A Tribute to APS Martyrs by the future fighter pilots of Pakistan. At PAF Academy Risalpur
The immortal bygone,
The epic wings
Dusk to dawn,
The wit vigorous,
Death before disgrace!
Dedicated to Squadron Leader Bilal Hasan Babri, my best friend and mentor. May you rest in eternal peace brother!
May 28 holds inordinate prominence in Pakistan’s history. May 28, 1998 was the day when Pakistan reiterated its existence forever by attaining the supreme deterrence by testing its nuclear arsenal in the mountains of Chaghi. May 28, 2015, Pakistan launched its first ever Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Pigeon (AMRAAP). The pigeon named Avian Bond was launched from an unknown Air Force Base in Pakistan amidst the presence of the senior most hierarchy of the Armed Forces and top notch scientists of the country. Allegiance stimulating, sky shattering slogans induced goose bumps as the pigeon flapped its wings at its launch and straight away headed due East.
Avian Bond, a 6 months old Pakistani pigeon endured the toughest 3 weeks training with Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG), recently declared the best elite force of the world by the Business Insider Australia. Avian Bond, for his exceptional service was then selected by the Pakistan’s most-feared-by-the-world intelligence agency ISI for a covert operation “Coo’s Coup” against India. Avian Bond the pigeon then joined an Air Superiority Fighter Squadron of Pakistan Air Force for his fighter flying training spanned over 4 weeks come the end of which he was declared a combat-ready wingman and rendered ready by the Air Force to undertake the mission.
Avian Bond, Pakistan Air Force’s pigeon, essentially equipped with the unconventional stealth technology, swooped at speeds of Mach 0.007 and landed in an undisclosed war zone in Pathankot India. It was a matter of time before Avian Bond the pigeon had gathered all the “Only eyes to read” and “Top secret” information from Indian Air Force Base at Pathankot and took off straightaway for Pakistan. It was some 10 NM West of Pathankot that Avian Bond, flying at ultra-low levels was intercepted by Indian authorities on ground around 1600 hours. A highly trained professional fighter pilot, Avian Bond transmitted all the information through the secured radio transmission to the concerned authorities in Pakistan and obliterated any proof whatsoever before he was captured.
Apprehension of Avian Bond the Pakistani pigeon is probably the biggest breakthrough the Indian intelligence agency has had since its unwarranted inception. We decree that Avian Bond be treated in conjunction with the Geneva Convention 1929 guaranteeing rightful rights to the POWs.
Avian Bond, the pigeon’s service to Pakistan will never be forgotten and will be reminisced for the generations to come. Pakistan Air Force has launched a Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) mission to recover Avian Bond the pigeon from India. We do not leave our pigeons behind.
#JeSuisPigeon #JeSuisAvianBond #BehindEnemyLines
The term “Male Dominated Society” is neither for nothing nor does it alone mean, against the common misconception, of subjugating the women to physical violence or even biases towards them, comes a chance to attest and exhibit supremacy in any form. Even a demeaning nod at the idea of an achievement by the opposite gender is as derogatory as the worst form of it may be. One doesn’t have to advocate “feminism” or “masculism” to believe in the gender equality, which on the contrary, is the only crucial reason to give birth to sexism.
I deemed it necessary to reiterate and lay out straight my strong advocacy of gender equivalence for two reasons – Generally to mortify the pseudo literal literati liberal brigade and primarily, to express my utmost detestation of anyone exploiting the said idea in blackmailing for their (not so) ulterior motives. One such extortionist would be ex air force officer Fatima Shafi. Hiding behind the mask of “feminism”, equipped with nothing but utter lies, opportunists like her do more harm to the real cause of feminism than any misogynist ever did.
In an article on US based airline ExpressJet’s official website, Andrea Feminella writes about, and quotes Miss Fatima Shafi, first officer at ExpressJet.
Fatima Shafi was once commissioned in Pakistan Air Force in short service commission in the engineering branch for a contract period of 10 years’ service. After having completed her initial training at the air force academy, Miss Shafi was posted to the flight lines of a Mirage fighter squadron completing her tenure in which she was then posted to an F-16 fighter squadron as the engineering officer, something officers in engineering branch take pride in, and rightly so. During her tenure as the engineering officer at the F-16 squadron, she expressed her “earnest desire” to fly the fighter jets in air force and was denied as the “change of branch” was against the policy. Come the end of her official contract of 10 years, Fatima opted not to extend her commission and retired from the service, some 6 years ago and ended up at ExpressJet. Fatima appeared in the Nobel Prize Ceremony held in Norway in the honour of Malala Yousafzai and well, thought Pakistan-bashing earns laurels and some limelight, something she has been fantasizing since her days in service in the air force where merit unfortunately for her is the only criteria to progress.
