|Frontier Force Regiment|
"Piffer" regimental badge and motto
|Active||1957 - present|
|Nickname||FF or Piffers|
|Motto||(Arabic: لبیک ) ("Here I am")|
|March||A Hundred Pipers|
|Engagements||Pak-Indo War 1965
Pak-Indo War 1971
Battle of Mogadishu (1993)
|General Musa Khan
General Abdul Waheed Kakar
The Frontier Force Regiment (popularly known as the "Piffers" or the "FF") is one of six Infantry regiments in the Pakistan Army. At present, the regiment consists of 52 battalions and has its regimental depot at Abbottabad in the North-West Frontier Province. For that reason Abbottabad is also known as Home of Piffers. Currently the regiment includes both mechanised and motorised infantry battalions. Other than these there are also some Armoured and Artillery battalions which were raised from the strength of Frontier Force or one of its predecessor regiments.
The Frontier Force Regiment is Pakistan's third oldest regiment after the Punjab and Baloch. The regiment was raised in 1957 through the amalgamation of three Pakistan Army regiments, all with their origins in two regiments which had been transferred to Pakistan from the British Indian Army at the time of the partition of India in 1947. These two regiments were the Frontier Force Regiment and the Frontier Force Rifles. The third component, the Pathan Regiment, had been raised after partition from elements of the former two. The merger took place when a major reorganisation of regiments was carried out in the Pakistan Army.
The FF battalions took active part not only in battles on Pakistan's borders but also served extensively overseas, in Saudi Arabia, and as part of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Somalia. In Somalia, some of the Piffer battalions also participated in the world renowned operations of Battle of Mogadishu (1993).  This battle history earned Piffers two Nishan-e-Haider, the highest gallantry award in Pakistan, and many other awards too.
The battalions are divided under independent formations and are commanded by their formation commander. The training and record keeping is done by the regimental depot, which is usually commanded by an officer of the rank Brigadier. The regiment's highest ranking officer is given the honorary title of "Colonel Commandant" and Colonel-in-Chief, if the highest ranking officer is the Chief of Army Staff.
The Frontier Force Regiment came into being in 1957 with the amalgamation of the Frontier Force Regiment, the Frontier Force Rifles and the Pathan Regiment, all of which had their origins in the British Indian Army. During the 1840s, after the first and second Anglo-Sikh Wars, Colonel Henry Lawrence, the agent and brother of the Governor-General of the Punjab frontier region (John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence) raised the Corps of Guides and a number of infantry regiments by incorporating veterans from disbanded opposition forces. During the early 1850s some of Lawrence's Sikh regiments were designated the "Punjab Irregular Force", giving rise to the "Piffer" nickname which the Regiment carries to the present day, and through a series of reorganisations that culminated in 1922, these units would eventually become the 12th Frontier Force Regiment and 13th Frontier Force Rifles. The use of the pre-fixing regimental numbers was discontinued in 1945, the two regiments becoming the Frontier Force Regiment and the Frontier Force Rifles, and both regiments were transferred to Pakistan by the United Kingdom in 1947, on the granting of independence to British India.
The Pathan Regiment was raised after partition from the 4th battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment and the 4th and 15th battalions of the Frontier Force Rifles. Initially the regimental depot was at Dera Ismail Khan but it relocated to Kohat in 1949 and was later merged into the Frontier Force Regiment with its regimental depot at Abbottabad. Fifteen of the modern Frontier Force Regiment's 52 battalions trace their origins back to British Indian Army units, as tabulated below.
