off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

“Jihad with a Pen”

It was in late 1975 that I was interviewing candidates for the post of Proof Reader in our newspaper that I was surprised to find out that one of the candidates who came in was a retired Major from Pakistan Army. When I asked him why he was interested in this job and was he aware of the nature of the job, he said “I am interested in writing and wish to join some newspaper for that and thought it might provide me an opening.” When questioned further, he said, “I have now decided to do Jihad with the Pen.”

To me he looked a bit disturbed and needed lot of sympathy and understanding. During the conversation it revealed that he had returned from India some time ago where he was a Prisoner of War and remained in the camps there. I decided to listen to his story which I believed will provide him some comfort. Replying to a question he said that “When we were sent to East Paksitan, we were not told the truth, we were kept in the Dark. On reaching there, we came to know that most of the population had turned against Paksitan and when the population turns against you, you cannot win a War”. We should have found out how the situation reached to this point in the first place, he remarked. I did console him and felt sorry for what they had to undergo in the POW camps in India. Before he left, I told him, Let us keep our spirits alive and hope better days will come. Of course he was not a suitable candidate for the job we had advertised, hence he was not selected. The next candidate was Mr. Rahimullah Yousufzai who had lost a job from Daily Sun the newspaper published from Karachi which had ceased publication. He was selected. He worked with me for some time, he was very intelligent, was interested in reporting hence I encourage him. He kept on working for our newspaper even after he shifted to Islamabad due to some family problems. He did very well, later he joined Daily Muslim and then became a renowned journalist in his own right and an expert on Afghanistan affairs.

When I received a copy of ”Kiyani Kahani” an autobiography by Maj. Gen. (Retd) Masud ur Rehman Kiyani former Commandant of AFIC, reading the chapter related to East Pakistan crisis where he served for some time before he also became a POW in India, the story of the Major who had come for the interview to me in 1975, got recollected. For me it was extremely painful to read these chapters related to East Pakistan in the book since almost over 80% of our family members got slaughtered during the partition in 1947 when they migrated from East Punjab to Lahore. A few others had died in the Refugee camps. All this was still fresh in my mind when I received another book for review, “Seasons and Cycles of Life” by another dear friend Maj. Gen. Ashur Khan who in his autobiography had also given a very detailed account of life spent in East Pakistan before he also became a POW. Gen. Kiyani and Gen.Ashur Khan had both extensively highlighted the faults in planning of the War and how it was fought, the enormous problem which the Pakistan Army fighting there had to face. Both of them had also commented that it is a pity that those who were responsible for all this were never tried and punished. We never learn lesson from our past mistakes and keep on repeating the same mistakes again and again.

Population explosion is yet another serious problem that we are facing in Pakistan. It is not possible for any government to provide even basic minimum services and facilities to the entire population if we do not control our population. Economic development is considered the best contraceptive. For economic development, we need political stability and for that we need to listen and respect the people’s mandate. We need free and fair elections, respect the people’s mandate, let the democratic process continue without any interruption. People of Pakistan will take care of the corrupt politicians who will be gradually eliminated if they fail to come up to their expectations. Political engineering should come to an end. A strong military and the nuclear capability is not a guarantee for national security, had it been so, Russia would not have been disintegrated. It is the strong economy alongwith strong army and nuclear capability which matters and for economic development we need political stability which can only be ensured through free and fair elections. We cannot afford to make any further experiments. Let us hope all those who matter will listen to it and we as a Nation must put our differences aside, work in harmony, reach out for reconciliation putting all our energies to accelerate the pace of economic development. Otherwise the various Mafia Groups will continue to play their games and we will be faced with one after the other crisis sometime in the shape or Sugar or Flour crisis and sometime low foreign exchange reserves, reduced exports and so on.

Note: Most of the information in this column is based on the presentation the author had made at the formal launch ceremony of Maj. Gen. Ashur Khan’s book “Seasons & Cycles of Life” held at Rawalpindi on November 10, 2019.


  1. “Kiani Kahani” documents many important events in Pakistan’s medical & political history. http://www.pulsepakistan.com/images/Pulse/Issue-Images/2017/Oct-15-17/Kiani-Kahani2.pdf Accessed on Feb. 8, 2020.
  2. Seasons and Cycles of Life” is an honest, true reflection on personal and professional life of a Bangash Pathan. Pulse Int. September 15, 2019. http://www.pulsepakistan.com/images/Pulse/Issue-Images/2019/Sep-15-19/Ashur-Khan.pdf Accessed on Feb. 8, 2020
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