It is now that Miss Shafi in a recent spree off her inaptitude has started to malign Pakistan in general and the air force in particular. I reckon it my obligation to paint a true picture for the people who might have come across her venom spewing low self-esteemed conscience through her baseless article and to cure her “selective amnesia”.
Time to set a few facts straight before we advance.
Fatima Shafi in her LinkedIn profile states:
Well ma’am, let me align your true North here for you. Pakistan is one of the very few countries of the world and the only Muslim country to have had appointed a woman a General, General Shahida Badshah.
She further states at one point in her profile:
I’ve yet to see on god’s earth, a more otiose and futile argument than that. Really? I mean you royalty, were commissioned in the “Engineering Branch” of the air force and you could not have flown the fighter jets in your another 8 lives for the air force policy clearly only validates officers of “Flying Branch” to be flying, and well I just cited the policy, not a case of inaptitude at your end, you can thank me later.
Let me walk you through the unraveled history Miss Shafi, you once upon a time somewhere down the line volunteered for a basic para jump course at Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur under Special Services Wing, failing to qualify for which after several attempts, you were taken off from it for your meagre physical standards. More than 30 women in Pakistan Air Force are qualified as paratroopers, something that has nothing to do with the gender bias but surely with physical standards.
Fatima Shafi in no situational awareness denunciates Pakistani culture for women quoting humiliatingly as: “Where I’m from, education for girls is a pastime, not a necessity. You only went to school so your mind wouldn’t wander. Your brain needed to be occupied until it was time for you to get married.”
Let’s just trust practically successful Pakistani women who believe in the merit Miss Fatima, unlike you, to answer that:
ExpressJet quotes Fatima Shafi in utmost obliviousness on its official article as: “Girls weren’t even allowed to visit fighter squadrons,” said Fatima. “For me to be assigned there was unheard of, so I just did my job.”
Ah the devious duchess speaks fib as she speaks, it right here is an embarrassment in itself to be even clarifying the stance of the air force as women are flying fighter jets and are continuingly inducted as flyers, and one of them even has earned the most coveted “Sword of Honour” too, something that has all in the world to do with aptitude and excellence, something you Miss Shafi are oblivious of.
Miss Fatima, if you had done only a diminutive homework, Pakistan does have distinguished and renowned flying clubs in Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi. Opting for Florida could only have been your personal choice as Pakistan has women flying commercial jets too here.
Just to remind you Miss Shafi, Pakistan is one of the fewest countries to have had a woman Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and a woman Speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza. Conqueror of the highest mountain of the world Mount Everest, Samina Baig also hails from Pakistan.
We here in the Air Force, Fatima, do never keep gender prejudices. We fly on each other’s wings, that’s trusting each other with each other’s lives which makes your every argument invalid and null and void. Guess I showed your groundless unsupported baseless article to the women flying with us here in Air Force and well, they laughed out heartily at the lack of sagacity in your accusing assertions.
Speaking on the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Norway might have been a dream come true for you Miss Shafi, but paradoxically it takes more than just Pakistan bashing and maligning and a “photo-Op” to have an asteroid named after you.
“Royal Jordanian Air Force fighter pilot Lieutenant Muath Al Kasaesbeh ejected safely over Raqqah, Syria (territory held by ISIS), after his F-16 developed a technical malfunction while on a strike mission against the terrorists.”
This was the news we got on December 24, 2014 while stepping out for a routine training mission, and as fighter pilots, we knew Muath’s safe ejection from an uncontrollable fighter jet could not be cherished, for Muath had to eject behind the enemy lines. We knew his fate instantly, for this wasn’t a conventional enemy he was up against, we’re talking about terrorists here, who have no code of conduct or rules to fight. They will go to any extreme to terrorize the people.
The most feared happened on February 3, 2015 when ISIS released a video of Muath caged and in an orange jump suit, soaked in gasoline while one militant lights a torch, and then lights a line of fuel in the sand leading toward the cage. Muath embraces martyrdom and we lost another brother for a greater cause, defending his motherland.
Soldiers do not fear death, they embrace it, they embrace it the day they take their oath. Muath proved to what extent a soldier, a fighter pilot can go in defending his country.
Although hailing from Al Karak, a small town some 140 miles South of Amman, Jordan, Muath wasn’t just a Jordanian but a brother in arms to us, a symbol of courage and resilience who was equally loved by his family and comrades. From the East to the West, everyone knows now, of the great stature of this 26 years old fighter pilot. He not only in his life proved his mettle as a fierce fighter, but his martyrdom too united not only the Jordanians worldwide but substantiated to be an eye opener for the Muslim Ummah as well.
