The 1965 Pak-Indo War is an important landmark in our history, those few days of September has a collection of thousands of stories where the sons of the soil fought for their country and gave sacrifices. The nation stood united and these stories of bravery are well documented in national and international media. Soldiers like Major Aziz Bhatti NH Shaheed left an important mark where they fought selflessly. “Haider” highlights the stories of Pakistan’s finest heroes in illustrated form, immortalizing their tales of courage and sacrifice to inspire coming generations, Major Bhatti was an automatic choice due to his bravery and sacrifice in 1965.

In the buildup to our launch of “Haider”, we are interviewing a member of the 17 Punjab regiment Major (R) Javed Majeed (Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s unit in the 1965 War), Major (R) Javed who rose to high ranks in Civil Bureaucracy shares his personal account of the efforts of his unit in the war, which took place when he was just a cadet.

Tell us about the background of 1965 War and the prevailing situation on the border? Also enlighten us about the first encounter between the forces of two countries?

In the months leading up to September the environment was a bit hostile at the borders, so on September 5th; around 10pm Delta Company lead by Major Shafqat Baloch was ordered to move and position them at Hudiara. They reached their desired location around 1am and were yet to settle down when around 5am (morning of September 6th) they met the retreating men from border security forces who reported that Indian forces have crossed the international border. Initially Major Baloch didn’t believe it but nevertheless ordered troops to take the position, the natural terrain of that area also helped. Soon they could see the advancing Indian tanks and at that crucial moment, two brave and smart soldiers of the Company smartly hit the tanks and destroyed two of them. The Indian forces thought the area is full of land mines and stopped their direct advancement which gave us the time to strengthen our hold. That is probably the most important incident of that first encounter as it disturbed their plans of advancement and The Delta Company was able to hold the Indian forces till 2pm on September 6 by the time reinforcements arrived.

Tell us about the positions of the Pakistani forces?

The Alpha Company lead by Major Aziz Bhatti was positioned in front of the Burki village. Alpha & Delta Companies were in front while Bravo and Charlie were posted in deep positions. Major Bhatti was a brilliant tactician and positioned his company in the way that they were able to hold attack from all sides. The Indian forces positioned themselves in a way that they wanted to channelize Burki sector in to a killing zone. The Burki sector was attacked by an entire brigade while we had a company of mere 60 people defending it who fought brilliantly and held off the enemy.

Tell us about Major Bhatti and his personality

Major Aziz Bhatti was very popular person in his Company; he possessed a great tactical mind. He was known to have a photogenic memory which always kept him ahead of his peers. His experience and upbringing in Hong Kong gave him great exposure to international politics. He is remembered as very competitive man and was an avid reader and often gave lectures to his fellow soldiers on international relations. He was a patriotic to the core and was always ready to serve his country in every possible way. He was ordered to come back and take some rest since he had been leading the fight for consecutive five days and nights but he refused to take rest and continued fighting while hardly sleeping for one hour every day. His death was a proof of his bravery, where in order to keep an eye on every move of the enemy; he had to place himself in an elevated position next to a tree where he was fully exposed to Indian forces. He was hit on shoulder by an Indian tank and embraced martyrdom on 12 September.

The 17 Punjab Regiment has a rich history, tell us about its historical significance and how do you feel to be part of such lineage which includes stars like Major Aziz Bhatti?

The regiment was raised by Nawab of Bhopal in the early 1800s and it was a unique mixed force of infantry, artillery and cavalry. It was known as the Bhopal Levi and deployed to keep peace in the lawless regions of Central India. In 1857, during the War of Independence, the Nawab refused to send his troops to help out the British Empire and the force was eventually disbanded. It mostly remained inactive till the outbreak of First World War when it was reorganised and the 9th Bhopal Infantry was dispatched where they fought in France and later northern Africa. During the Second World War, the battalion again fought with great distinction in the Italian East Africa, North Africa and Cassino (Italy). After the creation of Pakistan, it was merged with the 1st, 14th and 15th Punjab Regiments to form one large Punjab Regiment, and 4/16th Punjab and was renamed as 17 Punjab. In 1948, the battalion fought in the war with India in Kashmir and captured many strategic points.

I feel proud to be part of such rich history and I can proudly say that we never settled for anything less than the top position. We took part in every event, let it be sports or poetry, and excelled in everything except perhaps basketball. Our motto always have been to protect this country and I feel proud to have served this country to my best of abilities.