A tribute to my cousin, a brave soldier

Published: December 9, 2011

A Nato attack on the Pakistani check post in Salala left 24 soldiers dead and 12 injured. Normally, these figures are mere numbers to me; with the war on terror, so many people die everyday that I am a bit desensitized about news of death.

On November 26, 2011, the otherwise meaningless number of those killed held all the meaning in the world to me. You see, amongst the 24 dead was my dear bhai.  My dear cousin Captain Usman Ali died in this unprovoked attack by Nato forces.

As I reflect on the transience of life, everything Usman bhai ever said to me keeps playing like a reel in my head. I often used to wonder how a person could be as good-natured and kind-hearted as him. Now, I know that it was because he was the chosen one; he had very little time on this earth so he gave people so much love in his 23 years that they could live the rest of their lives with the memories of it.

When he got the transfer orders for Bajaur Agency, we were all very worried about him and tried to disaude him from going. But he was unmoved by our requests and tears. Maintaining his soldier-like stance, he said to us:

“I am in the Army to protect my country, not to just sit in the Cantt and enjoy myself.”

Later, he got transferred to Mohmand Agency where he fought valiantly in the operations against militants and helped re-establish control in that area. When he was at home on leave due to an appendix operation, he learnt of the death of fellow soldiers in an operation in the agency; never have I seen him so ill at ease. Not only did Usman bhai feel guilty for not being there and fighting with them, but he was increasingly flustered. He kept repeating:

“What am I doing here while my fellow comrades are dying?”

He was a brave and dedicated man. In addition to being an extraordinary soldier, he was also an amazing human being. Usman bhai  is a role model for many people, myself included. He also had the ability of seeing only the good in others; he praised people when they were down; he made them feel good when they needed a morale boost.

I can’t remember a single moment when he was cruel to anyone or a time when he misbehaved. A lady who met my cousin only once told us that she used to say to her children:

“If you want to learn manners and etiquette, learn them from Usman”

That’s just how he was.

When he once told us about his friend Captain Farhan Shaheed, Usman bhai had said with tears in his eyes that he was one of a kind. Today, I want to tell him that he too was one of a kind.


Ambreen Ejaz

An MSc part 1 student from Sahiwal who's interests are books,military, and politics. She tweets @ProudPakistanii

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

  • pinky

    he is ours as well!! :) thank you for the post,ambreen..
    May God bless him with the exalted place in the heaven that HE promised & he deservesRecommend

  • http://www.ayeshaijazkhan.com Ayesha Ijaz Khan

    Thank you for this.Recommend

  • IZ

    Pakistan has lost a dedicated and professional young man. You have lost so much more. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. Recommend

  • Javed Afridi

    He lived a hero’s life and died as such. May God give him a hero’s life in the world hereafter, Ameen.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    May God showers HIS countless blessing on all Shohada.Recommend

  • mahwishrana

    superb thoughts ,passionate soldier,humble man,kind person,words cant expln what he was nd will always b wid us…even i heard from you and and m feeling as i talk to him in real …… innocent man …….
    U wrote superbly …. Well done ….. Recommend

  • Zaman khan

    Though our political elite is engaged in ruing this country however we still have people like CAPT USMAN SHAHEED and in my opinion that is the reason we are still surviving. My salute to CAPT USMAN. May ALLAH BLESS HIM. As Quran says “dont call those who lay their lives in the way of ALLAH, dead, infact they are alive but you understand not.” So he is not deadRecommend

  • S Khan

    we salute to our shaheed soldiers…Recommend

  • S Khan

    We also salute major mujahid, Recommend

  • Amna Munir

    he was a Legend and no doubt he was such a valiant soldier that he didn’t care for his Life & was always there when his country needed him. People should follow him and his examplary deeds. And he’ll remain alive in our hearts forever. may Allah bless him with best place in Heaven. AmeenRecommend

  • http://ranausman.wordpress.com Rana Usman

    Very well written and thought provoking!


  • Ali Tanoli

    Shaheed never dies he is alive ………………Recommend

  • Tamoor Rindh

    Shaheed never dies he is always alive well written ..I m REALLY proud of Pakiatan A[email protected] Author Good Job KEEP IT UPRecommend

  • vigilant

    May Allah bless him…………AmeenRecommend

  • S.A.K

    When I see mothers of Shaheeds talking to media with proud about the sacrifice of their sons, I truly understand why we are still independent. I am really thankful to all those soldiers who sacrifice their present for our future. We can’t return what you guys have given us. Recommend

  • Capt Usman Ali Shaheed

    We are proud of you Usman!!!


  • Maria

    It is due to the sacrifices of people like Captain Usman that the Pakistani nation is still around. As long as brave committed people like him remain, the nation will remain protected. It is sad that he died in a so called friendly fire accident but he did his duty to serve his nation. His example should inspire others. May God bless his soul – ameen.Recommend

  • sohaib

    Very well written..RIP Usman Shaheed..We are proud of you..Recommend

  • Zaki Khalid

    May Allah bless Captain Usman Shaheed with a high post in Paradise and bless his honorable family with continued patience on the sacrifice he offered for Pakistan. Aameen!Recommend

  • Abbasi

    He secrifies his life for our tomorrow. and Rewarded with SHAHADAT…. MAY ALLAH ACCEPT IT… His all concerns are proud of us.Recommend

  • MK

    so sorry to read this. thank you for this article, as for the rest of us, it humanizes the “NATO killed 24 soldiers” story, and makes it a story which we all ought to fight against. may his soul rest in peace.Recommend

  • sars

    Your cousin was a role model in life and a shaheed.Your family is to be congratulated on both accounts.May Allah give the family both sabr and ajar ameen.Recommend

  • Yasir

    May Allah rest his soul in peace grant him high place in paradise. Shaheed never dies. He gave his life for our country, we are all proud of him . Allah gives sabar to all family members. Recommend

  • Faith

    I know EXACTLY how you feel Ambreen. My bhai, a Captain also died back on June 21, 2006 and I’ve been proud & sad at the same time since then.Recommend

  • Nafay Raza

    ‘No he was not’ he is real hero slute to him and all shohda Recommend

  • Tahir

    Usman and Mujahid (Shaheeds) laid down their lives while safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our beloved Pakistan. I feel short of words in paying tribute to the selfless souls. I am sure every patriotic Pakistan feels the same way. I can say with lot of conviction that Allah willing, sacrifices of our Shaheeds including those who embraced Shahadat on 26 Nov as well as all other civilian and uniformed Shuhadas to date, will not go in vain. InshAllah, the things will get better progressively and the history will remembers our Ghazis and Shaheeds in golden words. May Allah be our guide and benefactor (Ameen).


  • AN

    Sorry about your cousin. He was our hero. Yes people who die everyday are numbers for a common man but for their relatives, their whole world is lost with those who die.Recommend