By Brig (R) Hashim Khan, AC/Avn (47 PMA)
Maj Gen (R) Syed Ehtasham Zamir expired early morning on 4th May 2015 in Army Burn Centre CMH Kharian and was buried in Bahria Graveyard Rawalpindi in the same evening.
Four days before his death some repairs were going in his house. The gas lever was accidentally turned on by a worker. At the same time Gen’s servant had sprayed mosquito repellent and the Gen could not differentiate gas from mosquito spray. After returning from a game of tennis, the moment he lit his cigarette there was an explosion and the Gen’s clothes caught fire.
Ehtasham Zamir was son of a famous poet of Pakistan, Maj Syed Zamir Jafri. I had known him from our college days. Although he was from Gordon College, Rawalpindi and I was in Sir Syed College, and ahead of me in years, but we used to meet quite often during student agitation/strikes against Ayub Khan. Later we ended up as course mates in PMA.
He was also Chairman of an NGO, “Syed Zamir Jafri Foundation“, which was formed in 2008. It is a non-profit foundation with the aim of promoting resource material for persons interested in doing research work on Syed Zamir Jafri in addition to providing a forum to study the legend poet.
He had a very refined sense of humor and after the retirement he used to write a column in some Urdu newspaper. He also published a book ” Matta-e-Zamir ” which was a compilation of his articles. He was kind enough to present a copy of that book to me in Dec 2013.
We used to meet quite often on various weddings and funerals, and we usually used to peel off form the crowd to enjoy a cigarette and gup-shup and a few latest jokes. He could convert normal day-to-day conversation into humor.
Last year when his son died, he was really broken. It was very tragic indeed. His son was traveling to China with his mother. After checking in for the flight, his son told the mother to sit in the waiting area and went out to probably have a smoke. When a lot of time elapsed and the boarding time was nearing, she went out to look for him. There she saw a lot of people gathered around something, and there she found her son lying dead. You can well imagine what the poor lady must have gone through at that time, and all the process of arrangements to bring the body back to Pakistan.
He knew that my son, Fawad Jalal Khan, had died on 17 August 2001 in an accident at Lahore. He was just 21 years old then. When we met at the funeral of Ehtasham’s son, he asked me, “Hashmay, yaar toun vi iss ichon guzarya aen, kisi din toun te bhabi aao te sanoon dasso ke iss ichon kevaen langiye?” after that me and my wife went abroad to Europe and USA and stayed out for almost four months. After our return various pulls and pushes of events kept us occupied and we couldn’t go to his house.
Last time we met was on his second son’s wedding in January 2015. He came to my table and after normal hellos and hi-s he said, “Chuhd o yaar, toun uss day baad nazar e nahi aayaa“.
I told him, “Let this wedding season pass and we will definitely call on”. His wife also told my wife that they had been waiting for us to come.
Little did I know that next time we go to his home, it would be to condole his death. I feel so small for allowing my day-to-day commitments come in the way of meeting a friend when he was waiting for me. Guys, life is the most uncertain thing. One never knows when it will come to an end. Be there when someone whom you know needs you.
Just a day before his death a common friend met him in CMH Kharian and tweeted that he was in good spirits and the doctors were hopeful of his recovery and the next day he was gone. Our departure from this world would be more or less on the same lines. All deaths are sudden. No one knows the moment when Malik-ul-Maut will take away our last breath and after that it will be how people remember us. So My Dear Friends, make an endeavor to leave behind good memories.
May Allah grant Gen Ehtasham Zamir the choicest place in Jannat-ul-Firdous, Aameen.
Editor: The following poem was written by Gen Ehtasham Zamir’s father, Maj Syed Zamir Jafri, after his son’s Passing out Parade. The spirit of the father with which he had sent his son to the army is amply visible in this poem.
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