The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military


Punjab Regiment

The Punjab Regiment is Pakistan's oldest, largest and most decorated infantry regiment. Army men of this regiment had been honoured with one Kirti Chakra, seven Sena Medals, nine commendation certificates of the Chief of the Army Staff, seven commendation certificates of the Western Command, 11 of the Eastern Command and 14 of the Northern Command.

The name "Punjab" (pun'jab, pun-jab) means "land of five rivers" and derives from the Persian words 'punj' meaning five, and 'ab' meaning water. The rivers, tributaries of the Indus River, are the Jhelum, Chenab Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. The five rivers, now divided between India and Pakistan, merge to form the Panjnad, which joins the Indus. Beas River joins with the Sutlej near the Harike Barrage in Indian Punjab. Punjabis were considered martial race by Britshers and were thought to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self-sufficiency, physical strength and resilience, orderliness and hard work, and fighting tenacity.

The name "Punjab" (pun'jab, pun-jab) means "land of five rivers" and derives from the Persian words 'punj' meaning five, and 'ab' meaning water. The rivers, tributaries of the Indus River, are the Jhelum, Chenab Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. The five rivers, now divided between India and Pakistan, merge to form the Panjnad, which joins the Indus. Beas River joins with the Sutlej near the Harike Barrage in Indian Punjab. Punjabis were considered martial race by Britshers and were thought to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self-sufficiency, physical strength and resilience, orderliness and hard work, and fighting tenacity.

The British recruited heavily from Punjabi Muslims for service in the colonial military. The Punjab Regiment traces its origins to 1761 when the first battalion was raised at Trichinopoly. Some predecessor elements of the unit date back to 1759 when the British were raising indigenous forces to assist in the conquest of the subcontinent. The history of the regiment is especially complex, but more important than usual.Several Punjab regiments existed simultaneously during the colonial period owing to Punjab's large and diverse population. The 1st Punjab Infantry Regiment was formed in the amalgamations of 1922 from a number of preexisting regiments.

On the eve of World War II almost 34,000 Punjabi Muslims were in the army (29 per cent) and during World War-II over 380,000 joined (about 14% of the total). No other class came close to these figures. Almost 70 percent of the wartime Muslim recruitment was from what became Pakistan from the undivided Punjab. The three semi-arid districts of Punjab-Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Attock (Campbellpur) pre-dominated in supplying recruit volunteers in World War II. The Punjab regiments saw combat in WWII -- primarily against Japanese forces.

Upon partition in 1947 -- which split Punjab between India and Pakistan -- four of the five Punjab regiments were given to Pakistan while the remaining one was given to India, reflecting different population sizes in both countries' respective Punjab states. In 1947 the 1st, 8th, 14th and 16th Punjab Regiments were allocated to Pakistan at partition and independence. The Regiment emerged in its present shape on 7 May 1956 by amalgamating the 1st, 14th 15th and 16th Punjab Regiment groups, each having six, five, four and five battalions respectively, all rich in traditions of their own. In 1956, Pakistan merged these regiments into a single, large one that today is known as the Punjab Regiment. Four of the battalions have already celebrated their bicentenaries while some more are getting ready to do so in the near future. As of 2008, it had 47 battalions.

This historical composition gave the Regiment a solid foundation to build on. During more than 50 years of its united existence, it multiplied manifold and fought two National Wars. During 1948, some battalions also fought in Kashmir, and others got the opportunity to see the War in 1965 and 1971. The Punjabi units acquitted themselves with great honour devotion & courage and earned immense laurels.

Due to the only practicable highway between the itinerant breeding ground of central Asia and the fertile valley of the Ganges, Punjab has been a strategic area of immense significance since the ancient times. It was the geographical location of Punjab, which made it pregnable to foreign invasions from the earliest time. Since time immemorial, it was a 'gateway to India', 'feted battlefield' and 'the first home of conquerors.' Almost all the invaders of India came from the northwest and had faced great resistance by the people of the Punjab, before moving further into the land. The destiny of the Punjab, the heart land of India, was the destiny of the whole of India. If the brave men of the Punjab were defeated, none in the whole sub-continent could dare face the invaders.

On March 29, 1849, the last Sikh Darbar was held at Lahore. In that Darbar, Maharaja Daleep Singh and the council of Regency submitted to the East India Company, which led to the complete annexation of Punjab during the regime of Lord Dalhousie (1848-1956). Just after the annexation there was a general disarmament in Punjab: All classes of the people, other than Europeans and government servants, were prohibited to keep and carry arms of any kind. This policy was only imposed in Punjab; however in the rest of the country the masses retained their arms. At the dawn of twentieth century, the province of Punjab encompassed vast areas. Besides the present-day Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab, it included the settled districts of NWFP and Delhi.

