Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lahore Get Together 2016: Fifty Fivers at Wagah Border Flag Lowering Ceremony

On 12th March afternoon, all roads in Lahore led to Wagah Border. The Fifty Fivers headed towards Wagah Border in their own transport or in specially arranged coasters to attend the first event of the two-days get together of the 55 PMA Long Course hosted by Lahore Chapter. Even some, including myself, were speeding on the Motorway M-2 to reach Wagah and be with the rest of the course mates with rain falling along with all its cats and dogs.

While the event has been arranged under Zahir Khan who had coordinated it pretty well, even by calling on the DG Punjab Rangers, with due support of Tariq Khan and Zaheer, it was also Sher Zaman who tied the loose ends and arrangements at the Wagah using his old contacts being the Sector Commander once at Wagah Border during service. As I said I was racing with time to reach Wagah coming straight from Islamabad, it was Sher Zaman's excellent arrangements that saw me through all check posts without any stoppages and had me reached right till the last allowable point of disembarkation.

When I reached the venue, it was almost time for the ceremony to start and I was respectfully ushered to our seats just opposite to the stand where the entire course was already comfortably perched under umbrellas. And the moment ceremony started, the rain finally came to halt for us to enjoy the emotionally charged flag lowering ceremony. Herein under are some of the loads of photos received from friends and those taken by me.

As a military custom, the senior most armed forces officer/guest is privileged to grant permission to begin the ceremony: Azhar Ali Shah was privileged on this day

Saluting at sounding of retreat

 After the ceremony was over, we had group photos with the Rangers guards and officers (as can be seen in photos above)  and were then taken to the Zero Line with the Indian guards standing just inches away from us.
  The Zero Line - just behind the visitors' stand
I along with my younger son at the Zero Line
Jamil had been very excited this year as he was in Pakistan at the right time to attend the course get together after a long time - and so would be Tahir and Altaf. He made use of the new technology of selfies to preserve his presence with some of us - memories that we shall all cherish for a long time.
 Altaf with friends and family

Gunners' reunion: Shirazi and Ali Akbar
Posing with men wearing Pakistan Zindabad shirts that incite the spectators to raise Pakistan loving slogans during the ceremony - these dedicated people remind of Baba Mehrdin who was once here waving Pakistani flag and raising morale of the spectators

Thus ended the colourful gathering at Wagah and we embarked upon our return journey to messes (those who had come from outstations and even out of country) for our next event: The course dinner and the musical evening at the Alhamra Open Air Theatre at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. Stay tuned for the post on this event shortly.

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S A J Shirazi said...

Thanks for beautifully documenting the 'history' of 55 PMA. "Tusi bilkul great ho."

Jamil said...

Jalal it's always a pleasure to meet you, enjoy your company n read your blog's which feel fresh n fragrant every time I read. Thanks for recreating the Wagha event pictorialy, your words touch hearts. I am surely excited to see so many of my friends as you rightly quoted, I will cherish these Memories till next GTG in 2017 inshaAllah. Stay blessed.

Muhammad Zahir Khan said...

Thanks Jalal for covering the first segment of our reunion so aptly. We shall cherish these exciting times repeatedly by going through your write ups for a long time.
The Wagha Ceremony was selected as the opening event of the GTG for it's uniqueness and the thrill attached to it. The wet weather while approaching and at settling down didn't soak at all the spirits of those present there. In fact those performing the elegant and somewhat electrifying drill movements were carrying the old guards with them emotionally.
The Get Together was off with a bang and the effect of emotionally charged start would be felt for the remaining two events to follow.

Khushi R said...

Thank you for the informative post and beautiful pictures. Wagah border is between India and Pakistan with the ceremony starting everyday 2 hrs before the sunset. It is important to know the Wagah border timings to plan the day accordingly.