Major Shabbir Sharif, NH
(6 Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army)
Pakistan Army launched an attack on India from the western front (West Pakistan) on 3 December 1971. The primary purpose of the attack was to force India on transferring their military strength in East Pakistan to the West, easing pressure on the East. While the Pakistani attack commenced in the localities of Azad Kashmir, Chamb, Sulemanki, the area inclusive and surrounding Shakargarh (Pakistan) and Rahim Yar Khan, was to be defended. During a defensive posture, the army in this area was supposed to facilitate the launch of the Army Reserves, a 5 Division strong section of the Pakistan Army which was commanded by Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan. Even at Sulemanki, two companies (100 men each) of 6 Frontier Force, one commanded by Major Shabbir Sharif, were initially supposed to make the attack by the Army Reserves possible by making sure that a certain obstacle was removed.
The obstacle was created by India to prevent Pakistani forces from penetrating into Indian territory. They had created an artificial ridge (small mountain), steep on the Pakistani side, but with a low inclination towards the Indian side. Result being that the Indians could get an aerial advantage over Pakistan. In front of the ridge on the Pakistani side, there was also a river dug up. There were only two bridges which were making any vehicular movement across the river/ridge possible and India was controlling them both. Inside the ridge there were camouflaged cemented bunkers which would enable the Indians to fire on any Pakistani troops. The ridge was called Saboona Ridge, and the bridge attacked was called Gurmakhera Bridge.
On 3rd Dec 1971, in a well-organised action, he along with his men fought valiantly and held Indian attack at bay. He cleared the Jhangar post with utmost courage by fearlessly passing through the minefield laid by enemy and swimming across ‘Sabuna distributary’, under intense enemy fire and led his company on high bund.:pakistan:
Digging of new bunkers, this time on the opposite side of the ridge than the one facing Pakistan also began simultaneously. It was at that time that an old man’s voice was heard from a distance. “We need to go back to Gurmakhera village. The Muslims have attacked Beriwala.” Shabbir went closer to the old man. The man could not recognize the Pakistani army uniform due to the darkness. He believed he was talking to an Indian soldier. “I brought my son’s barat (wedding procession) to Beriwala in the afternoon. The Muslims have captured the village. We had to run during the rukhsati (last ritual of the wedding).” “Don’t you know that there is a war going on?” Shabbir asked in Punjabi. “This is a silly time to have a wedding, that too when you are so close to the border.” “Please protect us. I have a whole procession with me here. Even the girl’s family is here. We need to get back to our village. The Muslims are coming in this direction.” Sharif decided not to waste time, or unnecessarily panic the old fellow. “We will take care of the Muslims. You hurry up and get all your people across. And listen to the radio more frequently for any important announcements.” He then called alerted all of his people manning the positions at the bridge that a wedding procession was going to be passing through, and there should be no fire on it. While the procession was crossing over the ridge, a soldier asked Sharif: “Sir. These people are legitimate POWs. Why are we letting them cross?” Shabbir smiled. “Have a heart soldier. This is the happiest day of their lives. Let’s not make them spend it inside a cell.
The enemy launched several counter attacks to take back their position but he proudly stood the ground and repulsed more than 15 attacks and inflicted heavy losses to the enemy. On the night 5/6 Dec during one of the attacks Major Shabbir Sharif jumped out of his trench, got hold of Indian Company Commander Major Narain Singh of 4 Jat Regiment and killed him single handedly in a hand to hand fight. Valuable information was obtained from the documents recovered from the pockets of Indian Major.
On the afternoon of 6 Dec 71 enemy launched yet another counter attack preceded by air strike and heavy artillery shelling, Major Shabbir Sharif took over the duty of the gunner from his crew and started firing on the enemy tanks. While this fight was on, one of the enemy tank fired at him which proved fatal and resulted into Shahadat of Major Shabbir Sharif. Thus Pakistan Army lost one of its outstanding young officer who fondly came to be known as ‘Superman’ by his colleagues and superiors alike.
He is the only person ever who received both the Sitara-e-Jurat and Nishan-e-Haider for his bravery.