By Maj Gen Waqar Ahmad Kingravi (Retd), 50 PMA

Waqar Ahmad Kingravi, Maj Gen (R)

Waqar Ahmad Kingravi, Maj Gen (R)

Editor’s Note: Maj Gen (R) Waqar Ahmad Kingravi was commissioned in 26 Punjab Regt in Oct 1974 and  joined Army Aviation in the early stage of his service. After the retirement, he has settled in DHA  Islamabad.

A few months ago, Brig Qasim (51st PMA Long Course) posted a group photograph in the Facebook of graduating officers and cadets, who had just completed Parachute Training and earned their wings. The photo pertains to Basic Airborne Course BAC-44 conducted from 22 Apr to 15 May 1974. This triggered nostalgic memories of the thrilling experience of doing Para jumps in 1974. Even before joining the Army, I used to admire the smart officers displaying their Para Wings on their chests. Once I was in Lawrence College, me and my close friend, Nadeem Iqbal Qureshi used to meet Old Gallians, Capt Jamal, who was from 10 Punjab and from the same unit as Nadeem’s father, and Capt Javed Meyer (Jogi) from 11 Baloch. Capt Jogi was the ADC to GOC 12 Div in Murree. We as youngsters were really in awe of these inspiring officers, especially Capt Joji, who was ruggedly handsome, smart and tough. He was a qualified paratrooper and used to wear a beautiful Para wing on his chest. Both Nadeem and I had decided to join the Army and emulate our fathers, who were also serving in the Army at that time. No other career came to mind as far as we were concerned. Thus we landed up in PMA in the winter of 1972 and started to realize our dream of becoming officers.

 Parachute Wing of Pakistan Army

Obtaining a Para Wing by any member of the Armed Forces is a matter of great pride and satisfaction. As young cadets in PMA, it was all the more alluring and glamorous because it not only set you apart from other mortals, but was also a sign of your toughness and daring. The insignia of blue wings with a white parachute in between, gave a dashing touch to your uniform. The selection procedure for attending this adventure training was quite arduous and uncompromising. Only the ones in peak physical condition got selected after a series of demanding physical tests. We also knew that if we do not get selected as cadets when we are in our prime, it would be very difficult to do so once we would have to compete with volunteer officers from the entire Army, after passing out from PMA. Therefore I was determined to get selected the first time once the tests were conducted towards the end of First Term. Unluckily, I was not selected to undergo this course and only three cadets from our platoon were selected. They were Bahadur Sher Mahsud, Sultan Mehmood Satti and Habib Asim Bilfaqi. Once they came back with their Para Wings after the Term Break, we were really envious of them. Similarly, there was a sprinkling of colour in each platoon once we marched into the drill square.

Bahadur Sher was one of the most handsome, dashing, tough and charming cadets of our course (Unfortunately he died in a road accident a few years after being commissioned, may God bless his soul). Satti was perhaps the most hardworking, determined and dependable cadet while Bilfaqi was the naughtiest. We were slightly jealous of them since they had successfully earned their wings while we were still ‘wingless’, but at the same time we were also very proud of our platoon mates’ success. Our Drill Instructor Havildar Allah Ditta (AD) and Company Havildar Major (CHM) were also very happy to have these paratroopers under them because it not only gave added colour to the Platoon and Company, but was also a source of fierce pride in the success of their cadets. I remember, in the first drill period after the Term Break, Staff AD placed the cadets with Para Wings in the front row. Once the drill started and the CHM observed the absurd drill movements of Bilfaqi, he roared at AD, “Hide Bilfaqi Sahib somewhere in the middle ranks”.

