Salma Rasool is from Khuzdar, Balochistan. Her father was murdered by BLA in 2008 for his pro-Pakistani stance. Later her brother was also murdred by same people in 2013. But brave Salma Rasool stood for her family, Balochistan and Pakistan, and is braving the challenges of life.
Written By: Humera Karim
Human is a supreme creature of the Divine. Everyone is blessed with numerous known or unknown capabilities. His or her life is difficult and complex but some people with their combatant spirit not only overcome the challenges but set an example of inspiration for other fellows as well. Salma Rasool is one of the inspirational illustration of courage and tenacity. Salma was born in a small village of Khuzdar, a district of Balochistan. She belongs to a tribal family as her mother was Mengal and father was from Muhammad Hasni Tribe. Her father, Mir Ghulam Rasoom Muhammad Hasni, held prominant position in his tribe and was called as Mir. Salma had two sisters and five brothers. She, being the eldest, was very close to her father, who was an enlightened man and always encouraged Salma to express her views and allowed her to accompany him on various gatherings. He, despite all social pressures, enrolled his daughters in Army Public School & College, Khuzdar. Salma completed her 12th grade from the same institution.
Life was smoothly moving for Salma until 17 November 2008, when everything changed for her, and for her family. Her father was brutally murdered by the terrorists of BLA, (Balochistan Liberation Army). She recalls, “my father was a religious and a kind man who always taught us to love Pakistan. That day also, militants trapped him disguising as needy men. We were waiting for him at home and my mother asked me to call him. I made a call but after the first bell, his phone was switched off. We thought he was nearby. But then my maternal uncle entered in the house and told us about the tragedy. It was a dooms day for us. We were not able to believe that it was true. He received 17 bullets and we kept sitting around his bullet riddled body the entire night. My brother Abdul Ghiyas, who was then 15 years old, lost his senses. My seven year old brother later refused to wash his hand saying it had father's blood stain. When I saw bullet in his beautiful face near his eye, I fainted”.
Salma, eldest of her siblings, stood for her family and took all the responsibilities on her shoulders. The dearest and protected daughter of a martyred father suddenly found herself doing things she could never imagine before. Now she had to earn for her family and had to fight for justice. She says, “my father was Mir of a tribe. He was my friend and my protector. In our tribal society, socialization of men and women is not considered modest. Although I was studying but males other than family could not interact with me due to traditions. But after his death, I had to knock many doors to seek justice for him.”
Her step-brother (as her father had contracted two marriages) deprived them of their entire share in the property. Her real brothers were too young to fight for their rights. She recalled a horrifying night, “once my brother went to get our share of wheat; the step brothers and uncles attacked our home. They were armed and my brothers were kids. The villager helped us to escape on motorbikes. I still remember that scary night; we crossed the dark mountains and reached Khuzdar.” Salma and her family had to start a new life in Khuzdar. She was then studying in 12th grade and decided to earn a living for her family as she wanted her brothers to continue their studies. She joined Army Public School Khuzdar as a teacher but that wasn't enough to support the family so, she also joined an NGO that used to educate street children. During the same time, she got admission in Degree Girls College Khuzdar and completed her B.Sc. She gives all the credit of her achievements to her mother and brothers.
After graduation, on the advice of their family friends, they shifted to Quetta and hired a house. She joined FG Public School as a teacher and at home, she started giving tuitions. Her brother Abdul Ghiyas was growing up and becoming her support and hope for the family. He started sharing family responsibilities and asked Salma to continue her studies, so she got admission in Law College Quetta. But those good days did not last for long as another tragedy awaited her family. This time her brother, Abdul Ghiyas was attacked and martyred by the militants. She narrates, “I just reached back Quetta from Khuzdar after Eid vacations. Ghiyas stayed back in Khuzdar for few days. After two days, we received phone call from his friend who told about attack on Ghiyas by armed men. I managed to muster up courage and inquired about his condition from him; upon which I was told that he had been martyred. My brother was also killed due to my father’s ‘sin’ of loving Pakistan. I immediately left for Khuzdar. I am not able to recall how the transportation was arranged, but I reached Khuzdar with no chappel in foot and bare head. We were preparing for his wedding but just two weeks before his wedding, we lost him forever.”
