My grandfather died for Pakistan: Celebrating a true hero from 1965
He rushed back to retrieve the body of his fallen comrade and when he reached the tank, was gunned down.
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.
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."
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