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Azad Kashmir Regiment

The Azad Kashmir Regiment is one of the six infantry regiments of Pakistan Army. The AK Regiment has about 35+ battalions. Brigades raised under this regiment have 4 Battalions as opposed to the usual three. Its Regimental Center is located at Mansar, Attock District, Punjab. The regiment is stationed in northeastern Pakistan and primarily Punjab.

On 28 September 2005 an impressive ceremony of installation of a new Colonel Commandant of Azad Kashmir Regiment was held at Azad Kashmir Regimental Center, Mansar Camp. Vice Chief of Army Staff who was the chief guest on the occasion pinned the badges of rank of Colonel Commandant.

In July 1897 a series of desperate attacks were made by the Swats on the Malakand fort, within their territory. Malakand Fort was defended by 1,000 Sikh infantry, under British command, who fended off 10,000 Pathan tribesmen led by the "Mad Mullah of Malakand", Mullah Mastun. They were repelled with great loss. A "punitive expedition" was dispatched to the Swat valley, and the tribesmen were crushed into submission. Much of the Malakand battlefield, in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, has been under tight military control since Sir Winston Churchill's eyewitness accounts of the campaign were published in The Daily Telegraph in 1897. The Malakand Fort is presently accupied by troops from the Azad Kashmir Regiment.

When the Pakistan Army tried to capture Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in 1947-48, it first sent into the state a large number of Mehsuds, Wazirs and other tribes recruited by it in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and trained and armed by it. Pakistan denied any responsibility for their actions and projected them during the debates in the UN Security Council as Kashmiris, who had risen in revolt against the then Maharaja of J&K and the Government of India. It used to describe them as Kashmiri irregulars over whom it had no control.

The British plan of 3rd June 1947 for the partition of the South Asian Subcontinent had really not met the full norms of justice. In spite of having decided that the Muslim-majority provinces would form part of Pakistan, the provinces of Punjab and Bengal were further subdivided to accommodate Sikh and Hindu minorities of these regions. Further confusion was created by giving a choice to the rulers of all the states to decide the destiny of their subjects.

Despite the fact that the state population was overwhelmingly Muslim, their representation in the armed forces and police services was extremely meager. The Hindu ruler, for the security of his own rule, maintained a Hindu army and predominantly Hindus security forces. The Muslims of the State were generally untrained in the art of weaponry and at a disadvantage in comparison to the Hindu population right from the outset.

The Hindu ruler of the State, on one hand, concluded a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan to be effective from 15th August 1947, and on the other gave a free hand to India to make inroads into Kashmir. He also embarked to suppress the popular uprising by use of brute force. He ceased to have any allegiance of his people due to use of ruthless suppression. The uprising erupted, simultaneously, throughout Kashmir, and the situation went completely out of his control.

Sensing that the Hindu ruler was not sincere towards Pakistan and had entered into the Standstill Agreement with Pakistan to buy time and, in the process, cause extermination of the Muslim population through use of brute force, the Muslim population resolved to challenge the State authority by voluntarily taking up arms. It set the pace for the freedom struggle against the Hindu rule and proved to be the foundation stone of the Azad Kashmir Regiment with effect from 1st October 1947. Having chosen the path of armed struggle, the people of the State armed themselves with all sorts of weapons ranging from axes, swords, spears and muzzle-loaders to a very limited number of Darra-made single-shot rifles without bayonets. They took to the fighting; initially organizing themselves in platoon/company size groups under local leaders in respective areas of domicile which, with the passage of time, turned into a fairly well knit and organized Force.

Initially, the freedom fighters met with quick successes against the State Army troops. By 22nd October, 1947, the State Army and para-military forces had been routed with substantial area falling in the hands of the freedom fighters. One of the freedom-fighters' columns managed to reach the outskirts of Srinagar, summer capital of the State, and the freedom-fighters formed a formal government of their own called the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir State under Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan on 24th October, 1947. On 27th October, 1947 at 0900 hours, Indian troops started landing at Srinagar. They also entered the State from the Madhupur headworks over the Ravi River by the land route as if they were already standby, awaiting formal orders.

The freedom fighters, in rag-tag, had to face and struggle against the Indian Army and Air Force. They chose to fight out this new enemy with the same courage and determination as they had done against the State Army the Indian Army to evict the freedom-fighters from the area held by them forced the Indian Government to take the matter to the United Nations' Security Council through a formal complaint on 1st January, 1948. Around this time, some people from Punjab and a number of lashkars from North-West Frontier Province joined the freedom fighters to reinforce their indigenous campaign.

