Sergeant Ali as I Knew Him

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.

Kamran Shariff

Sergeant Muhammad Ali, 2nd SSC

Sergeant Ali

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.

Maj Arshad Meer (Left) and Col Muhammad Ali (Right), Sutlej Rangers

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.

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

Editor’s Note: 
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  1. Lt Col (R) Zubair Ahmed, Canada says:

    Befitting tribute to a gentleman. I had the honour to be his company mate in PMA.

  2. Capt (R) Mohammad Hanif Butt says:

    Though I do not know Brig Ali but this fascinating account by Brig Kamran gives a glimpse of the pleasant personality of Brig Ali. Keep it up Brig Kamran.

  3. May Allah rest his soul in peace (Aameen)

    A deserving tribute to a comrade.

  4. Maj (R) Farooq Rana says:

    A nice piece. Ali was my Sargent too. There’s no denying the fact that he was a most cheerful and very contended person. He was my roommate throughout and every morning I used to wake up by his aloud recitation of Quran. His faith in God’s will was strong.

  5. Lt Gen Jamil Haider (R) says:

    Beautifully written tribute to a comrade. Ali, no doubt was an excellent colleague. May his soul rest in peace, Aameen.

  6. Lt Gen (R) Tahir Qazi says:

    Myself and Brig Ali served twice together. In 1993, I was posted to 30 Corps as GSO-1(Ops) and Lt Col Ali was Gso-1(Trg). Lt Gen Tariq(FF) was the Corps Comd. He was very tough and there used to be lot of pressure on both of us. Lt Col Ali’s smile was a source of inspiration and great relief. Next I interacted with him when I was GOC 4 AD Div, monitoring KESC, and Brig Ali was looking after WAPDA in Hyderabad. We used to have frequent meetings with the Govt Of Sindh. Same smile and composure. His elder brother Brig Imtiaz is a staff course mate, hence we had another common ground. Ali was a great man. May his soul rest in peace.
    I must also thank Brig Kamran for remembering this great man. Remembering your friends, who are no more in this world is a virtue, which must be promoted. Also thanks to Col Rashid Cheema for sharing this article with me.

  7. Lt Col (r) Sohail Shafiq, Engrs says:

    A very close friend and my platoon mate. Gem of a person, polite, sincere and always very helpful as I remember from my memories of PMA. May Ali find himself in peace in Janat ul Firdous.

  8. Lt Col (R) Qadeer A Ch. Punjab says:

    Inna lillah he wa inna elahe rajeoon. May Allah bless Ali’s soul in Junnat ul Firdaus. Aameen. My appreciation and regards for Brig Kamran Sharrif for a nice tribute for late Ali.

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

    Late Brig Ali is my course mate and also happened to be my Commandant in Sutlej Rangers (In the photo above, I am receiving a cup from him). He had a personality which is beyond description. I find no suitable words to praise this thorough gentleman. May God bless his soul, Aameen.

  10. Brig (R) Khalid Hassan says:

    May Alah grant Ali the best place in Jannah and bless his soul, Aameen.

  11. Brig (R) Riaz Toor says:

    I have had interaction with him in PMA as he used to pass from the Mess side of our barrack for Sher Shah 5 Platoon . A smiling and caring personality who was always more than willing to be useful to all. Pray Allah bless his soul with peace and comfort in Jannah-ul-Firdous.

  12. Maj (R) Shaukat Raza (Australia) says:

    May God bless Ali’s soul and give him a special place in Jannah. Ali was our Sergeant, my room mate and a very close friend. A very nice soul who will be remembered forever. Thanks Karman for taking your time and writing beautiful words for our friend Ali. God bless his soul.

  13. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah says:

    Befitting tribute to a Great human being. May Allah Bless Him with a worthy place in JANNAT-UL-FIRDAUS, Aameen.

  14. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Thanks a lot sir for sharing this write up. May Allah bless the soul of Brig M.Ali.

  15. Your very nice recollections of an officer and a gentleman renews faith in old-world culture and class. Thank you, Sir, for sharing this.

  16. Brig (r) Ashraf Mahmood (37 Th PMA) says:

    Being older to both of you in PMA, I do not know you, but it was a very pleasant reading in remembrance of a gentleman, friend and colleague in uniform. May Allah Bless both of you – Aameen !!!!

  17. Brig (R) Ayaz Mughni says:

    Thanks Kamran for reminding us of a gentleman in true words. Ali was a God gifted man and rightly described by Kamran. Our prayers are for the Maghfirat and blessings of Allah on Ali.

  18. May Allah bless Brig Ali with the highest of rewards. Thank you Kamran for your poetic cover of Ali’s fine humane profile.

  19. Brig (Retd) Sultan Mahmud says:

    Ali will always remain a part of my life and the Dasturi’s (10 FF). He had qualities that few can imagine, we all lost a great friend, a concerned individual, a humble human, gentle and forgiving man. Us, his Paltanwals and a host of friends attended his funeral, it was a sad day. May Allah shower his blessings on him, Aameen.

  20. Maj (R) Rehmat Elahi says:

    ALLAH hamaray bhai ko Janat mein aala aur afzal muqaam atta karey, Aameen.

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

    May Allah Almighty bless his soul, Aameen.

  22. May Ali rest in Peace and may you be blessed, Kamran Sharrif, for reviving our memories of a fine officer and gentleman.

  23. Col (R) Qaisar Rashid says:

    My apologies for reading this fine piece so late but am happy I found it while browsing through the Writer’s Forum today.
    Ali was my next door neighbour during Staff college. We also served together in SI&T. He was a man of strong character,was upright and humble by nature. I will always remember him as a Pure Gentleman. Rest in peace comrade.
    His brother Waqar Raja was one of the pl comds in OW/CHW Coy when I was commanding it. Another fine soul.
    I will beseech Kamran to please do not deprive us,your coursemates,of your skillful writing. You have not written anything after 2013.

  24. Maj Agha Amir Ahsan, Sigs says:

    Nice words for a nice man. Never met Ali after PMA, but I also remember him as described by Kamran.
    Best Regards.
    (Editor’s Note. Above comment was sent via email by Maj Agha Amir Ahsan on 5 Sep 2011. It has been added today by the Admin. Agha expired on 28 Nov 2012)

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