“A Tribute to My Friend, My Hero! Brig Saulat Abbas, alias Ulli”

By Lt Col (R) Zafar Iqbal Malik (40 PMA)

Lt Col Zafar malik, Ord, 40 Long CourseEditor’s Note: Lt Col (R) Zafar Iqbal Malik is from Ord. After the retirement, he has settled in Islamabad.

Brig Saulat Abbas, 41 PMAIn life, some people are born great, some inherit greatness and some achieve greatness. This is a small story of my such a friend who achieved greatness on his own. In the summer of 1961 when I joined my new class 8th in Military College Jhelum, as a young lad, I met in my class a tall boy with dark complexion having deep-set eyes and possessing a very pensive smile and a very talkative face who in the shortest possible time without being asked, on his own introduced himself, telling his name as SAULAT ABBAS and discreetly emphasising again and again that he was from Gujrat. We shook hands without realising destiny had chosen Saulat Abbas and me to be thick pals for the next 45 years or so. Thus began a brotherhood of a life time. He was a dare-devil in his many episodes in the college of which I’m a witness to. But this particular one which I’m relating to you, is significant as here we were, young lads of hardly 15 years of age. It was winter and our Commandant Col Sardar Khan’s orange Orchard was fully ripe, word reached us that this year his oranges were very sweet. The dare-devil in Saulat Abbas, had begun to get restless, it was decided amongst us, to raid the Orchard of the Commandant’s House quickly, before the oranges were eaten by him.

A team was chosen. Saulat Abbas alias Ulli, as the leader, Zafar Saeed Malik alias Guru, Jamil Khalid alias Poundry and myself Zafar Iqbal Malik alias 91. Lot of planning for the raid was done however to cut the long story short, on the marked night we reached the Commandant’s Orchard, the first major shock we got was that Col Sardar Khan, had got a high-powered bulb installed over his favourite trees and it was almost day like in the garden and his bedroom was very near to the Orchard. The morale of all us, the raiders, went down our boots, very disappointed the raid was to be called off. But then in the silence of the night a strong hush voice of Saulat spoke , “91! I’m going in.” Surprised but then we all agreed to him.  Military College, Jhelum Immediately the plan went into action. Ulli will go in, Guru to move near the Commandant’s bedroom for early warning and Poundry, near the entrance gate and me, 91, to cover the guard. I was the mess secretary of my house thus some articles were brought from the mess for this raid. The soot of the pails and of the kettle was applied on the already dark face of Saulat Abbas, the black shirt of cook Nawab Din, was given to Saulat to wear, we all were already in black trousers. Soot was applied by all on each other’s faces. When Sualat was ready, believe me, with the soot on his face and his face already of dark complexion and with his black dress, ‘Lo and Behold’ he was completely invisible. We moved in, I went towards the guard to cover him in case he moves, to my good luck he was fast asleep in his post, yet I kept the powder of red chilies taken from the mess, ready in my hand to be thrown into the eyes of the guard, if he gets up. The raid was planned for 15 minutes and no one was to extract himself, till Ulli comes out. Time started ticking, 5 minutes gone, 10 minutes, 20 minutes gone …., and now I could feel the tension mounting, as there was no noise at all, where the hell could be Ulli? Then the guard moved, he raised his head, opened his eyes, I got ready with the red chilies in my hand in case he gets up, but thank God he did not see me standing towards his rear, ready for him, he closed his eyes and slept. I then saw Ulli coming, only his white teeth were visible they were all out grinning, a visible and a vital sign of ‘success raid’. He was followed by Guru and Poundry. We were very happy our raid in our Commandant’s House was a success. We carried the bag of oranges and our hero was grinning and laughing all the way back to our House. There we opened the bag. To our utmost surprise Ulli had plucked almost a complete tree. The oranges were almost 20 kilos, Ulli told us that he made it a point to taste all the trees and then to pluck only the sweetest tree of Col Sardar’s entire Orchard. An Orange tree.

