A BRIEF LIFE SKETCH OF AL-HAJ MAJOR GENERAL NAWABZADA SHER ALI KHAN PATAUDI, H.J.
Major General Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan of Pataudi H.J. (13 May 1913 - 29 May 2002) was the second son of the Ruler of Pataudi. He comes from one of the old and noble families of the Sub¬-continent - the House of Pataudi. He received his education at Aitchison Chiefs College, Lahore, the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College, Dehra Dun, and the Royal Military College Sandhurst (England). He was commissioned in the Army in 1932. In 1933 he served in the Royal Norfolk Regiment. In 1934 he joined the 7th Light Cavalry. He commanded the 1st Battalion of the 1st Punjab Regiment (the oldest regiment of the former Indian Army) which is now part of the Pakistan Army. He had the distinction of being the youngest commanding officer at the time commanding the oldest regiment of the Indian Army. At the end of World War II, he was selected to represent the Indian Army at the surrender ceremony by the Japanese in Singapore in September 1945. He was later selected as the Military, Naval and Air Attache representing the Indian Armed Forces at Washington D.C. On the 14th of August, 1947, he (now a Brigadier) left for Australia as the Military Adviser to the Pakistan Delegation for the Canberra Peace Treaty talks with Japan — the very first delegation sent out by Pakistan. On his return he was given command of the Pakistan Parachute Brigade.
The ‘Berripattan Action’ in Kashmir operations during December 1948, was conducted under his command for which he received the Hilal-e-Jurat, the highest military order. Soon after the cease-fire (on 14 December, 1948), the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs was established. A new Ministry set up, located at Rawalpindi, to deal exclusively with the affairs of Kashmir problem the negotiations and the administration of the Azad (free) Kashmir area; and he was appointed the Military Adviser to the negotiation team and to the Ministry (cover as future commander of Kashmir Forces). In July 1951 he was selected to command the ‘Field Army’ in West Pakistan when the first threat of invasion by India was indicated on the Punjab Front extending the Kashmir conflict to the recognised International boundaries of Pakistan. In that capacity he was the first Military member for Pakistan in the Baghdad Pact (now CENTO) Military Committee. He resigned from the Army in 1957, for reasons of differences on certain vital professional matters and other matters, like playing politics while still in uniform, with General Ayub Khan - the then Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
In early 1958 he was appointed the First High Commissioner for Pakistan in the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia). He represented his country there for nearly six years. He is the recipient of one of the highest Royal Orders of Malaysia. In 1959 (12 September) when he was Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, he was offered the command of the Malaysian Army by the Prime Minister of Malaysia (Tunku Abdur Rahman) after their Cabinet decision, but he politely turned it down with gratitude on the plea that as long as Pakistan needed his services he could not serve anyone else.
He was appointed as Pakistan’s first resident Ambas¬sador to Yugoslavia in the end of 1963. While in Belgrade he was concurrently Ambassador of Pakistan in Greece and Bulgaria as well. On the eve of his departure from Yugoslavia he was awarded the Order of Yugoslavia with sash by President Tito. From Yugoslavia he went to Indonesia as Ambassador. He presented his credentials to President Sukarno before the latter’s removal. He was recalled to Pakistan on his services being needed in the country in late July 1969. He joined the Yahya Cabinet on the 4th of August, 1969. He was given the portfolio of the Minister of Inform¬ation and a new Ministry of National Affairs was created and placed under him. He resigned from the Cabinet on the 14th of December, 1970 after the confirmation of the results of the National Assembly and before the balloting for the Provincial Assemblies took place. His charge to the authorities of the time was that the elections may have been ‘free for all’ but they were certainly not fair. As the manner in which they had been allowed to be held had caused polarization in East and West Pakistan — which was most dangerous, which eventually led - to the partition of the two wings of Pakistan - as feared by him.
In 1971, 1972 and 1973, at the request of a number of political parties of Islamic Ideological approach, he took to the public platform again in an effort to remind the people that any weakening of the foundations on which Pakistan was formed would endanger the very existence of Pakistan. He had been giving this warning throughout his tenure as Minister for Information and National Affairs, which had created a strong reaction against him from certain forces antagonistic to this approach. On the 17th of August, 1973, he was arrested under the Defence of Pakistan Rules for a statement which he made denouncing certain actions that he had thought unjust in connection with the removal of certain senior officers from the Armed Forces, and against politics being introduced into the Army under various pretexts. In June, 1974, he left for Europe for medical treatment; necessitated by denial of medical treatment to him while in¬carceration; and returned to the country after two and a half years, after the completion of the treatment. During that period he wrote his book ‘Soldering and Politics’ charging the Generals of playing politics in the Army and using it as their Consti¬tuency.
He is the author of the following books:
1. SARAB (Mirage), written in his spare time when at Sandhurst Military Academy, England in 1931-32.
2. UMEED (Hope), written during the World War II — in moments of lull and leisure.
3. LETTERS OF A COMMANDER TO HIS OFFICERS AND MEN (with a foreword by Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, the Supreme Commander of India and Pakistan) in which he had given a warning that came true the breakaway of East Pakistan from West Pakistan if attention was not given to the warning in the book.
4. SOLDERING AND POLITICS IN INDIA AND PAKISTAN again with a forward by Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck.
5. QUEST OF IDENTITY (The dilemma of the Muslims in India).
6. THE ELITE MINORITY (The Princes of India I knew). The account of how they came into being and how they disappeared without a whimper.
7. AUK IN INDIA, on the anvil.
His article Islam and Military Power which is included in his book Soldering and Politics was selected by the ‘Military Review’ Fort Leavenworth (the official Magazine of United States Army), distributed at Battalion level was selected to be the main article with Maps of the edition titled the Muslim World, November, 1979. He breathed his last on the 29th May, 2002 and his last resting place is Sohawa near Rawalpindi next to the tomb of Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori, the Sultan of Dehli.