RAWALPINDI: As a newly minted Second Lieutenant doing my weapons course at the Infantry School Quetta in 1953, I was especially impressed by the soldierly bearing of a Second World War decorated moustachioed veteran subedar, who carried himself around with a ‘chest out’, adorned with the prestigious MC Bar (Military Cross twice).
He narrated with obvious pride the stories of the actions in Burma against the Japanese that had got him the medals. One of the MCs was awarded when he had single-handedly killed about six of the enemy, who had laid an ambush for his patrol in the jungle. In the process, he had bayoneted the last of the Japanese in a hand-to-hand fight. This aroused my curiosity and I asked him as to what was the ultimate consideration in his mind that made him kill the Japanese. Was it patriotism, loyalty to the British, devotion to duty, his salary or something else, perhaps.
“Sahib, nothing of it. If I don’t kill him he will kill me,” was his answer. I always wonder if in the final analysis does it not all boil down to ‘his life or mine’? ‘Kill him before he kills you’, is the psyche of a soldier in the battlefield.
Col (retd) Riaz Jafri
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.
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