One challenge after the other made her more strong and brave. She then was left with no other option but to come out with more courage and to seek justice for herself, her brother and father. She had a dream to establish an organization to help terrorism affected families. Her efforts eventually paid off in the shape of an organization named, 'Organization for Deserving Victims of Terrorism in Balochistan.' Its opening ceremony would take place during the current month (April 2014). She explained the need of such an organization, “I requested many of my relatives to file a complaint of my father's murder with police against terrorists but no one was willing to talk against them. They even asked us to stay away from the matter and warned about severe consequences. Some relatives even asked us not to mention that our father was murdered. My father and brother were killed only because they loved Pakistan. They used to raise Pakistani Flag at our house. My brother used to wear badge of Pakistani flag. The fact that the victims' families could never speak against the culprits, I decided to raise voice not just for my family, but for everybody like me. I want to tell the real story of Balochistan to the rest of Pakistan.”
She expresses, “I wish to work for education. We don't have good schools in Balochistan. My father resisted a lot of pressure to educate his daughters. After him, people tried to pressurize my brothers against my education and job. I had to face hurdles at every level. At one point they asked me to stay home and they were ready to abandon their own studies as well but I convinced them. I was never encouraged to study; rather I was advised to get married instead.” In a male dominated society, women like Salma have to fight continuously at various levels. According to Salma, it is another kind of struggle to convince men to take females seriously in any profession. And it is not an easy task, as it takes lots of efforts to make them respect you. Often they come with negative perception about working women and it takes long and hectic efforts to change their perception. Today, Salma sees a considerable change in people’s behaviours. People don't behave as rude as they used to because she is not helpless and weaker any more.
She wishes to address a gathering one day at the same place where her father was murdered. She is greatly concerned about the youth of Balochistan. She says, “our youth has been misguided. Whoever is fighting against Pakistan is a trapped one. I request them to think and choose their own path; don't allow external powers to exploit them for their vested interests. Our youth is witness to everything; they know who is responsible for the migration of teachers, doctors and other professionals from the province. Love your country, work hard and achieve your goals. This is the only way to gain prosperity in life”. Salma is one of the many Baloch youth who now aim to brave the difficulties and challenges posed by terrorists and with a hope for a peaceful Balochistan. They have decided to stand for Pakistan. They are determined not to let their voices muted by few hooligans who are misguided to the extent of killing people of Balochistan. The message of the Balochistan youth to every one is ‘to stand up against the militancy,’ and defend Balochistan and Pakistan.
The writer is a working journalist based in Quetta.
