While the nation was busy in daily shenanigans and media noise on domestic politics was echoing to keep the nation bewildered, a great legend and benefactor of Pakistan Army quietly breathed his last in Detroit, Michigan, US on 29th Jul.

Brig Nisar Ahmed Khan(SJ) aka Nisar Kaka belonged to one of the best Armour outfits in Pakistan Army, the 25th Cavalry(Men of Steel). He took the command of unit in 1962 on its raising and built it into a fine fighting unit within three years. Battle of Chawinda in 1965 Indo Pak war is considered to be one of the most ferocious battle of tanks fought after World War2. If Chawinda is one of the shining pearls of Pakistan Armoured Corps’ history, Nisar Kaka can be termed as its soul. In addition Brig Nisar(SJ) as commander of adhoc Changez force of two regiments is credited with holding an entire Indian Corps for 15 days in Shakargarh sector in 1971 war.

Simple, down to earth, levelheaded, rustic but fatherly, Lt Col Nisar Ahmed Khan as Commanding Officer of the Men of Steel thwarted the breakout of Indian crack Fakhr e Hind Armoured division and saved Pakistan by standing like a rock against a wall of fire, as Indian First Armoured Division spearheading it’s strike Corps was aiming to cut GT Road near Gujranwala.

Our syndicate did a piece on 6th September 2016 in the Nation and would like to quote few passages related to Operational environment of Ravi Chenab corridor to refresh the memories of next generation and highlight the role played by Brig Nisar Ahmed Khan( Sitara e Jurrat).

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.

On ground, the strategic communication network was rudimentary with fewer roads and dirt tracks, military communication systems were barely sufficient to command units and formations. Military information and intelligence sharing between the GHQ and formations relied on post WW2 technology which created information gaps. For tactical units, verbal orders and command by physical presence of officers in the battle field was considered a panacea for success. This tactical aspect affected the overall strategy of entire war, where Pakistan’s superior middle order leadership (battalion and company level) soon became a decisive factor.

Lt General Harbakhsh Singh, who was Indian GOC in C Western Command has acknowledged in his famous book, ‘War Despatches-Indo Pak Conflict 1965’ that Pakistan Army maintained the initiative right from the word go and kept the Indian Army on the defensive for the better part of the war.

Lt Col Nisar Ahmed Khan commanding 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 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. 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; Pakistani Higher command was yet not sure of the quantum and scale of Indian offensive.

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.

If we keep the military technology and operational imperatives of the sixties in view, 25 Cavalry was pitched against a combat force ten times superior in numbers and firepower. The Indian Armoured division was not alone; it had the full barrage of Corps artillery at its back, three Infantry Divisions in support and the entire communication and surveillance system of Indian Army at its disposal. Entire chain of Indian Command up to Army Headquarters in Dehli gazed at GT road.

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. For two days it was going to be 25 Cavalry vs the Indian 1st Armoured Division with tank to tank ratio of one to six in Indian favour.

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. By mid-day 9th Sep the Men of Steel under the command of Nisar Kaka 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). Indian higher Command had been paralyzed.

Brig 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 one battle in Pakistan Armoured Corps. 25th Cavalry was given the battle honor of Men of Steel by Gen Musa Khan after the war.

1965 War found Pakistani Defence Forces rising to the occasion and coming out in flying colours. Today when we look at Indian atrocities against our Kashmiri brothers and sisters, it’s important to re-live the history of 1965 war as a beacon of light for the new generation. There is a need for recording such actions through film and electronic media to build the legends like Brig Nisar Kaka of Men of Steel, Pakistan Navy action at Dawarka and MM Alam of PAF into high quality movies so that our next generation can pay homage to the gallant soldiers and officers of the 1965 War.

While we pray for the departed soul of this great legend and wish that his son Dr Shahid and the family gets the strength to bear this irreparable loss, let us tell the story of Brig Nisar Kaka to our next generation as to how sons of Pakistan Army performed their duties in defence of the nation.

The author is a freelance journalist


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.