Para Course was just one of the activities which were planned by the PMA Staff for promoting a sense of adventure and inculcate leadership qualities amongst the cadets. This was a wonderful way for channelizing the energies of the cadets during the Term Breaks, during which three out of four weeks were utilized for such activities. Deep Sea Diving, Glider Training and land tours to various remote areas were the other such activities. Some of the cadets who were home sick never volunteered for these activities while others who were used to living in hostels of institutions like Aitcheson College, Lawrence College, Burn Hall, Military College Jehlum, PAF College Sargodha or the Cadet colleges of Hassan Abdal, Petaro, etc, had no qualms in being away from their homes even during these Breaks. Of course there were volunteers from cadets of other colleges too. Since I had missed out on the Para Course in the first attempt, I volunteered for the Frogman training which was conducted by the Pakistan Naval Academy, with the thought that I will try for Para Course in Second Term. Unfortunately, there was no Para Course at the end of Second Term, so I had to contend myself with Glider Training at PAF Risalpur. Finally at the end of the Third Term I was selected for the Para Course and thus, came closer to realizing my dream of acquiring Wings. The other cadets from my Platoon were Ehsan ul Haq, Muhammad Ali and Ghulam Sarwar. Sarwar was as tough as a bull while Muhammad Ali was a real good long distance runner. Ehsan was also very tough, although a bit reserved. We reached Peshawar on a hot and sultry afternoon and were housed in a soldier’s barrack, because we were not officers as yet. Our Platoon Commanders were accommodated in the Officer’s Mess and we saw them in the mornings when all students were made to Fall-in at the Para School.

Army Paratroopers are different from civilian Para Jumpers. They are trained by Special Services Group (SSG) Commandos and undergo three weeks of intensive training specific to ensuring safe conclusion of Para jumps during day as well as night. In foreign countries even ladies make Para jumps with minimal training, but since this is the Army, the training is very difficult and tough. It is purposeful, realistic and thorough. At the end of it, you are not only supremely fit and confident, but also qualified to make these jumps in a professional and safe manner. In 1974, this training was conducted at Para Training Wing (PTW) located on Jamrud Road, on the outskirts of Peshawar Cantt. Later, in 1981, this Wing was upgraded to Para Training School (PTS). The Basic Airborne Course is especially run for non-SSG officers and cadets, while other courses are run for SSG Commandos by this institution. The Officer Commanding at that time was a young, tall and dashing Capt of SSG, Capt Sultan Habib. He was ably assisted by a team of extremely dedicated and well qualified JCOs and NCOs. The most famous among them was Hav Karam Elahi, who probably had the maximum number of Para jumps to his credit at that time. He along with many others was also qualified for HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) Jumps. These are basically free fall jumps from a very high altitude, in which the parachute is opened at a low height, so that the enemy does not detect the intrusion of these commandos into their territory.

Havildar Karam Elahi, going for a Free Fall jump, May 1974

Instructors at Para Training School Peshawar in 1974

I recall that most of these soldiers were extremely tough, rugged and awe inspiring. They were very courteous, but at the same time, no nonsense type of individuals. All students were treated alike, whether they were cadets or commissioned officers. Since BAC-44 was run specifically for PMA, we had Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) as well as some officers (Platoon Commanders) in this course. During the course, it was a novelty to see our fearsome platoon commanders sweating it out along with us. Platoon Commanders like Major Talat Saeed, Ahmed Nawaz, Zia and some others, were supremely fit. There was one officer who was not in prime shape, but he soon caught up with all of us. He was our respected Adjutant, Maj Sarosh Ghani (He is no more in this world. He died in Canada on 10 July 2014. May God Bless his soul). In PMA, it was a sight to see him riding on his white charger during parades. His roaring word of command would resonate in the entire Abbottabad valley. It was really impressive to see him conducting the Passing Out Parades.

Sarosh Ghani, Maj (Adjt with 50 PMA Long Course)

Sarosh Ghani, Maj (Adjt PMA).

The routine at PTW was really rigorous and punishing. The erring or naughty individuals were punished with extra work outs. A lot of camaraderie was inculcated and a buddy system was enforced in which pairs were designated, who had to look after each other, even to the peril of their lives. Loud slogans were encouraged and roars of Airborne boomed around the PTW once such courses were being run. Typically the Staff would shout, “What are you?” and everyone would vociferously respond, “Airborne” even while firmly riveted to the ground. For every minor infringement, the order “Get Ten” was given, which meant, get ten pushups while counting loudly. This was dished out lavishly to individuals as well as collectively.

GC Waqar Kingravi is Getting Ten at BAC-44, April 1974

The mornings used to start with a vigorous run which culminated in a sprint followed by Para PT. The training staff also had a wry sense of humour. I remember that once a student asked very innocently, “Staff, what will happen if our Main Parachute malfunctions and our Reserve Parachute also does not open?” The prompt answer with a naughty smile was, “Don’t worry Sahib. In case of this improbable eventuality, we will pick up your splattered body with spoons” Hardly an answer to stoke up your confidence! Anyway, the Para School had an excellent record and there were hardly any incidents of malfunctioning parachutes. The Riggers who packed the parachutes were highly trained and dedicated.

