CAPTAIN MUHAMMAD AKBAR KHAN NIAZI

Lt. Colonel Haroon ur Rashid Qureshi is a war veteran of 1971 war. He had a chance to visit Dacca twice, initially in college uniform and later in Army Uniform. He has penned down his memories in his book “Dacca Diary” in a very interesting way. Here he has written his memories of a friend and comrade, Captain Muhammad Akbar Khan Niazi.

I joined my unit 8 Baluch (Abbasiya) in 1968, at Peshawar. Verily it was a milestone in my life. Being a boy of 19 years, I was not only the youngest but the junior most officer of the unit. My seniors used to call me “Munna”. It always infuriated me as I considered myself a man, in full bloom of his life and authority. So, I used to react to these words, not publicly but deep inside. There I met my senior, Niazi. Lt Mohammad Akbar Khan Niazi (M. A. K. Niazi for short) was his full name. Tall, powerfully built, smart and intelligent, he was a prime example of a warrior. Soon we developed a bond of brotherhood between us. Although I was blessed to enjoy the affection of everyone in the unit, but Niazi was special; he was my best friend.

In 1969 we moved to Quetta, where we were alloted adjacent BOQs in a mess at Robert’s Market. I had a 500 CC Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle, which no doubt was a lovely machine to ride, but created a lot of noise when started. So every morning, I got up early in the morning and used to start my motorcycle and revved it to warm up the engine. It used to create two types of noises. First the roar of my motorcycle and second the scolding from Niazi.

The unit used to camp at FFR-4 for exercises, where we would spend a couple of months under canvas. We would carry out tactical training, field firing and practice field-craft during this time. Evenings were very enjoyable with games, songs, skits and fun. Niazi was a very good Kabaddi player and an agile wrestler. He would normally rule the ring. Since he had gotten commission from ranks, he knew the problems the lower ranks faced, and had a very helpful and sympathetic attitude towards them, and was immensely popular. I distinctly remember Niazi singing ” Kukra kandhan thivi saweray dittiai bang” and “Ucha hawai bangla, wichay maiman tehel thian”

ککڑا کندھاں تھیویں سویرے دتی اے بانگ and اچا ہوائی بنگلہ وچ میماں ٹہلدیاں. in a lusty voice around bonfires late at night, mesmerising everyone. He had a very peaceful, serene and calm nature and nothing could make him panic.

Time flew and my unit was posted to East Pakistan. Me and Niazi were Captains at that time. It was a time of chaos and turmoil; it was 1971. Although I had been here during my student days, but this East Pakistan was totally different. My unit was busy with fighting rebels all the time. Alongwith the unit, Niazi was also busy in action.

On reaching Dacca, we as company commanders were tasked to secure different areas. The point where me and Niazi parted our ways was Junction Joydebpur-Ghazipur. I was ordered to capture 2 EBR at Joydebpur while Niazi was tasked to capture Ammunition Factory, Ghazipur. A strong group of rebels were in control of the factory and had closed the gates. Niazi’s men had two recoilless rifles without sights. They fired the shells at the gate of factory, and it fell inside the compound. Meanwhile the firing from inside the factory started. Pakistan army replied heavily and after about an hour, firing from inside stopped. Niazi and his men advanced and entered the factory. Enemy had fled and the families of West Pakistani workers who were locked inside the compound and were being butchered by Bengalis saved.

I was wounded in action at Mirzapur and Niazi was worried about me. Then one day, at the outskirts of Rangpur, me and Niazi were directing mortar fire towards the miscreants’ location. We both were sitting on the ammunition boxes containing mortar shells. Suddenly a motrar shell fired by the enemy landed near us. Miraculously, the crates remained unharmed but Niazi and me were hit by sharpnels. I felt as if someone has pierced my arm with a burning knife. I found Niazi worried about me again although he was hit by two sharpnels, and I was hit by one! Such was his greatness.

We parted at Rangpur, and I led the attacking column towards Thakurgaon, where I was severely wounded and had to be repatriated to West Pakistan. I never saw Niazi again.

