A tear for you, dear soldier

Published: February 15, 2012

The Pakistan Army has had it shares of blunders and successes. PHOTO: AFP

There are very few images which have the power to draw out the deepest emotions of the seer. These are the snapshots which really make you empathise with the subjects of the photograph – you try to imagine yourself in the same circumstances, under the same context and events pictured.

One such image was that of the 15 FC troops killed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants on January 5.  Fifteen men, all from less privileged economic contexts, standing hand in hand with the realisation firm in their bosoms that life ends at this moment.

It is a sepoy, a ‘jawan’ who commands the respect of most Pakistanis. These men epitomised by the bare simplicity of human soul, were one of the most formative influences in my childhood too.

Having lived my life mostly in military cantonments, seeing these men go around camp fires singing traditional ‘tappas’ or Ataullah’s immortal ‘Thewa’, accompanying them for their various ‘langar’ meals at noon, sharing with them the Kashmir tea were the most rewarding experiences any child could have.

The Pakistan Army has had it shares of blunders and successes. It has had to come to terms with the fall of Dhaka and its interventions in the civilian affairs of the country are to be condemned in the strongest words. Balochistan is another sorry tale altogether.

The sepoy on the other hand has been utterly selfless in his service to the country he believes in. Be it the successes of the Rann of Kutch skirmishes, 1948’s Kashmir march or the defence of Lahore by a few heroic units in 1965, it is the sepoy who has always been there at the frontlines of battle.

Promises of lucrative plots do not cross his mind; aspirations to be at the seat of authority are not his concern – what only matters is his call for duty. Then, there were these images.

This war, this terrible war, will one day indeed come to an end.  A time will also come when both sides of the conflict are held accountable for the atrocities that were committed.

It is an old man’s adage that sins of war always weigh heavy on one’s soul.

I hope they do. When those self-styled ‘men of God’ executed the 15 FC men, I hope that they remember the service they did to the religion they claim to be defending. That realisation, itself, will be retribution weighing enough.

Click here to read more by Taimur.

Taimur Arbab

Taimur Arbab

A former sub-editor at The Express Tribune, college teacher of Sociology and English Literaure and LUMS alumni, who leans toward the left side of the political spectrum and looks for ideas for his short stories and poems in the everyday happenings of life. He tweets @arbab333 (twitter.com/arbab333).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pasha

    I cannot believe people still believe in this stuff… they are all one thing… US slaves… US uses them and abuses them and I don’t even feel sorry because they have chosen to live and die as slaves…Recommend

  • Modazul

    Not to forget, many of our generals were also soldiers once upon a time. They didn’t just born into a general. Recommend

  • abdul jabbar

    our soldiers are only ‘shaheed’ when killed by non muslim americans or european forces.when they are murdered by our muslim brothers taliban there is condemnation,no protests,no demonstrations,no hyperventilating anchors on tv screaming how our sovereignty has been violated.why is it that our sovereignty is only violated when the violators are non-muslims? why isn’t our sovereignty violated when the violators are muslim? when NATO killed our soldiers there were extensive interviews with the families of the soldiers but strangely there were no interviews with the families of the soldiers killed by the taliban.Recommend

  • Ich Dien

    Taimur,

    An excellent piece, hope ppl would be able to understand the difference between the Generals (never more than 6-8 in number) trying to run the country by proxy or directly and the over half a million men & women in uniform. It is these jawans who proudly call themselves sepoys who are the backbone of any army, among them we might only remember Mehfooz, Hussain and Lalak Jan by name but there are countless others who have sacrificed their lives and limbs for their country. It is they who stands a proud sentinel, be it a hostile frosty night above the clouds at Siachin or an immaculate guard of honor for visiting dignitaries. Anyone who has had the honor of knowing these jawans would know their value. I recall the words of a L/Naik of Baloch regt whom i met once at a CMH, he was on leave from Wana and was there to see his new born son for the first time “We are fighting so that my son & ppl like you can sleep with peace. You will have this peace as long as there is life in us.”Recommend

  • sars

    The army as a whole and its jawans in particular are among the few institutions that i believe are trying to hold things together ask we sink in quicksand.