The training facilities at PTW were well equipped with different types of apparatus to impart training in various activities. The students were divided into groups and sent progressively to each. A lot of emphasis was made on making a correct Para Landing Fall (PLF). In this, you had to ensure that your feet are together, knees are slightly bent and after landing on your feet, you fall towards one side in a twisting motion where the side of your legs, thighs, buttocks and back absorb your fall in one smooth progressive motion. First we were made to practice this on the ground and then we were strapped up in parachute harnesses and suspended a few feet in the air, given a few swings and then released. If you did not make the correct PLF, you ended up with a big flop quite painfully on the ground. We did realize the utility of this silly exercise during the actual jumps once you see the ground come rushing up towards you at an alarmingly fast rate. This is because the basic T-10 Parachutes used for military jumps have a fast rate of descent as compared to civilian chutes, so that the paratroopers come down with minimum exposure to the enemy.

GC Waqar Kingravi learning to make the correct Para Landing Fall (PLF), with GC Pervez (Jap), April 1974

Another interesting exercise was dragging. The cadets who had qualified prior to us narrated exaggerated accounts of how PTW Staff torture the students by dragging them while tied behind jeeps. The actual story was quite different. Once there are high wind conditions, the parachute not only drifts away from the intended point of landing, but can also drag you over the rough ground after you land. Therefore, the jeep dragging exercise teaches you to quickly stand up while you are being dragged. Students are attached to harnesses and made to lie on a rubber mat. They lie on their backs and then the jeep pulls them. The student is required to throw his legs up across one of his shoulders, twist around in a manner that he digs his heels into the ground and stand up in the direction of pull, start running along in that direction and simultaneously, disconnect his harness from the jeep, which is depicting an air filled parachute. Some of the students do get slightly injured during this practice because one has to be very alert and agile to be successful in this.

The next interesting part is jumping from a Tower. In this exercise, students are required to jump out of a Tower which depicts an airplane. Their harnesses are attached to steel wires which run down from the Tower towards the ground at an incline. The height of the Tower is such that it gives a psychological barrier to the students, for whom it seems that they will surely hit the stony ground. However, like Bungee jumping, you are safe and after dropping a few feet, the harness attached to the steel wires arrests your fall and you slide down towards the ground. In the Tower you are required to stand in the door, shout your name and number loudly and then spring outwards as far away from the Tower as possible (In case of actual jumps, as far away from the fuselage of the aircraft as possible). Quite a few jumpers get the shivers once standing in the door. It was really amusing to see some, who would shout their name and number and then freeze in the door. After some persuasion by the staff, they would eventually jump out. In the case of actual jumps from the aircraft, this momentary freeze would overcome a few individuals, in which case a friendly push by the staff would help. Any delay in the aircraft would upset the jumpers who are following because one has to exit the aircraft as soon as possible, otherwise the jumpers would be scattered over great distances and even land up outside the drop zone.

GCs Ghulam Sarwar, Waqar Kingravi, Ehsan Ul Haq and Nadeem Iqbal Qureshi

Finally, the great day for actual jumps arrived and we were bundled off along with our parachutes to the waiting C-130 aircraft at Peshawar Airfield. The paratroopers are seated in the aircraft and before reaching the Drop Zone, various time warnings are given, e.g. ten minutes, two minutes, one minute and finally the order, “Stand in the door”, is given. Once over the Drop Zone, the pilot switches on the green light and the Jump Master taps the shoulder of the first jumper, signaling him to jump. The rest follow in quick succession. You do get butterflies in your stomach before the first jump, but the thrill of jumping out into thin air and the relief of seeing your parachute canopy opening up above you, makes it really worthwhile to go through this exercise. You are soon floating down towards mother earth lazily at first and it is a beauty to see so many canopies around you. You regain your confidence very quickly and start calling your comrades around you and shout out aloud in euphoria.

