadier) and Lieutenant Hissam Effendi (later Brigadier).
In Second World War, some of the captured Indian officers and soldiers were organized into Indian National Army (INA) by their Japanese captors. Several who refused to join INA were tortured and kept in very difficult circumstances. Among them were two brothers Lt. Colonel Gurbakhsh Singh then commanding Jind State Forces and Captain Harbakhash Singh (later Lt. General) of 11th Sikhs as well as men of 5/13 FFR. Harbakhsh later commanded 11th Sikh in 1947-48 Kashmir conflict against Pakistan and in 1965 war he was GOC-in-C of Western Command. The case of 1/14 Punjab (now 5 Punjab of Pakistan army) in Second World War is a very strange one. Before their capture by Japanese, the battalion performed very well against Japanese and had lost three officers, five Viceroy Commissioned Officer (VCOs) and thirty eight men killed in action. Several officers of 1/14 Punjab including Shah Nawaz Khan, Gurbakhash Singh Dhillon, Gurdip Singh Dhillon, Mohan Singh Deb, Muhammad Zaman Kiani and Abdul Rashid joined INA during their captivity. Many soldiers of the battalion followed their Indian officers. Later, Ayub Khan re-raised the battalion in 1946 in Mir Ali Waziristan. His Second-in-Command was a Sikh Major G. S. Brar. After partition, Shah Nawaz Khan stayed in India and served as Minister of State for Railways in Nehru cabinet. However, he sent his son Mahmood Nawaz to Pakistan where he joined his father’s parent battalion 1/14 Punjab now designated 5 Punjab. He fought in 1965 war from Pakistan side against India. 1/14 produced two Pakistan army chiefs; Ayub Khan and Asif Nawaz and several generals of Pakistan and Indian army including Lt. General S. P. P. Thorat and Major General Anis Ahmad Khan of Indian army (Anis opted for Indian army at the time of partition. He was Director Supplies & Transport of Indian army from 1949-53. After retirement he moved to Pakistan where his brother-in-law Major General Shahid Hamid was Master General of Ordnance of Pakistan army) and Lt. General Alam Jan Mahsud of Pakistan army. Ayub’s son Gohar Ayub also joined his father’s battalion.
After Second World War, Field Marshal Claude Auchinlek asked two Indian officers to travel to cantonments to assess the causes of lower morale of officers. The two chosen officers were Azam Khan and Man Mohan Khanna. Both later became Lt. Generals in Pakistani and Indian armies respectively. Lt. Colonel Sarabjit Singh Kalha CO of 2/1 Punjab (now 2 Punjab of Pakistan army) was one of the most decorated officer of Indian army winning DSO, MC and Bar. He was killed in Indonesia when after Second World War some Indian troops were stationed there.
Many infantry and cavalry regiments which became part of Indian and Pakistani army after partition served together in higher formations. Many battalions fought together in different theatres in First and Second World Wars. 3rd Indian Motor Brigade consisted of three elite cavalry regiments; 2nd Lancers, 11th Prince Albert Victor’s Own (PAVO) Cavalry and 18th Cavalry. 2nd Lancers and 18th Cavalry were allotted to India and 11th Cavalry to Pakistan. 3rd Independent Armored Brigade consisted of three elite cavalry regiments; 17th Poona Horse, 18th Cavalry and 19th Lancers. In 1947, 17th Horse and 18th Cavalry were allotted to India and 19th Lancers was to Pakistan. 17th Poona Horse was stationed at Risalpur and when it embarked for India, it left its equipment to incoming 13th Lancers. Indian army regiments had class squadrons and companies from a single class. In 1947, Muslim companies and squadrons of regiments allotted to India were sent to Pakistan and vice versa. Sikh C Squadron of 13th Lancers joined 17th Poona Horse while Muslim Rajput Squadron of 14th Sindh Horse joined 13th Lancers.
In 1947 when regiments were divided between the two countries some interesting incidences occurred. It was decided to assign elite Guides (10th) Cavalry to India and 14th Sindh Horse to Pakistan. The reason was that Guides Cavalry had two non-Muslim (Sikh and Dogra) squadrons and one Muslim (Pathan) squadron. On the other hand, Sindh Horse had two Muslim (Muslim Rajput and Pathan) squadrons compared to one non-Muslim squadron. Commanding Officer of Guides convinced the military authorities that in view of the long association of Guides with frontier as well as regimental center being located at Mardan in Pakistan, Guides should be allotted to Pakistan. In return Sindh Horse was allotted to India. Punjabi Muslim Squadron of 4th Hodson Horse and Pathan Squadron of 14th Sindh Horse joined Guides Cavalry when later was allotted to Pakistan. Muslim Rajput Squadron of 14th Sindh Horse went to 13th Lancers. After partition, during transition times, several non-Muslim officers continued to command many battalions allotted to Pakistan. CO of 7/1 Punjab (now 18 Punjab) was Lieutenant Colonel Budh Singh till November 1947, CO of 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment (now 6 FF) was Lt. Colonel Gupta till November 1947 and CO of 1/13 Frontier Force Rifles (now 7 FF) was Lt. Colonel Brieshwar Nath till November 1947.
