It has been 30 days since my brother’s martyrdom and today, finally I have found the strength to write something about him. I just want to share who the man really was and what compelled him to jump eagerly into the furnace of bullets and explosives in Badaber Camp. He was three and a half years my senior and by the time I was able to activate my cognitive powers he was about six, seven years old. My earliest impressions of the fellow were that this guy is a fire cracker. One of the earliest incidents that I remember is that in school Isfand heard that my eldest brother, Shaheryar had been in a fight with another boy. Without any second thoughts he picked up a stick and set off in search of the said adversary. When he found him he promptly attacked him with a stick and made him flee. I was four or five at the time, even then I considered fighting with an older boy a folly but Isfand was ever unfettered by such considerations.
As time passed and we started unraveling our personalities, among us Isfand was the one whose personality changed the least. His bravery and daring (sometimes bordering on the realms of rashness) only increased with time. His sharp and on the spot intelligence was evident from the early year of his life. He had a tendency to get absorbed in his goal and lose sight of everything else. His athleticism sprang from immense competitive spirit and his confidence evolved very quickly into leadership qualities. But the most significant trait that defined his being was that HE NEVER EVER TOLERATED DEFEAT AND NEVER GAVE UP. He could be a perfect sore loser when my eldest brother or I would beat him at a game but unlike most ordinary guys he had an ability to quickly identify his flaws and come harder at you next time. Sometimes I even advised him to tone down his competitiveness a little but I guess a person cannot change who he is and if anyone tries to change himself forcibly he might lose some of his basic strengths.
Asfandyar joined Cadet College Hasanabdal (CCH) in 8th grade and that place helped him a lot on his path. The life at CCH encouraged competitive spirit and Isfand just fit in there like a hand in glove. His superb intelligence propelled him to the top and he obtained many laurels at CCH. After HSSC father wanted him to pursue a medical career but Isfand had his heart set on joining Pakistan Army. At that time I was against this decision and I enquired why he wanted to join army. His reply is permanently etched into my conscience. He said”Yaar Hassaan mein Army mein sirf is liye jaana chahta hoon ke muje Allah ki raah mein larne ka moqa milay.paisay kama kama kar budhe ho kr bemaqsad ghar mein marne se kya faida?” (Hassaan I am only joining army so that I might receive a chance to fight for Allah Almighty. What is the use of devoting your life for materialistic pursuits and dying without a purpose?).This statement is worth careful consideration. He did not want to spend his life in average materialistic pursuits because he believed in a higher purpose. Owing to our parents’ Tarbiyat (grooming) Isfand believed that only that life is useful which is spent in the service of Allah and Allah alone. Then his great degree of self-awareness helped point out to him the career which was most suited to his goal. After all he had always been very interested in military history and had read the works of Sun Tzu and Clausewitz at a very young age. His natural athleticism and his successes in the Cadet life at CCH were also proof that he could be the best in the army. These qualities wouldn’t have served him better in any other field than the army. So he made a rational decision about how he could serve Allah better and then didn’t waver from that decision.
Isfand joined the 118 Long Course at PMA Kakul. He proved his aptitude in the field by distinguishing himself there. He won the coveted Military Tactics Medal and The Sword of Honour at the PMA. After gaining his commission he was a little disappointed. He was critical of the YES SIR culture in the army and was absolutely disgusted by the approach of many officers whose sole purpose in the army was to advance their careers by hook or by crook. He didn’t believe in shortcuts and he had very low tolerance for those who tried to take shortcuts. But as time passed he built a niche for himself and befriended many likeminded colleagues, seniors and juniors. He used to say to me “yar army mein do tarah ke afsar hote hein.aik wo jo Allah ke liye larne aate hein aur doosray wo jo career banana aate hein”(Pal there are two types of army officers. First type wants to fight for Allah while the second type wants to advance their careers).According to him such careerist officers were the root of army’s troubles. He used to say that these guys are very good in cantonments but in the field these are the ones whose faces turn white promptly at the first sound of firing.
He was posted in Waziristan for 2 years and he occupied the most forward post held by his unit during three fourths of his stay there. His CO repeatedly tried to bring him back but he always said that he had the most experience at that post so it would be better to let him continue. Whenever I visited him in his unit I was astonished at the utmost respect the soldiers of his unit bestowed on him. When I asked him the reason he said that in Waziristan whenever a fight broke out he was the one who lead his troops from the front instead of letting them cover him. The troops never forgot that he was the Officer who valued their lives and covered them instead!
