“A Kind Heart in Lion’s Skin : A Tribute to Lt Col Zafar Mustafa”

By Maj Rauf Shad (Retd), Arty (2nd SSC)

Maj Zafar Mustafa in PMA, 1972Rauf Shad MajorEditor’s Note: Maj Rauf Shad (Retd) was commissioned in an Arty Regt in 1972. After his retirement, he opened a small Stationery Shop in CSD Rawalpindi. He has also established an English medium school in his village Rajoha in District Gujar Khan, not for business, just to impart quality education to the under-privileged children.

“Now since you are leaving for few days, from here you go to your rooms. Place your satchels. Have quick-lunch. Dress yourself decently. Prepare your travelling bag and place it aside. Put everything extra in the box / cupboard. Lock them properly. Don’t forget to hand over shoes and uniform to the bearers. Now take your travelling bag and move orderly to the buses already waiting outside. Do take a small gift for your mother, specially for your younger sister, if you have one. Watch your conduct throughout the stay. Now the return journey………………….”

Above is a portion of word by word very comprehensive briefing which Maj Zafar Mustafa (Abdali Coy Comd) gave us in PMA back in 1972 when the course was leaving for mid-term break.

Such were the briefings, sermons, lectures, and talks that he was very affectionately nick named DADDY by his cadets. Such nick name is unusual in PMA. Short sentences, pressing words and concerned tone was his style, invariably to begin with, ‘now since’, for example;

“Now since all 125 G*** have gathered in Abdali Coy, you tell me what to do?”

“Now since our friend Tariq Anjum Pervez Rana B**** has lost the rattler, you stay put till found”.

If love is all about care and concern as it is defined, then Zafar Mustafa was all love.

Maj Zafar Mustafa with Platoon Commanders at PMA, Kakul, 1972

Once under a Sheesham Tree he gave talk to the entire Coy on selection of life partner. “Physical looks are till the honeymoon”, he gave the opening statement. Two hours passed. No one looked at the watch. Nobody went crazy for the lunch. He finally ended, “if so possible, do remember those who would have accepted you otherwise”. As we got up a whisper came, “Daddy has surely become forty”. Fall of Dacca made him sad. He cried and wept. Many a time thereafter he said, “Pray to Allah we are checked / kept at appropriate level, rest we sink the whole ship along like Yahya Khan”.

In persuasion of his advice I took a small gift, a necklace, for my younger sister. What a delight! She showed it to every girl in the family. Then whole village used to be the family. My sister who was unmarried then is now grandmother. She has gifted out all her valuables but not the necklace. It is now her regular wear. At every family gathering, while looking at me she puts her hand on it and smiles. I smile too, but the reason is different and she does not know the secret.

I used to do Daddy’s parody at PMA to make my platoon mates smile at tough moments. One fine morning during an exercise near Mansehra I saw tired GC Nasir Mehmood scuffling with LMG and cribbing. I got up, took Daddy’s posture (left hand in pocket, right leg over left, full weight on supporting stick in right hand) and said, “Now since you are about to Pass Out, soon you will be here on honeymoon”. Nasir giggled and got romantic. He very softly placed his hands on LMG as if it was his fiancé and said “Haan yaar, kitna maza aaye ga. Kesi khubsurat jagha hai”. There were so many interesting anecdotes during the course of my service where Zafar Mustafa was cheered and cherished. I skip over  those and come to recent present.

On retirement, I established a school in my village Rajoha. Not a business. It was my passion, my dream with reason and purpose. My village is the second largest village of Gujar Khan. No boy attended the college as a regular student after me; English language is major drag due to disgruntled teachers posted in rural areas on punishment. In March 2012, my first ever Matric class was parting. I was happy and excited, the under-privileged little divine beings were ready to receive and deliver a parting talk in English. Topic was “Exploitation of village people and role of outgoing class”. At the Rostrum, as, I said “now since you are leaving”. I abruptly recollected Maj Zafar Mustafa of Tobe Camp, PMA. I gave a bit long pause and smiled. Class started sobbing. Later when I asked ”why should you sob?”, they replied “Your tone was too deep”. I murmured with closed lips, “Yes, it was Zafar Mustafa Tone”. The day was at his name and I did inform him.