سہیل نے اپنی ماں کے ساتھ کیا ہوا آخری وعدہ پورا کیا اور عید سے پہلے ہی گھر پہنچ گیا فرق صرف اتنا تھا کہ سہیل شہید اپنے اُوپر سبز ہلالی پرچم اوڑھے ہوئے تھا۔
ماں ہمیشہ اپنی گود میں آنے والے بیٹے کو اُونچی سے اُونچی پوسٹ پردیکھنے کی متمنی ہوتی ہے‘ والدین کے لئے کبھی کوئی خیال اور خواب اس چیز سے خالی نہیں ہوتا کہ اُن کا بیٹا بڑا ہو کر ڈاکٹر بنے گا، انجینئر بنے گا ، فوجی افسر بنے گا اور دنیا میں نام روشن کرے گا۔ اپنے لال کے سر پر سہرا بندھے دیکھتی ہے۔ پھر اُسے تصور میں پھلتا پھولتا دیکھتی ہے اور ہمیشہ اُسے درازئ عمر کی دُعا دیتی مگر کبھی اُسے لہو میں ڈوبا اور کفن میں لپٹا نہیں دیکھتی بلکہ ایسا تصور یا سوچ آتے ہی کانپ سی جاتی ہے ۔ مگر اس کے باوجود پاکستان کی اس دھرتی سے ابھی میجر عزیز بھٹی اور راشد منہاس جیسے لال اور اُن کا جذبۂ شہادت ختم نہیں ہوا۔لیفٹیننٹ سہیل بھی ایک ماں کا وہ راج دُلارا ثابت ہوا جس پردھرتی ماں فخرکرتی ہے۔ لیفٹیننٹ سہیل نے دھرتی پر مانسہرہ کے ایک متوسط گھرانے میں28جنوری 1987ء کو جنم لیا۔
سہیل کے والدِ محترم اب بھی انہیں والہانہ یاد کرتے ہیں اور بتاتے ہیں کہ میرے ہاتھوں کی اُنگلیوں پر سہیل کا لمس اب بھی محسوس ہوتا ہے۔جب میرا ہاتھ پکڑ کو وہ مُجھے دُکان پر لے جاتا اور ہمیشہ پستول، ٹینک اور تلوار لینے کی ضد کرتا، پھر وہ ان کھلونوں سے کھیلتا اور ہونٹوں پر ہمیشہ یہ الفاظ ہوتے بابا میں دشمن کو ماروں گا بابا آپ رونا مت۔ پتا نہیں تم مُجھے کیا کہنا چاہتے تھے سہیل! یہ بات مجھے اب سمجھ آئی وہ پستول سامنے پڑی اب بھی میرا حوصلہ بڑھاتی ہے۔ تمھاری ایک ضد پستول خریدنے کی پوری کی اور ایک ضد تمھارے جذبے کے آگے ہار کر کیونکہ جن کے بیٹے اس جذبے سے سرشار ہوں وہ ہارا نہیں کرتے۔ اولاد کی محبت بہت سی جگہوں پر والدین کو کمزور کر دیتی ہے۔مگر جب سہیل جیسی اولاد ملے تو بابا کے دل پر صبر کا مرہم رکھ دیا جاتا ہے اور بابا فخر کرتے ہیں کہ اللہ تعالیٰ نے اُن کو ایسے لال سے نوازا۔ لیفٹیننٹ سہیل (شہید) بطور کیڈٹ 18اپریل 2005ء کو پاکستان ملٹری اکیڈمی روانہ ہوئے اور 14اپریل 2007ء کو اپنی تربیت مکمل کر کے دس آزاد کشمیر رجمنٹ میں بطور سیکنڈ لیفٹیننٹ کمیشن حاصل کیا اور اوکاڑہ چھاؤنی سے عسکری زندگی کا آغاز کیا۔11جولائی 2007ء میں اپنی یونٹ کے ساتھ عسکریت پسندوں کی سرکوبی کے لئے بنوں روانہ ہوئے۔ رمضان سے پہلے جب سہیل اپنے والدین اور بہن بھائیوں سے مل کر رُخصت ہوا تو بہنوں اور والدین نے روتی آنکھوں مگر مسکراہٹوں کے ساتھ اُسے رخصت کیا اور وہ وکٹری کا نشان بناتے ہوئے اس وعدے کے ساتھ آنکھوں سے اوجھل ہو گیا کہ چھوٹی عید سب کے ساتھ گھر پر کرے گا۔
10آزادکشمیر رجمنٹ کو ستمبر 2008ء میں بنوں سے باجوڑ جانے کا حکم ملا یہ رمضان کا مہینہ تھا 25دسمبر 2008ء کو لیفٹیننٹ سہیل بطور پلاٹون کمانڈر اپنی کمپنی کے ساتھ خار سے لوئی سم کی طرف روانہ ہوئے۔ 26ستمبر 2008ء، 25رمضان المبارک جمعۃ الوداع وہ دن ہے جب وہ دشمن کے ناپاک ارادوں کو روندتے ہوئے آگے بڑھے۔ دشمن سے دوبدو مقابلہ شروع ہوگیا۔ دشمن نے پہلے سے بہتر پوزیشن کا انتخاب کیا ہوا تھا اور اس کا فائر کافی کارگر تھا۔ تاہم لیفٹیننٹ سہیل اور ان کے سپاہیوں کی پیشہ ورانہ مہارت اور جوش کے سامنے جلد ہی اسے شکست کا سامنا کرنا پڑا۔ دشمن نے اپنی پوزیشن خالی کی اور پسپائی کا راستہ اختیار کیا۔ تاہم لڑائی جاری رہی۔ لیفٹیننٹ سہیل اپنے سپاہیوں کے ساتھ آگے بڑھتے گئے کہ اس اثنا میں دشمن کا فائر کیا ہوا ایک راکٹ ان کے سینے پر آ لگا۔ پاکستان کے اس عظیم بیٹے نے اﷲ اکبر کا نعرہ لگایا، کلمہ شہادت پڑھا اور جان جان آفریں کے سپرد کر دی۔ تاہم وہ اپنا مشن شہادت سے پہلے مکمل کر چکا تھا۔