Next day the Commandant was completely shaken and very furious, he announced anyone giving any information to him about the raiders, would be rewarded with Rs. 20, a big amount in those days, along with a weekend holiday. Many knew about us, as to what we had done, but then, they and we were of Military College Jhelum, no amount of lucrative rewards could buy our loyalties towards one another. Major Zafar Saeed Malik alias Guru, was one the greatest naughty and witty Character ever produced by our mother college, he died of sudden heart attack while serving as Security Officer of TIP, Haripur some 18 years ago. One of my greatest friend and a brother was gone with him.

Editor’s Note: Brig Saulat Abbas was from 41 PMA Long Course. His parent unit was 12 Punjab, which was also the unit of his father Maj Syed Anwar Hussain. Brig Saulat expired on February 23, 2008 in Syria where he was on visit to Holy Shrines. He was buried in his native town Muhmmadipur Madina, District Gujrat. He had also served as DG Pakistan Sports Board from February 14, 2000 to September 13, 2003. He was responsible for formulating the first ever National Sports Policy in 2001. Brig Saulat Abbas

Saulat Abbas played the most daring innings of his life, while serving in this august Army. In Somalia as the Commander of his forces, he brought laurels to the Army and to Pakistan as never before in history, has one of the most modern Armies of the world, the American Army had been completely at the mercy of the Commander of Pakistan Army for its safe exit strategy from Somalia. Brig Saulat Abbas made it sure as a Muslim Comd, to be the last to leave the killing fields of Somalia where the American troops were butchered mercilessly by the Somalian rebel fighters and were saved and retrieved by our Army. A famous Hollywood movie named “Black Hawk Down” was made on this episode. Brig Sualat Abbas was the chosen one by the Almighty Allah, we all yearn for a pious death from Allah but only the chosen one do get it. He died in the Shrine of Bibi Zainab at Damascus, Syria on 23rd Feb 2008 of sudden cardiac arrest, where he had gone for Ziarrat. He was buried at Gujrat his native town of which he was so very proud of. What a noble and pious death for one of the greatest man I’ve ever known, a brave heart, a loving friend, a loving husband and a father, a down to earth man. A leader who led from the front. A Comd who made his country proud. His name is still ushered in USA as he saved hundreds of American troops from sure death. Last but not the least, an approved Maj General of our Army, he was a dare-devil thus his rank was not pinned on his shoulder. May he rest in Peace at his eternal abode. Col Khalid Jamil alias Poundry is settled in Lahore and in this age of his, he does not raid any orange Orchards anymore, for now he buys them. Saulat Abbas, Brig (41st PMA)

Brig Saulat Abbs in Somalia. The following photo has been contributed by Lt Col (R) Tanwir Raja, SSG (47 PMA). Brig Saulat Abbas (extreme right) in Somalia

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

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  1. Col Mohammad Zareef Khan (41st PMA), USA says:

    Col Zafar,
    A good job for an old friend & comrade. May Allah reward you for pinning down an historic episode of our Great institution which is so close to our hearts. May Allah bless our friend who was the only one of his kind.

  2. Syed Shabir Haider Zaidi says:

    Knew him a little when I was a kid as I had the privilege of calling him Chacha. Came across his younger brother, then Capt Ali Tahir Syed as my Adjt at MCJ in 1992. And later his son Shuja Abbas as a junior. A family of respected soldiers!!!!

  3. Maj Qalb-i-Abbas Kazmi (Retd) says:

    Col Cheema (Editor),
    Not only me but my whole family has read this great article written by great friend Col Zafar. I had conveyed my thanks and appreciations to our respectable senior brother Col Zafar for reviving our memories of our most loving and dear family member whom we can never forget. Brig Saulat was an all rounder having all the qualities which one can think of a fine human being may have. He was not only a sincere and dependable friend but a very loving brother, father and a great great soldier. He left us very early. He is always with us. May his soul rest in peace, Aameen.

  4. Ghizala Mujtaba says:

    I am proud of my dear brother, the world was beautiful with his presense, still remembered and loved, I am proud of all of you for sharing his memories HE WAS A GREAT MAN, I MISS YOU SAULAT BHAI.

