Salutations to the defence forces and people of Pakistan by Asif Haroon Raja
The valor with which the Army, paramilitary forces, police have fought the foreign funded, trained and equipped terrorists on their home ground for the last ten years and the spontaneity with which they offered supreme sacrifice of their lives, will be written with golden words in the annals of history. There have been countless acts of extreme valor displayed by the brave hearts pitched against equally valorous and hardy people adept in gun fighting and skillful use of terrain since childhood and reputed for revenge and never having tasted defeat. There has been no case of suicide or stress disorder in the Army units deployed in war zone. The Shaheeds and Ghazis who braved the odds at the peril of their lives deserve our salutations. Undoubtedly, the whole nation is proud of their supreme sacrifices and shall ever remain indebted to them.
Idea of bonds of camaraderie among the Army soldiers can be seen at Gayari in Siachen where 139 officers and men of 6 NLI Regiment got buried under 25 meters high and 1000 meters wide avalanche on the fateful morning of 7 April 2012. Several specialist teams from foreign countries came for assistance but gave it up as an impossible job. Our Gayari diggers however, without caring for personal safety, extreme weather hazards and poor visibility, kept digging the snow mountain round the clock and ultimately their indefatigable efforts were crowned with success in early July. Till now 56 dead bodies have been recovered and handed over to their kith and kin. Hats off to the dedicated commitment of officers and men engaged in rescue operations.
It is equally surprising to find that in spite of so much of blood spilling and destruction, the people have not lost heart. The nation has upheld its identity, integrity and self esteem. The people are performing their daily chores fearlessly and steadfastly and are ever ready for more sacrifices. The parents, widows and children who lost their beloved bread earners are enduring the pains of their departed sons/husbands/fathers/brothers who died fighting the terrorists or those defending the frontiers with admirable fortitude. Mothers and fathers of the brave sons of the soil mourn the irreparable loss quietly and uncomplainingly and lessen their grief by praying with greater fervor for the departed souls. They also feel proud and some are heard saying that they would sacrifice all their sons for the defence of motherland. I heard such profuse sentiments uttered by widows, fathers, sisters and sons of the Shaheed on the occasion of Yaum-e-Shuhada held on 30 April.
The courage with which this nation has weathered the storm for a decade and is still undergoing the rigors of terrorism is laudable. Nowhere in the world can one find another example of such an exemplary display of resilience and raw courage demonstrated by the people. Suicide bombers, bomb blasts, terrorist group attacks and drone strikes never scared them. On several occasions the private security guards or bystanders managed to get hold of terrorists wearing suicide jackets. Hundreds of bombs and IEDs have been defused and terrorist attacks foiled. Whenever the quislings among us blasted a bomb in a mosque, Imambargah, funeral, school/college, or a market place, the people didn’t run away from the scene of incident in panic, but leapt forward to rescue the survivors and to evacuate the injured. They lined up in hospitals to donate blood to the injured and attended funeral rites of the Shaheeds in huge numbers brushing aside safety and security concerns.
In this context I may like to bring to your notice the sad incident of last drone attacks in a village in North Waziristan in second week of July. In the first attack seven people got killed. Another drone strike killed seven more people when the departed were being buried in the graveyard. The third strike killed seven more people who were also burying the dead. While the immorality and barbarity of CIA operating drones deserves strongest denunciation, the bravery of the tribesmen collecting the scattered and charred pieces of the deceased and taking the remains to the graveyard for burial unbothered of monstrous drones hovering over them must be acclaimed. They fire at every attacking drone and had downed one with small arms.
The rate of casualties suffered from drones in FATA is 97% civilians and 3% militants. Out of 3%, only 1% is confirmed terrorists. This is a blind and mindless slaughter. It is like dropping a bomb over a crowded town hoping that the wanted terrorists might also die. This wanton massacre of men, women and children is continuing unabatedly. Only charred parts of dead bodies can be recovered after each strike. The world is silent over this almost daily occurring monstrosity. Obama signs the death warrant.
Apart from the hazards of terrorism, the people have been braving 20-22 hours electricity load shedding, gas load shedding, high floods, high inflation and back breaking price hike, joblessness, poverty, target killings and other street crimes for over four years. Tens of thousands of displaced persons are still living in makeshift camps. They are putting up with most corrupt, inept and insensitive government installed by USA since 2008.
As opposed to the large numbers of common citizens and security men who got martyred in war on terror, the number of politicians and bureaucrats who got killed can be counted on finger tips. They had hailed the infamous decision of Gen Musharraf to agree to fight the US imposed war against own people on the plea that it will save Pakistan. The present lot is also obeying the US dictates slavishly and wants the war to continue unabatedly since it means continuation of inflow of US aid enabling them to fill their coffers. It is perplexing that with 40,000 human losses and injury to tens of thousands and an economic loss of $70 billion, and Pakistan slowly bleeding to death, ruling elite still adore senseless war. They absorb insults and humiliations of USA shamelessly and keep expressing their resolve to fight terrorism with full force in their futile bid to appease the annoyed American leadership. Appeasement of Washington is more important to them than honor and integrity.
Finally I may add that talking trash in cozy drawing rooms is easy. Point scoring on media is easier, spreading sizzling news without comprehending their implications and becoming the first to break ‘news’ is no big deal. Criticizing own armed forces for the sake of criticism and out of malice and lending ears to false rumors spread by adversaries is no bravery. But standing firm in the thunder of bombs, caring not of getting killed need nerves of steel! Facing bullets on bare chests need a hell lot of courage! Leaving own parents, brothers, sisters, wives, children and homes at Allah’s mercy to save someone else’s requires red blood. Sacrificing own life for others better tomorrow is a game of men of valor.
Who cares if a soldier dies! Take a man and put him alone. Put him 1000 miles from his home. Empty his heart of all… but blood. Make him live in sand, in mud, in snow. Play your politics and have your fun. Then refuse to use a gun. There is nothing else for you to do. Then, am I supposed to die for you? He had the guts to fight and die. To keep the freedom you live by. By his dying, your life he buys. But who cares if a soldier dies!!
My salutations to the defence forces of Pakistan, undoubtedly the best in the world, and I pity those who censure the defenders of Pakistan!
The writer is a retired Brig who took part in the epic battle of Hilli in 1971 war and had the honor of personally evacuating the body of Maj Akram Shaheed Nishan-e-Haider in the thick of battle. His personal account can be read in his book ‘Maarka Hilli. Email:email@example.com