Akbar Khan was the formal point of contact whom the Government appointed to manage the Kashmir show, with instructions that it should be shown as a rebellion of the people against the government. Sourced from Operations in Jammu and Kashmir, these are the relevant bits of his interview to Defence Journal. The usual Pakistani bravado is clearly visible in the way he is speaking
Brig (Retd) A.R. Siddiqi: Can you recall the earlier stages of the Kashmir operations before you took over?
Mohammad Akbar Khan: A few weeks after Partition, I was asked by Mian Iftikharuddin on behalf of Liaquat Ali Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan) to prepare a plan for action in Kashmir. I found that the Army was holding 4,000 rifles for the civil police. If these could be given to the locals an armed uprising in Kashmir could be organised at suitable places, I wrote a plan on this basis and gave it to Mian Iftikharuddin. I was called to a meeting with Liaquat Ali Khan at Lahore where the plan was adapted, responsibilities allotted and orders issued. Everything was to be kept secret from the Army.
In September the 4,000 rifles were issued at various places and the first shots were exchanged with the Maharajah’s troops and the movement gathered weight.
On the 24th of October a tribal lashkar attacked Muzaffarabad and successfully captured it. The next day they advanced and captured Uri. On the 26th they occupied Baramula. On the 27th Maharajah fled from Srinagar and acceded to India. That evening Liaquat Ali Khan held a meeting at Lahore to which I was invited. This was to consider what action to take in view of the expected Indian intervention in Kashmir. I proposed that a tribal lashkar should attack Jammu as this was the focal point through which Indian troops would be going to Kashmir. This proposal was not accepted for fear of provoking war. That evening the Quaid-e-Axam was also in Lahore and according to Alan Campbell in Mission with Mountbatten the Quaid had ordered that Jammu should be attacked by the Army. But this order was not carried out.
Two days later on my own initiative, I went to the Srinagar front to see how the tribesmen were doing. They were at the 4th milestone from Srinagar held up by a roadblock with a machine gun I carried out a thorough reconnaissance and saw that the town was surrounded by water which blocked entrance from outside. However, the roadblock could be overcome by an armoured car. I rushed back to Pindi and soon found that Colonel Masud with three armoured cars was willing to go as volunteer in plain clothes. Then I rang up Karachi and spoke to Raja Ghanzanfar (sic) Ali Khan (Minister for Kashmir Affairs) to ask for permission. Permission was refused. Thus no help went to the tribesmen and they remained held up at the milestone.
A week later, finding the ground unsuitable for their tactics they broke off engagement and withdrew to Uri, from where also they threatened to withdraw to Abbottabad. An Indian brigade advanced from Srinagar and occupied Baramula. It was at this stage that I was earnestly requested to go to Uri and restore the fighting.”
ARS How good had been the performance of the tribal lashkars? It is believed that they broke their ranks and went for loot just when they were within sight of Srinagar
MAK: The performance of the tribal lashkars had been excellent where the ground was suitable for their sniping and hit-and-run tactics. It is not correct to say that they broke their ranks and went for loot just when they were within sight of Srinagar.
It was part of their agreement with Major Khurshid Anwar of the Muslim League National Guards who was their leader that they would loot non-Muslims. They had no other remuneration. Major Khurshid Anwar had been an emergency commissioned officer in World War II in the Supply Corps of the Indian Army. Then he had joined the Muslim League and he had been appointed commander of the Muslim League National Guards in September 1947, when the Prime Minister launched the movement of the Kashmir struggle. Khurshid Anwar was appointed commander of the Northern Sector. Khurshid Anwar then went to Peshawar and with the apparent help of Khan Qayyum Khan raised the lashkar which assembled at Abbottabad and with which he entered Muzaffarabad on the 24th of October I947—reached Baramula where he delayed the lashkar for two days for some unknown reason. Two weeks later, he left the Kashmir front departing from Uri with the lashkar in the first week of November. It was after this that I arrived on the scene and began again where the tribesmen had left.
Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan had apparently helped Major Khurshid Anwar with the raising of the lashkar on the frontier. Thereafter he continued to take active interest to Kashmir and helped with the tribal lashkars thronged (sic—through?) the Kashmir operations ”
ARS: How long did you stay on the Kashmir front and what major operations did you fight there?
MAK: “I stayed on the Kashmir front for six months to begin with and then went away for one month to Kohat to take over command of my brigade and came back to the Uri front with my brigade to meet the Indian offensive. There I remained till ceasefire in December 1948…
“We burnt the bridge at Uri and I raided (sic) and armed with rifles local ex-servicemen who kept the Indians under fire. In a fortnight the tribesmen returned to the front and agreed to all my conditions. Under my direction they successfully ambushed a military convoy between Un and Punch and burnt 36 vehicles. Then I got the tribesmen to surround Uri and keep it under sniping fire so as to prevent them from moving forward”…
“We overwhelmed the garrison at Bagh and took control of the tehsil. We sent a lashkar to surround and isolate Punch from Srinagar. We captured Koth, Mirpur, Beri Pattan and the whole area both sides of the road between Jammu and Punch”.
“In May’48 the Indians mounted an offensive on the Uri front with a division.” “In six weeks fighting we brought the offensive to a standstill at Chakoti. In August I counter-attacked and captured Pandu, taking a hundred square miles ”
ARS: Would you give a brief description of the top civil and military leadership of Pakistan’s earliest years?
MAK: …The mantle of leadership thus fell on Liaquat Ali Khan who was the prime minister. He was a man of moderate temperament and pleasant enough to work with. It was on his behest that I prepared a plan for the conduct of the struggle to Kashmir which he accepted and launched the movement. But thereafter, for reasons which are beyond my comprehension, he showed hesitation in the conduct of the operations thus losing several opportunities by not taking steps where necessary, and accepting a Cease Fire when we were at a disadvantage after the loss of Punch”…
“When in 1947 the liberation movement started in Kashmir and I was conducting operations in Kashmir, he (Air Cmde Janjua) visited me there and gave we enthusiastic encouragement and assistance in the shape of clothing and ammunition from the Air Force depots without permission from the Air C-in-C“