As the entire nation embraces its war hero Abhinandan Varthaman with open arms and smiles, there is another hero, who is being mourned in silence across the border. One is being hailed and celebrated by his people, other was killed by the very people he fought for. This is the story of two soldiers, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of India and Wing Commander Shahaz-ud-Din of Pakistan.
Both Abhinandan and Shahaz come from similar backgrounds, both from families with military tradition. Both patriots. And both Wing Commanders. The two engaged in a duel on Wednesday morning when Pakistan Airforce attempted to intrude inside Indian Airspace and bomb on military facilities. Wing Commander Abhinandan who was flying a much inferior Mig 21 Bison, compared to Shahaz-ud-Din’s F16, managed to somehow shoot it down. But soon-after even his plane started showing glitches and crashed. Both the jets crashed on Pakistani side of the LoC.
Both the fighter pilots were well trained to promptly act in situations as such and so they did. Both rescued themselves using parachutes before their planes could hit the ground. However upon touching the land, a new challenge awaited the two Wing commanders, blood thirsty mobs on the Pakistani side.
The mobs on Pakistan controlled side of the LoC mistook both the pilots to be Indian and attacked them with brute force. Both were later rescued by the Pakistani Army. The attack on Shahaz-ud-din was more fierce and he had to be admitted in a hospital. Even Pakistani army and Government failed to recognise their own soldier and believed him to be an Indian only.
Pakistan Army spokesperson, Asif Ghafoor, on record went on to claim that they have two Indians in their custody. The same was reiterated by none other than the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan himself in his address to the nation on Wednesday afternoon. India on the other hand, maintained that only one of their soldiers was missing in action.
It was only by evening that Pakistan realised of having only one Indian in their custody, and that the other was their own man. But it was probably way too late, by then Shahaz-ud-din had succumbed to the injuries that were inflicted upon him by his own countrymen, the very people he fought for.
Abhinandan was released two days after on Friday night. He was given a hero’s welcome in India. The man has emerged as the latest war hero of an otherwise peace loving country. But on the other side of the border, a family is mourning in silence. Blacked-out by the Country’s media and Government, Shahaz-ud-din may never get the acknowledgement that he deserved.
We in India believe that after death nobody is an enemy. We in India salute Wing Commander Shahaz-ud-din for being a brave soldier, who fought for his nation.