Parachute) Brigade in Operation Venus, December 1948
v.1.0 April 7, 2002
Major A.H. Amin
Description of Operation Venus
At this stage, the Pakistani GHQ had conceived the Operation Venus. Venus was a thrust against the Indian line of communication leading to Poonch Valley with an infantry and a heavy tank brigade in Naushera-Beri Patan Area. At this stage, the Indians were involved in the relief of Poonch and Leh and strategically off balance. The official account of 1970 however maintains that the aim of Venus was not to severe the Indian line of communication to Poonch but merely to force the Indians for cease fire which they did and which came into effect on night 31 Dec 1948/01 January 1949. If cease-fire was the aim then the Pakistani strategy was barren since a cease-fire in July 1948 would have far more strategically desirable! This was so since in April 1948 Zojila (captured by Gilgit Scouts under Lt. Shah Khan) on 7th July 1948) the gateway to Srinagar as well as Ladakh in Pakistani hands, the frontline near Rajauri and Poonch surrounded by Pakistani troops/Irregulars.
It is not clear what the Pakistani GHQ advised the civilians at this stage but no records have been made public which prove that they gave any advice! In the 1960s General Fazal I Muqeem asserted that the cease-fire of 1948 took place to the army’s horror since the army was close to a great victory. However this point is refuted by the Pakistan Army’s Official account of 1970. Much later in 1976 General Sher Ali who was commanding a brigade of the Venus Force asserted that had the operation been launched Pakistani tanks would have been in Jammu within no time! This has to be taken with a pinch of salt once we compare it to the performance of armor in an offensive role in 1965 and 1971!
The Kashmir War ended with the Indians as masters of Poonch Valley, Srinagar Valley and Leh Valley but with a communication to all three valleys running precariously close to the Pakistani border! Thus, strategically the Indian position despite all their strategic triumphs was not secure since their line of communications offered multiple objectives to any single Pakistani thrust. One tank brigade with a twenty mile thrust could threaten the existence of a whole Indian army corps. The Indians took no care to remedy this state of affairs despite many war games held in their Kashmir Corps to show that the Pakistanis could threaten the Indian line of communication in Poonch Valley.
U>Pakistan 14th (Parachute) Brigade [Brig. Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan of Pataudi]
1/12 Frontier Force Rifles
5/13 Frontier Force Rifles
6/13 Frontier Force Rifles
B Company, 2/15 Punjab (Machine Gun)
A Company, 3/15 Punjab (Machine Gun)
10 PNG Battalion
11 Cavalry (PAVO)
4 Field Regiment
7 Field Regiment
One Battery, 3 SP Regiment
Section heavy AA Guns
In addition, all tribal forces and other volunteers operating un the area up to Line DUNGIDAL-SONA-CHAUKI-KALIALA-BHIMBHER were under this brigade’s operational command.
In early December the Indian army launched some local initiatives in the Poonch-Mendhar area. By 15 December, the Indian army dominated the main road from Mendhar to Kotli. Though these were only local actions, they triggered off Pakistani fears about a major Indian offensive. Liaquat sent a telegram to Attlee (on 8 December) alleging that Indian forces are making preparations for a further offensive. He called for an urgent Security Council decision to send military observers to the state and sought Attlee’s assistance to ‘avert the tragedy that is looming ahead.’
Pakistan’s military dispositions were described by the CK High Commission in Karachi, as follows:
For the first time Pakistan forces ... are so placed that they can deliver a blow ... against Indian lines of communication in Kashmir, splitting Indian Army and endangering the safety of a large part of it.
The planned counter-offensive, codenamed ‘Operation Venus’ envisaged a major artillery attack on the Indian line of communications in the Naoshera area. On 12 and 13 December, the Indian airforce bombed the Pakistani position at Palak, which lay behind Kotli. Pakistan responded on 14 December by launching ‘Operation Venus’. The bridge at Beri Pattan was badly damaged. Prime Minister Nehru, in a message to Attlee, hinted at a possible counter-attack.
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