LT COL RAJA SULTAN MAHMUD

 

 

LT COLONEL RAJA SULTAN MAHMUD 22 BALUCH AND 32 BALUCH

 

Lieutenant Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmood remains a brave but forgotten warrior of 1971. My personal association with him goes back to 1969 while my fathers personal association with him goes back to 1949 when he was my fathers class fellow at the Gordon College Rawalpindi in 1949-51.Interestingly later Lt Col Akram Raja HJ was my fathers younger brothers class fellow at the same college.Other class fellows included later LTG Raja Saroop Khan , my fathers first cousin later Major General Agha Manzur Rauf etc.May maternal uncles class fellows included later famous Major alias Horsey, at one time brother in law of later LTGs Ahmad Jamal and Kamal whose father was my grandfathers class fellow and close friend. Gordon College Rawalpindi was a close knit community and one of the best colleges. I met him for the first time when he was brigade major of 1 AK Brigade at Muzaffarabad in 1969 while my father was commanding a field engineer company at Chehla Bandi in Neelum Valley.In the same year my father was posted as GSO 2 Operations , 16 Division Quetta.Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmud joined us in Quetta in late 1970 as CO 22 Baloch.In March 1971 16 Division moved to East Pakistan in a record time of six days. The GSO 1 Colonel Ghulam Dastagir was wisely left behind by the thoughtful GOC Nazar Hussain Shah since he was a Bengali.Both my father and Colonel Sultan moved to East Pakistan.In September 1971 my father was promoted to command 6Engineer Battalion which was moved back to West Pakistan in October 1971 to lay the famous triple layer minefield of Shakargarh Bulge. Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmud went missing in December 1971 and it was only later that we learnt that he had been killed in action. His son Imran was my class fellow and good friend at Muzaffarabad, Quetta and later Pindi where his family settled after the war. It is proof of Pakistani states callousness that no effort was made to locate and repatriate the bodies of soldiers and officers killed in action in East Pakistan. While my father was serving in MO Directorate in 1973-74 he recollects various proposals made to repatriate the bodies but all were shot down by the military bureucracy. As the obituary of Lt Col Sultan published in Indian newspapers proves,his body was discovered and honoured with a full funeral by Indian Army.However on Pakistan side no effort was made to locate his grave ! Our association with the family was deep and continuous from 1969 till to date and my father made it a point that we visited them twice or thrice a week all the time that we were in Pindi and later in Islamabad. The gap that was left with his absence was dark and sad.It is difficult to describe the depression that dominates the family of a man who was killed in action and whose body was never found. Originally commanding 22 Baloch , Lieuternant Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmood Shaheed , relinquished command over a matter of professional disagreement with his GOC, Major General Qazi Majeed in East Pakistan.He was ordered to carry out a foolhardy and suicidal attack with his battalion 22 Baluch by his GOC and he had expressed reservations.The GOC who as per many officers liked imitating Patton immediately sacked the brave lieutenant colonel Sultan who had placed the safety of his men over naukri. As confirmed by his IO , then lieutenant Kardar, also a member of this group , the fool hardy attack was carried out as per Major General Qazis ambitious desires and was a big fiasco in heavy losses. Lt Col Raja Sultan Mahmud was then re-assigned to command 32 Baloch . Here he encountered then Brigadier Tajammul Hussain Malik who had only arrived in East Pakistan towards the end .Tajammul unjustly gave the colonel a dressing down over a small issue.The colonel deeply disturbed returned to his unit.The episode was mentioned in Siddiq Saliks book . As he led his new battalion who he hardly knew and who hardly knew him , disturbed by Tajammuls unjust rockets he ran into an Indian ambush while leading 32 Baloch in a pitch dark night.Lieuternant Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmood Shaheed embraced martyrdom with many bullets in his chest . Sadly 32 Baluch fled the battle field abandoning their brave commanding officers body which was never recovered.Lt Col Raja Sultan Mahmuds bravery was neither acknowledged nor awarded.Interestingly his battalions other officers recommended themselves for awards and were duly awarded. The only consoling part of this narrative is that Lieuternant Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmood Shaheeds gallantry was acknowledged by the opposing Indian commanders and also acknowledged in Indian newspapers. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.His younger son Brigadier Nauman Mahmood ably commanded a brigade in FATA in action ,served as Chief Instructor at the Command and staff College Quetta, commanded 7 Division at Peshawar and is now Director Analysis in ISI. Noman joined 22 Baloch his fathers real battalion and not 32 Baloch. Colonel Sultans younger brother Brigadier Raja Aftab rose to brigadier rank and is an outstanding gentleman.I saw young Captain and Major Raja Aftab from childhood and we served together in Okara in 1992-94.Brigadier Aftab was extremely critical and bitter about his brothers second command in East Pakistan and about the battalion that never recovered their commanding officers body. May Allah bless the brave soul of Lieuternant Colonel Raja Sultan Mahmood Shaheed Major A.H.Amin (Retired) ,Armoured Corps Tribute To Lt Col Raja Sultan Mahmood BY INDIAN PRESS ON HIS HEROIC MARTYRDOM “THE HINDU” DURING THE BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR, (1971) ONE INTREPID PAKISTANI OFFICER LEADING A BAYONET CHARGE INTO THE GUTS OF 2/5 GR (FF), WAS SLASHED WITH “KUKRI” BY AN EQUALLY BRAVE OFFICER CAPT JATANDAR NATH SOOD. THE PAKISTANI OFFICER’S BODY AND IDENTITY WAS COMPLETELY SMEARED WITH BLOOD AND HE WAS MISTAKEN FOR BRIG TAJJMAL HUSSAIN MALIK, COMD OF 205 PAKISTAN INFANTRY BRIGADE. IT WAS AT HIS FUNERAL THAT THE DOCUMENTS FOUND WITH HIM AS WELL AS HIS BLOOD SOAKED EPAULETTES CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED HIM AS PA-4863 LT COL RAJA SULTAN MAHMOOD, CO OF BALOCH REGT. AS HIS BODY WAS LOWERED INTO THE GRAVE, ONE GORKHA JCO THREW IN SULTAN’S BADGES OF RANK, LOOKED UP TOWARDS THE HEAVEN AND MUTTERED, “LET HIM ALSO KNOW THIS SULTAN BAHADUR WAS A LIEUTENANT COLONEL. RAJA SULTAN MAHMOOD IS CALLED BY ALL FRIENDS AND FOES AS “SULTAN OF LIEUTENANT COLONELS” IN THIS ACTION THE CO DIED A HEROIC DEATH IN A HAND TO HAND FIGHT WITH THE ENEMY. 60 ORS WERE ALSO LOST IN THIS ACTION. HIS VALOUR WAS ALSO RECOGNIZED BY THE INDIANS. “THE STATES MAN” OLD DAYS HAND TO HAND FIGHT’S MEMORIES COME TO MIND ONCE CO OF ONE OF THE BALOCH REGTS OF PAKISTAN ARMY HAD A HAND TO HAND FIGHT WITH AN INDIAN CAPT. LT COL GOT MARTYRDOM AT THE SPOT WHERE AS THE INDIAN CAPT DIED IN THE HOSPITAL, WHO COULD NOT BEAR THE WOUNDS SLASHED BY THE COL. THE COL WAS EQUIPPED WITH A PISTOL AND THE INDIAN CAPT WITH A STEN. A JCO SAID. “HE WAS SULTAN OF KINGS AND KING OF SULTANS”