Written by Agha Iqrar Haroon
I remember it was winter of 1973 when five more names and photos were added in our Urdu reading book. These photos were of great men who gave their lives to save our motherland.
Their photos were added along with their biographies and tales of their gallantry and courage. One of these names was Sawar Muhammad Hussain Janjua Shaheed from 20 Lancers (Armoured Corps), Pakistan Army. Other names were Rashid Minhas Shaheed (Fighter Conversion Unit, Pakistan Air Force Pilot Officer), Shabbir Sharif Shaheed (6 Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army), Muhammad Akram Shaheed (4 Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army and Muhammad Mahfuz Shaheed (15 Punjab Regiment, Pakistan Army).
I remember that my teacher Madam Nargis could not stop her tears while reading one para from the story of Sawar Muhammad. These tears were actually tributes to Sawar Shaheed who gave his life to protect his motherland. Our teacher told us that she felt a great honour of being a daughter of such a nation who had sons like Sawar Shaheed. I remember almost every student in my class had tears when she was narrating the story of Sawar Muhammad and other brave men of our Army.
Since my childhood, I visited the grave of Sawar Muhammad in Dhok Sawar Muhammad Hussain near Mandra twice. My generation had its childhood before the radical Islam gripped my country therefore visiting graves of relatives and national heroes was a part of routine of once life. Since my young age, I had been visiting graves of Shabbir Sharif Shaheed and Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed. Grave of Shabbir Sharif Shaheed was in Miani Sahib Graveyard, which lay on my way to my college and visiting Raja Aziz Bhatti grave was a part of routine of Defence day celebrations though his grave was located out of main city of Lahore. My elder brother used to take children of our family to Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed’s grave almost every year.
Sawar Muhammad Hussain Janjua was born on 18 June 1949 in Dhok Pir Bakhsh (now Dhok Muhammad Hussain Janjua) near Jatli in Gujar Khan Punjab. He joined Pakistan Army as a driver on 3rd September 1966 when he was just 17 years old. He was in the 20th Lancers Armoured regiment of Pakistan Army.
According to information, his regiment was engaged to repulse Indian attack at Zafarwal Shakarghar and Sawar Shaheed kept delivering ammunition to the frontline soldiers on December 5, 1971 under intense shelling and direct fire from enemy tanks and infantry. He kept providing ammunition to his company for next 5 days while braving the intense fire around him. According to other soldiers, he spotted on December 10th that the Indians were digging a minefield near the village of Harar Khurd Punjab along the minefield laid out by Pakistan Army. He immediately informed the second- in-command of his unit but did not wait for soldiers to reach the spot and he directed accurate fire at the enemy resulting in the destruction of sixteen enemy tanks and he was hit in the chest by a burst of machine-gun fire and embraced Shahadat at the age of 22.
Sawar Muhammad Hussain had the distinction of being the first Jawan (a rank of foot soldier in Pakistan Army) to be awarded the highest award, Nishan-e-Haider, for his gallantry. Sarwar Shaheed College in Gujar Khan is named after Muhammad Sarwar. It was founded as a school and later upgraded to college. It is located on Lahore-Rawalpindi GT Road (N-5) and approach is through this road only.
Nishan-e-Haider or Nishan-e-Hyder was established in 1957 after Pakistan became a Republic, however, it was instituted retrospectively from Independence in 1947. It is awarded to military personnel, regardless of rank, for extraordinary bravery in combat. The award is considered to be the highest military award and has only been awarded to those who have sacrificed their life for the country.
Being a teacher and journalist, I always share my views with my readers about War and Peace. Peace is the best option because war brings only destruction and death. However, if a war is imposed on a nation— then it must stand united and remember only one thing—Protection of the Motherland if we do not wish to be written as a “Nameless Nation” in the pages of history.