In 1947-48 Kashmir conflict, comrades who fought together in Second World War so recently were now facing each other. Kalwant Singh, L. P. Bogey Sen and M. M. Khanna fought from Indian side while Mian Hayauddin, Azam Khan, Sher Ali Khan Pataudi and Akbar Khan from Pakistani side. 4/10 Baluch (now 11 Baloch), 7/10 Baluch (now 15 Baloch), 2/1 Punjab (now 2 Punjab), 1/15 Punjab (now 9 Punjab), 2/12 Frontier Force Regiment (now 4 FF), 1/13 Frontier Force Rifles (now 7 FF) had barely said goodbye to the non-Muslim companies (Dogra and Sikh) of their battalions when they faced them in Kashmir. Commander of 50 Para Brigade Brigadier Y. S. Paranjpye and commander of 77 Para Brigade Brigadier Mohammad Usman who until very recently did a superb job of internal security duty in Pakistan found themselves fighting from Indian side in Kashmir. The Sikh company of 1/1 Punjab (now 1 Punjab of Pakistan army) commanded by Major S. S. Pandit said goodbye to their Muslim colleagues and on reaching India was sent to Kashmir. They were attached to 2 Dogra during the war and later absorbed in 1 Sikh. In October 1947, Dogra B Company of 4/13 Frontier Force Rifles (9 FF) left for India. Barely two months later, Dogra PIFFERS ended up in Kashmir where they became E company of 4 Kumaon then commanded by Lt. Colonel M. M. Khanna. Khanna was buddy of Pakistani officer Brigadier Azam Khan who had joined 4 Kumaon as a young lad and was now commanding 25th Brigade of Pakistan army against his former comrades. Khanna narrowly escaped death at the hands of his former comrades when his party was ambushed and fourteen out of fifteen members of the CO’s party were killed. G. G. Bewoor, L. P. Sen and D. K. Palit were all Baluchis (all three had joined Baluch regiment when they got their commission). In 1947 in Kashmir, Bewoor commanded 2 Dogra, Palit commanded 3/9th Gurkha Rifles and Sen was commander of 161 Brigade against Pakistanis. On Pandu, First Bihar was fighting against Pakistani troops while their former second in command and first ‘native’ commanding officer Habibullah Khan Khattak (later Major General) was now serving with Pakistan army. In 1948, Colonel M. G. Jilani took command of Gilgit Scouts. His parent battalion was 1 Mahar which was fighting form Indian side in Kashmir.
In 1965 war in Sialkot sector, Indian Ist Armored Division commanded by Major General Rajindar Singh slugged it out with Pakistan’s 6th Armored Division commanded by Major General Abrar Hussain. Elite cavalry regiments of India; 4th Hodson Horse, 16th Cavalry and 17th Poona Horse fought some sanguine battles with elite Pakistani regiments; Guides (10th) Cavalry and 11th PAVO Cavalry. Lt. Colonel Nisar Ahmad of 25th Cavalry who fought against 17th Poona Horse commanded by indomitable Colonel A. D. Tarapur in 1965 war admired his opponent and later told his superiors that ‘it was a quite an education to listen to tarapurwala’s wireless intercepts. He maintained a total grip over his command’. At the battle of Assal Uttar in 1965, 5th Probyn’s Horse, 6th Lancers and 19th Lancers of Pakistan army fought against 3rd Cavalry (Pakistan’s then Director General Military Operations Brigadier Gul Hassan has served as Adjutant of this battalion before partition) and 9th Deccan Horse of Indian army.
In the tragic days of partition, horrific violence was perpetrated on both sides of the border. In these times of madness, Muslim and non-Muslim officers and men of Indian army performed the difficult task of internal security duty to the best of their abilities. 77 Para Brigade commanded by Brigadier Y. S. Paranjpye was moved from Quetta to Multan on internal security duty. 1 / 2 Punjab (2 Punjab group of Punjab Regiment was allotted to India) of the brigade commanded by Lt. Colonel Gurbachan Singh safeguarded non-Muslim and Muslim convoys on both sides of the border. Punjabi Muslim, Dogra and Sikh sepoys of this fine battalion performed their duties and India could be proud of having such a fine battalion among its army ranks. In several cases, Muslim officers commanded non-Muslim troops and vice versa and they shot at their fellow co-religionists without any fear or favor to protect life and property. Second in command of 5/6 Rajputana Rifles Major Haq Nawaz commanded Hindu Jats and Hindu Rajputs and they protected Muslim convoys in eastern Punjab and Captain Syed Ahmad Mansur of 1 Mahar took his Marhatta company to escort Muslim and non-Muslim convoys on both sides of the border. In Sialkot, Major Iftikhar Janjua (later Major General) was officiating commanding officer of 3/10 Baluch (now 10 Baloch). A group of Muslims approached him and told him that they will be searching the houses of non-Muslims of the area and he should not be concerned. Iftikhar kicked their spokesperson out of the room with the warning that if anybody tried to take law in their own hands he will shoot them. Many other fine men and officers of Gurkha Rifles, Baluch Regiment, Garhwal Rifles, 1 Kumaon and 2/15 Punjab (now 10 Punjab of Pakistan army) performed splendidly in those trying times.