I had always prayed that Allah keep him safe because I was aware of his risk-your-neck-to-save-others approach. But he had another point of view. He used to tell me frequently “Yar Shahadat jannat ka wild card hai bs apni niyyat khalis rakhni chiyay” (”Pal! Shahadat is the wild card to Jannat. You just have to keep your niyyat pure”).He viewed Shahadat as the end to all the worldly toils and struggles and the perfect expression of loyalty to Allah. He had always been outspoken about the damage caused to Islam by the terrorists. He used to tell me “Brother! Islam is under fire from both sides. On one side are the half educated pseudo liberals who are blind in their imitation of the West. On the other side are the ignorant extremists who are presenting a twisted and murderous form of religion that has no relation whatsoever to Islam”. As for the TTP he always said that these are thugs paid for by India to vilify Islam and destabilize Pakistan. But his thoughts and expression took a more belligerent turn after the infamous APS attack. He said over and over to me “Yar bs aik baar mje moqa milay to mein bachon ko qatl karne walay in buzdilon ko sabaq sikhaon” (I just need a chance to teach these murderers a lesson).
He finally got his chance on 18th September 2015 when the murderers attacked Badaber camp. At that he was G-3 102 Brigade. As military men know that it is a staff officer post and not a field job but Isfand couldn’t waste his chance on a technical hitch. He couldn’t let those murderers kill more innocent Muslims on his watch. He couldn’t let the history of APS Peshawar be repeated. The blood of Imam Hussain (RA) boiled inside him to fight the disciples of Yazid. He had craved a show down with these apostates for ages, how could he waste this chance? He rushed to the field of battle. He was fettered by his staff officer responsibilities. He was extremely restless. He couldn’t calm himself down. His adrenaline was pumping. He wanted to have a go at the murderers and then he got his chance. As soon as Major Haseeb was wounded he literally implored his Brigade commander to let him command the QRF. He said that the Captain who was supposed to take Haseeb’s place was inexperienced. He just wanted to have a go. At that moment only one thought was on his mind that if by some lapse of command these rascals entered the colony it would be a bigger massacre than the APS and he would never forgive himself. No sooner than he received the Brigadier’s ascent he promptly blocked the route to the colony. Then he unleashed his fury upon the apostates. Asfandyar and his troops fell upon the intruders with a desire for victory or martyrdom. The murderers accustomed to shooting children and nimazis were dumbfounded, astounded, astonished at the speed and fury of the assault. They hadn’t expected one of the lions of Allah to leap upon them like a fearsome thunderbolt. They lost their hearts and their minds completely and started running about like headless chickens forgetting that they themselves were heavily armed. Asfandyar himself shot many of them like the cowardly ducks they were. After taking the trash out Asfandyar reported back to his superiors. Then they received reports that two, three of the murderers were still alive and cowering inside the barracks. Again Asfandyar volunteered to clean them up and set off immediately. Before starting the process of clearing the rooms he made his troops swear that he would enter the rooms first. A soldier asked him not to endanger his life and wait for the commandos to arrive but he paid no heed to him. I am certain and as his brother I know his psyche better than all that at that moment he would have thought “bach gya to ghazi nae to Shaheed win-win situation” (if I survive I will be a ghazi otherwise Shaheed, win-win situation).
Isfand cleared few rooms and then after killing an apostate there he embraced the greatest honor reserved for Muslims by Allah i.e. Shahadat. He received three bullets in the chest and the apostate was immediately dispatched to hell either by himself or his troops (I don’t know for sure, there is some confusion about the matter).I pray that he be welcomed in the hereafter by his ancestors the Holy Prophet (SAW), Hazrat Ali (RA) and Imam Hussain (RA).I pray that Imam Hussain (RA) and Hazrat Hamza (RA) say to him “Son! Job well done, join the club”. I pray that his efforts are accepted by Allah and I pray that he get to recommend me for Allah’s favor in Akhrat.
At the end I would just like to say that so many martyrs of Pakistan shine on the sky like twinkling stars but their glow is diminished by the grave darkness of the crimes of corruption, nepotism, hypocrisy, laziness, selfishness and general indifference towards the true purpose of life. A handful of men are sacrificing day and night for Pakistan but sadly most of us are trying our utmost to ruin this nation. I implore all Pakistanis and especially my Muslim brothers to get rid of aforementioned evils so that we may build an Islamic Republic of Pakistan that is the model state of the whole world. We all have to leave this world and answer to Allah in the end. Let’s just reflect for a moment that what we have in our account for that day.