War & Heroes

Lt. Col. Samin Jan Babar: A Story of Selfless Courage and Devotion to Duty

The history of Pakistan Army is replete with examples of our young warriors who fought bravely and performed outstandingly. They oft brought strategic effects through tactical battles that were mostly fought at platoon, company and battalion levels. Unfortunately, most of those exceptional performances have neither been documented nor remembered anywhere in our historical documentations. They not only brought laurels to their regiments/battalions, to themselves, but also to the nation. This holds good in most of the cases and it is an area that has always been wanting in Pakistan Army in particular and Pakistan in general. They are truly the unsung heroes of Pakistan. 



I made an endeavor that began over two decades ago to bring on record “Heroes of Pakistan”, through books, newsprint, as well as professional magazines. 
In this article I have picked one such unsung hero, who performed exceptionally well during the Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1965 and 1971, where he was decorated with Bar to Sitara-e-Jurat (SJ) and an Imtiazi Sanad, becoming the only person to achieve this distinction. After serving for 12 years in Pakistan Army, he joined the Civil Services of Pakistan in 1974 where he did extremely well again by ending up as a Federal Secretary/Grade 22 Officer. Not only that, but he was also a Provincial Minister in the Caretaker Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013. 
Early life and Military Service
Lt. Col. Samin Jan Babar was born on December 8, 1941 at village Pirpiai (near Nowshera), a name that is familiar to most military personnel as it is famous for producing some of the finest officers of Pakistan Army. The village rightfully takes pride in its gallant and decorated officers like Maj. Gen. Adam Khan (MC), late Maj. Gen. Naseerullah Babar (SJ & Bar), Lt. Col. Samin Jan Babar (SJ & Bar and Imtiazi Sanad) and Maj. Farooq Adam (SJ).
He was privileged to have received education and grooming from an institution of repute, the PAF Public School Sargodha (the home of Sargodhians), from where he passed his Senior Cambridge Examination in 1959. In October 1959, he joined the 25th PMA Long Course and got his commission in April 1962 and thereafter joined the Guides Infantry (2 FF), one of the oldest infantry battalions of Pakistan Army.
Indo-Pakistan War 1965
On April 26, 1965, young Lt. Samin Jan Babar was serving as the D Company Commander in 2 FF, that was based in the Rann of Kutch Operational Area. It was during the limited war with India that he was given the task of capturing Biar Bet, a raised feature in the Rann of Kutch, that had been occupied by an Indian Para Company (belonging to an elite Indian Para Battalion). As Lt. Babar was forming up his company for an attack, the Indians opened fire with intense automatic weapons, small arms and recoilless rifles, supported by artillery fire. The heavy volume of fire caused difficulties for his company and in the process his leading platoon received serious injuries, that included 2/Lt Hadi, his second in command along with instant shahadat of six of his men, forcing disarray and dissipation of his force. Lt. Babar, keeping his nerves cool, reorganised his assaulting platoons and led the company assault himself. Thereafter, despite the stiff resistance, heavy and uninterrupted fire, he succeeded in capturing his objective and in the process took one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and five Indian soldiers as prisoners. Two Mercedes Benz trucks, loaded with building material, were part of his booty. For the act of gallantry displayed by him and his brave company, he was awarded with an Imtiazi Sanad. 
In March 1966, he was posted as an instructor at the School of Infantry and Tactics and remained there till April 1969, from where he was posted to 22FF, which later moved to erstwhile East Pakistan (Jessore) in 1970. He is a witness to all the events including the Indo-Pak war, later becoming a POW.
Indo-Pakistan War 1971
The First Sitara-e-Jurat

In 1971, Major Samin Jan Babar was commanding a rifle company in 22 FF in the erstwhile East Pakistan. While serving there he was tasked to capture a Border Outpost (BOP) in Satkhira sub-division, occupied by the Indian Forces, who were supported and beefed up by some rebellious elements of the East Bengal Regiment. The BOP was sited along a raised bund along the Indian border and was very heavily fortified. 
In order to capture this post, Major Babar planned an attack at dawn with his depleted company to capture the positions. The attack was met with stiff resistance and partially succeeded in securing the limited objective, however, in the process his company sustained heavy casualties, including the martyrdom of a Captain. In order to capture this deeply entrenched enemy position that was armed with machine guns, light automatic rifles and supported by heavy artillery and mortar fire, he planned an attack at night. On assessing the situation and seeing the overwhelming strength in terms of weapons and numbers, the Brigade Commander decided to put in a Battalion attack to evict the Indians. Major Babar remained undeterred and assured his Commanding Officer that the objective would be captured as well as occupied and the mission would be accomplished by putting in a night attack with the same battered company. Accordingly, Major Babar planned meticulously and put in a night attack by making an extensive use of hand grenades and rocket launchers and assaulted on the objective. The attack led to hand-to-hand fighting. The Indians in the process suffered heavy casualties, however, the objective was captured eventually and a huge booty of Indian weapons fell in the arms of the assaulting troops. 
For his act of bravery, Major Samin Jan Babar, who displayed extreme valour, courage and fearless leadership was awarded with a Sitara-e-Jurat. 
The Second Sitara-e-Jurat
Jessore Cantonment, part of erstwhile East Pakistan, fell to the Indian forces during the night of December 6/7, 1971. Major Samin Jan Babar, who was commanding a company at Benapole, along the border with India was ordered to withdraw and occupy a delaying position along the road Jessore-Khulna-Benapole ‘Y’ Junction and to keep the enemy at bay for at least 24 hours so that the remaining units of the brigade could gain time for preparing its main defensive positions. 
The Indians attacked the ‘Y’ Junction on December 7, 1971 with their Infantry leading and armour in close support. The attack was preceded with aerial and heavy artillery/mortar fire/bombardment. Our troops, however, fought back bravely, thwarting the Indian efforts and managed to repulse the attack after inflicting substantial losses on them. 
On the morning of December 8, 1971, the Indian Army launched a fresh attack with renewed vigour. This time the attack was led by their armour with the infantry following in zone. Their attack came to a grinding halt again when Major Babar’s company created chinks in the leading wave of the Indian armour by taking on three of the leading tanks one after the other. All through this time, his company was subjected to heavy and uninterrupted artillery/mortar and tank fire, supported by the IAF. Major Samin Jan held his positions and thwarted the Indian attempts. Instead of keeping the Indians at bay for 24 hours as ordered, he did not allow them any headway for 72 hours, and in the process inflicted heavy casualties upon them 
Having defended the positions successfully for 72 hours in the face of heavy onslaught despite being outnumbered, Major Babar was finally ordered to join his battalion’s main defensive positions. For his undaunted personal courage, valor and leadership qualities under extreme circumstances, Major Samin Jan Babar was bestowed with Sitara-e-Jurat.
After repatriation from India, following the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, Col. Samin Jan Babar joined the Civil Services of Pakistan in 1974.
His first posting was in Balochistan as Assistant Political Agent (APA), Dera Bugti. His illustrious career in the Civil Services of Pakistan lasted for 27 years till his retirement i.e., December 08, 2001 as a Federal Secretary, in Islamabad.


The writer is a military historian and biographer.
E-mail: [email protected]

 

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