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Frontier Force - Pakistan

With the partition of India in 1947, the British Indian Army was also divided. Pakistan received the bulk of PIFFERs, except two mountain batteries (Derajat and Hazara) and the 5th Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force). Sikh and Dogra companies were swapped for Punjabi Musalman and Pathan ones from units that went to India. PIFFER units immediately undertook refugee escort duties and protection of civilians, both Muslim and non-Muslim. As part of Operation CURZON, PIFFER units finally pulled out from their permanent stations on the North-West Frontier their home of a hundred years. During 1947, 8/12 Frontier Force Rifles located at Dacca, had the proud honour and rare distinction of being the first Pakistani battalion to salute Pakistan's flag, when it was first hoisted at the new seat of Government of East Pakistan. 9/12th, 14/12th Frontier Force Regiment, 14/13th and 15/13th Frontier Force Rifles were re-raised in 1948.

PIFFER officers volunteered to join Pathan lashkars fighting in Kashmir, as they came under pressure from the Indian Army. As the Pakistan Army formally entered the Kashmir War in 1948 to meet the Indian threat, PIFFER units including cavalry and artillery came forward to join the fight. These included 2nd, 3rd Royal and 5th (Guides) Battalions of the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, 1st , 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th (Royal) Battalion of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles, PAVO Cavalry Frontier Force, 2nd Royal Kohat and 3rd Peshawar Mountain Batteries Frontier Force. While two senior PIFFER officers won HJ, other officers and men were awarded nine SJs, seventeen TJs and twenty six Imtiazi Sanads, and units received the coveted battle honour of KASHMIR 1948.

The period from Partition till the 1965 War was characterised by reorganisation and consolidation within the Pakistan Army. 5/13th Frontier Force Rifles were the first unit in the Pakistan Army to become a motorised battalion in 1948. PIFFER units were stationed in East Pakistan to take part in flood relief and anti-smuggling duties.

In 1949 the Pathan Regiment was formed, with a nucleus regimental centre, with personnel provided by the 12th Frontier Force Regiment and 13th Frontier Force Rifles at Kohat. Its battalions were 1st Pathan formed from re-raised 14/12th Frontier Force Regiment, 2nd Pathan formed from re-raised 14/13th Frontier Force Rifles, and 3rd Pathan formed from re-raised 15/13th Frontier Force Rifles. (The original 14/12th had been disbanded in 1946, the original 14/13th had been reconstituted as 1/13th Frontier Force Rifles and original 15/13th had formed the Landing Craft Wing of the Royal Indian Navy as already mentioned).

Pakistan became a republic in 1956. This year is an important landmark in PIFFER history. It saw the PIFFERs transforming into the structure that we retain till this day, shedding colonial symbols and becoming a single entity. Royal titles and badges were dropped and the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, 13th Frontier Force Rifles and the Pathan Regiment were amalgamated into a single Frontier Force Regiment with common dress and insignia.

At this time, the PIFFERs consisted of 1st to 15th Battalions of the Frontier Force Regiment, the Guides Cavalry Frontier Force, 11th (PAVO) Cavalry Frontier Force, 12th Sam Browne's Cavalry Frontier Force and 1st Mountain Regiment Frontier Force (consisting of Kohat and Peshawar Mountain Batteries,). A year earlier, in 1955, the Pakistan Armoured Corps Centre was delinked from its Sam Browne Cavalry identity and 12 Cavalry was re-raised as a combat unit, receiving a PIFFER squadron each from the Guides Cavalry (Frontier Force) and 11 Cavalry (Frontier Force). The 1 and 7 Frontier Force were converted to motorised battalions during the period 1956-1957. Similarly, a PIFFER unit was selected to become the Army's first support (later reconnaissance and support) unit.

