Monday, December 8, 2008


Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf

It is the destiny of every professional soldier to lie in wait for a day that may never come and yet be prepared if it does even at the peril of his life. Soldiering for me and my friends like Alvi, spans those romantic expanses of military life through all its peaks and valleys, which none other than soldiers grasp; and always leading towards a horizon of ideals that no other profession can rival.
The honour of the country is paramount; that of the men one commands the next; and self, the last

It is only this profession that reaches the closest zeniths of ideals, as its brave soldiers are expected to sacrifice their today for the tomorrow of others; the ultimate destiny for a professional soldier whenever the need so arises.

Such are the rallying points to build courage when valour seems to fail; to regain faith when despair abounds; and to create hope when it is forlorn. It is the integration and internalising of this code that arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which was and will be, with me always

We belong to the breed of officers that volunteered for the Army after the tragedy of 1971. These 36 years have taught us to be proud as well as be unbending in honest failure. It opened vistas of true wisdom and meekness of strength. Our emotions were not ours alone but also shared by every individual of the armed forces. There was therefore always, a temperate will, a quality of imagination, vigour of the emotions, an appetite for adventure and the resolve to win back the lost honour.

The day I joined Pakistan Military Academy, a group of seniors especially came to see me. Though I spoke lucid English, they were all amused to hear me speak urdu in typical Lahori dialect. A just for fun ragging was followed by a visit to the cafeteria, where we chanced to talk of our linkages with Pakistanis in Kenya, my sister being one. I was impressed the way he talked of Pakistan and the army. It was later I learnt that he had renounced his British moorings only to join the army.

Alvi loved to flirt with danger. In boxing he took on Talat, a cadet twice his weight and danced around him. In assault course, he set a record and jumped obstacles so reminiscent of the safari land he came from. He ran like a true Kenyan marathon runner and would always lead in the grueling nine miles run

In 1973, we did our adventure parachuting course together. We were instructors together in School of Infantry and Tactics and did our Staff course in Quetta in 1985 in the same batch. That’s when we both got our second daughters.

We had frequent contacts in 1999-2000 when he commanded the SSG and I was in Military Operations. Then again when he was a Major General, we worked together on the Heliborne Rapid Reaction Force.

After our retirements, we usually brushed shoulders at Tai Pan Restaurant of PC Rawalpindi. Despite the unceremonious exit, he had not lost his bubbling demeanor and confidence. He was just the same.

To me he remains a living memory of a young teenager shouting ‘four men left door’ as we prepared to jump from the 34 feet tower. He was so full of life, vigor and energy

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