In celebration of the memory of those who laid their lives so that we may live, this special day is a tribute to the indomitable will, stoic courage and an overwhelming love of the nation that resonates in their heart which leads to a secure and peaceful Pakistan for us to dwell in. Deriving their military virtue from the true spirit of an Islamic ideology, the Pakistan armed forces have always sacrificed their best of men in keeping intact the sovereignty of the Motherland as its soil contains as an unforgettable and primary constituent the blood of its martyrs who have fearlessly confronted the enemy and crushed their nefarious designs while guarding their land with their most precious possessions, their lives.
History has seen how the soldiers of the Pak army have risen to their towering heights to defend their borders, their land, their deserts, their fertile and rich plains, their water and resources against severe enemy aggression as our heroes succeeded to stop the opponents not allowing them to touch and advance on even an inch of the country, a duty that, the world witnesses, they perform with a complete unwavering faith and courage while attaining immortality as it is stated in the Qur’an “And do not call those who die in the way of Allah as “Dead”, no they are living, only you do not see them. (2:154). The arrival of coffins of our ‘shuhadas’ received by solemn faced colleagues , despite being wrapped in green and white stirring a sentiment of pride and honor, shows the lifeless form of those who had once been the source of utter joy for their loved ones and the vivacious presence of whom was for some, the only reason to be. The immense sorrow displayed by the funeral prayers in muted silence, wreaths of eternally fragrant flowers that accompany them as the comrades and fellow officers bid them the final farewell. Life, unaffected by its grotesque and brutal realms goes on as the people progressively become engrossed in the mundane, day to day rituals. Other sacrifices, however, are equally important while less dramatic do not have a long term and such drastic after effects on the lives of those involved.
No one can, in their pursuits stop and consider the anguish and mental torment endured by the wives, children and parents of those who have been martyred or even the hundreds and thousands of others who wonder everyday if their dear ones would be the next? Uttering a few words of sympathy does not wash away the miseries as none can understand the full measure of what they have been and are still suffering while fighting a never ending battle at the home front as the smooth sailing life boat loses balance and becomes retarded. Millions of such episodes have been witnessed and been forgotten as we move forward.
Therefore, to salute the soldiers of Pakistan Army who fought showing bravery and courage and gave their lives for our great country have been awarded the highest military honor the Nishaan-e-Haider to those who embraced shahadat in the most heroic manner while inflicting heavy damage to the adversary in times of war and battles fought on borders. At the age of 38, soon after the birth of Pakistan, during the Kashmir operations in 1948, as Company Commander in the 2nd Battalion of the Punjab Regiment, Captain Sarwar became a worthy recipient of this military award after he launched an attack causing heavy casualties against a strongly fortified enemy position in the Uri Sector under heavy machine-gun, grenade and mortar fire, while moving forward with six of his men to cut their way through barbed wires and barriers, he died when his chest was riddled by a burst of automatic fire.
This episode is just the beginning as Pakistan had been involved in three major wars with India and various other battles that have taken the precious lives of these valiant sons of proud and courageous mothers who play a colossal role in the survival of the nation and have to be saluted by the entire nation that has lent stature and tallness to the nation enabling it to propel forward.
The Indo-Pakistani conflict in 1965 was fought over Kashmir and started without a formal declaration of war. The war began on August 5, the initial battles between India and Pakistan were contained within Kashmir involving both infantry and armor units with each country’s air force playing major roles while the largest engagement of the war occurred in the Sialkot region. Pakistan’s army had been able to withstand Indian pressure, but suffered great loses of some 3000 troops as our soldiers proved their abilities as one Pakistani soldier was equal to four Indian soldiers at that time.
A glorious and cherished example of the fact is the heroic martyrdom of the very famous Major Aziz Bhatti, who had been awarded the sword of honor as a cadet carried out his duty towards the nation with unconquerable professionalism and dedication an example of which can eloquently be explained by an incident occurring a day before his death, in which his commanding officer had sent to him word that since he had been fighting untiringly for the last six days, he should take a little rest and that another officer was being sent to replace him. Major Aziz brimming with battle spirit and the will for martyrdom declined the offer to go back and fought till the last drop of his blood was shed for his beloved homeland. As the company commander, Major Bhatti chose to move his platoon forward under constant firing from Indian tanks and artillery. He resisted for five days and nights defending a Pakistani outpost on the strategic BRB canal. On 11 September, he was reorganizing his company and directing the gunners to shell the enemy positions. In order to watch every move of the enemy, he had to place himself in an elevated position, where he was exposed to enemy fire. He led his men from the front under constant attack from Indian Artillery batteries. Although he countered every Indian offensive in his area, he was hit by an enemy tank shell in the chest while watching the enemy’s moves, and thus dying instantly. His death struck many hard and is remembered by his countrymen and was awarded Nishaan-e-Haider for his utmost commitment and determination.
