Not Gold But Only Men Can Make…

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By: Bazla Syed

A tribute to the martyr Captain Syed Isfandyar Ahmed Bokhari Shaheed

The morning was slowly taking over the city of Peshawar and people were heading towards the masajid to offer Fajr prayers. The masjid of PAF colony was also filling up with people; some were performing ablution, some were reciting the Quran and some were just waiting for the Azaan to be called out. Suddenly, the sound of firing broke the mystical and sacred peace of the morning. Nobody knew what was happening.
Within minutes, the army and the Quick Response Force reached the spot and started operation against the attackers who had entered the colony. The soldiers were trying their best not to let the attackers enter the residential area. All of a sudden, the Major, who was commanding the operation was hit by a bullet and had to be sent away. Now the command was handed over to the unit’s captain present there. The brigadier was giving instructions to the captain when the G3 captain came out of his jeep and asked if he could replace the major. The brigadier was not willing to send him to lead the operation and said, “You are unarmed right now captain.”
Quickly the captain asked a nearby soldier for his jacket, gun and cap and said, “I am now ready, Sir. Can I please go inside and carry out the operation? I know I will succeed. I will not let the attackers enter the residential area. Sir, please let me go.” The young captain was quite sure of himself.
Seeing his enthusiasm, the brigadier agreed. The duty had to be assigned to Army Unit’s captain but the junior G3 captain had taken his place.
Getting the green signal, he checked his gun, gave a salute to his brigadier and the young and enthusiastic Captain Syed Isfandyar Bokhari left to lead the operation.
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It was Cadet College Hassan Abdal and he was heading towards his teacher’s office to hand him over his article to be published in the college magazine, The Abdalian. He was then a student of Grade VII and a new comer. But he was ever so eager to participate in every event organized by the college. He excelled in literary activities too. The teacher took his article, glanced over it and looked at him keenly. His experience told him that this 13-year old boy certainly had a very bright future ahead of him.
His conclusion was not wrong at all. It was not long when this boy became one of the favourite of all the teachers. His seniors started telling his elder brother, who was in same institute in Grade X, to control his younger brother. “He runs where it is needed to walk and flies where it is needed to run,” they said, laughingly. It was the very first praise he received at Hasan Abdal.
In the coming days, he did prove that he was really an extra-ordinary student. He was not only an intelligent and obedient student but also a very good writer. His articles and stories were regularly published in the college magazine and were liked by the students and teachers alike. He was selected as a member of the Board of Editors of the college magazine. At such a young age, he was a strongly disciplined, enthusiastic, and patriotic fellow and he wanted to serve his country at any cost. He was among those youngsters who still remembered the true purpose of independence and understood what price had been paid to get freedom of Pakistan. He strongly believed that a man can change the destiny of his nation if he is devoted to his purpose.
Once in ‘The Abdalians’ edition 2003-4, the young Isfandyar who was a student of Grade X at the time, wrote an article, ‘’Not Gold but Only Men Can Make’’ in which he said:
“Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam is once again calling its young generation. Students should come forward and play their role in the construction of Pakistan. I have decided that every step of mine will be dedicated to the solidarity of Pakistan. It is the need of the hour that no stone should be left unturned for its continued existence. Let us eliminate the rats who are cutting its roots.” His words clearly showed how determined he was to serve his land and make it prosperous. His resolve revealed that he would certainly be successful in achieving his aim.
In fact, very soon he was being counted among those who come and win the hearts of people. He kept winning every competition and breaking his own record. He was called Wonder Boy by his friends and no doubt Cadet Isfandyar Bokhari was a wonder.
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The stadium was full of spectators and players of both the teams were striving hard to win the champions’ trophy for their college. This hockey match was being played between Jhelum and Hassan Abdal Cadet Colleges and both the teams were considered unbeatable. There was great enthusiasm among the supporters of each team. Soon the Cadets of Jhelum took a lead by scoring two goals against the Abadalians. There was a sudden unrest among the Abdalians. Isfandyar was also a part of the Abdalian team but due to high grade fever he was not playing but watching from the sidelines. He could not bear his team losing the game and wished desperately he could go and play. Suddenly one of the Brigadiers came and sat down beside him. He was also an Abdalian and his teacher too. He looked at the young boy and said, “Abdalians are going to lose the match this time.”
