Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf
Major General (Retired) Amir Faisal Alavi, the 1st General Officer Commanding of the Special Services Group (SSG) of Pakistan Army was ambushed and gunned down by assassins on 19 November 2008, a few hundred meters away from his house in Bahria Town Rawalpindi.
A down to earth and plain speaking soldier, Alvi’s only appetite was his motivational vocation. ‘Soldiers are sworn for life’ is what he said to me in 1972. Alavi lived and died a soldier.
When I joined
Alavi was amongst the genre that volunteered for the Army after the tragedy of 1971. These years of yester taught us to be proud as well as 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 grieved Pakistani. There was 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.
In the academy library, he held out the autobiography of General Douglas MacArthur and asked me to read, “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 Alavi, spanned those romantic expanses of military life through its peaks and valleys, which none other than soldiers grasp; and always leading towards a horizon of ideals that no profession but soldiering rival. “The honour of the country is paramount; that of the men we command the next; and self, the last”. He was a Pakistani soldier who lived and died every moment of it.
Gen Alavi, General Officer Commanding of SSG, personally led the anti terrorism operation in Angoor Adda Waziristan in 2004/5. The operation was conducted to flush out Al Qaeda Militants from a base inside
Ironically, the emotive traits of flirting with danger, fearlessness, aggression and plain speaking that made Alavi a domineering military leader were also his undoing. After his forced retirement, there were failed attempts on his life and death threats chalked on his
My last meeting with him was in PC Rawalpindi. He was now the CEO of Redtone, a Malaysian telecom company in
Such are the rallying points to build courage when valour seems to fail; to regain faith when despair haunts; and to create hope when it is forlorn. It was this code that sustained a sense of pride and yet of humility in Alvi even after his pre-mature retirement.
Alavi 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 reminiscent of the Kenyan safari land he came from. Like the marathon runners he had lived his childhood with, he would always lead the gruelling nine miles.
We were together in
But my best memory is our parachuting course together in 1973. It was gruellingly tough though all fun. We were in the same flight.
As the last post echoed and he was laid to final rest I could hear him yelling, ‘four men right door’ and off we jumped into the open sky. ALAVI MY CHEERLEADER!