In Focus

No Second Thought

The story of Christian martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the defense of Pakistan

Since the creation of Pakistan, the Christian sons of the soil never hesitated to sacrifice their lives for the defense of the motherland. They always stood shoulder to shoulder with their Muslim brethren to shed their blood for the noble cause of defending Pakistan. Pioneer of this caravan is Younus, son of Qaisar, who hoisted the green flag at Pando hills during the Kashmir War in 1948.
Christian defenders always gave a firm shoulder to their Muslim countrymen whether it was Kashmir War of 1948, Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, Kargil War, 1999 or, the War on Terror. They always fought on the front foot whenever the beloved homeland called them for duty.
According to the 'Shuhada Cell' of GHQ, so far 91 Christians, including two officers,  have sacrificed their lives for Pakistan from Pakistan Army alone, excluding Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Navy. It is also encouraging to know that out of 70 Sitara-i-Jurat of PAF, seven are Christians and, out of seven, two have embraced martyrdom.
Christian martyrs  91 (2 officers)
Hindu martyrs       05 (2 JCOs)
Total                       96
Younus, son of Qaisar, from 16 Punjab Regiment showered his blood at Pando Hills; Pilot Officer Novan Theodore Fazal Ellahi embraced martyrdom at Attock; and Flight Lieutenant Edwin gave his life on duty while flying F-6 aircraft in Quetta. Out of 140 martyrs of Gayari (Siachen Sector), four were Christians, namely Asif Masih, Amoon Gill, Adil Masih and Naveed Masih.
Squadron Leader Peter Christy was among the pilots who retaliated with full force during the 1965 War. As a Flight Lieutenant, he was the navigator of B-57 Canberra aircraft and remained a part of many successful operational missions. To honor his bravery and professionalism, the government of Pakistan awarded him Tamgha-i-Jurat and promoted him as Squadron Leader. As 1971 War started, he was on deputation in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and was called back to his parent department, PAF. There were reports of air attacks on Karachi and the city had to be defended at all costs.
A Do-or-Die (DoD) mission was planned, the Christian Base Commander of Mauripur Base, Air Commodore Nazir Latif, gave a detailed briefing and two men volunteered for the mission – Squadron Leader Khusro, who had retired from the Air Force but was called back, and Squadron Leader Peter Christy.
On the morning of December 6, 1971, both headed for the mission in B-57 bomber aircraft. While returning from the mission, a surface-to-air missile hit their aircraft and both of them embraced martyrdom. The Indian Air Force (IAF) did not verify this incident and they were declared missing in action and later martyred.
Wing Commander Marvin Lesley was commissioned in 1954. During 1965 War, the then young Flight Lieutenant Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat (known as Commander Leslie) was deployed at Masroor Base, Karachi. When the enemy attacked Karachi, he was among those flying the F-86 aircraft. He destroyed two aircraft of the IAF and was known as the “Defender of Karachi” for his bravery and professionalism. At Lahore Air Base, he was given the charge of 9 Squadron where he held the spirit of his troops high by leading from the front. He flew 17 sorties and three photo reconnaissance missions. The government awarded him with ‘Sitara-i-Jurat’. It is noteworthy that he left his attractive deputation at Jordan and voluntarily rushed back to Pakistan as the 1971 War started. 
On December 12, 1971, when he completed his mission together with his colleagues, an Indian MiG from 47 Squadron attacked them. He took a lower flight and saved his aircraft from two missiles, but when he reached near the Gulf of Kutch, another missile hit his aircraft. According to IAF Flight Lieutenant Bharat Bhushan Soni, who hit his aircraft, saw him ejecting from the aircraft and falling in the deep sea and asked the headquarters to send a rescue team. When the rescue team reached, Commander Lesley was found nowhere. He was declared missing in action and was again awarded Sitara-i-Jurat.
On the same day, on December 12, 1971, another young man aged 19 was writing the story of valor with his blood. Second Lieutenant Daniel Utarid volunteered for the most difficult task when he passed out from Pakistan Military Academy Kakul and went to a unit deployed in Sylhet, East Pakistan.
On the morning of December 13, 1971, his Company returned from a night-long difficult mission. As he was having breakfast with his batman, he received the news of the enemy attack on a platoon of 31 Punjab that bore heavy losses. He got his soldiers ready and immediately reached the front. He was severely injuried during an encounter and three bullets were removed from his chest during surgery. He requested the surgeon to give those bullets to his mother as a souvenir. He was recommended for Sitara-i-Jurat. 
Captain Michael Wilson fought the enemy at Chhamb Sector in 1971 War and got injured in a tank accident on November 21, 1972 and later embraced martyrdom.
Since the beginning of the War on Terror, Christian soldiers have participated shoulder to shoulder with other Pakistani soldiers. Martyr of Nawazkot, Major Sarmas Rauf, Tamgha-i-Basalat, is one of them, who sacrificed his life for the motherland. He got commissioned in 1987 in 44 FF and out of 20 years of his service, he spent 17 years in the border areas of Sialkot, Kashmir, Siachen and Waziristan. He never preferred his personal comfort over the defense of the 
country. Major Sarmas Rauf was serving at the Line of Control during Kargil War 1999. He was posted from 44 FF to FC NWFP (later FC KP) on January 3, 2006.
Eversince the start of Operation Al-Mizan, 3 Wing Bajaur Scout had taken part in it and destroyed many important hideouts of the extremists. When his wing assumed responsibility of Nawazkot, Major Sarmas Rauf proved a strong leader against miscreants. Four days before his martyrdom, an important terrorists commander, his son and several accomplices were killed in an operation. Seeking revenge, the terrorists laid siege to Nawazkot post and blocked supply routes. Under his command, the soldiers put up great resistance, and caused major losses to the enemy.
During the same operation, he was hit by an RPG-7 round. He got injured initially and due to excessive bleeding, passed away later. The martyr was awarded Tamgha-i-Basalat.
At the time of documenting these sacrifices by Christian martyrs and achievements by Christian Ghazis, I have full faith and conviction that Christian sons of this soil have proved their worth whenever needed by the motherland. Out of the many Christian soldiers, 91 have laid their lives for Pakistan.
It was a pleasant surprise for me when I found out that Pakistan Army also looks after the families of Christian martyrs with great care and responsibility and never forgets them. Mrs. Delsea Christie (widow of Peter Christie), Mrs. Rubina Sarmas Rauf (widow of Sarmus Rauf), Miss Leslie Middlecoat (daughter of Middlecoat) were all full of praise for the armed forces for taking care of the families and not forgetting them.
Other than the martyrs, there are a number of war veterans who have given enormous services for their motherland. Among such veterans is Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, who valiantly fought against the enemy during the wars of 1965 and 1971. He was awarded Sitara-i-Jurat and Sitara-i-Basalat for his services. Cecil Chaudhry passed away in Lahore on April 13, 2012.

The writer is author of the book ,Sabz-i-Sufaid Hilali Parcham Kay Muhafiz-o-Shuhada.
E-mail: [email protected]

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