Somewhere in the middle of last year while browsing through my facebook page something grabbed my attention. The picture and caption was tempting enough for a click and I read through the article. The caption read, “Pakistan One of the Most Dangerous Countries for Minorities”. Belonging to a religious minority community, I felt compelling urge to read the article regardless of the contents therein, my experience in Pakistan and as Pakistan Navy (PN) Officer remain in sharp contrast. I deem myself to be an equal son of the soil, perhaps more, since I am a Naval Officer and have pledged to lay my life for the defence of my country. I feel like L/Nk Lalik Jan, Major Shabbir Sharif, Major Aziz Bhatti, Lieutenant Yasir Abbas of PN and all scores of other valiant sons of the nation whose ultimate sacrifice brought dignity and honour to the country. I, in one way find myself associated to them. In normal circumstances my reaction would have been to click the ‘close’ button, yet I chose to continue reading. In the end my opinion regarding my country and the Navy remained unchanged.
I come from a Christian family of Islamabad, as my father, a Ph.D in Chemistry, taught at the Quaid-i-Azam University. During my early education I always had inspiration to pursue the finest education and join an institution as prestigious as the one my father worked in. Much to the angst of my father, I announced to be interested in joining the PN at a tender age of 15. He never wanted his son to join the defence services. “It is not for us, son”. 25 years later, his words still echo in my ears.
But despite my father’s reservations, I joined PN on 8 August 1992. My apprehension of unequal treatment during the selection process proved wrong, and my father’s too, as he proudly accompanied me to Karachi where I joined Navy’s training unit PNS RAHNUMA. It has been 23 years since. Fears of persecution, unequal treatment, bias, harassment and maltreatment have all buried under the blanket of protection and non-partisan treatment of seniors, colleagues and subordinates with whom I serve and continue to serve in PN. PN not only fulfilled my dream of higher education but also filled me with pride of being a chosen one as I was selected for many appointments and duties which steadfastly proclaim a system based on merit only. During my career, I also got the honour to serve onboard PN frontline Destroyers. It is indeed worth mentioning that I was nominated to undergo M.S based on my performance. I was selected and sent on secondment to a friendly Muslim state, Sultanate of Oman. I consider much honoured to have the privilege of being a national flag bearer in a foreign country for three years.
Today, I feel proud to serve in PN which has emerged as a key member of regional and global maritime coalitions through its professionalism and commitment.
The image of my country may be tarnished abroad because of some incidents, but these are exceptions only. I stand today as a symbol of equality of minorities in this country. I never felt any discrimination in the ranks and files and reaped rich rewards purely on performance and merit. At this critical juncture, when the Armed Forces are engaged in combating terrorism across Pakistan, I am reminded of the message of our founding father; hope, courage and confidence.The honour of serving my motherland in white, the same colour which stands prominent in our flag, gives me the confidence of dwelling and prospering in my Pakistan and my Navy.