ماں کی پُکار پر’’ جی‘‘ کہنے والا دھرتی کی پُکار پر کیونکر لبیک نہ کہتا کیونکہ بہادری اورشہادت کا جذبہ بچپن ہی سے خون میں شامل ہوتا ہے اور ماں کبھی اپنے بچے کو لاڈ و پیار کے باوجود بزدل نہیں بناتی۔ اُسے بہادری کا درس دیتی ہے اور اُسے اس جذبے سے آشنا کرتی ہے۔سہیل نے اپنی ماں کے ساتھ کیا ہوا آخری وعدہ پورا کیا اور عید سے پہلے ہی گھر پہنچ گیا فرق صرف اتنا تھا کہ سہیل شہید اپنے اُوپر سبز ہلالی پرچم اوڑھے ہوئے تھا۔ لیفٹیننٹ سہیل شہید کو اُن کی جرأت اور بہادری کے اعتراف میں ستارۂ بسالت سے نوازا گیا۔
The region of Tharparkar is spread over 22,000 square kilometres, and has a population of about 1.5 million, residing in 2,300 villages and urban settlements. The area is divided into six talukas – Mithi, Islamkot, Chhachhro, Dihly, Diplo and Nangarparkar – the area receives rainfall in varying degrees and sometimes, none at all.
2014 happened to be an unfortunate year for the people of Tharparkar as this year, the area didn't receive rainfall and this resulted in the onslaught of drought. The scattered, uneven rainfall affected thousands of people and their families as major source of income in these areas, apart from live stock, is farming. The famine had devastating effects on the population and tens of thousands of people became a victim, including innocent children. Driven by desperation, people had to leave their homes in order to look for a place where water was available. Starved children, shortage of water and sick cattle were seen everywhere. Pakistan Army coloured this bleak, dark and gloomy picture by extending their help.
One of these inopportune, yet lucky, families was a Hindu family of Khaita Ram, living in the outskirts of Mithi, in a small dwelling area usually called Goth. The family consists of 12 people, who live in a kacha hut, which is locally known as Jhuggi or Ghopa. “If it was not for Pakistan Army, we would have lost all hope”, said Khaita Ram, the head of the family who was very grateful for the aid that Pakistan Army provided. Ram lives with his wife Gayeti, three daughters; Leela, Saavi, Mukhi and his son Rahul. Rahul's wife Aasha and their kids Nirmal, Komal, Neha, Makhul and Sunny, also live with Kahita Ram. Although Khaita Ram and Rahul get minimal jobs as sanitary workers or crop-harvesters – but they are not enough to feed 12 people in their home. Their major source of income, like other people in Tharparkar, is live-stock but due to the fact that they are poor, they only have a flock of 20 goats. Moreover, because of the drought, even animals got sick, were malnourished and were suffering from several ailments. The family was in dire need of help and their prayers were answered in the form of Pakistan Army's helicopters bringing relief goods. Rahul, Khaita Ram's son, was ecstatic to receive the relief goods and said, “If the soldiers were not here with these goods, I would have lost something very important: my family.” During the relief operations by Pak Army, Khaita Ram's family has been provided with sufficient quantity of flour, rice, ghee and lentils, which are good enough to last a season. They've also been provided with clean drinking bottled water.