Para Jumps at the Durrani Drop Zone by BAC-44 students, May 1974

Very soon you realize that the ground is really rushing up fast to greet you and you quickly try to remember all the points taught to you during the last three weeks. Finally you land, with some individuals landing quite abruptly and limping off sheepishly. Then you have to gather your parachute, pack it in a bag and trudge off to the waiting vehicles, after which, the whole exercise is repeated. One has to make minimum five successful jumps in order to qualify for the prized Para Wing.

Prepare to Land, BAC-44, May 1974

GC Waqar Kingravi and GC Akhtar, both 50 PMA Long Course, after completing para jump, May 1974

Legendary Brigadier Tariq Mehmood (TM) of Pakistan Army SSG

Legendary Brig “TM”.

During our jumps, we saw a legend of SSG, Maj (Later Brigadier) Tariq Mehmood or TM as he was lovingly called by all and sundry. He accompanied us on the C-130 and we saw that he never wore a parachute, nor a safety belt even when the aircraft doors were open. He was always hovering around very close to the door during the jumps. This daring officer was a war hero with numerous gallantry awards including two Sitar-e-Jurats (SJs) and innumerable hair raising exploits during peace time as well in war. Later, I was quite proud to learn that Brig TM was the younger brother of my first Commanding Officer in 26 Punjab, Lt Col (Later Brigadier) Masud-ul-Hassan.

General Mirza Aslam BegWe were also told that we will undergo a night jump, but it did not materialize. Finally, the day came when we were awarded the much sought after Para wings in a small but graceful ceremony. We were awarded these wings by the Commander of SSG, Brig Ghulam Muhammad. There was no limit to our joy once we were finally able to display the hard earned Para Wings on our chests. One odd thing which we observed was that Commander SSG was not wearing his SSG insignia, the ‘Winged Dagger’. I believe that Gen Mirza Aslam Beg who had also served in SSG but he too, did not wear the SSG Wing. Perhaps they did not complete their Para Jumps?

Brig Ghulam Muhammad, Commander SSG pinning Para Wings to BAC-44 Students, May 1974

Group Photo of BAC-44, May 1974

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Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)

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  1. Naeem Khan says:

    انسانی عزم و استقلال کی تاریخ جب بھی لکھی جائے گی۔ ابتدائی دنوں میں اہنی جانیں ہتھیلی پر لے کر مادرِ وطن کا دفاع کرنے والے ان گمنام جوانوں اور افسروں کو تاریخ اپنا خراجِ تحسین ضرور ادا کرے گی، جنہوں نے اپنا آج پاکستان کے کل کے لئے قربان کردیا۔۔۔

    سلامتی ہو ان ماؤں پر جن کے وہ جنے ہیں۔۔۔
    سلامتی ہو ان بہنوں پر جن کے وہ بھائی ہیں۔۔۔
    سلامتی ہو ان سہاگنوں پر جن کا وہ سہاگ ہیں۔۔۔

  2. Rehana Akram says:

    Dear Gen,
    I just came across this article by chance and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I come from the Army family also and my brother was a platoon commander in your times as you mentioned Col Sarosh, he was his best buddy, well! my brother-in-law was Brig Zahir Jilani, a very well respected gentleman in the Army. Please, do not stop writing, I look forward to read more of your articles.

    • Nascar Shaikh (Canada) says:

      Col (r) Sarosh Ghani, was my beloved brother-in-law. He was not only a proud soldier but also one of the finest human beings. He passed away in our arms after a long struggle with a chronic heart disease in the city of Brampton (Canada) back in 2014.

  3. Maj (R) Syed Javed Akbar (50 PMA) says:

    Dear Waqar,
    You are a good writer, I was about to say what Qasim Qureshi just said before me. You must consider writing a book about your memoirs in Uniform, “From GC to General” may be.

  4. Brig (R) Babar Aziz Beg (1st SSC) says:

    What an interesting account of a glamourous part of soldiering. May Allah Karim bless Pak Army.

  5. Lt Col (R) Ibrahim Rehmat, Avn (50 PMA) says:

    Dear Waqar,
    I thoroughly enjoyed every portion of this article. As I went through the lovely narration, it took me back to memories of 1975 when I did the Para Course. Just a few years later, I was lucky enough to do another five jumps at the Para School. This unique arrangement was maneuvered by Lt. Col (then Capt) Tahir Raja. This was one of the few great adventures he and I did together. We arrived at the Para Training School, where the Basic Airborne Course was in progress, jumps were scheduled next day. We thought that since we are guests! we would simply go and do the jumps. It was not that simple; in an hour or so we were told to change for the entrance physical test. The SSG staff tested just two of us, and made sure to create the atmosphere as strict as possible; though unprepared, physically and mentally, we did pass and enjoyed the jumps next day.