The uneven war between ill-armed freedom fighters and Indian Army supported by Indian Air Force went on unabated till 2nd May, 1948, when Pakistan was able to field some troops in supportive role. Thenceforward, the ongoing indigenous campaign changed into conventional war. A kind of set piece-battles developed and virtually remained so during the next eight months.

India designed to force a military decision in Jammu and Kashmir on the lines she had done in Junagadh and Hyderabad but the Azad Kashmir Regular Force (now Azad Kashmir Regiment) with due support of the Pakistan Army blunted the Indian fighting machine. Finding no way out of the dilemma and being unable to defeat the Azad Kashmir Regular Force and its friendly allies India found it more beneficial for her to arrange the ceasefire in the State through the United Nations' Security Council on 1st January, 1949.

Led by ex-Indian colonial army WWII veterans, they fought well in the first Indo-Pakistan War, and in 1948 they consolidated themselves into the Azad Kashmir Regiment. The personnel were separate from the regular Pakistan army, but the ranking scheme was not. The Azad Kashmir Regiment enjoys unique honor of having been born and nurtured in the battlefield. Its pioneering stalwarts were the devoted sons of the soil. They voluntarily took up arms against worst suppression. Their lack of material resources was compensated by their deep faith in their destiny. They liberated over 34,000 square miles of the State's territory that is now called Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas.

The Regiment has come a long way from voluntarily raised and self-organized Force called Azad Kashmir Regular Force to its present shape and form. There have been many ups and downs enroute but the Regiment has braved all such acid tests with skill and determination. Initially towards the end of September 1947, local ex-servicemen and civilian volunteers started forming up in the shape of revolutionary groups of freedom-fighters in varying strength, mostly in platoon/company size groups under command of local leaders who had raised them in their respective areas of domicile. They were initially armed with heterogeneous weapons of sorts as mentioned earlier. They started operations against the State Army in various parts of Poonch on 1st October, 1947, and soon spread their operations in other parts of Jammu and Kashmir State.

With the increase of Indian Army's pressure gaining momentum throughout the theatre of war, the necessity for a proper cohesion and coordination was felt. Accordingly, High Command of the Freedom Fighters called Forces Headquarters Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (FHQ AKRF) was set up in the first week of November 1947 to exercise command and control over the freedom fighters and also to arrange reinforcements, war material and other essential provisions. This phase lasted till 30th November, 1947.

FHQ AKRF visualized a protracted war in the offing. To meet the challenge squarely the irregular freedom fighters were organized into rudimentary battalions by 1st December, 1947. First 21 units of the AKRF (now AK Regiment) came into being as a result of this organization-cum-recognition. The group, as a whole, was named Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (AKRF) and its units were named regionally as 1st Sudhnuti, 1st Bagh, 2nd Muzaffarabad, 7th Bhimber, 10th Kotli, 14th Rajauri, 15th Jammu Battalions and so on. As the war prolonged and Indian Army's build-up increased, fresh raisings in the AKRF continued.

AKRF underwent reorganizations in 1948, 1949, 1956, 1957, 1960 and 1961 but remained a territorial Force. After the 1948 ceasefire, the Pakistan Army constituted these so-called irregulars into a unit called the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (AKRF), which was shown as a para-military force of the POK Government. It was placed under the over-all control of the Pakistan Army. The tribals of the AKRF were again used by the then President Ayub Khan for spearheading the invasion of J&K in 1965. The invasion, which led to fighting between the Indian and Pakistan Armies, failed.

When the Bengalis of the then East Pakistan rose in revolt in 1971, Yahya Khan sent the tribals of the AKRF to East Pakistan where they indulged in large-scale massacre of Bengalis. In 1970-71, a comprehensive review of the structure and organization of the AKRF was carried out. In consequence, infantry element of the AKRF was re-designated as the Azad Kashmir Regiment and its Infantry Battalions were brought on Standard Tables of Organization and Equipment with effect from 20th September, 1971. Their rotation in all parts of the Country was also approved.

In 1972, in recognition of its "services" in East Pakistan, the Pakistan Army absorbed the AKRF into the regular army and renamed it the Azad Kashmir Regiment (AKR). Its Regimental Center is located at Mansar, Attock District, Punjab. Initially, the AKR consisted largely of Pashtun tribals recruited in the FATA officered by Punjabis. Now it has a larger percentage of Punjabis.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:39:58 ZULU