Pakistan Army has set up their relief camps at Mithi‚ Chhachhro‚ Nangarparker‚ Islamkot and Diplo to lend a hand to the families in this hour of need. Family of Kahita Ram is not the only one that been helped by the troops of Army. There are hundreds of them who have been provided help at their door steps by soldiers. There has not been any discrimination whatsoever and everyone has been fully helped and assisted. In its relief operation, Pakistan Army has, so far, dished out approximately 110 tons of food supplies to the famished Tharparkar families. Relief camps, food/water supply, provision of basic necessities, medical facilities and what not… The Army did more than it could to lessen the problems of drought-stricken families. Doctors and healthcare specialists from Army Medical Corps have established field hospitals and are aiding people round the clock. Checkups, medicines, consultations; the doctors are doing their best to support the affected people. These medical camps, have provided medical assistance to around 3500 patients in that area during the past few weeks.
Khaita Ram, with tears in his eyes, told an official “I thought I would lose my family; hunger, thirst and sickness would envelope us, but these soldiers saved us…I am grateful for their help”. It is a common misconception that Hindus or other minorities are not considered important in our country but the kind behaviour of Pakistan Army towards Khaita Ram's family has set an example that we all are linked together through the bond of humanity. Race, religion, colour, caste, creed doesn't matter; what matter the most is that they are humans and are in a bad condition. Helping them doesn't give anybody a higher status; it gives a sense of relief and satisfaction. Not only to the soldiers, but to the countrymen, also; they are content that innocent children are safe, they have food, water and clothing and are not going to die. Being tied together by the notion of humanity is like making an unbreakable vow where you have to reach out and help those who are in need. Our religion focuses on this aspect as well. The soldiers of Pakistan Army did what they are taught to do. Pakistan Army trains its men to serve and defend each Pakistani without any discrimination.
As I was communicating with my '2nd-in-Command', Maj Jalal Ud Din Tareen Shaheed, and other command echelons through wireless-set on 21 May 2014 – while we were engaged in exchange of fire with the foreign terrorists in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) – there was suddenly a silence on the communication network. And before I could use the alternative means of communication to know about the situation, Capt Haider Khan, another officer participating in the same operation, reported to me that Maj Jalal had been hit by bullets of the enemy. I was also informed that two more soldiers from my proud unit, Sepoy Saleem Ullah and Sepoy Imtiaz had also received bullet injuries and had embraced Shahadat at the spot. I ordered Capt Haider Khan to immediately assume the command of the situation in place of Major Jalal and also ordered for evacuation of causalities to Field Treatment Centre (FTC), Mir Ali Camp in NWA, as we kept the enemy engaged. “He has been hit in the chest and bullet has damaged his internal organs that resulted in excessive blood loss,” shared doctor at the FTC with me.
