An Officer and a Gentleman

(28 February 1932 – 19 December 1995)

Lieutenant General Shams ur Rehman Kallue was born on 28th February 1932 in Lahore. He belonged to the Kallue clan of the Awan tribe. This clan inhabits Isa Khel tehsil of Mianwali district in Punjab. He belonged to a military family with several generations connection with the army. His grandfather Risaldar Major Abdul Rehman served with 15th Lancers during the First World War. For his distinguished services and devotion to duty he was awarded the Order of British India (OBI). Abdul Rehman’s father and grandfather had also served in the Indian army. His son Fazal ur Rehman (F.R.) Kallue graduated from Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1927. He was commissioned in 5th Battalion of 5th Marhatta Light Infantry (MLI). F.R. Kallue later transferred to 5th Battalion of the 8th Punjab Regiment. In March 1947, he became the first Indian Commanding Officer (CO) of 5th Battalion of the 8th Punjab Regiment. He brought 5/8th Punjab from Phulgaon in Central Provinces to Tal. Class composition of the battalion was fifty percent Punjabi Muslims (PM), twenty five percent Sikhs and twenty five percent Gujars. In September 1947, Sikhs and Gujars left for India and the battalion later received Hindustani Muslim (HM) companies of 2/4th and 4/4th Bombay Grenadiers. 5/8th Punjab became 5 Baloch in the 1956 re-organization of the Pakistan Army. F. R. Kallue’s Pakistan Army (PA) number was 5. He also served as president of the Inter Services Selection Board (ISSB) and Military Secretary (MS) at General Headquarters (GHQ). Brigadier F. R. Kallue’s only daughter was married to a first cousin; Lieutenant Colonel Qudratullah Khan. Qudratullah served with the family battalion 5 Baloch and later commanded 27 Baloch. Colonel Qudratullah’s only son, Major Muhammad Nauman, joined the other family regiment, Probyn’s Horse, in 1988, to become the sixth generation to answer the call to arms.

Shams ur Rehman Kallue was the only surviving son of Brigadier F. R. Kallue. He attended Doon’s School, Dhera Doon from where he completed his senior Cambridge. He then joined Gordon College in Rawalpindi. His father wanted him to become an engineer and Kallue himself was not serious about joining the army. He went to the selection board to give company to his friends and in the process was also selected in the final test. He joined 5th Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) long course and was commissioned in 1951 with PA number 3903. He joined famous Probyn’s Horse on 25th February 1952 while the Regiment was stationed at Risalpur. During his career, he served as Brigade Major (BM) of 4 Armoured Brigade and company (Khalid) commander at the PMA. He took over command of Probyn’s Horse from Colonel Aga Javed Iqbal on 2nd May 1969 at Multan. He handed over Regiment’s command to Lieutenant Colonel Ali Gohar on 15th February 1971 and was posted General Staff Officer Grade-I, 1 Armoured Division. Circumstances had Colonel Ali Gohar posted out on 7th April 1972 and Kallue returned to command as a stop gap measure while the Regiment was still out in the field after the 1971 India-Pakistan war. He remained in command till 15th July 1972 when he handed over to Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier) Shamim Yasin Manto. He was then posted back to 1 Armoured Division on promotion as colonel staff. He was promoted brigadier on 10th July 1973 and posted to command an armoured brigade in Multan. He later also commanded an independent armoured brigade group in Malir. After completing the Armed Forces War Course, he was posted to 28 Brigade on 13th June 1976 but that was to be a very brief tenure as he was promoted Major General on 20th July 1976 and appointed GOC 23 Division where he remained in command for nearly four years.

On 8th July 1980 he was posted as Chairman Logistics Committee in Supply and Transport Directorate at GHQ. This was only a paper posting as his main task was to negotiate stationing of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia. In the aftermath of the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by extremists, Saudi Arabia was looking for foreign troops from a Muslim country to address its internal security dilemma. Pakistan sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to listen to Saudi requirements. The delegation consisted of Chief of Staff (COS) to President General Ziaul Haq, Lieutenant General (later General) Khalid Mahmud Arif, Secretary Defence Lieutenant General Ghulam Jilani, Foreign Secretary Agha Shahi and Finance Minister Ghulam Ishaq Khan. On return, the delegation recommended to General Zia ul Haq that Pakistan should only send advisors and trainers, but no combat troops should be sent to Saudi Arabia as this will complicate Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia’s neighbors. Zia overruled and agreed to deployment of a large Pakistani contingent.