  5. Very inspiring story. May his soul get Almighty’s blessing. I am so proud of Brig Saulat Abbas.

  6. Brig (R) Babar Aziz Beg, Sigs (1st SSC) says:

    In Somalia I was serving in HQ UNOSOM as Dy Chief of U 6. I had very closely observed him conducting Withdrawl Operation which under the circumstances was most difficult. Vacation of Embassy Compound was very critical as waring factions were on their toes to promptly fill the vaccum. But they knew who the Commander was who had served them with the stern warning of keeping away till last soldier moves out safely.
    He also commanded lot of respect from Somalis. May Allah Karim bless his soul.

  7. Muhammad Tariq says:

    Thanks for stories about Brig Saulat. May Allah rests his soul in eternal peace in Paradise (Jannah tul Fardaus), Aameen.
    When Brig Saulat Abbas was posted as Adjt MCJ (Perhaps in 1972), I was in 9th class and in Aurangzeb House. I still have my college ID card bearing his signature on the stamp of issuing authority. I was a sportsman and he personally coached Basketball and Gymnastics teams. He used to play with us and some times would demonstrate as well. Had a loving and affectionate heart.
    When we joined PMA, he was Pl Comd with 58th PMA and left for USA after doing Adjt 2nd Pak. We kept meeting as long as he was alive and we last met in Lahore Cantt in 2005, He was like elder brothers and always forthcoming readily when ever called. Our MCJ entry 1971 have lot of respect and regards for him because we were seniors when he was detailed on Coy Comd Course and left MCJ. We soon met in PMA again. We have all the memories to share and some of us reached senior ranks in the Army. Brig Saulat was our ideal in the college, PMA and Military Life as we never came across any better seniors than him. We miss him so much.
    I pray and wish all the best to his family and children and may they remain blessed endlessly and immensely, always, and all the way. Aameen.

  8. Maj Gen Rizwan Qureshi (Retd) says:

    An illustrious soldier and a great friend. RIP

  9. Lt Col Masood Alam (Retd) says:

    Thanks to Col Zafar Iqbal for writing such a nice article. It made me remember Brig Saulat Abbass whom I met in 12 Punjab deployed in Azad Kashmir in 1980-81. Then I was in 93 Medium Regt Arty in Kotli.
    I came to know that Col Pervaiz CO 12 Punjab was very fond of cricket and had a good team. So we fixed a match with 12 Punjab. There I met Maj Saulat Abbas. He was a very fine soul. He had a very husky voice, outspoken and witty. With more meetings, I found him a very good company. Although at that time I was a Capt and very junior to him but he never made me feel that he was too senior. I enjoyed his company a lot. After the match, which we had won, Maj Saulat asked me and my unit officer Maj Rizwan to play for 12 Punjab. After that whenever 12 Punjab had a cricket match their jeep would arrive early morning and would take us for the match. I enjoyed the hospitality of 12 Punjab a lot.
    Maj Saulat Abbas was the most dashing and prominent officer in the whole officer lot of 12 Punjab. May Allah rest his soul in peace in Janat-uFirdaous, Aameen.

  10. Brig Saulat Abbas, was a very close friend of mine. A brave, straight forward and courageous officer. He was in Qasim Company from 41st PMA and I happen to join 44 Long Course in Qasim Company. Just after I was commissioned, I had to leave for East Pakistan in 32 Punjab. 12 Punjab was in Pabna and 32 Punjab was in Raj Shahi. After the massacre of 25 Punjab in Pabna and Raj Shahi, where 189 soldiers of 25 Punjab embraced Shahadat in just one operation, where Mukti Bahani along with the Indian killed all of them, including MaJ Aslam and Lt Zahid both were tortured by the Mukti Bahanis and later killed in a school in Bhopal Pur.

