In military one learns the essence of people, leadership and professional excellence. One sees so many examples of moral courage, commitment, and self-sacrifice. During my thirty-year-long military career, I have seen the various facets of war, as well as the succeeding peace. During the days of war spent in Kashmir, Tribal Areas of Pakistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan where I was deployed as part of foreign missions, I witnessed the finest display of devotion to duty, power of character, and charms of martyrdom for the
Motherland. At the same time, the wars exposed to me the plight of people and their sufferings as a consequence. Where life remains a yearning for eternal peace and love, war also remains a reality to protect life and freedom. As a soldier-officer, serving in different ranks and files, I experienced that the battlefield gives an altogether new meaning to life, camaraderie and courage, patriotism and goals for peace. As a young officer I also carried along the dreams and aspirations which bestowed me with the love of books, power of pen, and a passion to seek truth. From school to college days, I got deeply attracted to great authors, who quietly infused in me a world of ideals and hopes and an insatiable desire for reading. Fortunately, both my passion of soldiering and love of reading combined; the journey that started from Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul – from Gentleman Cadet to Brigadier – culminated at ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) where, as Director Publications, I have been credited for publishing a number of books on national and international issues, and as Chief Editor Hilal, I have proudly led the initiative of expanding this monthly into four separate, widely- circulated magazines – Hilal English, Hilal Urdu, Hilal for Her and Hilal for Kids. At Pakistan Military Academy, and in the battlefield, gun and thunder were the prevalent notions, and at ISPR pen and written words were the dominant gears towards one’s passion of serving the Motherland. The book’ A Lone Long Walk’ is a compilation of tales of soldiers whom I have come across during my military service and, life as I have seen it. It is in fact a reflection of the thought process of young men from their childhood dreams to the glory of martyrdom, stretched over personal life to the call of duty. The bullets that pierce the bodies do not end up in deaths only, but also give birth to tales of pride and
pathos. Soldiers in the battlefields do carry along their dreams, but they willingly die defending the Motherland. I heard and witnessed many untold ‘love’ stories, broken dreams,
unfulfilled promises and unsaid words that can be found scattered all over a battlefield that has endured war. The tales shared in this book give an insight to the lives, feelings, values and ethos of both peace and war. These tales can be similar from start to culmination, but so are the dreams and unfolding events of the life of a soldier. How these tales catch your eyes I don’t know, but what matters is that I feel proud in putting in words those moments of pride and pathos that we in the hustle and bustle oflife usually don’t care to notice. The martyrs of war meet the glory, but the survivors of war are left to meet a more daunting task – to construct life as yearned for by the dying comrades – they chose to die for honour, freedom, peace and prosperity of the beloved Motherland.
‘A Lone Long Walk’ is a ‘song’ of an old-young man. Whether it attracts you to listen to those whispers is upto you. The old man said in silent whispers,
It was A Lone Long Walk:
to find love,
serve the motherland,
live with passion,
know the truth.
It was a journey in blind alleys …
of nothingness, and all.
December 31, 2019