On December 16, 1971, Niazi was also captured like rest of soldiers. He was shifted to a prison camp inside India. I knew him very well and had the idea that he could not be stopped. He was in connection with his family by letters. He was engaged to a girl in his family. He wrote to his family to end his engagement as he had no idea when he would be back. He made several attempts to escape from the prison, everytime he was caught and punished. One night he again attempted escape, was caught and executed. Articles No. 121 to 123 of Geneva Convention does not allow punishment exceeding 14 days confinement, even to repeat offenders. However minutes after the escape, Indians captured him, and violating the Geneva Convention and ethical conduct, shot him at point blank with a machine gun. He was martyred on enemy soil, and buried there.

He was my brother and brother-in-arms. I mourned him for days, and still do. Somtimes, in the dead of night, between sleep and wakefulness, I hear his voice singing:

” Kukra kanhan thivi, saveray dittiaye bang,

ککڑا کندھاں تھیویں، سویرے دتی اے بانگ

Tay tur gaye sajna da, sanoo wadda laga aye arman.

تے ٹر گئت سجناں دا، وڈا لگیا اے ارمان

Kanhan tay turda ay laila, meray mahi tha but nakhraila,

کندھاں تے ٹردا اے لیلا، میرا ماہی تھا بہت نخریلا

Kanthan ton mari ai chhal, bochhan arrayo dhingri naal

کندھاں تو ماری اے چھال، باچھاں آڑائیو ڈھینگڑی نال

Kukra khandan thivi, saveray dittiaye bang

…………………………………………”

and

“Ucha hawai bangla, wichay maiman tehelthian,

اچا ہوائی بنگلہ، وچ میماں ٹہلدیاں

Paa kay qamezan lon thian, wichay maiman tehelthian

پا کے قمیضاں لون دیاں، وچ میماں ٹہلدیاں

………………………………….”

And I shed a tear and pray for the soul of my brother and the soul of a great warrior. May Allah bless him with elevated status in Jannah, Ameen

CAPTAIN MUHAMMAD AKBAR KHAN NIAZI

Lt. Colonel Haroon ur Rashid Qureshi is a war veteran of 1971 war. He had a chance to visit Dacca twice, initially in college uniform and later in Army Uniform. He has penned down his memories in his book “Dacca Diary” in a very interesting way. Here he has written his memories of a friend and comrade, Captain Muhammad Akbar Khan Niazi.

I joined my unit 8 Baluch (Abbasiya) in 1968, at Peshawar. Verily it was a milestone in my life. Being a boy of 19 years, I was not only the youngest but the junior most officer of the unit. My seniors used to call me “Munna”. It always infuriated me as I considered myself a man, in full bloom of his life and authority. So, I used to react to these words, not publicly but deep inside. There I met my senior, Niazi. Lt Mohammad Akbar Khan Niazi (M. A. K. Niazi for short) was his full name. Tall, powerfully built, smart and intelligent, he was a prime example of a warrior. Soon we developed a bond of brotherhood between us. Although I was blessed to enjoy the affection of everyone in the unit, but Niazi was special; he was my best friend.

In 1969 we moved to Quetta, where we were alloted adjacent BOQs in a mess at Robert’s Market. I had a 500 CC Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle, which no doubt was a lovely machine to ride, but created a lot of noise when started. So every morning, I got up early in the morning and used to start my motorcycle and revved it to warm up the engine. It used to create two types of noises. First the roar of my motorcycle and second the scolding from Niazi.

The unit used to camp at FFR-4 for exercises, where we would spend a couple of months under canvas. We would carry out tactical training, field firing and practice field-craft during this time. Evenings were very enjoyable with games, songs, skits and fun. Niazi was a very good Kabaddi player and an agile wrestler. He would normally rule the ring. Since he had gotten commission from ranks, he knew the problems the lower ranks faced, and had a very helpful and sympathetic attitude towards them, and was immensely popular. I distinctly remember Niazi singing ” Kukra kandhan thivi saweray dittiai bang” and “Ucha hawai bangla, wichay maiman tehel thian”

ککڑا کندھاں تھیویں سویرے دتی اے بانگ and اچا ہوائی بنگلہ وچ میماں ٹہلدیاں. in a lusty voice around bonfires late at night, mesmerising everyone. He had a very peaceful, serene and calm nature and nothing could make him panic.

