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Hilal Her

The Braveheart of Balochistan: Remembering Capt Dr Bilal Khalil Shaheed

October 2023

Without a doubt, the shuhada are chosen by the Almighty and destined to sacrifice their lives in His path. However, their fate is not the result of a miracle, but rather a series of interconnected events. It became even more apparent to me when I had the opportunity to interact with the family of Capt Dr Bilal Khalil Shaheed, who embraced shahadat in Balochistan. The family, particularly his sister Ifrah, exhibits an astonishing level of pride, contentment, and perseverance that is truly awe-inspiring. Interviewing the family of the shaheed was a deeply inspiring experience for me. It not only boosted my morale, but also reinforced my belief that our faith, customs, and traditions have the ability to cultivate heroes like Dr Bilal Khalil Shaheed.

“He was a shining example of kindness, humbleness and was equally adored by his family and friends for the compassionate energy that he exuded. My brother embraced shahadat to save others. This is the thought that keeps us going. Although he is not with us, he saved many families from the affliction of losing their precious ones”, says Ifrah the youngest and beloved sister of Capt Dr Bilal Khalil Shaheed, lovingly called Gogi by him.
Born in Faisalabad, Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed embraced shahadat in Noshki district of Balochistan while fighting terrorists. Ifrah remembers the eldest of four siblings, benevolent to both his younger brothers and his only sister as a kind and affectionate person. As she described her brother’s compassionate nature, there was a slight smile on her face along with a sheen of tears in her eyes, which reflected not only her grief but also the immense love and respect that she felt for him. While speaking about her brother, Ifrah fondly remembered how he shouldered the responsibility of protecting and brought up of his siblings, especially after their mother passed away.
Youngest of all the siblings, Ifrah enjoyed the perks of being the only sister and her brother lovingly used to always bestow her with gifts and engage her in all the games that he played with his siblings. “Bhai always paired with me, because he didn’t want me to feel left out,” said Ifrah, remembering her affectionate brother. Whenever Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed visited his family, he took Ifrah out for ice cream and other fun activities. For her, those are the most enjoyable moments of her life that she will always cherish. 
Ifrah holds dear the fond memory of how her brother prioritized her wishes and choices. Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed, being compassionate by nature, was not the one to impose his ideas and notions upon his siblings. He desired for them to navigate their own paths and discover themselves by pursuing their own dreams. Ifrah had no trouble approaching her brother to share her concerns and ask for guidance. He was a great listener and always willing to help out his little sister during the challenging circumstances. Today, Ifrah is pursuing her desired field of study, a Bachelors of Science (Honors) degree in Computer Sciences. Her brother played a crucial role in giving her the courage to pursue her dream, rather than conforming to society’s preferred and predefined choices. Ifrah affectionately remembers her brother as a soft-spoken, kind-hearted and obedient child: “He was different. Unlike others of his age who yearned for financial and physical comfort, he sought challenges aspiring to be a harbinger of change.”
As a student, he excelled academically, achieving straight A’s both in his O - and A-level exams. However, despite his academic success, his journey of joining the Army was fraught with challenges. Being a man who shunned mundane comforts and instead sought change, his first choice after A-level was to join the infantry corps, which couldn’t be realized because of his weak eyesight. Thus, he chose to serve his country by becoming a doctor. Due to technical complications related to domicile issues, Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed could not join the Army Medical College. However, being persistent in the pursuit of his dream, he joined a Medical College in Dera Ghazi Khan and joined the Army as a Short Service Commissioned Officer four years later. 
Ifrah remembers feeling nervous when his brother expressed his desire to join the Army. She was troubled by the potential challenges that his brother might face by embarking upon this journey. However, after observing her brother’s determination and passion to serve his country, she and the rest of the family eventually came to support his decision.
Shortly after joining the army, Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed was deployed to Balochistan that was at that time grappling with low-scale militancy. He soon started treating patients in Frontier Corps base in Noshki District of Balochistan. On February 2, 2022, he faced the ultimate test of his courage and persistence. A group of terrorists launched a violent attack on the FC camp in Noshki, armed with heavy weapons and explosives. Their objective was to breach the camp through the back gate, which happened to be near Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed’s room.
Ifrah recalls, “We watched the horrifying news on television, remembering those moments as the most agonizing, prolonged, and painful ones of our lives. My father made multiple attempts to call, but to no avail. My father came across a news piece about a wounded soldier and immediately experiencing a deep sense of certainty told us that the injured individual was none other than Bilal.” The following day, Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed’s brother delivered the heartbreaking news of his shahadat to the family. 

On the day of the attack, Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed had shouldered the responsibility of protecting his patients and everyone in the hospital. Upon hearing gunshots, Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed swiftly made his way towards the Medical Inspection (MI) Room, immediately prioritizing the wellbeing and safety of his patients. He found them on the way seeking safety in an isolation room. After providing reassurance to his patients, he proceeded to the MI Room, which was located just a few meters away from the isolation centre. It was on his way there that he encountered the terrorists.
Capt Dr Bilal Shaheed was an excellent shooter and brought his skill to use as he started efforts to prevent the terrorists from entering the residential areas and wards. He fought bravely for seven minutes, severely injuring a terrorist in the process, and distracting two others from entering the residential area and the wards. In just seven minutes, the Armed Forces and Quick Reaction Force (QRF) were alerted, successfully preventing the terrorists from harming the patients and causing extensive damage. One against many, he kept on fighting until the terrorists shot him point blank and he embraced shahadat
Like the rest of the family, Ifrah could not fully accept the reality until she saw her brother’s body wrapped in the Pakistani flag. Ifrah recalls: “I found it extremely difficult to accept that Bilal had embraced shahadat. The feeling of despair persisted for some time, but I found solace in the knowledge that my brother’s determination and fighting spirit prevented causalities in the residential area. His sacrificial spirit and passion was evident in his courageous endeavor to protect the nation from terrorists.” 
Capt Dr Bilal Khalil Shaheed’s final WhatsApp message to Ifrah before he embraced shahadat was a promise to return home very soon. He did, but in a coffin, leaving an indelible mark in the hearts of the people he saved and a story of bravery that will be remembered forever. Every day, Ifrah experiences a deep longing for her brother. However, whenever she reminisces about him, she finds solace in knowing that her brother was able to save numerous families and precious lives. This is the legacy that Capt Dr Bilal Khalil Shaheed left behind, and Ifrah’s message is derived from it: “Life is about more than just oneself; it is about bringing happiness to other people’s lives, which is the ultimate source of happiness.”

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