From the children of Pakistan, to the hell bound terrorists: A message delivered by a Fighter Pilot

“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. Soldier saving kids 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.Untitled

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.

Message from the children of Pakistan written on MK-82 bomb
PAF Pilots wrote this message from the children of Pakistan on MK-82 bombs employed to target the terrorists 

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 !

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Flight MH-370 – an Aviator’s Perspective

Combat Flying knows no boundaries or Air Traffic Routes as Commercial Flying does. Fighter Pilots, hence, are responsible for their respective Air Defence Zones in general during peace time, International Borders being their bench mark.

Commercial flying, however, has set patterns and pre-defined flying routes known as ATS (Air Traffic Services) routes. Every day commercial jets get airborne, fly at different places around the world, in different continents. They know the environment which prevails while they are airborne. Commercial jets have an onboard transponder on all aircraft and when they taxi out, an Air Traffic Control clearance is given which specifies the Runway for departure, SID (Standard Instrument Departure), initial Airway to clear the Control Zone, Flight Level (Altitude to fly at) and Squawk Code (transponder code for SSR (Secondary Surveillance RADAR) which has to be set on the transponder panel in the cockpit. As they are lining up, they have to put the transponder on TARA (Traffic Alert/Resolution Advisory). As soon as a commercial jet takes off, and is handed over from ATC to Area RADAR, it paints (tracks) the aircraft (because of transponder) on their RADAR screens and announce ‘RADAR contact’. The aircraft is continuously tracked thereon till it lands. When the flight transitions from one FIR (Flight Information Region) to another, again the Controller announces ‘RADAR Contact’. If due to any reason, the transponder stops working or in other words, the blip disappears from the RADAR screens of the ground station, it is a situation of an alarm. Pilots are immediately informed and other measures as per SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are taken by the controllers.

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When the transponder is turned off or goes unserviceable, the controllers become more alert. They try to re-establish RADAR contact. If not possible, they create an alert. The Air Defence RADARs and military authorities are immediately contacted. The Air Defence RADARs are passive RADARs. They continuously monitor their airspace through low, medium or high level RADARs. Any unidentified aircraft entering their airspace is challenged. If no response is given/obtained, then Air Defence Alert (ADA) Fighter Jets are scrambled to identify the object and/or take tactical action. If the aircraft is entering any danger, prohibited or restricted airspace, then countries have the option of shooting it down.

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
In case of Malaysian Air MH-370 Boeing 777-200, once the transponder was shut down, it flew for hours as has been determined beyond doubt. Modern commercial aircraft have ACARS (Aircraft Communication, Addressing and Reporting System) for digital communications primarily for maintenance or traffic tracking. By this system, certain information is sent by the aircraft engines, doors or even parking brakes through VHF, HF and now satellite systems. Again, digital data was received through aircraft systems, after it had disappeared from the civil RADAR screens, meaning thereby that the aircraft was flying.
I do not buy the point that if the aircraft was flying, it was not tracked by any MILITARY RADAR. Not possible even in a million years.

Asserting that the plane might be in Pakistan with 25 countries on the hunt in 11 different nations, should be a reason enough to admit Rupert Murdoch to the nearest mental asylum.

murdoch

Aircraft like Boeing 777s have a big RCS (RADAR cross section). Furthermore, it is absurd to even think that it may have crossed the FIRs in countries like Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Nepal, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and nobody was aware of that aircraft.
The other possibility is that it could have flown Southwards to the wide expanse of Indian Ocean. However,  to head in that direction, it certainly would have passed through the Air Defence RADARs of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia. Again none challenged an unidentified aircraft nor intercepted it. Strange and unbelievable.
Whether it was hijacked, flown deliberately by the pilots on these perceived routes or pilots and passengers were incapacitated (by slow/rapid decompression) and aircraft flew on autopilot on the fed-in route on FMC (Flight Management Computer), is not an issue of primary concern. To me more important is to determine and find an answer, why it was not detected by Air Defence RADARs of so many countries in the region. It was not a dual-seater Cessna with extremely small RCS. For the love of thy Lord, it was a Boeing 777-200, a huge aircraft.

