Lt. Col. Raashid Karim Baig (Shaheed): My Brother

By: Dr. Attyia Masood Baig

Last year in May, I started working at the Psychiatry department in säter Sweden. As planned, I would work in another section next week. I usually got free a bit late because of work. During my rotation we usually discussed and shared our backgrounds. I tried to conceal and avoid mentioning my family’s military background or my native soil. It is because I knew that there were so many misconceptions created by the media that despite my earnest endeavour and arguments, I would fail to convince the masses regarding my point of view. This was one of prime reasons for me to avoid undesired discourse on sensitive issues of assorted nature. There once was a discussion between a few colleagues on the topic, “as to how religion can mould the concept of defending one’s land”. This was the  moment I said, “that those with patriotic spirit and strong  belief in dying one day possess a strong faith in laying down their lives for the country and embrace martyrdom”  and such people will never be afraid of any impending consequences. I thought that the people around me where peace and tranquil prevails with progress and prosperity will not be able to understand the true situation and unrest that existed in my native country, Pakistan. You cannot understand, as to how Pakistan Army has dealt with the menace of terrorism within its borders that has claimed thousands of innocent lives including law enforcement people besides numerous innocent citizens. They have gained unfathomable progress by addressing radical thinking and extremism in society that was sprouting its unseen branches within our society. The Government along with the Armed forces of Pakistan have worked relentlessly for over two decade to control the international situation where suicide bombing remained a regular feature, acts of terrorism against innocent civilians and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) remained common claiming innumerable lives in many cities, the sporadic firing incidents and even target killing in cities occurred adding injury to otherwise a peaceful habitat. The efforts undertaken by the Government have borne fruit with peace and calm improving with each passing day.  It is to say that, unfortunately the dilemma is quite complex, when the enemy is unseen and dwells within society by getting support from some nefarious people within the society. To mark them and point them out in these so-called safe heavens becomes a demanding task for any Army operating in any area. This operational demand for Pakistan Army places the highest responsibility upon its shoulders to carefully sift the miscreants from the innocent and carryout operations and address the gangrene causing enormous damage to the societal fiber. To fight such an enemy within ranks would require sacrifices far beyond one’s imagination. The tribal areas of Pakistan in this connection remained exposed to acts of terrorism due weak Governmental writ, to lack of education, prevalent tribal traditions, religious orientation of masses coupled with lack of education, existent poverty and scarcity of viable economic activity or industries with in the area to address day to day needs of life. The complex affairs in the region made them prone to be an easy tool in the hands of all powers that would desire an unrest within the borders of this peaceful country. These areas remained a buffer zone within Pakistani confines and continued so till the recent past where these areas have been merged into the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to end the state of chaos within the society. Pakistan Army in support of its Government has played the requisite role to evict the undesired elements in these areas and reinstate peace and tranquility and continues to address rehabilitation of these masses.

Coming back to where I began, June 2019. I was awarded the citizenship of Sweden and during the national day, which is celebrated on 6th June each year. It is on this day that, the new citizens are invited for the official award ceremony. I did receive the citizenship but, I was not mentally prepared for rising to the occasion for the said ceremony. It could have been due to fact that, I have had much of nationalist spirit and patriotism being at the very grass root level.  I thought that, when you accept a new citizenship you share responsibility within that society in its truest spirit to remain loyal and faithful to the soil. At the very same time, I was happy that I can keep my Pakistani nationality intact as well. A privilege that few countries do not allow at all which is why I was very happy to be a Swedish citizen. During the same period, our little Local desi community celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr in Sweden. Due to the constant daily routine being a doctor, I could not put henna on my hands. This activity was one that I never missed in the past.

On 7th June 2019, I finished my work on time. I was happy and deep down was bit satisfied that day. I stood for five minutes beside a lake near the hospital. I observed that, it was too quiet during the day. Weather was a bit cloudy. I took a deep sigh of relief for escaping the busy schedule and was very relaxed. It was a weekend though; I drove back home. I encountered heavy rain during my journey. I talked to my mom, my elder sister and my youngest brother’s wife. All were busy preparing for the dinner invitation at home. They already had a conversation with my youngest brother. He was fine and was to arrive home the next day from his military duty. I thought, I will catch up with him then and talk to him later. I had a telephonic discourse with my elder brother already on the Eid day. I reached back home. Laid out the table for the dinner and consumed meals with my children. Picked up henna and drew a simple design on my hand as well as on the hands my little daughter, while smiling to myself in innocence. I took a picture of our henna on the hands and then washed the same. Then, I tried to show the same to my husband and told him, look how beautiful it is on our daughter’s hands. His reaction was a bit delayed but said yes, it is beautiful. I smiled, and I sent a few pictures to my family, and resorted to opening facebook to browse through.

As I opened facebook on my cell, I saw my youngest brother’s pictures in uniform with a blue background. I didn’t look at what were the details, but I was surprised why such pictures have been posted in uniform on the facebook since, he was a much conscious soul  and would  never allow us to post any picture in uniform at all. Then, I looked below to read. The only word, I could read and understand was Shaheed. My husband came running and he hugged me, because I never knew as to what had happened? He came to know a few minutes earlier than me.  Everything in life flashed back to me like a film. From childhood till now…… I was lately teasing my brother very much. Telling him jokes of popular game shows. He was like a friend to me. We played and went to school together. Fought and shouted many times together, making sure that I would be the winner.  Send letters to each other with humour and smiles. Tears just rolled down uncontrolled and unintended. But, at the same time I knew that, he is a Shaheed and I do not have to cry.  That night I wandered in a stranger’s land. Watched the arrival and burial ceremony in my native village through facebook. The guard of honour on his final resting place and firing of rifle shots shown on video echoed repeatedly during my journey through the long flight to Pakistan. I failed to sleep and cried through this journey of pain. A surge of pride supplemented the pain that I carried for my youngest brother who fought gallantly for his soil.

I reached my hometown one day after the burial, and I stood beside my dearest brother’s grave, who was laid next to my father’s grave. I kissed a part of his grave as if, I would kiss him on his forehead.  I wished that, ‘I would have hugged him tight when I met him a year earlier”. This unique longing will stay with me forever, now. I came across and met my other family members closer and far relatives. All of them paid their homage and respect to my Shaheed brother. The people flocked in innumerable numbers to recite Fatiha. My heart somehow calmed down. I did not cry more during my stay because I surely knew by this time that my brother was well taken care of by my people. To my satisfaction I knew that, “his soul sure will be place in highest place in Jannah”.

It relieved me and added calmness and comfort to my thoughts. It has been a complete year since his Shahadat/martyrdom. I miss him every day, I do not mourn anymore, since he dwells in my heart, this brings me peace and tranquility in life. I will never mourn as he is a martyr and remains alive. He is my brother with strong will and principles. A brother who cared and stood for righteousness. I know that, “everyone has to die one day, but to die with honour is what one wishes for”.

I feel proud that he followed the path he strongly believed in and kept his oath intact throughout since joining the Pakistan Army that, “he will protect his country to his last breath and drop of blood with pride and honour”. Truly, he did succeed in his mission.

For me,

My brother, you are not away but unseen

I miss your voice but just believe

That you can’t find time to say goodbye

I now imagine you in my dreams

With laughers and smiles on your face

It felt so strange that it ever happened

The worldly farewell of honour and pride

With petals and roses on your site

I saw pompous mountains that day

That took the Saint with so much grace

I wonder early departures

First father and then you my brother

But I still excuse my little being

You are not away but just unseen!!

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