Pakistan and Jordan enjoy the most cordial and fraternal relations which date back to the very independence of the two countries. Pakistan Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force in specific have ties beyond the mighty Himalayas. PAF fighter pilots flew RJAF Hunters and shot down Israeli jets successfully defending Mafraq Air Base during the Six-Day Arab Israel War for which they were awarded Jordan’s “Order of Istaqlal”. King Hussein had a special love for PAF pilots and visited PAF Base Sargodha during his tenure to witness aerobatics and later used to call them to Jordan as well. PAF and RJAF have been under taking joint air exercises ever since strengthening the brotherly bonds further attesting the nations’ love for each other.
PAF and RJAF pilots train and get posted on mutual exchange program undertaken by both the respected Air Forces. It is for the same reason the martyrdom of Muath Al Kasaesbeh was felt to the core in every heart of a Pakistani in general and a PAF pilot in specific.
Prayers were offered for Shaheed Muath and the bereaved family at Air Bases. One for we lost a comrade and secondly PAF like RJAF is fighting the same menace, the terrorism, as a front-line force. Muath’s martyrdom has only strengthened the resolve that we will not bow down to a bunch of scumbags who abuse and escapade the religion for their monstrous ambitions.
We offered our heartfelt condolences to Captain Muath’s family and the Kasaesbeh tribe in Jordan through his personal flying instructor at F-16, Lieutenant Colonel Faisal, flying with us in Pakistan.
“He was like a son to me”, he said in a firm tone. “He lived to make people happy, and even after his death, he has united them. The nation stands behind the King”
King Abdullah, a pilot himself like his esteemed father, King Hussein, led from the front. Like the head of a sovereign nation must do, he cut short his visit to the US and rushed back to his people. Queen Rania joined Jordanians in the streets and walked with them holding vigils for Muath. Jordan vowed an “Earth-shaking” response proportionate to the magnitude of the tragedy of all Jordanians” to eliminate terrorism from its soil and strike back even harder, for revenge is the best revenge. “Jordan will continue to fight terrorism till our military runs out of bullets and fuel”, the Warrior King said.
There have been reports and denials of King Abdullah gearing up and co piloting an RJAF bomber jet, leading a strike against ISIS himself. Nonetheless, just the mere notion rippled in spirits in people across the globe. What an indomitable leader of an indomitable nation. The world leaders must take heed from his nerves and audacity.
King Abdullah also visited the bereaved Kasaesbeh tribe and met Muath’s family too while Muath’s No.1 Squadron flew a missing-man formation (a formation fighter pilots fly to honour their lost wingman, where 4 fighter jets set course for overhead in a V- formation and No.2 pulls up abruptly into the skies indicating their wingman has ascended to the heavens) over his hometown on recovering from a strike against ISIS.
Muath’s martyrdom has renewed and reiterated the world’s response in fighting off this peril of terrorism. While we all condemn and restate our resolution, let us remember Muath how he was, not how ISIS wants us to. He is not only a Jordanian fighter pilot, he is a symbol of renunciation and denial to kneel down to the terrorists come what may. Captain Muath Al Kasaesbeh, you fought well comrade. May your soul rest in eternal peace.
sensing the pain
Bound to the woes
Of endless tales
and untold yearns
His mystic trails
no one discerns
Littlest caskets avow
heaviest of all
O’ my nestlings
I promise you
With my rumblings
and silent adieus
Rise and shine
will not forget
Every breath of mine
and blood to beset
I will fight
In truest essence
and divine might
So help me Lord
In war and promises
and everything for
“Riz, you have a phone call”, were the words I heard as I entered the air-crew room after a mission. I grabbed a mug of coffee and walked to the landline, least did I expect my youngest, 10 years old sister on the other end, a surprise, she never called me in my squadron ever before. I tried recalling if I had forgotten anything she had asked for but nothing struck my mind. Before I could even say anything, I heard loud erratic breathing and a trembling voice of my baby sister. All I could make out of what she said was: “You’re going to kill each and every one of the bad guys out there right?” I was stunned. I said yes of course that’s what I’m here for. She only could add: “Thank you.”
“A school in Peshawar has just been attacked”, I learnt, and for a moment I thought I heard wrong. How can someone attack a school? I asked myself. Even by the perverse religious lucidity the pseudo cults had been exploiting in the name of the religion of peace, how can someone even think of targeting innocent children who wouldn’t even know why were they being targeted? The unimaginable had happened. The Army Public School in Peshawar had been attacked by 7 terrorists who stormed in and opened fire indiscriminately and killed scores of the innocent angels. It was the Armageddon to say the least. Children were killed after confirmations for being sons of armed forces personnel. They were shot in the head. They were shot in the face. They were dragged out from under the chairs, under the tables and shot. At point blank. Their offense? They were sons and daughters of those who have dedicated their lives to defend their countrymen. 960 students and staff members were evacuated safely by Pakistan’s Special Services Group’s Zarrar Company specialized in anti-terrorism and hostage evacuation aided by Pakistan Air Force’s airborne surveillance aircraft. 141 embraced martyrdom on this black day in the history of humanity. 133 children aged 5-18 were martyred with an inquisitive expression on their faces “What is even our fault?” Teachers were set alight alive and students were made to watch them. Humanity died 141 deaths this day.