The 3 Frontier Force and elements of 9 Frontier Force and 15 Frontier Force undertook operations in DIR-BAJAUR in 1960 to establish the writ of the Government and keep out a 25,000 strong Afghan Lashkar. This successful operation was commemorated by a clasp "DIR BAJAUR" to Tamgha-e-Difa. During the period 1961 to 1964 1, 7 and 10 Frontier Force, then motorised battalions, became the first armoured infantry battalions in the Pakistan Army. When the Indian Army "edged forward" in the Rann of Kutch in March 1965, the Pakistan Army reacted with speed, re-capturing Sardar Post and capturing Biar Bet. 12 Cavalry (Frontier Force), Guides Infantry (2 Frontier Force) and 8 Frontier Force distinguished themselves in this successful action, after which the Indian Prime Minister offered a parting remark, "Next time we will attack at a place of our own choosing" a prelude to the 1965 War.

The Indians formally began the war with an attack at Wagah opposite Lahore on 6 September. PIFFER armoured, artillery and infantry units took part in all sectors - Kashmir (including Chhamb), Sialkot, Lahore, Kasur-Khem Karan and Rajasthan. All three PIFFER armoured regiments gave a good account of themselves in the Sialkot Sector while 11 Cavalry saw action in Chhamb as well. 1 SP Field Regiment (incorporating the two PIFFER batteries) provided fire support aggressively in the Battle of Chawinda, losing their gallant CO in the process. The unit was, subsequently, awarded red piping on the collars to recognise their performance. 6 and 12 Frontier Force took part in the advance on Chhamb-Jaurian-Akhnur Axis. 6 Frontier Force also saw action in the Sialkot Sector. Guides Cavalry Frontier Force, 11 Cavalry Frontier Force, 3, 4, 9, 13 and 14 Frontier Force fought in the Sialkot Sector. 7, 11, 15 and 16 FF saw action while defending Lahore. 1, 2, 5 and 10 FF took part in advance to and capture of Khem Karan in the Kasur Sector. 8 and 18 FF carried out successful attacks and captured a large chunk of territory in the Rajasthan Sector. 23 FF re-captured Sadhewala Post in the Rajasthan Sector from the Indians, two months after the war ended. PIFFERs adorned themselves with HJs for two senior PIFFERs, twenty-eight SJs, thirty-one TJs and thirty-nine Imtiazi Sanads.

During the war in 1971, both in the eastern and western theatres, PIFFER units played their role in a manner that will continue to feature prominently in the annals of history. 31 FF was raised in November 1971, as Pakistan's first national service battalion. With a PIFFER commanding officer, some PIFFER officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks, it trained 1049 national service-men under the National Service Scheme. The unit remained active/deployed in Lahore and Khem Karan Sectors during the war, and was re-categorised as a regular infantry battalion in May 1972. 39 to 44 FF and 231 (Independent) Company FF were raised during the period November 1971 to March 1972. In East Pakistan, 4 FF defended Hilli gallantly against heavy odds till it was ordered out. Among other awards, Major Muhammad Akram Shaheed was awarded Nishan-e-Haider (NH). Other units that operated in East Pakistan were 12, 13, 15, 22, 24, 25, 26, 30 and 38 FF. Sadly these gallant units had to endure captivity once Dacca fell in December 1971.

In the western theatre too, the PIFFER units stood their ground. 11 Cavalry (FF) saw some heavy fighting in the Chhamb Sector. The Kashmir Sector saw 2 FF (Guides), 3, 5, 17 and 33 FF in various actions. In the Sialkot Sector, 19, 23, 27, 29, 35 and 37 FF took part in the fighting. 35 FF's immortal attack won their CO, Lieutenant Colonel Akram Raja a posthumous HJ, with the highest compliment a gallant soldier could receive ___ a citation written by the opposing lndian commander, Lieutenant Colonel V P Airy of the 3rd Grenadier Guards. 8 and 18 FF fought on the Lahore Front. In the Sulemanki Sector, 6 FF gained fame during its capture of Gurmukh Khera Bridge on Sabuna Drain. Major Shabbir Sharif Shaheed, already an SJ from the 1965 War, was awarded NH. 36 FF also fought well in the same sector. 20, 21 and 39 FF saw worthwhile action in the Desert Sector.

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