Written By: Aqsa Faisal.
My childhood was spent listening to the heroic tales of our brave jawaans, stories of them protecting our borders, our pride, our sovereignity. I would pester my grandfather to repeat the letter sent to Major Aziz Bhatti by his mother and we would laugh at her anxiety and the sweet pain she felt that his son had shaved his head and had lost his perfect curls, 'the most beautiful of the curls she has ever seen'.
After the story, we would sit, impressed that he did this for his Sikh friend in the army, who had some disease and doctors had advised him to shave his head. But he won't agree so Major Aziz Bhatti shaved his head to show his support! I was nine when I first saw the story of Rashid Minhas on PTV and learnt about the Nishan-e-Haidar; the highest honour a faujican achieve. After that, all I did was thinking that how one day I will become a soldier, hero of the country I loved. I too wanted to paint 'Pakistan' on the prison walls with blood like another brave son of our land. These jawaans were my naz, my pride.
As the years passed, my passion waned so did my admiration. Being a great fan of the south Asian literature, I read Mohammad Hanif's 'Case of Exploding Mangoes', Maniza Naqvi's 'A Matter of Detail' and all of the Kamila Shamsie's novels and thought a grand plot is being unraveled. I learnt that the noor I often searched in General Kiyani's face as he used to make speeches on the Martyrs' Day, doesn't exist. I found how the military and their regimes screwed us. I started debating that the money that was being given to our army can be put to a better use. I had started believing that they too were devouring us like our politicians.
Soon I had a paradigm shift for my thinking! I was watching Hamid Mir's 'Capital Talk' on Geo Tv. He was doing a special program in Bajaur Agency. He talked with many of the locals who told him that the curfew placed on them after Eid was lifted. Before, they couldn't go out after the sunset or the Maghrib prayers. This created too many problems for obvious reasons. In case of any emergency like related to health, they had to stay home and hope that they would get a chance to reach hospital in the morning. They told how the Brigadier Sahib solved all. He destroyed the Taliban shelters in the area and lifted the curse.
Hamid Mir talked to Bakhtzada an ex-Taliban who told him that the drone strike killed some of his relatives in his village. The Taliban came to them and said that since Pakistan government isn't doing anything to stop these American attacks on the civilians, they will stop them and that the locals should help and join them. Bakhtzada joined their ranks, but later he found out that the Taliban were actually creating disputes among the people of his village. He surrendered in front of the Pakistan Army and spent four years in prison. He now spends a normal life. He is glad that the army gave him a chance to turn into a new leaf.
There are numerous stories like his, stories of hope and success, made only possible by the army of Pakistan.