To me the answers are with Malaysian authorities and for whatever reasons, resting any conspiracy theory, the truth is not being told and the masses are played off their negligible knowledge of aviation. “Why they are hiding it?” is the strongest question and hence reiterates the strongest of the reasons to hide the facts. The other possibility is that it disappeared into thin air due to some super natural phenomenon. I leave it to you to guess.

My concern primarily is the well-being of the passengers onboard MH 370 and the agony of their families and friends. Having said that, I must address the apprehensions and skepticism it has given birth to in the minds of many of my friends, as far as Air Travel is concerned (reminds me, Jemima Khan is one of them too). Well, let’s compare the statistics via different modes of travel here shall we. Fatalities attributed to the air-crashes in 2013 were 265. Also, for every 100 commercial flight fatalities, there are 46,000 deaths by road accidents.  The same ascribed to the bi-cycle/pedestrian accidents in Europe alone are 4000 in a said year. Please rest your premonitions and believe in the wings. Happy landings. Godspeed!

SOURCES:

1. Bureau of Safety Statistics, National Transportation Safety Board [ http://www.ntsb.gov]

2. Aviation Safety Network [ http://aviation-safety.net/ ]

3. Twitter

Pride and Prejudice

The term “Male Dominated Society” is neither for nothing nor does it alone means, 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.

Sexism, like racism, should not be tolerated in society and be chastised. It is a typical patriarchal mentality of a backward feudal society dominated by the thoughts of old dogmas. Even in the Western world, where women are playing a role towards the development of their nations alongside men especially in the field of science and technology and literature, this menace prevails.

The dilemma prone to our part of the world is that the benighted class, off sheer confidence of their ignorance would bandwagon on the basis of religion. The only religion perhaps, which, on the contrary, accords to the utmost respect of the opposite gender. Religion not always seeks logic, but if someone remains adamant, here’s one for them. Being a soldier myself, I shall restrict to the divine examples from the glorious history.

Hazrat Nusaybah bint Ka’ab not only took an active part in many battles, but defended Prophet (PBUH) and struck fatal blows to the opponents with her sword and arrows in the battle of Uhad when archers left the most crucial and tactical position. Hazrat Fatima, in the battle of Khyber ticketed many non-believers to hell with a mere tent pole. Umm-e-Ummara, whom the Prophet (PBUH) observed to be a better fighter than many men was fierce in the battles and even lost her hand in one.

ayesha-farooq-female-fighter-pilot-paf

I’ve been getting a lot of “Why would our Air Force even hand over a multi-million dollar fighter jet to a girl huh?”   Putting aside the post marital issues; well brother, she earned her wings, can fly double the speed of sound and bomb the heck out with surgical precision, the mere sound of which would wet your chauvinist pants.

I belong to the North of Pakistan, widely rendered as one conservative area, and I hereby shun this generalization, for I am sure, this generation knows, the difference between the values and conservatism. We honour the former, and rebel against the latter.

Respect begets respect. The “place” for women is not “the kitchen”. You never can dictate a favour you were getting in the first place. If this doesn’t sum it up, probably nothing will for there is no cure to narcissistic chauvinism.

A dark game of love

Silk cascades
Spiral staircase
Fumble and fall
Secret trails
So enthralled
Round and bound
Whirlpools of lust
Gasp a seal has burst
Black hearts
Blue veins
Devils darts
Innocence slain
Rock and scream
All in loves name
Tiny tears fall
So do i
Down and down
Dont stop rolling the die
Gamble game grumble
Watch me crumble
Dreams shattered
Stardust clattered
I love you love this
Us two addicts
Top of the staircase
Lets do it again
Come on love
Ready to begin?

A silent Adieu

Adrift stare, a void star
a rustling sigh
Defying perils
a distant wend
The Eagle spans his wings,
soaring high
Spring of an era
not an end
Soaring aloft the thunders
a final flash,
a silent adieu
The only assent,
desires naught in lieu
Her denial alone he wonders…