|1st||6th bn Frontier Force Rifles; 59th Royal Scinde Rifles (Frontier Force)|
|2nd||5th bn Frontier Force Regiment; 1st bn QVO Corps of Guides (Frontier Force) Lumsden's Infantry|
|3rd||1st bn (PWO Sikhs) Frontier Force Regiment; 51st The Prince of Wales' Own Sikhs (Frontier Force)|
|4th||2nd bn (Sikhs) Frontier Force Regiment; 52nd Sikhs (Frontier Force)|
|5th||3rd Royal bn Sikhs Frontier Force Regiment; 53rd Sikhs (Frontier Force)|
|6th||4th bn (Sikhs) Frontier Force Regiment; 54th Sikhs (Frontier Force) (reraised in 1948)|
|7th||1st bn Frontier Force Rifles; 55th Coke's Rifles (Frontier Force)|
|8th||2nd Punjab Infantry, 2/13 Frontier Force Rifles, 56th Punjabi Rifles (Frontier Force), Commonly known as BHAIBANDS|
|9th||4th bn Frontier Force Rifles; 57th Wilde's Rifles (Frontier Force)|
|10th||5th bn Frontier Force Rifles; 58th Vaughan's Rifles (Frontier Force)|
|11th||1st bn Pathan Regiment; 4th bn Frontier Force Regiment; 54th Sikhs (Frontier Force)|
|12th||3rd bn Pathan Regiment; 15th bn Frontier Force Rifles|
|13th||8th bn Frontier Force Regiment|
|14th||9th bn Frontier Force Regiment[A]|
|15th||2nd bn Pathan Regiment; 4th bn Frontier Force Rifles; 57th Wilde's Rifles|
|Note: The 10th (Training) battalion of the original Frontier Force Regiment (originally raised as 2nd battalion QVO Corps of Guides during World War I) became the Regimental Centre of the new merged regiment.
A At the end of World War II the war-raised 9th battalion, instead of being disbanded, was used to re-form the 2nd Battalion (Sikhs) Frontier Force Regiment which had been annihilated in Malaya during the war. On 1 October 1948 a new 9th battalion was raised and it was this unit which was to become the 14th battalion of the merged regiment.
At present the Frontier Force Regiment musters 52 infantry battalions, some of which are mechanised or motorised with the remainder known colloquially as "foot infantry". Each battalion is subdivided into four companies, normally named Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta. The regiment also includes armoured and artillery units, established from among its strength. All Piffer battalions serve alongside other Pakistan Army units in mixed formations; operational control resides with the appropriate brigade, whereas administrative control remains with the Frontier Force regimental depot. The regiment recruits mostly from the Pashtun tribes of the North-West Frontier Province, and is often called a Pashtun Regiment, although officers and other ranks from all over Pakistan have served and continue to serve in the regiment. Prior to 2000, the Piffers had been standardised to include equal numbers of Pashtuns and Punjabis in its non-officer ranks, but in 2000, this composition was amended to include 10% Sindhis and 5% Balochis, reducing the quota of Punjabis to 35%. This measure was intended to diminish segregation within the Army.
The regiment is currently based in the North-West Frontier Province city of Abbottabad, which also houses the depots of the Baloch Regiment and the Army Medical Corps. The city was originally the headquarters of the Frontier Force Rifles prior to their merger with the Frontier Force Regiment and the Pathan Regiment (then based at Sialkot and Kohat respectively). The Abbottabad depot is responsible for the regiment's basic recruit training, and since 1981 has housed the Piffer Museum, which records the Piffer's regimental history. The museum's collection includes medals, weapons, dress and insignia, portraits and flags, history books, albums, paintings, cutlery and musical instruments. Abbottabad is also home to the Piffer Memorial, a 28 feet (8.5 m) tall obelisk built of sandstone known as Yadgar-e-Shuhada. This was originally erected at Kohat in 1924, but in 1964 was moved to Abbottabad on the instructions of General Muhammad Musa, the then Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army. It was unveiled in Abbottabad in April 1965. A Roll of Honour is displayed around the memorial on plates, and wreath-laying ceremonies are held on important national days and by visitors. A replica of the memorial was built at its original location at Kohat in 2001.
Since Partition in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three major wars and one minor war, and have been involved in an ongoing conflict since 1984. The casus belli for all these is the dispute between the two countries over the status of the state of Kashmir.
Concerned by what it saw as Indian attempts to absorb the disputed region of Kashmir, in 1965 Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar to forment a popular uprising against Indian control in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the operation did not produce the hoped-for results, and following a period of escalating clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops and irregulars from April to September, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 began. Also known as the Second Kashmir War (the first having been fought in 1947), the five-week conflict led to territorial gains and losses, and caused thousands of casualties, on both sides, before ending in a United Nations mandated ceasefire.