    Brig Saulat then Capt Saulat from 12 Punjab and myself then Lt Tariq Masood from 32 Punjab were tasked to do the clearing operation and capture the miscreants. During the op, there was a point where I had to go through the area which was supposed to be cleared by Capt Saulat Abbas. After I got the clearance and moved in the direction where Capt Saulat Abaas was halted. After days walk when my Company reached his location, to my surprise, I saw that Saulat’s Company was deployed in a circle and Capt Saulat was holding belt in his hand and beating a soldier. There was nobody who could stop Saulat from beating the soldier.cI rushed forward and told Capt Saulat that I am here and requested him to please stop beating the soldier. Capt Saulat said, “I will not leave him. I will kill him”.
    After a few minutes he shouted, “Take him away from my sight”.
    I asked Capt Saulat, “Sir, what happened?”
    He told me, “This sepoy had snatched the ear-rings from a girl’s ears and her ears were bleeding, where as I had ordered nobody will harm anybody without my permission. I want to teach him lesson and other people also that I will not let any such thing happen in my area. None of my soldier will commit any cruel act in my command”.
    Brig Saulat was a hard task master, but a very soft commander and a great leader. Our friendship lasted till his last moments. I always missed him. He was a dependable friend and Yaroon Kaa Yaar. One could trust him for any thing.
    May Allah Bless his soul in eternal peace in Jannah.
    I miss you Sir Saulat. I remember all the sweet memories and time spent with you and cherish the respect and love.

  11. A beautiful story, wonderfully narrated. My father was a very lucky man to be loved and remembered by such beautiful people. I absolutely enjoyed the story and would love to hear more from you.

  12. Brig (R) Shujah Khurazmi says:

    So kind to give us details about my nephew (son of my cousin); Syed Saulat Abbass, my Adjutant of 2nd Pak Bn. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace: Aameen!

  13. Lt Col (Retd) Asghar Abbas Naqvi, Avn says:

    I never met him but heard about his adventures through Guru. I had the honour of Maj Zafar Saeed Malik’s (GURU) OP on Neza Pir, AK, D Coy 35 Punjab. Daal (lintel) soup was served daily. It was before joining Aviation. Maj GURU had photogenic memory as he remembered PA Nos of all his friends. May Allah, The Almighty, bless their souls.

  14. Major (R) Munir Ahmed (2nd SSC) says:

    Dear Lt Col Zafar Iqbal,
    Sir, Lot many thanks for sharing a very well written article. A fantastic way to pay tribute to your colleague. Such great people are our pride. Although I have never served with him, yet I feel honoured to be the associate of a set up which has produced people like Brig Saulat Abbas.
    May Allah bless him with His infinite mercy (Aameen).

  15. A gem of a story: by the way very little is known about the Pakistan Army’s role in Somalia, and like Brigadier Sharaf remarked in one of his articles, Black Hawk Down, in one masterful shot, has reversed the role of the Pakistan Army. Can somebody write what needs to be written?

  16. Brig (R) Yasub Dogar, SSG says:

    Saulat Abbas was one of the best Comds produced by Pak Army. A very befitting tribute written by 91.

  17. Brig (R) Aslam Khan, AC (33 PMA) says:

    A very fine human being and a great, down to earth soldier. A natural leader. He lived in the finest home – Pak Army and died in a holy shrine. May Allah bless his soul. Aameen.

  18. What a gem of a man!! When he got posted as Adjutant at MCJ, he knew all tricks of trade, how cadets use to slip away to Sarai Alamgir in night for cup of tea at Zimindara Hotel and listen the famous song “woh dil khaan sa luhoon…………..” One night I and my friends from Babar House were slipping out of camouflaged hole in the wall on GT Road near MG House and to our surprise he was standing out there………….I said it is not fair when you were doing it in your days as a cadet, then it was right and now when we are doing in our time it is a crime?

    Guess what he said? “I am giving you warning now but next time I am not going to leave you unpunished”.

    I wonder his son Maj Shuja Abbas also an Alamgirian must have slipped out to Sarai Alamgir on the foot steps of his father & uncle.

