I retired from the Pakistan Army in 1974 while serving as a helicopter pilot in the Army Aviation.
Yesterday 15 Jan 2020 two things happened in my home town Chitral . One caused me pride and one caused me pain.
HAPPENING ONE: A large military helicopter landed at my village Mastuj with the dead body of one sepoy Zahid Hussain who had expired in CMH Lahore after a prolonged illness which had caused him fatal brain hemorrhage.
From Mastuj his body was bravely carried my Maj Usman and sixteen jawans of the Chitral Scouts climbing through knee deep snow for five hours to enable the dead body of sepoy Zaman to be buried in his ancestral village Raman. That party has not yet returned to Mastuj as I write this post. So far so good. Zindabad Pakistan Army.
HAPPENING TWO: After delivering the dead body of sepoy Zaman at Mastuj the empty helicopter came and landed at Chitral for refuelling at 11am.
Since two days Chitral has been completely cutoff from the rest of the country due to excessive snow. No vehicle could come in and no vehicle could go out of the district.
Not far from the helipad is the District Hospital. There a popular and revered lawyer Ghulam Hazrat Inqilabi had been admitted a day earlier for brain hemorrhage mainly due to hypertension. Sadly there was neither the proper diagnosis nor the treatment available at this hospital for him. Because although it had been declared a Category B hospital and was authorised an advance RMI machine it had not been installed since the past ten years.
Ghulam Hazrat Inqilabi had no choice but to be evecuated out of snowbound (and cutoff) Chitral as soon as possible if he was to survive.
So at 11am when the disheartened relatives of Inqilabi heard the sound of the rotorbades of the helicopter a new sense of hope dawned on them as well as on the hospital staff.
” Helicopter”… ” Helicopter” everyone shouted with joy. In no time the doctor even drafted a letter certifying that his patients current condition allowed him to be safely evacuated out of Chitral in the helicopter which was also the only chance he had for survival.
They then asked me to play my part as an ex- army aviator to make it happen. I started by making contact with the pilot of the helicopter but in the next two hours that followed it became clear to me that the rules which allowed sepoy Zahids dead body to be delivered to snow bound Chitral was not the same to help in timely evacuation of Ghulam Hazrat Inqilabi.
My heart sank when I was given the news of the empty helicopter taking off at 1400hrs from Chitral leaving behind Inqilabi.
He expired at 2am today.
If I was the Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Army I would seriously re-think such rules where an empty military helicopter is unable to timely airlift a citizen of Pakistan whose life is in serious danger in a snowbound district cutoff from the rest of the country and with insufficient medical help to save his life.
If this was 1974 I would have flown out Ghulam Hazrat Inquilabi in my helicopter. But I would have been given a fair chance to justify my action. I would have in all probability also got a pat on my back for it. In those days we did not have to draw the long line connecting the place of occurance to 21Div, to 11Corp to
CGS hq in GHQ while a man lay dying.
Chitral stood up to elect a previous army chief. It was the only district in the whole of Pakistan to do it.
A loved son of ours deserved better yesterday.
Shahzada Siraj Ulmulk