Frontier Force armoured, artillery and infantry units were present in all sectors, including Kashmir, Chhamb, Sialkot, Lahore, Kasur-Khemkaran and Rajisthan. All three Piffer armoured regiments gave a good account of themselves in the Sialkot sector, and the 11th Cavalry also saw action in Chhamb. The 1st SP Field Artillery provided fire support in the battle of Chawinda, losing their commanding officer in the process—the unit was subsequently awarded red collar-piping in recognition of their performance. The 6th and 12th FF were involved in the advance on the Chhamb-Jaurian-Akhnur axis, and the 6th FF also fought in the Sialkot sector, along with the Guides Cavalry, the 11th Cavalry, and the 3rd, 4th, 9th, 13th and 14th FF. The 7th, 11th, 15th and 16th FF took part in the defence of Lahore; the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 10th FF took part in the capture of Khem Karan in the Kasur Sector, and the 8th and 18th FF made significant gains in the Rajhistan Sector. Some fighting continued after the ceasefire, and two months later in the Rajhistan Sector, the 23rd FF re-captured the Sadhewala Post.
In 1971, following a divisive election result, civil war broke out in the former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) between the West Pakistani administrative authorities and the majority local population. India, to where many of East Pakistan's exiled political leaders and refugees from the fighting had fled, provided support for the dissidents including arming and training a Bangladeshi irregular force (the Mukti Bahini). To relieve pressure on their forces in the east, in December 1971 Pakistani forces launched a pre-emptive attack on India from the west, which was only partially successful and met with massive retaliation. Fighting on two fronts, Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire after the surrender of her forces in the east and territorial losses in the west (later ceded back to Pakistan following the 1972 Simla Agreement).
Piffer units fought in both east and west. The 31st FF was raised in November 1971, as Pakistan's first national service battalion. It was deployed at Lahore and in the Khemkaran Sector. In East Pakistan, the 4th FF was present at the Battle of Hilli, where it held its position until ordered out. Major Muhammad Akram of the 4th FF was posthumously awarded Pakistan's highest award for gallantry, the Nishan-e-Haider. Other units which operated from East Pakistan were the 12th, 13th, 15th, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 30th and 38th FF. They became prisoners of war once Dhakka fell in December 1971.
In West Pakistan, the 11th Cavalry saw heavy fighting in the Chhamb sector. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 17th and 33rd FF operated in the Kashmir sector, and in the Sialkot sector, the 19th, 23rd, 27th, 29th, 35th and 37th FF took part in fighting. An Indian commander, Lieutenant-Colonel V P Airy, of the 3rd Grenadier Guards said of the 35th FF: "35 FF's attack won their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Akram Raja, a posthumous Hilal-e-Jurat, with the highest compliment a gallant soldier could receive". The 8th and 18th FF fought on the Lahore front. In the Sulemanki sector, the 6th FF gained fame when it captured the Gurmukh Khera Bridge on Sabuna Drain. Major Shabbir Sharif, a holder of the Sitara-e-Jurat from the 1965 conflict, was awarded a posthumous Nishan-e-Haider. The 36th FF also fought in the Sulemanki sector, and the 20th, 21st, and 39th FF saw action in the Rajhisthan sector.
As a result of a vague demarcation of territory in the 1972 Simla Accord, both Pakistan and India lay claim to the Siachen Glacier, which lies in the eastern Karakorum mountain range at altitudes of up to 18,875 feet (5,753 m). Following a period of tension, in April 1984 the Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot with the aim of capturing the glacier. Pakistan responded in kind, but Indian troops had already occupied the major mountain passes west of the glacier and captured many strategic points. Both countries established military posts, and from 1984 until 2003, intermittent fighting took place. The conflict is remarkable for the harsh conditions under which it was fought—on average, one Pakistani soldier died every fourth day, and one Indian soldier every second day, with most of the casualties caused by the severe climate.
A number of Piffer units were deployed to the world's highest battleground, including the 3rd, 4th, 8th, 24th, 26th, 28th, 31st, 36th, 38th, 39th and 47th FF. In addition, some Northern Light Infantry Battalions, who were the first to arrive, were led by Piffer officers. Frontier Force casualties in the conflict include three officers, two junior commissioned officers, and 81 other ranks killed in action.