Punjab played a great role in saving the East India Company's empire and the Crown by providing recruits, and it proved itself a tower of strength in India. Since that time for the British, the Punjab became a large part of their fighting force. The British were aware of the fact that the physical qualities of the inhabitants had exercised a great influence on the politics and the history. Therefore, keeping in view the martial races of Punjab, the British wanted to maintain a fairhold on the sword men of India. The British and religious elite's relationship was initiated soon after the annexation of Punjab in 1849. During the First World War like the landed elites, they assisted the British by supplying them with horses, soldiers and other accoutermentsof the war.

The development of canal colonies in the western Punjab in the mid of nineteenth century by the British Indian government was an attempt to convert unproductive and arid land into the fertile land by using the water of rivers the Jhelum, the Chenab and the Ravi. The military obtained a share of allotable land for ex-soldiers. Those from cavalry regiments obtained horse-breeding grants. Infantrymen received smaller grants, but these were not subject to horse-breeding tenures. The recipients of these military grants were Punjabis serving in regiments stationed in all five army commands in India: Punjab, Bengal, Bombay, Burma and Madras. Regimental officers rather than civil officials were given the responsibility of selecting these grantees, the choice being determined thus not on agricultural skills but on the nature of service in the army.

In some areas of Punjab, grantees subject to horse-breeding tenure could not obtain proprietary rights, as this would have undermined regulated horse-breeding. Succession was restricted to primogeniture, to prevent subdivision from threatening horse-breeding. This departure from customary law came with the unrelenting tenurial obligation of maintaining mares and producing foals. In other areas, horse-breeding was imposed on civilian peasant grantees, but without such onerous conditions. Compulsion was replaced by competition. Horse-breeding would be regarded as a valuable additional resource, rather than an imposition whose non-fulfilment threatened the very livelihood of the grantees. But the military prerogative was such that the British held on to horse-breeding, till it was finally abolished in 1940.

Area

Population

(millions)

Recruits

(thousands)

Ajmer0.5816.0
Punjab2435014.6
NWFP33210.7
United Provinces461423.1
Native States46801.7
Bombay27351.3
Madras48460.9
Central Provinces1650.3
Bihar & Orissa3880.2
Bengal4860.1
Assam810.1
Burmah3130.1
Total3367162.1
The British fully realized Punjab's potential to produce military manpower. So with the support of the local landlords, the British managed to induce the martial races of the Punjab to join the British Indian Army. Towards the end of nineteenth century, the province emerged as the major recruiting area for the British Army.

Only the small district of Amjer yielded up a greater proportion of her sons. The province of Ajmer, together with the Merwara pargaaas, was ceded to the British Government in 1818. Ajmer was a settled country : but the parganas of Merwara were mostly a stretch of jungle-clad hills, in which a few rude settlers had cleared patches for cultivation, but hardly possessed anything like a system of government or of customary landholding. Ajmer is specially interesting becanse it was the one British district in Rajputana; and it preserved the features of the Rajput organisation as it appeared when the Rajputs came as conquering armies, not as an entire people immigrating and settling on the land.

The Punjab had during the Great War enlisted over 300,000 men, of whom 300,000 were combatants. At the end of the First World War, almost three-fifths of the British Indian Army recruits were drawn from the province. The recruitment in the army was open to all communities, however the Muslim Rajputs, the Sikh Jats and the Hindu Dogras, jointly willing to fight for the British, dominated the British Indian Army. These soldiers from Punjab fought as far as the mud of Flanders, the deserts of Arabia and in the bushes of East Africa.

In 1947, India was partitioned into India and Pakistan, splitting the Punjab province. Pakistan received four of the Punjab Regiments while Indian received one. Pakistan merged these units into a single Punjab Regiment in 1956.

Three of the Regiment's soldiers have been awarded the Nishan-e-Haider--Pakistan's highest medal for bravery--across the past wars with India. Only ten of the awards have ever been made.

On March 15, 2008, Lieutenant General Muhammad Masood Aslam was installed as leader of the Punjab Regiment. His title is now Colonel Commandant.

On November 8, 2006, a suicide bomber killed 35 recruits at the Punjab Regiment's training grounds in retaliation for a recent Pakistan army operation against Islamists that accidentally killed civilians. In May 2008, another five were killed by a suicide bomber in the town of Mardan in the Northwest Frontier Province, again supposedly as revenge for Pakistani military operations against extremists in the north.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list



 
Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:40:00 ZULU