Time flew and my unit was posted to East Pakistan. Me and Niazi were Captains at that time. It was a time of chaos and turmoil; it was 1971. Although I had been here during my student days, but this East Pakistan was totally different. My unit was busy with fighting rebels all the time. Alongwith the unit, Niazi was also busy in action.

On reaching Dacca, we as company commanders were tasked to secure different areas. The point where me and Niazi parted our ways was Junction Joydebpur-Ghazipur. I was ordered to capture 2 EBR at Joydebpur while Niazi was tasked to capture Ammunition Factory, Ghazipur. A strong group of rebels were in control of the factory and had closed the gates. Niazi’s men had two recoilless rifles without sights. They fired the shells at the gate of factory, and it fell inside the compound. Meanwhile the firing from inside the factory started. Pakistan army replied heavily and after about an hour, firing from inside stopped. Niazi and his men advanced and entered the factory. Enemy had fled and the families of West Pakistani workers who were locked inside the compound and were being butchered by Bengalis saved.

I was wounded in action at Mirzapur and Niazi was worried about me. Then one day, at the outskirts of Rangpur, me and Niazi were directing mortar fire towards the miscreants’ location. We both were sitting on the ammunition boxes containing mortar shells. Suddenly a motrar shell fired by the enemy landed near us. Miraculously, the crates remained unharmed but Niazi and me were hit by sharpnels. I felt as if someone has pierced my arm with a burning knife. I found Niazi worried about me again although he was hit by two sharpnels, and I was hit by one! Such was his greatness.

We parted at Rangpur, and I led the attacking column towards Thakurgaon, where I was severely wounded and had to be repatriated to West Pakistan. I never saw Niazi again.

On December 16, 1971, Niazi was also captured like rest of soldiers. He was shifted to a prison camp inside India. I knew him very well and had the idea that he could not be stopped. He was in connection with his family by letters. He was engaged to a girl in his family. He wrote to his family to end his engagement as he had no idea when he would be back. He made several attempts to escape from the prison, everytime he was caught and punished. One night he again attempted escape, was caught and executed. Articles No. 121 to 123 of Geneva Convention does not allow punishment exceeding 14 days confinement, even to repeat offenders. However minutes after the escape, Indians captured him, and violating the Geneva Convention and ethical conduct, shot him at point blank with a machine gun. He was martyred on enemy soil, and buried there.

He was my brother and brother-in-arms. I mourned him for days, and still do. Somtimes, in the dead of night, between sleep and wakefulness, I hear his voice singing:

” Kukra kanhan thivi, saveray dittiaye bang,

ککڑا کندھاں تھیویں، سویرے دتی اے بانگ

Tay tur gaye sajna da, sanoo wadda laga aye arman.

تے ٹر گئت سجناں دا، وڈا لگیا اے ارمان

Kanhan tay turda ay laila, meray mahi tha but nakhraila,

کندھاں تے ٹردا اے لیلا، میرا ماہی تھا بہت نخریلا

Kanthan ton mari ai chhal, bochhan arrayo dhingri naal

کندھاں تو ماری اے چھال، باچھاں آڑائیو ڈھینگڑی نال

Kukra khandan thivi, saveray dittiaye bang

and

“Ucha hawai bangla, wichay maiman tehelthian,

اچا ہوائی بنگلہ، وچ میماں ٹہلدیاں

Paa kay qamezan lon thian, wichay maiman tehelthian

پا کے قمیضاں لون دیاں، وچ میماں ٹہلدیاں

………………………………….”

And I shed a tear and pray for the soul of my brother and the soul of a great warrior. May Allah bless him with elevated status in Jannah, Ameen.

WRITTEN BY SHARED BY .Lt. Colonel Haroon ur Rashid Qureshi ,war veteran of 1971 war.

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