The town and district of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir lies on the Line of Control (LOC), the de facto border between Pakistan and India in the Kashmir region. In May 1999 elements in the Military of Pakistan covertly trained and sent troops and paramilitary forces into Indian territory. The aim was to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh, and cause Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, thus forcing India to negotiate a settlement of the broader Kashmir dispute. The Kargil Conflict was triggered when Pakistan occupied around 130 Indian observation posts on the Indian side of the LOC. As India responded, regular Pakistan army units were called up.
The 19th, 33rd, 38th and 44th FF battalions, and some Piffer officers serving in Northern Light Infantry battalions, participated in the conflict. In total four officers and twenty four other ranks were killed in action. The war ended after the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, agreed to call the troops back on July 4, 1999, after meeting with U.S President Bill Clinton.
The Frontier Force Regiment has served outside Pakistan in various multinational and peacekeeping roles. From 1981 to 1988, the Piffer's mechanised infantry battalions were stationed at Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, as part of a Pakistani armoured brigade allocated for the defence of the Islamic holy land. However, the brigade was withdrawn after the Government of Pakistan was unable to accede to a Saudi request that only Sunnis be included in the troops sent to their land. According to the then President of Pakistan, General Zia-ul-Haq, there was no discrimination in the Pakistan Armed Forces.
Pakistan formed part of the multinational coalition force that participated in the 1991 Gulf War. Deploying up to 5,500 troops in a strictly defensive role, the Pakistani contingent included the 63rd FF battalion, which was stationed at Tabuk and Arar until the cessation of hostilities. The early 1990s also saw Pakistan's increased participation in UN peacekeeping operations. In 1992, the 7th FF battalion spearheaded the UN military mission to Somalia. The US Marine landing on Mogadishu beach was in an area secured by the 7th FF, and the 5th, 8th and 15th FF were also deployed to the region. On October 3, 1993, the 15th FF's Quick Reaction Force participated in the Pakistani-led rescue operation of a force of US Rangers that had become pinned down in Mogadishu; contrary to the fictionalised depiction of events in the movie Black Hawk Down, a number of Rangers were taken to safety in the 15th's armoured personnel carriers.
The Colonel Commandant is the highest ranked officer in service of the regiment. The Colonel Commandants since the creation of the regiment are listed below:
|Serial Number||Name||Decorations||Term of Appointment||Unit|
|1||Major General Mian Hayaud Din||HJ, MBE, MC.||May 8, 1954 - May 6, 1956||6 FF & 14 FF|
|2||Lieutenant General Khalid Masud Sheikh.||HI (M)||October 1, 1957 - June 30, 1962||13 FF|
|3||General Muhammad Musa Khan||HJ, HPk, HQA, MBE||October 1, 1962 - February 5, 1965||1 FF|
|4||Lieutenant General Altaf Qadir||MBE||February 6, 1965 - August 27, 1969||6 FF|
|5||Lieutenant General Attiqur Rahman||HPk, HQA, MC||August 28, 1969 - November 19, 1973||6 FF|
|6||General Muhammad Iqbal Khan||NI (M), HI (M), SBt||August 21, 1978 - March 17, 1985||2 FF|
|7||Lieutenant General Khushdil Khan Afridi||HI (M), SBt||March 18, 1985 - January 6, 1986||10 FF, 12 FF & 18 FF|
|8||Lieutenant General Ahmed Kamal Khan||HI (M), SI (M), SBt||May 24, 1987 - May 23, 1991||10 FF|
|9||Lieutenant General Imran Ullah Khan||HI (M), SI (M), SBt||May 24, 1991 - May 22, 1995||5 FF & 40 FF|
|10||Lieutenant General Mumtaz Gul||HI (M), TBt||May 23, 1995 - April 24, 1999||2 FF, 3 FF & 19 FF|
|11||Lieutenant General Tahir Ali Qureshi||HI (M), SBt||May 10, 1999 - May 16, 2001||13 FF|
|12||Lieutenant General Mushtaq Hussain||HI (M)||May 17, 2001 -||4 FF|
|13||Lieutenant General Munir Hafiez||HI (M)||7 FF|
|14||Lieutenant General Syed Sabahat Hussain||HI (M)||2 FF|
Piffers have won many honours for their gallantry deeds in each battle. They were also awarded foreign medals before the partition of Pakistan, including Victoria Cross. The Pakistani medals and honours bestowed upon Piffers are listed here:
Nishan-e-Haider is the highest military award given posthumously for valour, in Pakistan. The recipients of Nishan-e-Haider from the Frontier Force Regiment are:
When the Indo-Pak War of 1971 broke out, Major Muhammad Akram was commanding a company of 4th FF battalion. His company was involved in the Battle of Hilli. On the opposite side India had an Infantry brigade with the support of a tank squadron which were making way for the 20th Mountain Division. Major Akram and his men fought for a whole fortnight against enemy who was superior both in number and fire power. Hilli was the only battle sector where the fight continued even after the Fall of Dhaka on December 16, 1971. Major Akram died in action while defending in an epic manner after defying surrender. For his sacrifice he was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider.