In Nov 2014, on the demise of my wife, the very first condolence call I received was of Lt Col Zafar Mustafa. He knew, I have the only child, that he is an eye surgeon and placed away from home at Panu Aqil. It moved me. Where from he sought all the details? It speaks level of his concern and kindness.

DADDY left this world and proceeded to his Heavenly abode on 28 July 2015. It was a very shocking news for al his cadets. Lt Col Zafar Mustafa was a man to cross the river with. This has ever been a rare commodity. He was kind to us. Allah will be kind to him. May his soul rest in eternal peace, Aameen.

Lt Col Zafar Mustafa in Karachi during Elections 2013

Related Pages:
Remembering Our Comrades
Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

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  1. Brig Naeem Salik (R) 50 PMA says:

    Maj Rauf Shad,
    Sir, Thank you for rekindling the old memories. Col Zafar Mustafa was our Company Commander in Aurangzeb Company (5Oth PMA) and was awe inspiring due to his serious demeanour and straight talking without ever mincing his words. I remember him addressing all of us on the eve of departure for end term break. He had a list of ‘defaulters’ who had failed to pay their cafetaria, canteen or photographer’s bills and gave them a good dressing down. The value of that sermon was appreciated by many in the later years because if don’t pick up the habit of living within your means you will always remain in trouble throughout your life.
    It is a tribute to his popularity that one of our platoon mates Khalid Nawaz imitated him on stage during a battalion event though apparently Col Zafar Mustafa didn’t like that and gave him an appropriate Punjabi title of Company Mara***.
    However, what really moved me was the occasion a couple of years ago when I found his comments on this very forum and paid my compliments. To my utter surprise he immediately recognized me after a lapse of over 30 years and even remembered my personal and family details. What other proof one would need about the compassion of a man who would have seen thousands of cadets through in various courses during his tenure at the PMA. A true officer and a gentleman. May Allah grant him a high abode in Jannah. Ameen.

  2. Maj Nasir Mahmood (R) says:

    My dear Rauf,
    I must appreciate the way you have described the personality of Daddy. To be very frank, I am finding it difficult to express my feelings because of my limited vocabulary. May Allah bless his soul and grant him eternal peace. Aameen.

  3. Maj Khalid Saeed Shah (R) says:

    Very touching write-up. Indeed DADDY was a rare commodity. Jub bhee yaad aaye gi, muskrahat kay saath aankh mein aansoo bhee aaien gay.
    Imagine I had the honor to serve under him for 2 years in AK area and was his Bridge partner. May Allah jee bless him a place in JANNAH, Aameen. I tried to scribble down something about Daddy but could not see anything because I could not control my emotions. He was out of this world.

  4. Lt Col Muhammad Arshad Meer (Retd) says:

    A nice write-up by Rauf Shad, our GSO 3 in Kotli, AK and course mate as well. Excellent expressions never ever expressed previously by him. Although I don’t know much about the deceased due to lack of interaction but having read Rauf Shad, feeling a deprived one.
    My dear Rauf, may Allah keep you always Shad , Aameen.

  5. Maj Munir Ahmed (R) says:

    Col Zafar Mustafa (Late) was a rare breed. A role model & a thorough professional. His fatherly behaviour will always be remembered by all of us. Such GREAT people are a very rare commodity. Despite his departure from this temporary abode, he will keep ruling our hearts. Allama Iqbal has very rightly said, “Barri Mushkil sey hota hai chaman mein deedawar paida”.

  6. Maj Malick Shaukat ul Islam (R) USA says:

    Very interesting anecdote and perfect tribute to Col Zafar Mustafa. May Allah (SWT) bless him the highest place in Jannat-ul-Firdous. Aameen.
    Delighting picture of the platoon Commanders and the Company Commander together when in their youth. A scene as of yesterday.