Isfandyar he stood up and said, “Sir, please let me go in the field. Our team can win. I know.”
“But you are not well. How can we change a player and send you when you are suffering from high grade fever?”
“Sir, I will get well but this match will not be played again. Please let me go.”
The Brigadier thought for a moment and then called one of the players back. To every ones’ delight as soon as he came into the field, he scored two goals for his team and the match was drawn. Abdalians who were going to lose the match, did not lose it. The young player who had scored the two goals despite 102 degree fever was cheered as a hero but this was not his last success. He soon became the vice-captain of the Hockey team of Jinnah Wing and under his captainship; the team even won the Champion’s Trophy.
He also played for the Punjab Under-19 team and proved himself a brilliant player besides being an extra-ordinary cadet of Hassan Abdal. Because he was Isfandyar and he was not really an ordinary young man.
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The parade ground of PMA Kakul was filled with foreign and local guests. Everyone was there to watch the ceremony of Sword of Honour for PMA-118 Long Course. Among the three candidates nominated for Sword of Honour, Cadet Isfandyar Bokhari was selected and today’s ceremony was in his honour.
What an honour it was for his parents too! He was going to receive not only the Sword of Honour but the War Tactics Medal also which is awarded only to the best cadet of PMA. He had proved himself to be one. The brilliant student of Hassan Abdal, the hockey and chess champion, wing commander and the young writer, Isfandyar had proved himself the best cadet of PMA making the dreams of his parents and prediction of his teachers come true.
When he was receiving the Sword, his father was thinking of the conversation he had had with his son the night before. “Don’t bank upon getting the Sword, there are other candidates who are equally good as you are,” he had said.
“No baba, this sword is mine In sha Allah. I know it.” And he had not been wrong.
His mother was thinking of the day when they had received the news that Isfandyar had cleared both the ISSB and medical entrance tests. When he had been asked to choose between them, without a second’s hesitation he had chosen the army. She had not wanted her only son to join the army but he had said that the armed forces needed the cream of youth just like other professions. He had taken admission in PMA so that he could get a chance to serve his land. Today he was being honoured and it was definitely a moment of pride for him and his family.
While being interviewed, he said to the journalists, “It is really an honor for me to get the Sword. It was my dream and I am very happy that I have accomplished my dream and my aim. I would say to the youth of Pakistan that army is a good profession and they must join it in order to serve Pakistan and make it developed.”
and surely The sword, the honor, the praises were his. But there was something else too which he was going to be blessed with and he was unaware of it.
So, finally despite his mother’s fear to send his dearest son in army, young Lieutenant Syed IsfandYar Ahmed Bokhari was posted to serve in Bahawalpur…
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As per his previous record, Isfand’s brilliance showed itself as lieutenant too and soon he was made Captain and then promoted to G3 which is under the command of a brigadier. He was also made a member of the Quick Response Team. The brilliant cadet was proving himself a brilliant captain and a responsible.  Allah Almighty’s will was to bless him with an even greater rank and that was the rank of a martyr at the very young age of 27.
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While leading the operation, Captain Isfandyar fought valiantly.
With the bullets raining around him, for a second he might have thought about his parents at home, about his brothers, about his mother’s dream to see him get married or about his own dream of building a home on the 15 marla plot which he had just bought. But, the thought of serving his homeland dominated all other thoughts and he was only Captain Isfandyar just now, the protector of his country whose duty was to keep his country safe from all evil designs. He had proved that he was the real son of the soil, the son of this sacred land of Pakistan who sacrificed his youth for his country.
Captain Isfandyar got four bullets in his chest but he continued to perform his duty. When most of the attackers were killed and he was taken to the emergency room in the complex. He was still conscious and with a beautiful smile on his lips he said to the Major, “Sir, I told you that I will handle them and will not let them enter the residential area.”
These were the only words which he was able to say and then he was blessed with the highest rank of martyrdom… a far greater success than his success at school, Hassan Abdal or at PMA Kakul. So finally Captain Isfandyar from 11-FF RGT, the son of Attock and the star of his parent’s eye had achieved his biggest ambition. He had sacrificed his today for the nation’s tomorrow. He had sacrificed his dreams and his life so that his nation could dream and live. He had sacrificed himself to save hundreds of people. He proved that there are really men who can make a nation great and strong and he was among them.