  6. A glimpse of what all goes through at the Para School for all those like me who didn’t venture out there. Worth circulating on Facebook for all my 3-services friends.
    An eloquent write-up with photographs of that era proves how meticulously Maj Gen Waqar Ahmad Kingravi saved this for posterity!

  7. Lt Col (R) Khaid Hasan Butt, Avn (44 PMA) says:

    Dear Gen Kingravi,
    A good write up which had the reader bound to read till he last word. Those who had not done Para Course want to do it and for those who had done it, it is a reminder of theirs. Thank you Gen, keep writing.

  8. Asif Inam ur Rauf says:

    I am really excited to read all you have mentioned and it has motivated me to jump from high attitude ….Allah keep you in good health Always.

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

    Dear General Kingravi,
    Sir, Thank you for sharing a beautiful narration about the Para Course. I have thoroughly enjoyed its each & every word. Your narration can be enjoyed only by those officers who have undergone this rough & tough but very interesting experiment. It has taken me back to July 1977, when I completed my Para Course. Brig (Late) T.M. (May Allah bless him with His infinite mercy) also jumped with us. Beautiful memories to cherish at this stage of life.

  10. Maj (R) Jamil (55 PMA) says:

    Gen Kingravi,
    Thanks for sharing such an adventurous story of Para School. You have really taken us in the past. I attended the Para Course from PMA in 1976. We did complete our training but after 3 jumps a very sad incident took place as the anchor line of the C-130 broke and an Air Force crew lost his life, while he was just standing behind Major Sultan Amir. It was a sortie for the trained SSG soldiers and not the cadets (as it was one turn for the SSG and one for the Cadets).
    Hence the rest of the Jumps were postponed due to investigations of the sad incident.
    Later we completed rest of the 2 jumps in next term and got our Wings.
    It has always been a symbol of extreme fitness and vigor.

  11. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, USA says:

    A very interesting and gripping piece of writing. Gen Kingravi may consider writing a book.
    (Editor’s Note: Faisal Tirmizi is son of an old Aviator, Late Brig Tirmizi.)

  12. Is this the right forum to discuss your exploits?
    Paper magazine with circulation within your limited circle would be better option.
    Just a suggestion.

    • Editor says:

      Dear MJA,
      This article has been shared in “Pakistan Army Blog (Retired Officers)”, a segment of this website (Native Pakistan). Just look at the wonderful comments of brother officers. It was not possible to get their response had this article been published in a paper magazine.

    • Maj (R) Hasan Jawaid (1st SSC), USA says:

      I agree with Editor. Besides, the rigors and pains that we all went through can only be felt and enjoyed by those who have experienced it and have snippets of information that others can relate to and enjoy. I think the clout that has brought us all together is the bonding and affinity to a strong institution that we cherish till this day. Paper magazine, undoubtedly, has a much broader audience but getting so many officers to respond and share their experiences publicly would not have been possible. It would have been little uncomfortable in sharing personal experiences.

    • Azam Gill, France says:

      Thank you for the comradely ticking off, since the Editor feels that the last part of my post inspired your scolding! Obtaining a para wing was no more an exploit than anyone else’s, and towards the end I acknowledged Major Sultan Amir’s graciousness, which triggered another relevant memory in chronological order.
      After all, we are neither participating in a collective sitrep, nor do we have pretensions of being a think tank in an advisory capacity to some government,,nor are we a forum dedicated to any other specific purpose that sharing our memories and experiences, the reception of which may very from person to person in accordance with their taste and expectations.
      For example, as for myself, although I am a little perplexed and discomfited by your desire for anonymity, I would not take issue with it.
      I hope we can end up being friends!

  13. Azam Gill (2nd SSC), France says:

    Thank you General Kingravi, for such a readable yet cogent write-up that has triggered too many memories to manage in this post. I did BAC-50 in 1975 under the legendary Colonel (then Major) Sultan Amir, and Captain Habib, a dashing young officer indeed, as his 2IC.