  7. Brig Riaz Toor (R) says:

    Man! A very honest and forceful narration that brought tears to my eyes. A great leader of men indeed he was. He left a mark on our personalities in many ways. He has been and will continue to be part of our memories.
    When I landed in PMA as Company Commander Tipu Company in 1990 with 83rd PMA and later 84th PMA, it was Zafar Mustafa and Zafar Habib inside me that created a bond with cadets of these two courses .
    Let us pray for both of them for the greater eternal peace and place in Jannah for them .

  8. Maj Gen Khalid Jaffery (Retd) says:

    Excellent article Rauf. You have summarised his personality very well. There are so many anecdotes which one can relate about him. A great man indeed. May Allah Almighty grant him the highest place in Jannat.

  9. Brig Tahir Saeed Malik (R) says:

    Col Zafar Mustafa undoubtedly is the most respected and beloved instructor of our course. Maj Rauf Shad portrayed an excellent picture of the deceased. May Allah grant him highest place in Jannah.

  10. Lt Col Zubair Ahmed (R), Canada says:

    It’s been days I have been thinking of writing about MY TOBE CAMP company commander but always fell short of words and still do.

    Every one who interacted with him thought he was his best friend.

    On one of the 2nd SSC eves in Baluch Officers Mess, Karachi in mid 90s (by then I supported a pure white beard) in my introductory speech I reminded all, with ladies present, that in PMA we called him DADDY. Arriving at the podium clean-shaved and definitely looking younger, he said with an apparent dismay, “Many of you look like my Daddy now!”

    All of us from Abdali Company in particular kept regarding him as a figure head long after our Passing Out from PMA and he always surpassed our expectations.

    May Almighty bless him with highest reward for positive impact he left on the lives of so may of us.

  11. Lt Col S.A.Kazmi (Retd) 1st SSC says:

    Thank you so much Maj Rauf for such a nice write up to pay tribute to a real Hero . May God rest his soul in eternal peace. You have MashaAllah very impressive writing skills. Stay blessed.

  12. Thank you, Shad Jee, for such a moving tribute to a man who more than deserves such tributes.

  13. May Allah bless ‘DADDY’ with the choicest place in Jannat, Aameen. He was a great human being.

  14. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    A man who gets tributes like these is no doubt a great human being. I remember when Maha, my daughter, informed that she and her friends are runnig a welfare school “Justuju” in Akhtar Colony, DHA, Karachi, Col Zafar Mustafa was first to respond and asked my daughter to send the detail so that he may contribute too. May ALLAH place his soul in Janat-ul-Firdous. Aameen.

  15. Brig Waseem Zafar Iqbal (Retd) says:

    I know he was an excellent person. Allah may bless the departed soul. Can someone send contact number of his family.

  16. Col Shah Alam (R), Avn (34 PMA), Canada says:

    Dear Maj Rauf Shad,
    Thanks for sharing this very touching story. May Allah Bless Col Zafar’s soul. Amen
    And my sincere appreciation for your noble undertaking of providing education to your villagers. May Allah bless you as well for this extraordinary undertaking. Amen.

  17. Lt Gen Saeed uz Zafar (R), Arty says:

    He was senior colleague. One of those with whom you bond for ever. A professional soldier and a complete human being. Seldom smiling, chain smoker, immersed in thought, his analyses and comments were incisive and profound. His style so interesting to make you laugh till your sides ached. A man with a mission till his last day. Sincere prayers for his accomplished hereafter.

  18. Maj Anwar Faridi (Retd) says:

    Allah has his ways to test us, pain will come and go in life and this world will follow its path that Allah desires so. I can ask for Allah’s mercy for Col Zafar Mustafa, may Allah forgive him for wrongs and place him Janah. Aameen.

  19. Ambassador (R) Capt Tariq Azizuddin (45 PMA) says:

    Very touching story. May Allah bless the noble departed soul of Lt Col Zafar Mustafa in eternal peace, Aameen. He apparently had a profound effect on many lives who were dependent on him for guidance, both professional and personal. The mark of a true leader. I didn’t know him but I can certainly visualize him.

  20. Brig Ahmed Salim (R), 34 PMA says:

    May Allah grant him eternal peace. Amen.

  21. Maj Mushtaq-ur-Rehman (R), 2nd SSC says:

    May Allah bless him with the highest place in Janat. Aameen!!

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