Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Pakistan Military Academy

The two years' stint at PMA was a turning point in the life of those 241 youngsters who joined 55 PMA Long Course and left a life long memorable impression in the life of all of us. While only 179 (including the two Malaysian cadets) of the original 241 could make to the back stairs of the 1st Pakistan Battalion Mess from the drill square with 55th PMA Long Course, this section of the website would still have some of the faces that left PMA in first term or were relegated to 56 PMA Long Course. The span of six months of each term had its varying experience - from kicked-from-all-sides juniors to inters, uppers and finally the seniors has many interesting anecdotes and events to remember.

At the time of joining in of the 55th PMA Long Course, and till many years later, PMA was organized into two battalions: the First Pakistan Battalion (Quaid-e-Azam's Own) - the First Pakistan Battalion (Quaid-e-Azam’s Own)” drives its proud honour from the fact that Quaid-e-Azam was its Colonel-in-Chief - and the Second Pakistan Battalion. Each battalion had four companies (Khalid, Tariq, Qasim and Salahuddin in First Pakistan Battalion and Aurnagzeb, Ghaznavai, Babur and Tipu in Second Pakistan Battalion).

When we joined the Academy, Brigadier Zamir was the commandant of PMA, later replaced by Brigadier Ahmed Kamal Khan. First Pakistan Battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Riaz Aizad, later replaced by Lieutenant Colonel GM and the Second Pakistan Battalion was commanded Lieutenant Colonel Javed Majeed, later replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Durrani. The adjutant First Pakistan Battalion was Major Tanveer, later replaced by Major Zahid Umar. 

Some of the platoon commanders with 55th PMA Long course included Majors Shujah Ullah Khan Tarrar, Kamal Alam, Mazhar Hussain Ansari, Jammi, SAK Naqvi and Captains Ghulam Nabi, Tariq Tareen, Shaheen Shaukat and S P Shahid. Major Talat Umar who was the WTO also took over Tariq-1 in its days of severe turmoil and rescued it very artfully. Major Khalid Masood, who was also the company commander of Khalid Company, was the Term Commander of 55th PMA Long Course. 

It would be unfair to mention the name of SM Bashir of First Pakistan Battalion - a strong figure and great source of motivation - who received the course at the Abbottabad bus stand and treated the course like his own children. It was sad that he got posted out and was replaced by SM Bhatti, who remained an outsider for the course and later was key figure in relegation of GC Murad just days before our passing out parade.

Before 55th PMA Long Course, each company used to have four platoons, one each of juniors (first term), inters (send term), uppers (third term) and seniors (final term). This arrangement fostered a cohesive combination and fostered a true sense of belonging with the company. But for 55th PMA Long Course, a new experiment was in-waiting. Each course was amalgamated into two companies - Seniors in Ghazanavi and Aurangzeb, Inters in Babur and Tipu (since being even numbered courses these were part of Second Pakistan Battalion, and uppers in Qasim and Salahuddin and Juniors (us) in Khalid and Tariq companies of First Pakistan Battalion. This arrangement brought the wrath on us, specially from the inters who had to come from Second Pakistan Battalion across the PMA Road to bully and rag us.

Sine 55th PMA Long Course was an experimental course, everyone in PMA considered us to be a failure since we had not had the taste of true company system. But it was only time that vindicated their apprehensions - not only maximum of our officers attended C&SC and the NDC, we had maximum representation of DSs in C&SC and NDC besides making 13 two stars - an unbeaten record perhaps.

From now, the story unfolds of  one of the greatest courses of PMA - the 55th PMA Long Course.