Thirty men who gave up their lives in the line of duty were honoured by the Pakistan Rangers at a heart-wrenching ceremony late Saturday night. And while it was left unspoken, it did not go unnoticed that aside from one inspector, most of those who died came from the lowest of the paramilitary ranks.
The elaborate programme titled ‘Youm-e-Shuhada’ (Day of Martyrs) was held at the Rangers Training Centre near the toll plaza. It was attended by many high-ranking officials, decked out in their ceremonial green dress, studded with medals. Senior officials of the Pakistan Army, Air Force and Navy were also present. Families of the fallen paramilitary troops were called in from all over the country.
When Sachal Rangers Commander Brigadier Waseem Ayub was asked by the media if more attacks like the May 22 PNS Mehran one could occur he said, “Without a doubt, the threats are still there. We are in a state of high alert.” The Rangers lost two of their men that day. Ayub added that the Pakistan Rangers was doing all it could to counter the threat. Instructions have been issued to all units to increase patrolling and snap checking throughout the city.
An exquisite monument with a star at the apex of a long sword-shaped tower was also unveiled. It was built in the record time of nine months by Colonel Akmal Moughal. The Rangers spokesperson, however, declined to specify the cost of its construction.
Navy Commander Karachi Rear Admiral Syed Khawar Ali, along with Pakistan Rangers Director General Sindh Muhammad Ijaz Chaudhry, presented a memento to Sepoy Mohammad Akhtar’s family.
Sepoy Mohammad Faheem Akhtar’s mother said she was proud of her son’s ultimate sacrifice and added that she prayed that her other three sons - one of whom is in the Pakistan Army and another in a rescue service - also embrace martyrdom in the defence and honour of the country.
Akhtar’s brother said he would often pull his leg, saying that Akhtar could have attained a better rank had he worked harder at school. “But Akhtar told me that a day would come when I, at a superior rank, would be saluting him.” His prophetic words have come true today, he added.
Sepoy Ishtiaq Hussain was killed during an encounter at Baloch Colony Bridge in Karachi. His mother was kept saying, “He was my only son.” His father rejoiced his sacrifice with a folk song in beautiful Punjabi verse.
In his speech, the DG Rangers said that his men had laid down their lives in the name of Islam and for the honour of Pakistan. Pakistan has been in a state of war since its inception, he said. “It is the blood of our martyrs that has protected our freedom whether it was while guarding our frontiers or battling terrorists.”
Television anchor Faisal Qureshi and his wife Reema Siddiqui hosted the show. Qureshi showered praises on the armed forces and the director-general rangers in particular, throughout the event. He even claimed that he was inspired by one of his friends, a man in uniform, to pin a Pakistan flag badge on his shirt. “If I go out without wearing it, I feel like my dress is incomplete,” he said as he flashed the pin on his designer suit to a round of a huge applause from the audience.
A Rangers spokesperson confirmed that the couple had been paid for their services as hosts of the programme. “Their event management company was also involved and given a contract to conduct the show,” he said. Singer Naeem Abbas Roofi sang Madame Noor Jehan’s famous “Aye Rahe Haq Kay Shaheedon.” The musical was complimented with the participation of schoolchildren from the Rangers Public School in Nazimabad who put on an impressive tableau show for the audience.
There were a few glitches, such as the seating area was not planned. Also, some journalists staged a token protest outside the marquee where the dining area was arranged.
They complained that all the good ‘botis’ (meat pieces) had been ambushed by the senior Pakistan Rangers officers, while they were left to feed on leftovers.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2011.