He was in critical condition. We realized it, but were equally proud of the fact that Maj Jalal was another addition to the already long list of gallant soldiers of Pak Army who are always ready to lay their lives for the country. A tall, quiet, humble and graceful Maj Jalal Ud Din Tareen was born and brought up in a far flung area of Gulistan, located in Qilla Abdullah District of Balochistan. Hailing from a Pakistan-loving-patriotic-family, Maj Jalal joined Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul with 94 PMA Long Course in 1994, and was commissioned in 54 Baloch Regiment in 1997. His younger brother, Tariq Tareen, shares that Maj Jalal was very regular in communication with all family members and would always advise them to become useful citizen and was often found talking about Pakistan. Recalling his words, he tells, “Pakistan cannot go weak as along as its people work hard with zeal and enthusiasm and love their country.” I have the privilege of being coursemate of Maj Jalal, and was fortunate enough to be his Commanding Officer, too. Although Maj Jalal could not be promoted last year, but not even for a single moment did he give any gesture of being unhappy and was as good an officer as he used to be before his Selection Board. This is indeed beauty of Pakistan Army and its system that the soldiers prefer to work for country rather than for promotions and privileges. Maj Jalal was one such example besides many, who continue to serve the country in their own way.
“We should continue to work on training aspects of the soldiers as better trained soldiers will prove their mettle during the conduct of operations,” said Maj Jalal while discussing professional affairs of the unit with me, a day prior to his Shahadat. He was a driving force for all of us in the unit. One day once I asked him to proceed on leave, and his reply was simple: “I am not tired. I am never tired of wearing uniform and will only proceed to meet my family after spending the coming Eid with my troops.” Probably that Eid may never arrive now but his under command troops recall his words each day and admire his love for his soldiers. So intense was his love for his men that while being evacuated to FTC, he was not much worried about himself but was continuously asking about the health and condition of his two fellow soldiers who received bullets in the same incident and was reciting the Kalima continuously, recalls Subedar Major Alam Hussain, who was with him in FTC, Mir Ali.
Major Jalal was a marvelous support for me in the extension of my command in the unit. He was highly motivated and a true regimental officer who was involved in every affair of the unit and all operational tasks assigned to the paltaon. We went together to neutralize the terrorists in Mir Ali area on 19 December 2013 and returned victorious, and were happy to fight the terrorists again on another day. That day was to come five months later, on 21 May 2014, to leave its scars on my heart forever.
Although we were course-mates and good friends, but Maj Jalal never addressed me with my name after I assumed the command, and would always call me as 'Sir', which at times was embarrassing for me. And if I expressed un-easiness to be addressed so formally by him, he would say, “Allah has bestowed this rank upon you and you deserved it; it is my duty both officially and in person to respect you for this. I will In-Sha-Allah call you by your name once you are over with the command.”
Dear Jalal, now, I eagerly wait for you to address me with my name. Major Jalal loved his family very much. He was blessed with two sons and two lovely daughters. I never got the chance to talk to his eldest daughter, Umme Kalsoom, but his son Adil Tareen was almost a member of our unit community and we often talked to each other. Maj Jalal remained in touch with his wife on daily basis and was always concerned about their comfort and good life. Haji Muhammad Akhtar (father of Maj Jalal), a brave and courageous Baloch, after receiving Maj Jalal's coffin at home, said “It is Will of Allah and I am proud of my son who has sacrificed his life for Pakistan.” Maj Jalal often discussed situation of Balochistan with me. “I feel so happy that Army has opened many schools in Balochistan and is doing so much for the welfare of the people. I have a strong desire that people of Balochistan get best education and facilities,” Jalal shared with me the other day. He always motivated the troops from remote areas to bring their families in cantonment and educate their children. The bullet wound on the chest of Maj Jalal resulted in excessive blood loss. Although he was transfused three pints of blood during surgery at FTC, but could not sustain the injury and left for eternal abode in the midway to Peshawar, where he was being air-lifted to, for advance treatment. Before evacuation to Peshawar, at Mir Ali, I carried Jalal's stretcher from ambulance to the chopper. That was the last and final moment that I saw Jalal asleep, peacefully, though alive at that time.
Maj Jalal was buried with full military honour in his ancestral town, Saigai (Gulistan), Balochistan. He will always be remembered by his friends, colleagues, family members and above all, 54 Baloch Regiment.