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Last Man Standing -73

GC 20620, Atique Ur Rehman, Tariq-1

It was chill afternoon in Abbottabad on 29 March 1984, the day I joined the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, only a mile away from main city of Abbottabad. Ride to  Abbottabad from Rawalpindi was smooth but yet anxious due to fear of unknown. I have heard so much about academy particularly rigging at the hands of senior cadets. Thanks to Allah almighty, academy lived up to its expectations and we were treated as we have been hearing. It was no rumour mongering. Senior cadets were demi-gods. They never disappointed us on rigging side, it was plenty in all forms. Once we went up the ladder, we also did not disappoint our junior cadets. It is a legacy, a continuous process which only makes soldiers better. Rigging is a fun, joy, anguish, training, brotherhood, and more importantly a way to make a soldier more resilient to face the rigors of military life in later years. PMA makes a cadet, fittest of the man in all aspects. A cadet’s training focuses on military aspects, physical fitness, courage and morality. This training gives the highest of confidence to cadets and they fly above the clouds after commission from this finest military academy in the world. It is a complete package to turn a raw cadet into best trained soldier and finest of human being.

Next two years at PMA were the years of comradeship, a time never to be forgotten in our living memory. Distributed in platoons of 26-27, our military life started like many others who had joined Army before us and it continued after us. Our days and nights at academy were never dull. It was a roller coaster from morning till evening. Physical Training, military training, academics, character building, ethics, morality, dress up, resilience, sports, debates, cleanliness and even leisure time etiquettes.  Training was tough for the future military leaders. Basic lessons taught at PMA never went out of our minds for the rest of our life. We carried it along and still carrying.

 Maj Gen Anis Akbar, one of our course mates, when say good-bye to uniform next year in June 2022, after completing forty years of military service, he will be last officer from 73 long course to retire. He is the last man standing. A rare distinction to the finest officer of this beautiful bouquet of 73.  An outstanding and brilliant officer and very fine human being.

Those 303 from 73L/C, who passed out on 13 March, 1986 served the country, with their utmost dedication and professionalism. We owe everything to our lovely country. We are proud to be Pakistani and more over soldiers.  The days and nights spent together at PMA were always with us for the rest of our lives. It was joy, it was fun, it was life, it was everything at PMA and we always cherished those moments of love and brotherhood in later years whenever we were together. We were friends forever, we were brothers in arms, we were together in our happiness and grief and we continue that bond even today.

Few of our brothers have left us for heavenly abode. Some laid their lives while defending the motherland. We pay our highest tributes to them all. May Allah Bless them all. It is only the time, every one will depart. Those who have left us were the finest souls and we pray to Allah for highest place for our brothers and very best wishes to their families.

Some of us  rose to the rank of three star, they commanded Corps, held apprised appointments, discharged their duties at the highest level but that bond of brotherhood never broke even in the busiest of schedules. Some made up to two stars and one star but we were always there for each other in whatever capacity we could. We all were soldiers with one single purpose to serve the country, to defend our motherland and we did it well.  We were always comrades and brothers in arms. There was never ever a slightest moment when we did not feel proud to be part of this finest outfit, one of the best armies in the world. We were always proud to be course-mates and soldiers of Pakistan Army which has always fought with courage and valor. Like us, every officer and soldier of this Army is proud to serve the  country. Salute to the last man standing. Salute to our comradeship and love to our nation from 73.