On December 3, 1971, Major Shabbir Sharif who was commanding a company of 6th FF Regiment near Sulemanki headworks, was assigned the task of capturing the high ground overlooking the Gurmukh Khera and Beriwala villages in the Sulemanki sector. On the opposite side India had more than a company of the Assam Regiment which was supported by a squadron of tanks. Also among the hurdles were an enemy minefield and a defensive canal, 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 10 feet (3.0 m) deep. Shabbir Sharif succeeded in capturing the area by early evening on December 3. In this fight 43 Indian soldiers were killed, 28 were taken prisoner and four tanks were destroyed. Shabbir Sharif repelled repeated counter attacks by the opposing forces for the next three days and nights and kept strategically better position, holding two Indian battalions at bay. On the night between December 5 and December 6, during one of the enemy attacks, Sharif hopped out of his trench, killed the enemy Company Commander of 4th Jat Regiment and recovered important documents from his possession. In another attack on the morning of December 6, Shabbir Sharif took over an anti tank gun from his gunner, and while engaging enemy tanks, he was killed in action by a direct hit from a tank. Major Shabbir Sharif already a recipient of Sitara-e-Jurat, was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider for his sacrifice.
Hilal-e-Jurat is the second highest military award given for valor to Armed forces personnel of Pakistan. Piffers who received Hilal-e-Jurat are:
The Victoria Cross is the highest battle order of Britain, awarded for valour. As the Frontier Force regiment still maintains the lineage of its predecessor regiments, so this award was received by following Piffers:
The Military Cross is the third highest battle honour of United Kingdom/Britain, awarded for valour. As the Frontier Force regiment still maintains the lineage of its predecessor regiments, so this award was received by following Piffers:
Commandeur, the 3rd highest of 5 classes of the Légion d'honneur was awarded by the Republic of France for securing areas of Indo-China in 1946, to the only Piffer to have received this distinction:
This is the highest military decoration that may be bestowed by the US Government upon a foreign national. Piffers who received the Legion of Merit are:
This is the fourth highest award in the Order of the British Empire. Piffers who received the MBE Military are:
The motto of the regiment is Labbaik, an Arabic word, which means Here I Come. It is commonly used in an invocation to respond to Allah's call for pilgrimage during Hajj, the annual Muslims pilgrimage. Before 1970, each Piffer unit had its own motto but on the whole regiment had no motto, so it was decided at the Piffer Conference in 1970 to adopt Labbaik as regimental motto. The official meaning of this motto is
—making all preparations required for going to battle, and putting ones heart and soul into the endeavour, aimed at achieving the assigned mission.
Piffers have the same Khaki uniform as in the other regiments of Pakistan Army, except their rank colour which is black with red background and a badge with FF Regiment written on it having the same colour combination, on the shoulder strap. Also the colour of beret of Piffers is rifle green with the insignia of the regiment at front. Piffers use Sam Browne Belt, designed by General Sir Sam Browne which is black in colour. The Battle Dress of the regiment is camouflage with same changes as are in the Khaki uniform.