The youngest recipient of Nishan-e-Haider, Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas, while still under training, was taxiing for take-off on a routine flight on August 20, 1971 when an Instructor Pilot forced his way into the rear cockpit, seized control of the aircraft and took off. Keeping his wits together, Minhas realized that the intruding pilot was heading towards India, he tried to regain control of the aircraft but could not manage it against the superior skill and experience of the seasoned instructor. With only forty miles to go to cross over into Indian territory, he made yet another effort to steer the aircraft back to the base. Realizing the futility of the struggle, he so interfered with the controls as to render the Instructor Pilot helpless and force the aircraft to crash 32 miles short of the border, knowing that it meant certain death. For the supreme sacrifice that he made for the honor of his country, Pilot Officer Minhas was awarded Nishan-e-Haider.
Furthermore, the martyrs of Kargil have retained and propagated the military tradition of unparalleled valiance and bravery without losing their bond with the motherland and its security concerns. Captain Karnal Sher Khan emerged as the symbol of mettle and courage during the Kargil conflict on the Line of Control, joined those eight legendary heroes who received the highest military award of Nishan-e-Haider as he set personal examples of bravery and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. Defending five strategic posts he repulsed many Indian attacks. Despite many abortive attempts, the enemy ringed the post of Capt. Sher Khan with the help of two battalion and unleashed heavy mortar firing and managed to capture some part of the post. Crushing the enemy intentions by a counter-attack and succeeded in re-capturing the lost parts while embracing shahadat.
Once again our lionhearted valorous soldiers have taken on their strenuous shoulders the responsibility of defending the precious homeland from a fresh and recent sprouting of internal threat that emanates from the western borders and the Pakistani tribal regions. They are forcing the militants and miscreants out and have succeeded in their mission to a great extent.
Pakistan is playing the central role in war on terrorism with the help of armed forces as it has launched a number of full-fledged military operation Rah-e-Rast followed by Rah-e-Nijaat to fight day and night to ensure country’s survival on national as well as global level. The number of the causalities in the war is mind-boggling. Pakistani Army has lost up to 30,457 soldiers in addition with their loss of serenity and comfort of homes, while killing 17,742 terrorists a figure that is increasing steadily day by day as a considerable area has been recovered from the stronghold of militants.
It has to be made evident that the army has played its due share in the purgation of the motherland and its generous sacrifices can be hidden from none. The credit has to be awarded to the Pakistan army who has most valiantly countered the terrorist and successfully managed to expel all evil and secured the area for the inhabitants who had no power of their own. During the operation many militant hideouts were exposed which had served as the hub of Al Qaeda networking while capturing most of the militant leadership and stopping them from escaping. This has been possible only with the fearless and heroic offering of our soldiers who have been kidnapped, slaughtered and imprisoned but have rendered the internal enemy as defunct while engaging our age old rivals on the eastern borders simultaneously.
One such recent example of valiance was seen, while killing 32 militants, after the militants ambushed a security forces check post at Kalaya, as six security personals including Lt Colonel Anwar Abbas embraced Shahadat. According to reports Shaheed Colonel Abbas received bullet injuries when he himself was going to rescue the soldiers attacked by the miscreants. This, and many other glorious models of military sacrificial incidents, with which our history is replete, unearth the true patriotic path they follow till they breathe their last.
It is also the duty of each individual to pay tribute to them and to join their hands with the Forces. As the nation is at war and by extending our support and by joining the battle we can show that the soldiers are no more solitary in their sacrifices but beside them the nation stands entirely and that Pakistani’s all over the world are grateful to their grand warriors, the undaunting Trojans of strength who gave up their present for our prosperous future.
A contribution by Lubna Umar