There was a degree of comradeship among many officers despite problems between India and Pakistan. Thimayya was stationed in Jallandhar in 1947-48 and he visited Lahore where his host was his old friend Major General Iftikhar Khan who was then commanding 10th Division of Pakistan army. General K. M. Cariappa also used to stay with his old friends during his official visits to Pakistan which was frowned upon in India. In the winter of 1947 while fighting was going on between Indian and Pakistani troops, Cariappa was stuck in Jammu due to high floods in rivers and a blocked Banihal pass due to landslide. The only good road was from Jammu to Sialkot. Cariappa wanted to go to Sialkot and via Lahore enter India. He had his GSO-2 call GSO-1 of his good friend Major General Iftikhar Khan then commanding 10th Division in Lahore to get his permission. He got the reply that Iftikhar was out of town and Mrs. Iftikhar was not well therefore they will not be able to receive General Cariappa. In 1948 after cease fire, Indian delegation consisting of Lt. General Srinagesh, Major General Thimaya, Brigadier Sam Manekshaw and Major S. K. Sinha (later Lt. General) was entertained by Brigadier Shahid Hamid (later Major General) of Pakistan army. In 1965 war, General ® Cariappa’s son Flight Lieutenant K. C. Carriappa (nick named Nanda) flew sorties against Pakistan. His jet was shot down and he was captured in Pakistan. Cariappa had served Ayub Khan’s brigade commander and children of Cariappa and Ayub were known to each other. When young Cariappa was recuperating from his injuries in a military hospital in Pakistan, Ayub’s wife and son Akhtar Ayub visited him. There is unconfirmed report also that Cariappa was given a tour of President House where he roamed around calling President Ayub Khan uncle. However, both Pakistanis and Indians denied that this happened and it may just one of the folklore. Ayub also sent a message to General ® Cariappa that his son was fine. He offered to release him but as was expected from the fine officer and gentleman like Cariappa he said ‘I will ask no favor for my son which I cannot secure for every soldier of the Indian Army. Look after all of them. They are all my sons’. In January 1966, Cariappa was repatriated to India along with all other Indian prisoners of war. He later rose to become Air Marshal of Indian Air Force.
In 1963, Indian aircraft carrier Vikrant was commanded by Vice Admiral N. Krishnan. Pakistani cruiser ‘Babar’ commanded by Syed Mohammad Ehsan was sighted very close to Vikrant. Krishnan knew Ehsan from old days and sent a warning message stating ‘Syed, don’t come closer we are ready for you’. Ehsan replied ‘Krish; I have Ayub (Pakistani army chief) on board – bound for Colombo. Thought will have a dekho (look) at my old country. Cordial greetings’. Even during war there was a certain elan and respect between soldiers of both armies. In 1971, a Pakistani officer on patrol along Sindh border saw a lone Sikh soldier. He yelled at the soldier accompanying him saying ‘ Oye Khalsa ye; bandooq dey, bandooq hey’ (I see the Sikh; give me the gun, give me the gun). The Sikh soldier was close enough to hear all this commotion. Excited officer took his soldier’s automatic gun and fired a burst of bullets towards the Sikh soldier at close range. Bullets hit the Sikh and his body went in the air. The Sikh soldier yelled ‘thand pay gaye ye’ (are you satisfied now) and dropped dead on the ground. In 1999, during Kargil war, commanding officer of 8th Sikhs sent a recommendation for bravery award for his worthy opponent Captain Sher Khan (27th Sindh & 12th Northern Light Infantry). Sher Khan was awarded the highest gallantry award of the country.
Indian and Pakistani armies share a common history and the memory of that shared bond is fading away. There is some limited interaction between two armies in United Nations peace missions in different parts of the world. In an ironic twist of history, in early 2005, in war torn Congo, nine Bangladeshi soldiers were ambushed and killed by a militia force. Pakistani troops (along with South African troops) avenged the deaths of Bangladeshi soldiers by overrunning one of the militia bases killing fifty militiamen. In this operation, Indian attack helicopters provided air support to Pakistani troops. Both countries should work towards peaceful coexistence and strive to decrease the animosity so that they can address more acute problems of national integration, internal cohesion and economic prosperity. Peaceful and confident India and Pakistan can then contribute more soldiers to peace missions around the globe where next generation of soldiers and officers can interact in a more friendly and cooperative manner thus reliving the memories of their forefathers.
Author thanks many for providing details of interesting historical events and anecdotes. All errors are author’s sole responsibility.