Saudi Arabia was looking at this contingent from mainly internal security point of view and they wanted operational and administrative control of the contingent. Kallue was of the view that a Pakistani officer should be the overall commander of the Pakistani force and on this issue he did not go to Riyadh. In 1982, a formal agreement was signed and Saudi Pakistan Armed Forces Organization (SPAFO) headquarters was established at Riyadh. Pakistani troops were stationed at different locations in the kingdom and numbered about 17,000. Major General (later Lieutenant General) Ahmad Kamal went as Pakistan Army Officer (PAO) for the headquarters. He was followed by Major General (later Lieutenant General) Mian Muhammad Afzaal.

An enlarged armoured brigade consisting of three armoured regiments, one armoured infantry battalion, one artillery regiment and other supporting elements was stationed at Tabuk. The first commander of this armoured brigade was Brigadier (later Major General) Mehboob Alam who commanded from 1982-85, followed by Brigadier (later General and Chief of the Army Staff) Jahangir Karamat who commanded from 1985-88. An anti-air craft regiment as well as an artillery regiment were stationed at Khamis Mushayet while technical and EME elements were stationed at Taif. In addition, trainers from the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy were also stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Kallue was promoted Lieutenant General on 27th June 1982 and was posted to command 1 Corps at Mangla. Kallue’s good friend and regimental buddy, Major General Shah Rafi Alam, was officiating commander of 1 Corps Mangla. They were from the same PMA course, commissioned in 5 Probyn’s Horse and used the same initials. S. R. Kallue was promoted superseding Shah Rafi Alam and took over Mangla Corps from him. Kallue retired from service on 26th June 1986. He was the Colonel Commandant of the Remount Veterinary and Farms Corps from 19th May 1985 to 26th June 1987.

In 1988, when Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister, she chose Kallue to head the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In dealing with military issues, Benazir relied on the advice of her father’s military secretary, Major General Imtiaz Ahmed and Major General Naseerullah Khan Babar. There was friction between Benazir and the Army Chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg. Kallue was appointed without the consent of the army chief, therefore, he did not get full support from his own organization. Kallue was put in an impossible position, where Benazir wanted him to be her ears and eyes as far as army brass was concerned, while the army chief wanted him to be loyal to his own institution, so that Benazir could be kept on a very tight leash. Kallue could not do both, therefore, he was not effective as DGISI. In addition, many senior officers resented the fact that a retired officer had taken an important slot which should have gone to a serving officer. In 1990, when Bhutto government was dismissed, Kallue was also removed. Major General (later Lieutenant General) Asad Durrani, then serving as Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI), was asked by Beg to also take over ISI. Durrani requested a formal farewell but Kallue declined. Another interesting fact is that Lieutenant General Hamid Gul as Lieutenant Colonel commanded 19th Lancers while Lieutenant General Asad Durrani as a Lieutenant Colonel commanded 39 Field Regiment in 23 Division when Kallue was GOC. Kallue took over the ISI from Hamid Gul and handed over to Asad Durrani.

Kallue was a hard task master when it came to training, but a compassionate mentor with his subordinates. He understood basic principles of training junior officers and combined firmness with compassion. When some young officers got into trouble for their indiscretions, he acted like a shield to save them, with his philosophical observation that, “so long as it is not moral deprivation, exploits of young blood need to be ignored, as one cannot expect them to be tigers in war, but pussy cats in peace”.

Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Hassan Safdar of 12th Cavalry, worked with Kallue, when the latter was assigned the task of selecting a suitable piece of land for the construction of Armoured Corps Officers’ Mess in Rawalpindi. Safdar, then commanding President’s Body Guard (PBG) in Rawalpindi, was ordered to assist Kallue. Safdar found him to be highly capable, responsible and a hard-task master. Lieutenant General S. M. Amjad who served as adjutant of 5 Probyn’s Horse when Kallue was Commanding Officer (CO) found him a hard task master but patient. Amjad kept under the glass of his desk his commanding officer’s words, “if you do not want to let yourself down, make sure you consider all aspects bearing upon the problem at hand”. Amjad remembers an incident and a lesson about command. Kallue made a decision which was not strictly conforming to the rules. Amjad had flagged all the requisite rules on the subject and he pointed out to Kallue that his decision was not in keeping with the rules. Kallue listened patiently and then said, “Amjad, if the books were enough, you and I could pack up and go home and the clerks could run the Regiment. They know the rules and regulations much better than us”. The young officer had learned an object lesson in command.

