Field Marshal Sam Hormuzji Framji Jamsetji Manekshaw (1914–2008) is one of the most famous figures in Indian military history. The film ‘Sam Bahadur’ based on the life of Sam Manekshaw has been released in theatres.
Known for his courage and humor, Manekshaw had a military career spanning nearly four decades. During that time he participated in five wars. From World War II to the 1971 war against Pakistan, he led the Indian Army to decisive victories. However, if Manekshaw had decided to choose Pakistan in 1947, history could have been different. Here we find out the story of the same decision:
Only land was not distributed in 1947
In 1947, not only land was divided between India and Pakistan, everything from railways to government treasury, civil services to government property, even chairs and tables were divided.
The British Indian Army, consisting of approximately 400,000 soldiers, was also divided in 1947. All military assets and native personnel were divided between the two countries. About 260,000 soldiers arrived in India. Some went to Pakistan. Like other events in 1947, this too proved to be a complex and violent process. Army units were divided along religious lines.
Sam Manekshaw has the option to choose the country
Not all army officers have a choice of country. Historian Brian Lapping End of Empire (1985) wrote, “Some officials received a form to indicate their preference. Most Hindus and Sikhs, however, had no choice. They would not go to Pakistan. But Muslims were given this choice, because because their The houses are in India … India chose to be a secular country, so there is a need for a secular army in the country. Those who are confident about secularism in India, chose India. Christian and Parsi soldiers have the same option”
Sam Manekshaw was a Major at that time. He was a Parsi born in Amritsar. Although his family was originally from Bombay (now Mumbai). He spent his childhood in the city of Amritsar before being sent to Nainital to study at Sherwood College. The core unit of SAMA was the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, which went to the Pakistani Army during partition. Thus Manekshaw was faced with a choice.
Manekshaw rejected Jinnah’s offer
In fact, Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah himself asked Manekshaw to join the Pakistani Army. However, it was good for India that Manekshaw rejected Jinnah’s offer. Hanadi Falki wrote the biography of Sam Bahadur under the name ‘Field Marshal Manekshaw’. A statement by Colonel Teja Singh Aulakh (then a Major) appears in this biography. He said, “If Sam Manekshaw had accepted Jinnah’s offer, he would have got a faster promotion in the Pakistan Army, but he chose to stay in India.”
A large part of the top leadership of the British Indian Army consisted of British officers. So in 1947 there was a vacancy in high army positions in India and Pakistan. The problem is even more for Pakistan because apart from the British, most of the British Indian Army officers are Hindus or Sikhs, who are part of India. As a result, the ranks of young officers in Pakistan are expanding rapidly.
In independent India, Manekshaw was first transferred to the 16th Punjab Regiment for a short time. Later transferred to 5th Gorkha Rifles as Lieutenant Colonel. However, he was unable to work with the Gorkha troops as he had to handle the responsibility of the Army Headquarters during the Kashmir War of 1947-48. He got the job of directing military operations.
Field Marshal Manekshaw was once questioned about his decision in 1947 after his retirement. He jokingly said, “Jinnah asked me to join the Pakistan Army in 1947. If I had done it, your India would have lost (the 1971 war).”