Written By: Cdr (Retd) Muhammad Azam Khan

As the flames continued to rise and explosions from burning vehicles persisted, three college personnel lay dead along with two attackers whose shredded body pieces were strewn in a vast area. Amongst those who embraced shahadat was one Akhtar Hussain. Despite being an aged ordinary motor mechanic, Akhtar Hussain displayed extraordinary sense of responsibility. He did not let the attacker inside the gate since the latter was reluctant to prove his identity.

The city of Lahore woke up to a serene and sunny spring morning on Tuesday, the 4th of March 2008. Located in the plush and high security surroundings of General Officers Residence complex on Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam, Pakistan Navy (PN) War College commenced its daily activities at 8 a.m. The gathering at the Naval institute at this time of the academic calendar was rather unusually large. Exercise Difa-i-Behr for the 37th PN Staff Course was entering its final stages with the concluding debriefing session planned for March 7. For the first time, faculty and members from the PAF Air War College and faculty belonging to the Command and Staff College Quetta had joined their naval counterparts for a lively discourse on the subject exercise involving tri-service operations.

“If anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our Messengers with Clear signs, yet even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land”. (Al-Quran, Surah Al-Maida, Verse 32)

In accordance with the exercise programme, the debriefing session of the four syndicates was scheduled for the day in the college lecture hall. Starting at around 1245 a.m., it was the third debriefing session that was to prove fateful. It was during this very session that the life of the few was cut short and blighted for several others.

At around 1310 a.m. a violent ear-splitting blast shook the college building. So intense and powerful was the explosion that the huge window panes in the lecture hall imploded and flew like fragmented steel spikes. Several main wooden doors were uprooted and tossed away whilst false ceiling with most of the lighting fixtures fell on ground. A huge fire ball simultaneously went up from the rear gate of the college followed by a plume of smoke. The area, a parking place for official and private vehicles, was covered in thick black smoke.

As a split second reaction, those in the lecture hall rushed outside. Some others (outside the lecture hall) also hurried towards the site of the blast to see if any injured could be evacuated. But before anyone could recover much less react, another blast (about 25 seconds later) rocked the college building. The explosion was much more powerful than the previous and as later reported, was heard far and wide in the city. As the flames continued to rise and explosions from burning vehicles persisted, three college personnel lay dead along with two attackers whose shredded body pieces were strewn in a vast area. Amongst those who embraced shahadat was one Akhtar Hussain. Despite being an aged ordinary motor mechanic, Akhtar Hussain displayed extraordinary sense of responsibility. He did not let the attacker inside the gate since the latter was reluctant to prove his identity.

Had Akhtar Hussain not questioned the first bomber for identity and opened the gate, the attacker may have dashed inside the college premises followed by the second striker (on motorbike) to blow up in sync and thus cause maximum casualties. Sadly in the end the efforts of Akhtar Hussain proved too little. The first bomber blew himself up ripping apart Akhtar Hussain and causing a huge breach in the gate. At the instance of the first blast, Khalid Farooq MCPO and the duty Petty Officer, Anwar ul Haq were in the college parking area. Recovering from the shock and amidst the rising smoke and debris, the two looked for any casualties. But this tragically was also the moment when the second bomber (racing on a motor bike) appeared on the scene.

As Khalid Farooq sensed danger, he charged towards the attacker yelling and swearing to stop him. He knew fully well that in doing so he was going right into the jaws of death. Anwar ul Haq closely followed Khalid Farooq to stop the attacker in his tracks.

Emerging from the thick smoke cloud and breached steel gate of the college, the suicide attacker with explosive laden on the side bags of his motor bike drove in full thrust as he raced forward. As Khalid Farooq sensed danger, he charged towards the attacker yelling and swearing to stop him. He knew fully well that in doing so he was going right into the jaws of death. Anwar ul Haq closely followed Khalid Farooq to stop the attacker in his tracks.

In the aftermath of the attack one thing was quite clear – a major and much larger disaster was averted only on account of the remarkable sense of responsibility and heroic endeavour of Akhtar Hussain, Khalid Farooq and Anwar ul Haq. By giving the ultimate sacrifice, together the three perhaps saved many others and prevented scores of children from being orphaned. Although there could not be any independent confirmation but from the method and tactics involved, it was quite evident that the attackers had done meticulous planning. The twin attack botched only during the execution part as the three Shuhada proved to be a rock barrier for the attackers.

taleofuncon.jpg

Read 1458 times

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

Follow Us On Twitter