(May you live forever, Ameen.)
The documented sacrifices of all people during partition are there for all to witness and feel their pain. Jimmy Engineer (the famous artist) devoted his life to document the hardships faced by those who had to give up everything for the sake of Pakistan, and move over here.
You and I both know all about them. We mustn’t forget how many sacrifices it took to bring Pakistan into being. The birth pains were violent and unbearable.
Just twenty five years on – Pakistan faced dismemberment too – another painful experience of losing East Pakistan which was personally witnessed by so many. Today, recovering from all those hardships, Pakistan is strong and fine in many ways, (I know the media would like us to believe otherwise.)
On this seventieth birthday of Pakistan I want my readers to know, that the sacrifices for Pakistan didn’t stop on the day after August 14th 1947, after its independence.
Yes, the sacrifices for Pakistan’s independence are made every day, till today, and will continue every coming day as well.
“How come?” You say, “Its peace time, so where are the sacrifices?
I’m talking about the members of the armed forces of Pakistan. They make the undocumented sacrifices on a daily basis for Pakistan.
Recently, many of us shared the face of Major Ali on Facebook. Just a few days ago… He embraced Shahadat, by knowingly hugging a terrorist wearing a suicide jacket, he knew it could blast and it did, but he did it to save others. Did you see his picture with his baby? The baby you saw in his arms is destined to lead a complete life without his father.
Yes, there are many orphans in this world. But how many became that, consciously and knowingly?
Every day, there are undocumented shahadats that take place. Not every one of them finds a way into the media. Each family which loses its’ breadwinner, children lose their father, wife loses her husband, is condemned to a lifetime of deprivation and toil.
Another type of sacrifice by these armed forces is when many of them lose their arms, (ironically so.) I’ve known young handsome pilots whose entire career got affected due to being in a crash. Similarly, army officers who were at the peak of their youth to lose a limb or part of it, to bring their entire career into a spin. Spending the rest of their lives with the handicap and surviving the concurrent traumas that go with it.
Many of the soldiers today face PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms due to being in constant state of extreme stress. Fighting in your own country against enemies is even more difficult than enemies beyond your territory. This, along with living away from your own family for years, is another form of sacrifice.
Siachin has been another continuous front which is being defended.
Today, our troops are at all borders. They are the ones who cleared Swat from the infiltrators who were ready to take over our country – having reached within a hundred kilometers of Islamabad.
As you settle down to sleep in your safe home tonight, in this independent Pakistan. Remember that the sacrifices for this freedom are not a thing of the past. These sacrifices are being given continuously even now in difficult conditions.
Give a thought to those officers and soldiers of Pakistan’s armed forces who are awake now, guarding our country from within and outside. They live in mine-ridden territories, losing their close friends on a daily basis… many have lost their careers with their limbs as they try to detonate mines, or fight terrorists to secure our land.
“You people of forces, have taken up the best places in each city!” Said, Saira, a sister of my close friend. I looked at her and asked:
“Have you seen the places we have lived in before this? Have you ever lived in a home where scorpions fall from the roof and are found under carpets?” I have. – I have lived in such a house with two small children. Have you lived in a place where the temperature outside was lessor than that within your deep freeze? I have. Have you sent your father to the battle field? I have. Have you ever watched the news, knowing your father is in that land which has been taken over by enemies? I have! Have you ever not known if your father is dead or alive, for over a month? I have! Have you been alone in a room with your children, knowing your husband is just a few kilometers away, but cannot be with you because he has to take care of the aircraft on the tarmac – all under an unknown attack?, I have.”
Having spent a lifetime as an army officer’s daughter, and then as an Air Force Officer’s wife, I know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve lived my life in the forces.
So many incidents I’ve lived through, living in an air force colony…
The sweaper coming in the morning telling me “Crash ho gaya aaj.” (there has been a crash today.”) Myself wondering, “Who is it?” – praying for safety of husbands of all my close friends. Yet feeling guilty…
“I’ve met young widows, in state of shock, looking normal. I’ve seen a wife say to her children “Get settled now, your father will be coming now!” Yes, in a coffin.
Twenty five years ago, Brig Anwari who was in Siachin had received his posting orders. Usually, after receiving posting orders, officers would want to just lie low and get the hell out of this danger zone. No, not him. His posting got deferred a bit so he could carry out a very dangerous operation. An operation which ultimately cost him and seventy other soldiers their lives. Yes, he did come ‘home’, and that too, in a coffin.
“When he died, there was just Rs.47 in his account.” His wife Koki told me later. When she heard of my problems recently when I got widowed she told me her own situation. When, she had became a widow of an officer in uniform. He was also paying for schooling of a local boy in Skardu, then.
Yes, as I was saying, twenty five years ago when I met her, she had come to the hospital to congratulate me on birth of my third daughter, here in Rawalpindi CMH. While giving the gifts, she was praying for us “May Allah give her a long life with long life of her parents too!”
Not realizing that within a month her own children’s father will no longer be there for them. That she would be spending the rest of her life as a widow.
Today, when you see the smiling face of a family member of the armed forces, please see the tragedies that they live through on a daily basis.
When there is a crash in a base or a soldier dies in the line of duty. The squadron and regiment continue with its routine jobs as ‘normal’, as this is part of its ‘normal’ life. The dinner which was already scheduled in the Officer’s Mess will take place. Everyone will dress as normal too. Of course, there will be the Quran Khwani, tears and prayers. But, never the less, life will be normal.
This is why when you meet a person from the armed forces, you will find them a little more jovial, more full of life. They see the other side of life on a daily basis, that’s why.
Stay blessed my dear Reader with this freedom. Know that it is not free, a heavy price of precious lives is being paid daily for it. But like them, do keep smiling, and do keep celebrating this freedom which is truly worth it and well earned. :)
Note: All awesome pics by Waliya Najib Khan, the rest by author, personal resources and a few from the Google images with thanks.