On Wednesday, President Ram Nath Kovind honored many important personalities with special honors. One of these personalities was Lieutenant Colonel Qazi Sajjad Ali Zaheer. Although Lt Col Zaheer was once a Pakistani soldier, but today when he was awarded the Padma Shri, this name caught everyone’s attention. Lt Col Qazi Sajjad Ali Zaheer is the name that Pakistan hates unabashedly today. Lieutenant Colonel Qazi Sajjad Ali Zaheer had supported India in the war against Pakistan in the year 1971 and in this war, India defeated the neighboring country.
The talk is of the month of March of the year 1971. A soldier of the Pakistani Army, whose posting was in the Sialkot sector, suddenly crossed the border and entered India. Some papers and maps were kept in his shoes. At that time, the Indian soldiers posted on the border considered him to be a Pakistani spy and immediately caught him. Soon this man was taken to Pathankot and here he was questioned and answered by senior officers. At that time, this 20-year-old Pakistani soldier handed over documents filled with information about the position of the Pakistani Army to the Indian authorities. Indian officials understood that this was a serious matter.
This jawan who gave a blow to Pakistan in the 1971 war was none other than Lieutenant Colonel Qazi Sajjad Ali Zaheer. After this incident the Pakistani soldier was taken to Delhi and he was kept in a safe place there. Here he spent several months and taught the tricks of guerrilla fighting in the Mukti Bahini so that the Pakistani soldiers could be crushed. In the 1971 war, Colonel Zaheer supported India and got rid of sixes of Pakistani soldiers.
It is also a special thing that Pakistan had sentenced Lt Col Zaheer to death and for the last 50 years, Pakistan is waiting for this sentence to be completed. Before the independence of Bangladesh, Colonel Zaheer was a big officer of the Pakistani army, but the Pakistani army committed so many atrocities on the people of Bangladesh, that people like Colonel Zaheer could not tolerate him and they shouted against Pakistan.
At that time, Colonel Zaheer had opened a front against the Pakistani soldiers. It is said that due to the wrong actions of Pakistan, he had also handed over many secret documents to the Indian Army, due to which the condition of Pakistani soldiers worsened in the then East Pakistan i.e. Bangladesh. After which Bangladesh was made a new country. .
To accomplish this, Colonel Zaheer, along with Indian soldiers, had prepared the Mukti Bahini. In this, thousands of fighters were given military training. The Indian Army had given such tremendous training, after which it was difficult for Pakistan to stand in front of them, after which the condition of Pakistan became such that it took out the most anger on Colonel Zaheer.
Why did the colonel leave Pakistan and go? Explaining the reason for this, he himself says that ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan has become a graveyard. We were treated like second-class citizens there. We had no rights. We were promised democracy but we did not get it. We got martial law. Jinnah used to say that we have equal rights but we did not get them. We were treated like servants of Pakistan.
Colonel Zaheer said, ‘Despite being a member of Pakistan’s finest para-brigade in Sialkot, I was alone. But then I thought that there are three people inside me – me, myself and myself… so I started thinking which way should I go. I chose the route towards Jammu…where patrolling was very less.’ Colonel Zaheer’s father was an officer in the British Army and also participated in World War II. His younger brother was a member of Mukti Vahini and also fought for the independence of Bangladesh.
Recalling his entry in India, he said that when he was trying to enter India by crossing the border, then there was firing from both sides. He said, ‘I jumped into a big pit. At that time there was firing from both the sides. I crossed the entire pit and then entered the Indian border. After which I was taken to Delhi where senior officials and several agencies spoke to me for several months. They never told me that I was in their custody. I was given good food and treated well.
He describes himself as an expert in reading maps. The Lieutenant Colonel read the map and gave important and accurate information about the exact position of the Pakistani soldiers to the senior officers. In the 1971 war against Pakistan, Colonel Zaheer worked in coordination with Indian soldiers and then started guerrilla warfare against Pakistan with the soldiers of Mukti Bahini. He said, “We started guerrilla operation from September 1971 and worked to inflict maximum damage to the Pakistan Army.