My mother called me last night: “Fight them. Kill them. They’ve hurt your mothers”, never had I heard my mother so enraged before. “Even my life for the vengeance”, I reassured her. It was as if she knew my answer but my tone would determine if she could even continue being my mother or not.
Armed Forces personnel are known to be emotionally distant and strong. My best friend gave his life for the motherland in my arms. I held his hands in mine and the last look on his face was of satisfaction and of entreat to continue the mission of safeguarding the motherland. The blood from his chest dropped on my hands, and sealed the deal. Maybe it is the military engrained in us, our emotional pendulum doesn’t swing back and forth wildly that much. We do not mourn our martyrs, we take pride in them. All that, but it took me 3 days to be even able to write this, one is just short on words on this savagery.
I’ve never seen such pin drop silence in our fighter crew rooms, ever. Even at losing our comrades in action, we get together, reiterate our resolve to continue the mission and fly to safeguard our homeland. 3 days and counting, no one has spoken a word since, just the exchange of silent reassurances between fighter pilots to avenge our children and we will.
The nation has been shaken by this vicious incident. People are frustrated and want to play their part in avenging those animals who took away our children. Anything they do just doesn’t seem enough. Every heart goes out to our mothers and want to take away their pain however it is possible. I got this message from a Pakistani right after the incident, and I’ve not seen truest of the spirits put up in words better than this.
The international media needs to align its true North too. These innocent children were not martyred because they were going to school, they were targeted because they were the children of the armed forces personnel who are fighting against terrorism at the forefront.
Today, I visited Army Public School Peshawar. As desolated as any place ever could be, I could see our traumatized children uncertain of what was coming at them in that blood adorned auditorium, I could hear them running in the destructed corridors amidst the gunshots. I could read their last messages on their bloodied books grabbed in pain. I could hear them all around asking me if I would continue their mission and I inevitably, inadvertently, kept nodding in affirmation throughout. Every step I took in those corridors, strengthened my resolve to get back and fight back stronger than ever, but there was something I had to do first.
I visited Combined Military and Lady Reading Hospitals Peshawar to meet the injured children and their families and to visit the great mothers who we all as a nation are indebted to. Every child I met in hospital was an epitome of courage and resilience and couldn’t wait to get better and get back to the same classrooms their friends had been shot in. “I will go back and complete my studies in the same school and join our armed forces to fight all the enemies.”, a 10 years old injured student told me. What a resolve, what a nation.
I then went to meet the mother of a 14 years old martyr. Believe you me, fighting a war, bombing the enemy, facing the bullets and the missiles is a lot easier, than facing a mother who lost her child. I walked in, the father of the martyred student embraced me. I could hear his heart beat and his lips quiver as he took me to the child’s mother: “He’s going to avenge our son”, he said and all of a sudden I felt as if I’m holding the whole sky on my shoulders. The esteemed most respectful mother looked up at me, there was a killing silence in the room. All she could do was extend her hand towards me, I knelt down, took her hand in my hands and kissed it: “Ma I will surely avenge every single one of our children”. A tear fell from her eye, rolled down on her cheek, dropped on our hands, and sealed the deal.
“What can we as Pakistanis in the civil do to help?”, a very dear friend asked me. Well first things first, we as fighter pilots and soldiers only need two things that boost our morale in the field infinite folds – National unity, and motivation. There has only been one time in the history of our country that has seen such superlative national unity as of today, the 1965 Indo-Pak war. All we need now is the motivation. There’s no denial this barbaric incident shook all of us, as the saner voices out there, we have all the more responsibility to get out there, walk our people through these toughest of the times. Our children will most likely develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have to talk them through this, motivate them, and give them a reason to believe. We have to give our people just the hope they need to cling onto. Help us, those who are at the fronts and build the nation. This won’t be easy let me tell you but we will do it, Insha’Allah.
I will not mourn, I will not express my anger. I want to remember this incident as it is when I fight and kill our enemies, I want to remember every face of my children as I extinct all the terrorists and ash their bodies. I will not sit back. I have written off my life in my oath to my nation, I am indebted to her a 141 times more now. We shall avenge every breath and the drop of the blood of our children.
Every bomb that we target these hell bound terrorists with, will convey a message from the children of Pakistan, that they, will not bend and that they, will stand up again. We shall rise and shine. Won’t forget. Won’t forgive.
May the Lord give me the strength to uphold the promise I made to my mothers and may He help my people get through the toughest of the times. Amen !