Brigadier Yasub Ali Dogar who commanded a battalion (32 FF) in 23 Division, when Kallue was GOC, thinks of him as, “one of the finest leaders of men in the Pakistan Army” and considers Kallue as one of three top trainers of men. The other two are Lieutenant General Sher Bahadur and Lieutenant General Shah Rafi Alam. Lieutenant General Asad Durrani who also commanded an artillery unit under Kallue remembers him as “an extra-ordinary GOC, professional performance his only requirement, no frills, and any attempt to bluff one’s way with him was the ultimate sin”. Brigadier Muhammad Anwar Khan, who commanded an artillery regiment under Kallue, is of the view that Kallue was one of very few generals, ‘who would have the guts to hear arguments contrary to his orders or thinking’. Anwar found him fully in control of his command and ‘familiar with every inch of the operational area’.

Kallue belonged to the generation of officers who considered the regiment as their home. He was emotionally attached to his regiment and its officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Other Ranks (ORs). He kept a close watch on the careers of young officers of the Regiment. He remained a bachelor and his time and assets were dedicated to his Regiment. When he was asked why he was not married, he responded, “I am married, to the profession”.

Lieutenant General S. M. Amjad remembers an incident where Kallue acted more like a father rather than CO to his junior officers. In the summer of 1969, during training, Captain (later lieutenant colonel) Sajjad Saleem’s jeep fell into a blind well and his left hand got crushed under the hinges of the wind screen. Kallue rushed him first to the advance dressing station and then to the Combined Military Hospital. The CO ensured that at least one officer stayed with Sajjad, round the clock, to help him with his ‘daily chores’ as the CO did not want the medical orderlies to do these for Sajjad. The CO also ensured that Sajjad’s parents and other family members, when visiting him, remained guests at the officers’ mess.

He was generous and magnanimous. In 1973, then Colonel Kallue was Colonel Staff 1 Armoured Division in Multan and owned a Vespa scooter. This scooter was mostly seen in the mess and bachelor officers’ quarters of Probyn’s Horse. The only time it was seen in Kallue’s house was when it needed repairs or a gas fill. Brigadier Asad Ali Khan remembers an incident when he was a second lieutenant and Kallue was commanding the Regiment. Asad was to go on short leave. He set the date of leave to start from 2nd June so that he could get his pay. A few days before the leave was to commence the adjutant asked if he wanted a ride, to Sahiwal, with the CO in his jeep. Asad told the adjutant about his pay dilemma and Kallue arranged for the money. Shortly thereafter, Kallue was posted out and Asad put Rupees 500 in an envelope and gave it to the new CO, who was heading for a meeting, with the request that it be given to Kallue. A month later, Asad met Kallue at a regimental dinner. After dinner, Kallue took him outside the marquee, got the same envelope out of his pocket, and with a gentle slap to his cheek, returned the money, with a warning to the young officer never to do such a thing again.

Kallue was a thorough professional who disliked publicity and talked very little. He is one of a handful of senior officers who did not own any plot or house. The residential plot that was given to him during his service was given to the needy fellow soldiers. He rented half portion of a house from a fellow officer, where he lived with his mother. Colonel Maqsood Ali Khan remembers his down to earth manners. When Kallue was head of the powerful ISI, he would often go to Maqsood’s house in Abbottabad just to relax. Maqsood remembers that after lunch, Kallue would lie down on the carpet for an afternoon nap. Kallue was from the old school of thought, upbringing and training, who devoted his entire life in the pursuit of professionalism. He was one of the most respected and professionally dedicated officers of the Pakistan Army.

“A general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing the disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service to his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom”. Sun Tzu.

written by Hamid Hussain


  1. As far as I know, SRK, was not born in Lahore. I think he was born in Quetta. Maybe Nauman would like to correct me.

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