Interacting with Pak top brass

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Only the worst man is the best soldier,” though he himself was a soldier!

Having interacted with Indian and Pakistani army officers of all ranks and designations, I’ve felt that these men are superlative humans with great and admirable qualities. In these times of extreme animosity between India and Pakistan, I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to dispel the misgivings about high-ranking Pakistani army officers and contribute to restoring the estranged sense of camaraderie. 

As a research scholar of Quranic Studies and Islamic Theology, I often visit Pakistan and interact with their top brass. In Pakistan, I met very refined top brass of army. I can never forget Lt Gen Zia Altaf, who munificently gifted me a big chunk of Persian verses of his great-grandfather Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Seldom in life does one meet such a sophisticated and unassuming human being who was generosity embodied. 

Yet another Pakistani army officer who I met a number of times and who bedazzled me with his coruscating brilliance was late Brigadier Arghab Rashid of Artillery. He once read my piece in a Pakistani Urdu daily and read the same again in a Pakistani English daily when the editor of the Urdu daily urged me to translate it into English for the Pakistani intelligentsia.

Brigadier Rashid mailed me. In fact, the mail came from his daughter’s e-mail ID as serving officers are not supposed to interact with people of other countries, especially India. He requested me to contact his daughter (contrary to the general belief that Pakistanis or Muslims are very conservative) when I visited Pakistan the next time.

He introduced me to the best of Pakistani vegetarian cuisine when he came to know that I was a pure vegetarian. He served me the real sarson da saag from Rahim Yaar Khan (Punjab province of Pakistan) with makki di roti.

The list is endless. I’ve seen the best of humanity in soldiers of both countries and convergence of the finest traits in them. They think with guns and grey cells simultaneously and know how to strike a balance between the two seemingly contradictory things. They’re chivalrous, well-read, cultured, broad-minded, religiously liberal and thorough gentlemen. They call a spade a spade, nay shovel! What more can one ask for?

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Interacting with Pak top brass

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