By Maj (R) Aziz-ur-Rehman (15 War Course)
I was at Pir Kanti in Azad Kashmir sector during 1971 Indo-Pak War, serving in 7 Wing SWS (South Waziristan Scouts). Cease fire had taken place. It was a period of expectation of disengagement of those troops that had been moved from their peace locations to operational areas / Border Defence Area (BDA).
One morning we received a signal from GHQ, MS Branch reflecting posting of a reservist officer Lt Col Haq Nawaz Kayani, SJ, of a seniority around 1st PMA, to our Wing in place of our Wing Commander, Maj Hussain Shah (33 PMA, ex 13 Baluch) for whom orders were to follow. A veteran Alamgirian was to relieve a young Alamgirian. We could guess from the veteran soldier’s Pakistan Army No. PRR (Pakistan Regular Reserve) that the officer was certainly, in the jargon of Gunners, in his ‘last quarter of life’ and wondered how would he scale the heights of over 9000 feet in that rough mountainous terrain, where only foot / mule track existed for movement of troops and logistics.
After a few weeks, when Lt Col Kayani did not arrive nor there was any news about him, we inquired from the Bde HQ about the latest position of the case. We were informed that Lt Col Kayani had declined to move to our unit where there was lull in hostilities and had volunteered for a sector where some action with Indians could be expected.
On 5 May 1972, we heard that Lt Col Haq Nawaz Kayani had embraced shahadat at Leepa Valley while recapturing our position on a ridge, that Indians had captured after cease fire while it was unoccupied. The level of motivation of Lt Col Kayani can be judged from the accounts narrated by the men of his unit, 9th AKRF Bn. Before mounting the counter attack, he addressed his battalion apprising them of the mission, a planned attack. He informed them that it was going to be like a suicidal mission, as the chances of survival were zero due to enemy’s tenacity and its well dug-up position. He said that they were going to attack as Kaffan-posh sepoys of Allah and shahadat was for certain in that operation. He would lead the attack. It is said that when men in abundance volunteered themselves, he urged them to reconsider their decision saying, he could understand that some of them had large families to support and had no other bread-earner while some had old and sick parents to look after. Those who volunteered for the sake of the pride of the unit or to avoid be labeled as cowards by their comrades, could stay back and he needed only a few of them who were very tough and tenacious. Accordingly, Lt Col Haq Nawaz Kayani counter-attacked the position and recaptured it and embraced shahadat during the operation. The locals have named the ridge as ‘Kayani Ridge’ after his name.
No doubt Lt Col Haq Nawaz Kayani was a ‘Shaheen’ and a ‘Mard-e-momin’ of Allama Iqbal whom he addressed in ‘Baal-e-Jabreel’ as under :-
Thy abode is not on the dome of a royal palace;
You are an eagle and should live on the rocks of mountains.
An excerpt from the compilation of Maj Raja Muhammad Sarwar Dhuddy is appended below:-
“ Lt. Col Haq Nawaz Kiani’s action in recovering Leepa Valley positions after 1971 war is highly commendable. In that his battalion was deployed in TITHWAL Sector in a famous valley called Leepa. At the time of ceasefire, that battalion had held its ground but Indian forces much larger in numbers, occupied unmanned hill tops and encroached in many places after announcement of ceasefire. Such has always been common with these Indians. Kayani on resumption of Command, refused Indian pressure asking Pakistani troops to vacate the surrounded position. In May 1972, many months after ceasefire Kayani came and stayed with me for the night. After his midnight prayers he came to my bedside and asked me a question. I could see that he was very much perturbed and his question looked childish to me. He had asked me, if it would provoke a fresh war, in case he evicted the intruding Indians from the positions which they had wrongfully occupied. I replied that it was more likely that the affair shall remain local and it should not escalate to that extent. A few days later Kayani had attacked those high mountain peaks (about 8000 ft. and above) receiving a piece of shrapnel on his neck and one destroying his right kidney, he breathed his last. A few days later we received his letters to his wife, father-in-law, elder son ASGHAR NAWAZ and his spiritual guide. He had categorically predicted his martyrdom saying that he would lay down his life to achieve for Azad Kashmir and Pakistan what was their right and he would teach a lesson to treacherous Indians who knew no morals and ethics. He earned a very well deserved second award of “SITARA-E-JURAAT” (Posthumous). This action of Kayani put me to hard thinking on chivalry and Pakistan security. We have to read citations of recommendations for those heroes who earned “Nishan-e-Haider” the highest gallantry award and also deeds and acts of valour of those who received next higher gallantry awards.”
The death of a Shaheed (Martyr) is the life of a Nation.
We are for ever indebted to such like personalities for sacrificing their AAJ for our KALL. May Allah shower His eternal blessings on the family of Lt Col Haq Nawaz Kayani Shaheed, Aameen.
Lt Col Haq nawaz Kayani Shaheed belonged to village Mona Pind, District Jhelum. He got his education from the prestigious institution, Military College Jhelum. He is one of the few officers who are SJ & Bar; he got his first SJ in 1965 War and the second SJ (Posthumously) for his gallant action in Leepa Valley in May 1972.
The Pakistan Army later honoured the AKRF (Azad Kashmir Regular Forces) by absorbing it into its own ranks and by giving it the status of a Regular Line Infantry Regiment. The AKRF thus became the Azad Kashmir Regiment on 20 September 1972.
If you’ve liked this Post, then please share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
If it’s not inconvenient, please do write your brief comment in the Comment Box.
You are also welcome to contribute any brief true anecdote by sending it on Email of the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org