Brig (R) Kamran Shariff, Sind (2nd SSC)
Editor’s Note: Brig Kamran Shariff is from 45 Punjab (now 5 Sindh). After the retirement, he has settled in Islamabad.
It was certainly a bad experience being relegated from 1st Pak Bn (1st SSC) to 3rd Pak Bn at Tobe Camp (2nd SSC) in early 1972. Though it happened an age back, one remembers the fateful day: the stern rendering of the charge sheet by the 1st Pak Bn’s Adjt in the fabled Drill Square, being bundled in PMA buses and later assembled in what looked like British era barracks. The harsh welcome note served as the perfect climax.
For me, however, there was one redeeming feature which certainly made it easier to get adjusted to what can be termed as a ‘cultural shock’. A very helpful Platoon Sergeant Ali of Abdali 4 Platoon, who wore a smiling expression and seemed to be at ease with himself in PMA’s ‘sharfu’ ridden culture. He later joined the illustrious 10 FF Regt.
Ali’s nonchalant demeanour seemed at odd for a PMA cadet where the training and grooming regimen occurs in a stress created environment. He seemed to be at ease with himself while treating every event on its merit and was less inclined to over achieve. We became friends though we rarely served together.
Part of my initial service with my Battalion 45 Punjab and later 5 Sindh saw employment during Balochistan counter insurgency operations, 1973-74. The aerial route out of Quetta in those days required a day long journey in PIA’s Fokker to reach Islamabad via Multan with couple of other stops. Few hours break in Multan allowed me to meet Lt Raja Muhammad Ali Khan in his unit.
I found him dutifully attending to the unit chores but he found time for some nice words and to see me off. He also represented 10 FF in football events.
We got busy in our orbits but remained in touch. While Ali attended to the mandatory service benchmarks but one never discerned a careerist obsession in him. His attitude towards life exemplified the oft quoted but rarely practiced attribute of putting in one’s best but leaving the rest to God. A religious person who preferred an austere life style.
We briefly served together in Lahore in 1995 where I commanded a unit and Ali as a Col was deputed as Rangers’ Sector Commander. He was once required to brief a very senior officer at Wagah, our common operational area of responsibility. His operational orientation was interrupted by the VVIP’s unwarranted sarcastic remark on the quality of a model replicating the Indian Wire Fencing. Not to be perturbed, Ali continued in his self-assured manner. One saw a glimpse of his calm inner self.
Our Army innings came to an end and I got busy with my post retirement pursuits. Brig (Retd) Raja Muhammad Ali Khan settled to live peacefully in Gulistan Colony in Rawalpindi, close to his native Pind Dadan Khan with which he maintained a very close contact.
We remained in touch and the fact that he never actively sought post retirement employment seemed to be issue for me, but never for Ali. I lost touch with him as years went by and was alerted to his serious illness by Lt Col Rashid Cheema’s email.
I saw him, smiling but partly coherent in his speech. This was during the last winters and it was the last time that we met.
Around the same time I met some of Ali’s unit colleagues, including Brig (Retd) Ehsan Tiwana, his ex CO. He summed up Ali’s personality as ‘Eik qanaat pasand insaan’ : a rare virtue in our times characterized by materialism.
May his soul rest in peace.
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