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My Brother My Hero A tribute to Capt Muhammad Bilal Sunawar Shaheed, TBt.

Byline: Lubna Sunawar

History of Pakistan is replete with the sacrifices made by soldiers in defence of this motherland. Complete world has witnessed how our soldiers have risen to their towering heights in defence of their borders, their land and their nation against enemy aggression. Our heroes have always kept our flag high by successfully stopping the internal and external enemies in completing their nefarious designs.

Capt Muhammad Bilal Sunawar Shaheed is one such officer who sacrificed his life for this country and made all of us proud. Commissioned in Pakistan Army with 108 PMA Long Course in 2003, a fourth generation officer, Capt Bilal was part of Operation 'Rah-e-Nijaat' that was successfully undertaken in 2009 by Pakistan Army. He was part of an operation that shall be remembered in golden words in the history of not only Pakistan, but all great armies of the world. Tables were turned and with minimum civil casualties, Taliban were evicted from that region. Peace and smiles returned to the locals. But the price was heavy. Deep behind the smiles of the people, red blood of our soldiers glittered.

My pen trembles as I begin to write about my brother, Bilal. My eyes get wet when recall his shining face. But I always smile with pride because he rose to the highest level of grace and laid his life. Whenever I'm asked to pen something for my brave brother, I don't know how to even begin to move on. How can I? He deserves more. As a sister, I know that my valiant brother was a very dedicated person prepared to take any risk and face any challenge. A proud father, Col (Retd) Muhammad Sunawar who has lost his brave son, feels proud for Bilal's supreme sacrifice for the motherland. Bilal's beloved mother is not alive as she passed away just a year before his Shahadat, but she must have been proud to be known as Martyr's mother today and that she instilled the highest virtues of bravery, passion and sacrifice in her son.

When I look back at our childhood period, we laughed together and cried together. My brother was the only person who could finish my sentences and knew what I thought when I was silent. Bilal was an amazing person - intelligent, thoughtful, loving, caring, giving, and understanding. He was my shoulder to cry on. My brother instilled some of the greatest lessons in life in me especially after Ammi's (my mother) sad and sudden demise. I love him and miss him with all of my being and with all that I am. Losing a wonderful relationship of a mother and a sibling is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. It is something I never thought would happen.

While performing his duties at the time of his Shahadat, he was busy in a fierce battle with the Taliban at Pash Ziarat (Waziristan). He kept his cool, encircled the militants and boldly charged towards them with his troops while leading from the front. The terrorists were completely taken aback by the bold counter-attack by Capt Bilal and his troops. 2nd Lieutenant Kaleem who accompanied him during the operation narrates: "Capt Bilal was leading his troops from the front whilst trying to protect his men and showed extraordinary courage to close on a coward enemy." His professionalism under pressure and ability to remain calm in what was a chaotic situation, is testament to his character. During the conduct of same operation, he was shot by Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) in his chest which resulted in his Shahadat.

The troops narrate Capt Bilal Shaheed's performance as "Selfless, brave, courageous...." Words like these do not come close to what Capt Bilal demonstrated that day. He will be missed by all as a commander, but most of all a good mate. A real self-starter, he excelled in everything that he undertook.

Bilal was my closest sibling and a dear best friend, a real gentleman with a kind heart. It's so painful to know that he is gone and I keep thinking about all those things we did together as a family. If I could be granted one wish, it would be to kiss and hug him for the last time.

Capt Bilal and his troops did a remarkable job. They have risen to defend Pakistan from the aggression of the enemy. They have sent a clear message to terrorists that they would never ever accomplish their objectives. They sacrificed their lives to defend the homeland against the evil designs of militants. Our heroes of the defence forces are battling with the extremists and not allowing them an inch of the country to be occupied. The nation is proud of sons like Bilal and it truly recognizes their sacrifices and repects them for their bravery.

Bilal is still my best friend and my inspiration. He still gives me the strength to go on when I feel I cannot. He still gives me encouragement, advice, and strength though it may be in his own little way a[euro]" in a dream, in a song I hear, through the perfect sunset or blowing wind, he is still with me. We as a family miss him each and every day. There is not a minute that goes without him when he not in our thoughts. And with all of the wonderful things you taught me, you still live through me. In everything that I do, You will always stand by my side! "I call my brother Bilal a[euro]" my true angel" who has always shown me the way in the darkness around.

As a foreign research scholar, I'm working on U.S. War on Terror and its implications for Pakistan. This has been my foremost effort to highlight sacrifices of Pak Army in front of diplomats, researchers and think tanks, and have always tried to prove the fact that our army has acted like an iron curtain against internal and external enemies. Captain Muhammad Bilal Sunawar Shaheed was awarded Tamgh-i-Bisalat (TBt) posthumously for his sustained display of conspicuous bravery and leadership.

Bilal, you will be remembered as a gentleman, as a good leader, a loving and caring son and, the best brother in the world. The whole nation is indebted to you.

May you live in the eternal Peace and Happiness always. Ameen

The writer is a PhD Scholar at National Defence University Islamabad and is on a Fellowship Program at American Graduate School (AGS), Paris (France). lubnasunawar@hotmail.com
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Publication:Hilal
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 31, 2013
Words:1087
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