My grandfather died for Pakistan: Celebrating a true hero from 1965

Published: September 6, 2013
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My grandfather fell during battle in 1965 and was awarded the Tamgha-e-Jurat for his bravery.

My grandfather fell in the war of 1965 and was awarded the Tamgha-e-Jurat for his service to Pakistan. This medal, bestowed upon my grandfather is a great source of inspiration for me. It invigorates me whenever I see it and excitement and hope overwhelm me even when I feel dejected. Today my patriotism comes from this medal and all the stories it can tell related to it.

Now, over 45 years have passed since my family received this great honour, and I am going to tell you about the sacrifices my grandfather made for this beautiful country.

My grandfather, ALD Ghulam Mehdi Khan Shaheed (Tamgha-e-Jurat) joined Pakistan Army by his own will. Not wanting to be confined to the fences of the farm like his three elder siblings were, he wanted to do something different and he did. A young, handsome and powerful Mehdi Khan was a renowned sportsman who excelled in basketball. When the war commenced, he was at home and received the call letter to join his unit.

My grandmother trembles whenever she tells me the story and her calm tone conceals the anguish which slowly engulfs her.

According to her, my grandfather was terribly excited to get the call as he knew he was finally going to get the chance to sacrifice himself for his beloved country. The time to fulfill his dream – the dream which took him to the Pakistani Army – had finally come.

He was a sportsman, so he needed special permission to go to battlefield. Having succeeded in getting this, he was assigned to the Chamb-Jorian sector (one of the most important sectors on the Indo-Pak border) while he was serving with the 11 Armed.

They fought valiantly and did not hold back.

On the day of his Shahadat, my grandfather was patrolling in a tank with his comrades when an anti-tank mortar, launched from an unused brick kiln hit the chain of tank and it stopped. They were pinned down by rounds and rounds of crossfire and all the soldiers moved out to find cover or find another tank to hop in to; in doing so, the last soldier got hit and was unable to pick himself up.

Now, it is against the Army’s tradition to leave their fellow comrades at the mercy of  the enemy, so they decided to help their comrades. My grandfather, Mehdi Khan stepped ahead in order to provide cover. He was not that type of person who would flee in fright; he was a brave man. Despite the crossfire, he was successful in reaching the tank where he first tended to his friend, and then quickly ran back to his platoon.

Then tragedy struck. When he was nearing his allies, he was hit by a bullet. Even though he was wounded, he completed his task and saved his comrade.

Due to his act of valour, determination and commitment towards his objective, he was awarded Tamgha-e-Jurat in accordance with the Pakistani Army’s tradition.

This has, through the years, been my family’s pride and joy.

My grandfather’s medal. Photo: M Aqib Bhatti

I celebrate my my grandfather’s bravery whenever I’m setting my goals; I keep his medal with me because it makes me feel like my grandfather is advising and accompanying me. Even in the dire times of helplessness when I make plans to leave Pakistan, this medal reminds me that my grandfather and his compatriots sacrificed their lives in 1965 just to provide people like me a better place to live. I remain, thus, steadfast in my will to serve my country in whatever way I can. It is the least I can do to honour my grandfather’s memory.

My grandmother says, “He made us proud because he fought fearlessly and showed the utmost bravery.”

And she always sang the following verses:

“Allah sa Darnay Walay

Dartay Naheen aur Kisi say

Jaan Apne Watan pe Qurbaa’n

Jaan Apne Watan pe Qurbaa’n

Kartay hain Khushi Khushi se

Allah sa darnay walay

Dartay Naheen aur Kisi say”

However if I do not mention one thing, it will be unfair. I pay tribute to Pakistani Army today who still remember my grandfather and even after the passing of half a century, they still invite my grandmother on Shuhada Day  (Day of Martyrs, April 30th) every year.

But today my heart aches when I look at the country’s current situation. Suicide attacks, target killings, firing, kidnapping, sectarian killings etc. everyday! The martyrs of our nation saved us from slavery and foreign intrusion but we indulged in killing and terrorizing our own people. We need to ponder upon facts like what did people like Mehdi Khan and the soldiers sacrifice their lives for?

Today my grandmother says,

“I do not cry in his remembrance, but I cry because of  the current situation in Pakistan. Did he sacrifice his life for this Pakistan? No, he wanted to see his country hold her head up in joy, serenity and triumph.”

Aqib Shahzad Bhatti

Aqib Shahzad Bhatti

Pursuing Masters in Chemical Engineering from NUST. He is an inveterate sports devotee and loves writing. He tweets @aqibbhatti (twitter.com/AQIBBHATTI)

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

  • Indi

    Every country has problems-and these,that you listed, must be considered as growing pains..
    It will take time to realize Mr.Jinnah’s dream for Pakistan.
    Your grandfather was a brave man,who sacrificed his life for a friend.
    Nice photographs.
    May he rest in peace.Recommend

  • Sane

    Tributes to great man – Martyred in the name of ALLAH by saving his motherland and its people.Recommend

  • asim khan

    Salute to our legend and national heroRecommend

  • http://rawalpindi Pak

    I can see bravery and no fear in his eyes. Hats off to our national hero. :) Recommend

  • Aqib Bhatti

    Thanks everyone. Its a great honor for me to be his Grandson.Recommend

  • http://na deep

    Truly inspiring story. I don’t think anyone will dispute the fighting skills of the Pakistani army. you will be surprised to know that one Pakistani hero is honored in an Indian army museum in Srinagar. he is a Kargil hero who singlehandedly defended his post and in the museum they have recreated the post and the soldier as he was found. It is also a reminder to the visitors of the museum that the soldiers have to be honored whichever side they are fighting on. Recommend