    I too, received my wing from Brig Ghulam Mohammed, well known for not having received his wings and making the SSG do close-order drill (raqs-e-luluan as Ranjit Singh’s Sirdars called it – initially!).

    Thank you for the pictures of Havildar “Qahr-e-Ilahi” and Captain Habib (Hub-Yub as I used to call him behind his back to the amusement of my buddies!). I am one of those unfortunates who got badly mauled during the drag exercise, and was in a complete state, but my NCO instructor (forgive me Staff, but at this time I can’t remember your name) said “Gill Sahib, your body’s warmed-up now. You won’t be able to do it tomorrow, and you’ll get RTUed”!

    What a man, what advice, and I did it. My batman was a witness, had tears in his eyes, and then when we went back to the unit, boasted to everybody about how tough I was.

    Actually, the opposite was true.

    Throughout the course I did extra afternoon PT and 2280148 Jawan Mohammed Siddique and I were the only ones impressed!

    Major (later Colonel) Sultan Amir was not just a thoroughly professional soldier, but a thorough gentleman as well.

    At the end of the course, I requested him to add an extra date to my Movement Order back to the unit, a professional courtesy often extended for a valid compassionate reason.

    He looked me square in the eyes and snapped: “Why?”
    I looked right back into his emotionless brown eyes and said: “So I can spend Easter with my family tomorrow”.
    “Ohé, are you trying to pretend you’re a Christian, Azam Gill?”
    “Sir, I was born one, and am quite happy to be one!”
    He grunted: “Ok, ****off and drive carefully. And —” he paused to smile, “Happy Easter.”
    “Thank you, sir,” and just stopped myself from saying ‘same to you’ since Easter is when Muslims and Christians differ!
    I rode my Honda 175 back to Lahore with Bhatti my Course-mate of 28 Punjab (can’t remember his first name) on the pillion seat behind me, whom I dropped at Gujrat, our batmen having taken our bistar bands and baksas back to our paltans.

    Bhatti and I sang loudly all the way from Peshawar to Gujrat, our mouths filled with grit that included ‘invisible insects’, my mind swirling around Major Sultan’s considerate decision, and the great times I had with Asam and Farooq Rana, discovering, with the latter, the merry joys of Peshawar Club followed by karahi gosht in Namak Mandi or pasandas in the small Pashtun holes-in-the-wall banned for officers during the Gora Raj (pretentious decision not worth obeying!).

    Next day, at Easter, after church, laying a wreath at my father’s grave, and lunch, our family said a special prayer of thanks for Major Sultan.

    Shortly after that, my CO, as per habit, once again abused the mothers and sisters of our troops, this time at the Bhimbher Firing Range during a Brigade competition. All my representations to senior officers on the issue had been brushed aside with reassuring, empty words. I defended my troops’ honour, was put under arrest, tried by FGCM and sentenced to two years RI. My charge-sheet read “… in that he kicked Lt Col *** in buttocks.” According to the evidence act, if the charge-sheet is wrongly stated, it is null and void.
    ‘In’ connotes penetration, and had the toe of my boot penetrated the Colonely orifice, the resulting rupture would have merited an injury report.
    ‘In’ buttocks is wrong English. Buttock being a common noun, it should have been ‘in the buttocks’.
    A wrongly stated charge-sheet on two counts, my case still stands and always will.

    But the bottom line is that my Para Course is among the best memories of my youth in the Pakistan Army I carry with me, the certificate framed with pride and hung up, as is my Para Wing.

    And thanks to Colonel Qaisar Rashid Sheikh, I even have the small ones (blue or gold tilla) to display on my blazer lapel as a French Foreign Legion veteran at military ceremonies.

  14. Lt Col (R) Muhammad Arshad Meer says:

    Gen Kingarvi,
    Thanks a lot for narrating such an amazing adventurous event. It has reminded me the most professional training team at that time particularly Maj Sultan and Capt Akhtar Butt. Lt Gen Hamid Rab Nawaz (Capt then) was awarded the best paratrooper insignia. Afterwards Col Akhtar Majeed Butt became my CO in 21 AK at Siachin.
    I also appreciate your memory. May God keep you more happy and healthy. Aameen.

