Monday, March 24, 2008

The Four Stripes of the Final Term

And then finally came the final term and suddenly we were seniors - absolute seniors, perhaps first and the last time in our Army career (excluding one lucky one who may rise to be the COAS in days to come).

We found between ourselves cross belts and sash holders that we have been watching of other course for almost eighteen months. The appointments of the course were as under:

  • Battalion Senior Under Officers: Tariq Khan and Fahim Khawar
  • Battalion Junior Under Officers: Jamal Zia and Shahid
  • Battalion Sergeant Majors: Farooq and Bajwa
  • Company Senior Under Officers: Javed, Najeeb, Zaheer, Agha, Azhar, Baqar, Sahu, Tahir
  • Company Junior Under Officers: Farooq, Sulehria, Khalid, Javed, Ateeq, Ahsan, Fazal, Tahir
  • Company Sergeant Majors: Zaka, Arjumand, Inam, Qizalbash,  Khalid, Salim, Shirazi
The hallmark of the fourth term was Ex Qiyadat and the Ex Field Firing at Nowshehra, that also included Battle Inoculation in live firing environment. We had our second snowfall of our stay in PMA and had some memorable memories of the sunny mornings and cold nights with no fear of being called out for you know what.

 Playing in the snow and a cool Jamal Zia pose in snow
Red necktie of GM and a smart Kiani enjoying the sun with snow

The new year 1977 had just four more months for us most of us in PMA. Some survived the harsh re-tests of PT while some were relegated back to third term just before the mid term break. We moved on with one more casualty just days before the passing out and final days came when we embarked upon Ex Qiyadat and Ex Field Firing/Battle Inoculation to general area Nowshera and surrounding areas. 
Ex Qiadat: We dug a 9 ft trench to accommodate all of us
A-Z Shahid - Masood - Mujeeb - Sergeant Younas - Jalal
Ex Qiydat: Kiani and Naveed guarding the tank approach
Jamshed and Jamal ready for the battle inoculation
Jamal Zia in action
 Field Firing Tent village of the final termers 
 Group Photo Tariq Seniors-II with Captain Abid
 The remains of Khalid-4 in the form of Tariq-1 with Lt Col Talat Umer, SJ (above and below)
 GCs of Tariq-1 with Major Talat Umar, SJ at Punjab Regimental Centre - 31 years later PRC was commanded by CSM Arjumand
 Tariq, Sulehria and at the Artillery Center Mess

A rare photo of final term: Compare the cross belts on the right (all generals) with the cross belts on the left - a coincidence?
  ASC Center's driving simulator
The guns of Artillery Center

There was yet another event that generally remained unnoticed by many but a few selected went to Jhelum to participate in the Annual Pakistan Army Mara matches and were duly awarded for their excellent firing skills.

The above photos have been shared by Jamal Zia who was also part of the PMA contingent and who was also awarded.

The term went fairly smoothly, except the course conflict with the newly arrived adjutant and SM of First Pakistan Battalion. The fall-in and drill of the senior division in full FSMO while the remaining were in uniform will be remembered for ever, which also resulted into funny stuff from us: clicking of the rifle cocking handle, breaking of the cemented flag-holders. The Urdu translation of the oath script by the adjutant was always laughable when the record would stop at "Muqtaziat-e-Pakistan".

Jamal during final term drill practices with Shahid and Naveed

Despite all odds, all looked well and it seemed that whatever remained of 55 PMA Long Course would now finally pass out safe and sound. But the terror was to be struck just a few days before the passing out parade and the hostility finally ended up in the relegation Sergeant Murad ex Tariq-1 (He passed out with 56 PMA Long Course six months later).

On 16 April 1977, came the best day of PMA when slowly and gradually the Senior Division climbed up the back up the Battalion Mess stairs and marched off the dill square for the last time. Thereafter and till date is another story - another field - another life. Few from us left this world too early, while many faded away in various ranks, leaving behind a few for the final showdown - when and at what rank - God only knew!!