    Out of the many images in my head from the earthquake , floods and assorted disasters, (many of which are due to our leaders own incompetence), most images were of jawans trying to help people. They are organised , patriotic, hard working and honest (never mind what delusions of grandeur the top brass has been having ).

    They are the reason you and I sleep at night and deserve our respect, loyalty and thanks.

    Any one who is trying to brutally kill and hurt them should be condemned , and made culpable. There is no corner for negotiations with these people.Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    They are giving their blood as a sacrifice at the altar of ‘strategic depth’ where the high priest is a mullah.Recommend

  • Hashmi

    We all salute our martyrs, the sepoys, the jawaans, the subedaars, the JCO’s, officers

    They are the sons of the soil and have spilt blood for it so we can sleep soundly. May Allah grant them their due for their sacrifice.

    Long Live Pak Army!
    Long Live Pakistan!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Sentiments nicely expressed.
    On this subject suggest read Shuja Nawaz’s ‘Crossed Swords’, excellent history of our army.Recommend

  • Haris Zuberi

    Excellent write-up Taimur!Recommend

  • Amer Gallian

    Excellently Surfaced Notion.
    alas…someone spared some time to write about those who deserve a lot of attention and praise. May it be wars with India, terrorism or natural calamities, they are the ones who not only compromise on their comfort and meal but devote themselves selflessly to the best of the people of this country. “Professional” sounds to be a less esteemed word for them — they merit themselves to be called as “Saviors” of this country.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    Heart-touching article.Recommend

  • Umer Khan

    Well done. Our jawans are our heroes, no one can sideline them, even if it is the dirty politics of some corrupt officers at the top. Recommend

  • Amjad

    @Pasha: I think the only one who needs to free himself from slavery is you and your mind. The average soldier or jawan is a patriot who serves at the pleasure of leaders. They do not have the luxury of picking and choosing battles. Whether you agree with government policy or not is a different matter but the jawan has always served faithfully and courageously. God bless them all. And yes, unlike Generals and higher officers, they are not guided by dreams of cheap real estate or taking over civilian governments. We all know they will prevail over the cowards who kill innocent Pakistani civilians and soldiers to please their foreign masters.Recommend

  • OS

    Is it not ironic that the same extremists that the same army supports secretly are killing the same army’s same jawans?Recommend

  • Nazir Ahmed

    Taimur you and most of those who have commented have restored an old soldier’s confidence that we as a nation have not yet descented to the depth of degeneration. History tells us that almost everyone has to do soldiering when the nations are rising on the world scene but the degenerate societies loath soldiering. Our soldiers and officers have always rose to the challanges and done wonders. The latest example being the Malakand operation. No Army of the present world can dislodge forces entrenched on mountains within such short time. The young officers leading their men from front have rendered the supreme sacrifices and changed the whole game plan of our enemies, ready to cause us grave damage. Unfortunately our leaders, civilians and generals, have always let us down. If about thirty two soldiers of the Pakistan Army who became prisoners in East Pakistan have been touted as ninety three thousand soldiers surrendering to Indians, you can imagine what kind of leadership we supported. Even now Zardari Party wants US to punish the Pakistan Army. Anyway well done. May Allah reward you for the noble sentiments expressed for the martyers Recommend

  • Nazir Ahmed

    Sorry for an error in earlier comment. It was about thirty two thousand soldiers (the word thousands was missing) in East Pakistan on 03 Dec 1971. The figures can be calculated from the details of units given in the Indian websites and Wikipedia. I was one of the prisoners and have kept lamenting on the mischief of those who invented this figure of ninety three thousands and the Pakistani media who kept reinforcing this lie.Recommend

  • Vigilant

    Long Live brave jawan…..we salute you……….Recommend

  • Pappo Piplia

    they are just mercenaries fighting for money.Recommend

  • stenson

    @Pappo Piplia: Tell me- aren’t all soldiers paid mercenaries? Pakistani soldiers serve the state and defend the homeland like all other soldiers. Probably they do a much better job than the soldiers of other nations. That’s why Pakistani soldiers are held in high esteem throughout the world as martial warriors.Recommend