  15. A great reminder. We followed in the next Course and made history when one of our para course mates got stuck near the tail of C-130 when his chute got entangled. Another hair raising account of his solo landing some miles away.
    Thanks General for this beautiful nostalgic piece. Hope you also write another one on your mountaineer course (z 20) and don’t forget to mention your somersault near the peak of Haramosh…. cheers!!

  16. Dear Waqar,
    I like the fluent narration that made this so interesting and lovable to read. Very well written.
    It took me back to late 1971 when I was at Cherat….Beautiful days….!
    Incidentally, in one of the pictures, in which Brig GM is giving away the wings, just behind him I see a tall young and handsome officer…(I am forgetting his name…{old age catching up})…He was my batch mate in our SSG course….! Please let me know if you recall his name or whereabouts……
    Once again “well played” and stay blessed always.

  17. Qasim Qureshi says:

    Great Kingravi, I recall having done BAC-40. I think you can do well in writing a book, start off ASAP. Time is less.

  18. Brig (R) Waqar Gull, ASC (52nd PMA) says:

    Enjoyed reading every bit of it. I did BAC-47. Wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Lt Col Amir Afzal Khan (Retd), 40th PMA says:

    Gen Kingravi,
    Very interesting article.
    Col Cheema (Editor) thank you very much for publishing such article.

  20. Brig (R) Shaukat Qadir (42nd PMA) says:

    Great memories. Soldiering is a profession. Those who enjoy their time, make great soldiers. Thanks for this.

  21. Maj (R) Rehmat Elahi says:

    An encouraging & interesting one!!

  22. Lt Col (R) Qadeer A Chaudhry, 24 /29 Punjab (2nd SSC) says:

    An interesting and very nice article beautified with fantastic photographs specially of General Mirza Aslam Beg – a genius and professional officer so far produced by Pakistan Army. Regards.

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

    Very inspiring and beautiful recounts.

  24. Brig (R) Aslam Khan, 30 Cav (33 PMA) says:

    Gen Kingravi’s detailed recount brought back wonderful memories of March 1981 at Para Trg School when as a Lt Col I did the Para Course. It makes one feel like physical supremo. The only course where there are no books and no written work. Late TM conducted our para drops at Drop Zone. Before boarding on the Herc, at Peshawar tarmac, he put his finger in his mouth and then raising it in the air to feel the breeze, he hollered loudly, “Wind Speed 7 knots – good for 7% casualties at Durrani; and that’s okay”. This announcement did not make anyone of us 99 students very comfortable.
    There were not any fatal casualties but lot of bruised bodies due to the drag on ground and one fractured ankle. But, yes, the special feeling of floating downwards and manipulating sideways is unmatchable. Even better than gliding.
    Thanks Gen Kingravi.

  25. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd), 2nd SSC says:

    A very detail article covering all the aspects of para training. It made me remember my Basic Airborne Course serial 57. It was a very tough course as SSG persons were also with us and they would make lot of intentional mistakes in counting during para PT and we had to do all the exercise all over again. I really enjoyed reading it.
    I am sure all those who have gone through para training will also enjoy reading this article. Thanks Gen Waqar Kingravi for writing and sharing this nice article. Regards

    • Maj (R) Hasan Jawaid (1st SSC), USA says:

      Interestingly, I was also in BAC-57, it was conducted sometime in early or middle of 1977. I was one of those few who had to run approx 2+ miles each way (4 x times a day – morning and afternoons) back and forth from main Officers Mess to Para School. Unfortunately there was no accommodation available elsewhere and I wanted to do it.

  26. Col (R) Muhammad Ameer Hamza says:

    Respected Sir,
    Very Impressive and informative article.

  27. Maj (R) Hasan Jawaid (1st SSC), USA says:

    I remember Karam Elahi, he was known as ‘Qahar Elahi’ (Allah’s curse). There were quite a few others – Hav Riaz, Subedar Fazal, Capt Butt & Brig Sultan Amir (Major back then) – who were equally generous in giving out punishments. Memorable days indeed.
    Thanks for the nostalgia. Good story…

  28. Tahir Anjum says:

    Nicely worded with good memories

  29. Lt Col (R) Rashid Zia Cheema (2nd SSC) says:

    Dear Kingarvi,
    A very nostalgic article, though lengthy but quite interesting and embellished with appropriate photos. All those officers who have done Basic Airborne Course will enjoy reading it.

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