  19. Col (R) Muhammad Anwar Sajid, Air Def says:

    I had the honour to serve under such a great leader in GHQ. He was a true soldier and a man of character. Allah may rest his soul in peace. Aameen!!

  20. Sohail Qureshi Col (Retd), EME/Avn says:

    Wonderful tribute to a brave soldier who will long be remembered. Thank you for posting it. I did not realize Military College had those lovely oranges and almost inviting a well planned raid. Great work and very sorry for the principal who did not want to share his oranges.

  21. Lt Col (Retd) Qaswar Nasir (44 PMA) says:

    One hell of a Sergeant Saulat in PMA and one hell of a buddy in later days. We were at the Staff College together and remained in constant touch till he surprised all his friends by not returning from his adored ziarat. A wonderful human being, a great friend and a lover of jokes and light talk other than his great virtues. Will always be missed and remembered.

  22. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah, Arty (2nd SSC) says:

    Dear Sir,
    A great tribute to a great man. ALAMGIRIANS are out of this world. Intelligent, Brave, True Pakistani and with UNIQUE SENSE OF HUMOUR AND POSESS SPONTANEOUS WIT. I happen to meet and spend sometime with ALL TIME LEGEND OF MC THE GREAT ZSM GURU. A book can be compiled on him. Sir, you rekindled the good old memories. Thanks for sharing and we are waiting for many more episodes from you.

  23. Maj (R) Aziz-ur-Rehman (15th War Course) says:

    Kudos to Col Zafar Iqbal Malik for disseminating information on such an enterprising dare-devil officer and a scion of Mohammadi Pur Madina. May Allah reward him to the fullest for all his positive attributes of his personality- Aameen.

  24. Lt Col (R) Tanwir Raja, SSG (47 PMA) says:

    My ‘PAK One’ (Call sign of Brig Saulat Abbas as Pakistan’s Contingent Commander at Somalia) will be remembered and praised by friends and foes in the history of Pakistan Army. My friendship with him was from 1973 when he was adjutant at MCJ and I was in 33 Hy Regt in Jhelum Cantt and continued till his death. Being his staff officer in Somalia, I still cherish those memories. God rest his soul in eternal peace, Aameen!!

  25. Syed Ali Baqar Zaidi says:

    An excellent and absorbing narration.

  26. Maj (R) Amjid Quamber says:

    Long live the memories of great men. The truth will go marching on.
    Long live 41st PMA Long Course. My elder brother is also from this course.

  27. Bilal Saeed Khan s/o Lt Col Saeed Khan, 23 FF says:

    We were posted in Hyderabad and I was suffering from fever. Uncle Saulat Abbas came to our home where the Nursing NCO was about to inject me with ibuprofen. Being a child of about 5 years, I was badly in tears because of this traumatizing and scaring injection. Uncle Saulat Abbas took me in his lap and asked the NCO not to inject me (for the time being) so I better regain my senses. What a sigh of relief I had…he was a true savoir and a hero for me. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Aameen.

  28. Lt Col S. A. Kazmi (Retd), Arty (1st SSC) says:

    Thank you for publishing the story of a great hero of Pak Army and MCJ and his colleagues, a hero commander who was loved by his colleagues and subordinates alike – may his soul rest in peace.

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

    A very befitting tribute to a brave soldier. He lived to the adage that the good die young. May Allah bless Brig Saulat’s soul. Amen.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting story. Being from Cadet College Hasan Abdal myself I can relate to your narrated story and absorb its context better. Unfortunately though I wasn’t as lucky as you 🙂

  30. Farooq Ahmed Hashmi says:

    All the praises for this Daredevil are still very less ………. One can count on unlimited daring episodes with whom he interacted, seniors as well as juniors …………. A natural Commander. I am glad that Col Zafar remembered him.

    May his soul get Almighty’s blessings. A close friend of his disclosed that he wished that he breathes his last at the Shrine where he was visiting.

  31. Lt Col (R) Rashid Zia Cheema says:

    When I was attending 1986 Staff Course, Lt Col (later Brig) Saulat Abbas was a DS and a very popular one. May Allah bless him.

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