  • ab

    my greatest regard to the shaheed. May Allah give him highest place in Jannah. AmeenRecommend

  • LalaGee

    according to pakistani’s in 1965 they won the war…so as an indian I give the this 1965 win as a tribute to your great martyr..he was just following pakistan state policy or army policy…..Recommend

  • saad riaz

    tumhe watan ki hawain Salam kehti hain …. Solute to the National HeroRecommend

  • Nero

    Author: Please accept my commiserations for your loss, especially to your grandmother. He was doing what a professional soldier should have done. I hope for a day when young brave men & women start living for their country (whichever one), instead of dying for it.Recommend

  • Sam Malik

    Salute to our national hero…..Recommend

  • Abubakar

    May his soul rest in peaceRecommend

  • suzo

    salute to national herosRecommend

  • Bilal Baacha

    Really feeling proud for these legends, solute to every legend and ur grand father as well!
    its too inspirng story, may he rest in peace.Recommend

  • Amna

    Truly inspiring story…!!!!
    it is definitely due to blessing of their sacrifices that Pakistan is still is a free land..!!! may his soul rest in peace!!!!Recommend

  • Hmm…

    Every dead soldier’s family would tell such kind of story ….So We don’t need to be so sorry about it . Consider it a duty for nation . And your grand pa’s fight has nothing to do with country’s current situation . He was a mere foot soldier . He did what he could.Recommend

  • gp65

    Salute from an Indian to your grandfather. Individual acts of bravery and courage on both sides must be respected and their sacrifices and memories honored. Also salute your grandmother for her approach to your grandfather’s death.

    War per se can be questioned but that is a separate issue alltogether.Recommend

  • Ali

    Salaam to ALD Ghulam Mehdi Khan Shaheed…!Recommend

  • Insaan

    The martyrs of our nation saved us from slavery and foreign intrusion but we indulged in killing and terrorizing our own people.

    Who tried to intrude into Pakistan and when? Who tried to enslave Pakistan? Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    What did your family get for your grandfather’s sacrifice?Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    @deep:
    You are talking about Captain Karnal Sher Khan. Captain Karnal Sher Khan was an exemplary soldier. Being from an Army family, I have a great deal of respect for soldiers like him.Recommend

  • Aqib Bhatti

    @Raj Kafir
    He embraced shahadat, what else we need..!Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    @Aqib Bhatti: We need more soldiers like him who make sure that you and I have Internet and eight hours of sleep…Recommend

  • Aditya Bhatti

    More Muslims are killed by Muslims in Pakistan rather than Indian ArmyRecommend

  • Indian

    @ Raj Kafir

    Why be bitter,brother ?
    A fallen soldier is ‘amar jawan’,irrespective of which side of the border he fell on.
    Nice Article.
    Being a soldiers daughter,I can understand the author’s feelings.Recommend

  • Kiran Zehra Bilgrami

    This is really great and touchy, for people like me with no Army background, this article turned our to be a true booster. This is a proud moment for your whole clan. Recommend

  • Farooq

    Inspirational write up. Let me tell you being an old cavalry man like you grandfather, that the best went earlier than others. His unit did well in action true to the tradition. God may rest him in peace and we may keep producing sons who are always ready to defend our motherland.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Hmm…: Every dead soldier’s family would tell such kind of story ….

    They have no choice.

    Musharaf played Kargil that killed thousands of Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan government even did not acknowledge that fact. Those soldiers were called tribals, Mujhahideens. I wonder if Pakistan government even told that truth to families of the people killed in Kargil about what happened to their sons, fathers, brothers.

    With no disrespect to soldiers it appears to me soldiers in Kargil died because of Musharaf.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ali Abbas

    After reading this article It is true that true soldiers join army who believe in giving their everything to the army not taking any advantage from the Army !! You are really lucky one to have a grandfather like Mr. Ghulam Mehdi Khan Shaheed because God has chosen him. Recommend

  • Aqib Bhatti

    @Aditya Bhatti:
    The same is the issue I discussed in last part of this article.Recommend

  • mAS

    Great article….Salute to himRecommend

  • http://Bahawalpur Suqraat

    Tribute to the fallen heroes of both the countries. I wish for these martyrs’s sake that sanity must prevail and normalcy should return to the relations of both nations. Demilitarization in Siachin region by both countries is a must. For how much more time we would keep our armies there and neglect the basic necessities of our masses?Recommend

  • http://outlook Falcon Eyes

    @ hmmm…
    Dear u will not say so ,if u know meaning of sacrifice,respect and responsibility..!!!! if a person has respect for his country or family, he is abound to responsibility and sacrifices!!!! and definitely when Ur sacrifices are not valued… that hurts!!! so,stop ridiculing and give a love therapy…!!!! Recommend

  • Sane

    @Aditya Bhatti:

    More Muslims are killed by Muslims in Pakistan rather than Indian Army

    More Muslims are killed in India by fanatic Hindus than anywhere in the world. Latest is UP killing of Muslims.Recommend

  • http://Manhattan,Kansas.com naeem khan Manhattan,Ks

    I salute your grand father for his sacrifice for his country and we should never ever forget the sacrifices of all those and the current soldiers for their services to the nation. However I beg to differ with you on this sentence, “According to her, my grandfather was terribly excited to get the call as he knew he was finally going to get the chance to sacrifice himself for his beloved country”. I don’t think any soldier is looking for to be killed, they go to the battle field because they are there to serve and they know that it could happen but they also love life too and want to come home to their love ones and they should. Please forgive me if I hurt your feelings but we should also honor those who survived including your grand mother, wars are terrible and we should always strive to have peace if possible. Recommend