For me, Pakistan Army is a proud motherly institution that has never discriminated anyone on basis of religion, caste or creed. The only factor that prevails in Pakistan Army is ‘Love for Pakistan’.
A Sikh in Pakistan Army,” I don’t know how it sounds to people when they see a guy with a turban wearing a Baloch regiment badge, but is definitely a source of immense pleasure and of extreme pride to carry Pakistani flag on my uniform while wearing my religion on my sleeves. My romance with Pakistan Army began while staying in Lahore during college days. It did not happen out of the blue rather it was patriotism and nationalism inherited from my father who used to raise national flag at our house in Nankana Sahib (located about 80 km southwest of Lahore and about 75 km east of Faisalabad) during the complete month of August every year. We follow this tradition since Pakistan’s inception and it will continue till the world remains. I am talking of nearly ten years ago when I and my friends of Forman Christian College (FCC) decided to apply for the prestigious National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore. On the way, we passed through an army recruitment office. Something attracted me about it but no one had any idea of a Sikh being allowed into Pakistan's military and affiliated institutions, I recalled. I got admission at the NCA but later on decided to visit the Army recruitment office individually to make inquiries. When I was told the rules didn't inhibit Sikhs from joining the army, I immediately asked about the prerequisites, apparently arousing curiosity at the office about the "Sikh who wanted to join Pakistan Army". Like other patriotic stories, it pulled an irrepressible tug at the heartstrings.
Now my intent to join the ranks of Pakistan Army was pellucid but I kept this unusual decision buried in my heart and did not consult anyone. When people finally got to know, many of them tried to deter me from pursuing my ambitions and affections for the motherland. But how could they? They only thought of the highly misjudged extremist outlook of the country presuming that the army would never truly consider me as a part of it because of my religious beliefs. The biggest surprise, however, came from my mother who I initially thought would oppose my decision but turned out to be the only source of motivation at that time. She gave her consent and allowed me to go ahead in pursuit of my dreams. Being an elder son, she was initially worried about me joining the army but turned this weakness into strength, when she gave me a curt reply to my joke about continuing my degree instead of being in army after termination of first term at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul that I would find doors closed upon returning home. As I write, the memories of occasions that occurred during my tenure at different stations of posting, especially the experiences of my deployment in the South Waziristan Agency (SWA) are flashing through my mind. For nearly three years from now, I landed myself in Spinkai Raghzai (SKR), nearly 10 km from Jandola Fort at SWA along with my unit. I had a daunting task of inspiring and leading the soldiers. I tried to follow in the footsteps of inspirational Islamic leaders, who lead by personal example. The reaction of locals on seeing an officer of Pakistan Army wearing a turban was befittingly responded to. My actions reflecting my love for Pakistan was the key and the only reason that I survived in battle-hardened mountains of SWA.
Indeed, life in Pakistan Army has been challenging and specifically formidable for me owing to a distinct headdress but not undoable. As I owe nationalism and patriotism the way my ancestors did at the time of partition, who preferred to stay put while showing high valued commitment to the land, I just followed. For me, Pakistan Army is a proud motherly institution that has never discriminated anyone on basis of religion, caste or creed. The only factor that prevails in Pakistan Army is ‘love for Pakistan’. When I hear “Pakistan Zindabad”, blood starts pumping in my veins as it does in any other Muslim Pakistani. The green and white shining on my uniform is the significant reason for me to live with pride and by far it is the only reason.