Sardar Ahmed Bhatti, the father of my dear friend Dr Shaheena Ayub Bhatti, is the author of the book, and although listed by the publishers as a biography, it is much more than that. It is a combination of family history, some glimpses of the author’s own life and, chiefly, a loving homage paid to a national hero, Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed (Nishan e Haidar).
Sardar Saheb’s style of writing is anecdotal. He calls it a labor of love, as he says, “It has taken time recollecting the past, and some memories are very painful.”
As the title suggests, the writer is the Shaheed’s brother and he projects the heroic qualities of his elder brother with respect, love and admiration. There is no doubt that Maj. Aziz Bhatti Shaheed had an extraordinary personality. Such characters find their niche whatever the circumstances.
Sardar Saheb’s style of writing is anecdotal. He calls it a labor of love, as he says, “It has taken time recollecting the past, and some memories are very painful.” The story of growing up in Hong Kong reinforces the fact that Sardar and Aziz were very close, sharing pranks, escapades and joint ventures where the young one always followed his elder brother unquestioningly.
After giving very brief sketches of his own life and that of his father’s, the author goes on to describe life in Hong Kong where the five Bhatti boys grew up. Descriptions of life at home and in school are intertwined forming the major part of the young boys’ transition to adulthood. In the background, there is a political narrative where the boys’ lives are pushed into the chaos created by Second World War. The British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese forces on the Christmas day in 1941. With this began a time of struggle and hardships.
With schools closed, no income and savings nullified, the Bhatti family needed the younger lot to pitch in. Even the building where they lived was bombarded. The various incidents in the war ravaged country are described with stoic resignation. The war also took the toll on one life from the clan. One brother, Bashir Ahmed, older than Aziz died in Japanese Naval Custody. When the war ended, the family returned to their village in Gujrat and the young men struggled to find employment opportunities. At this point in time, Pakistan came into being and the three elder siblings joined the armed forces of this newly established homeland created for the Muslims of the Subcontinent.
Most of the events of Aziz Bhatti’s life are written in chronological order in the biography. As for the narrative of his Shahadat, the author only gives us the text of the official citation for Major Aziz Bhatti who was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider
Aziz Bhatti was an outstanding Cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy. He received the Sword of honor and the Norman medal for academic excellence. Later he attended the Canadian Staff College. Having got married during his Cadetship, he shouldered this new responsibility as a hero should. With a growing family of seven children, life of an army major must have been tough. He built a house in Tench Bhatta, Rawalpindi and also persuaded Sardar to build one in the same locality.
Most of the events of Aziz Bhatti’s life are written in chronological order in the biography. As for the narrative of his Shahadat, the author only gives us the text of the official citation for Major Aziz Bhatti who was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider. Aziz Bhatti’s valor, courage, devotion to the duty and leadership qualities speak for themselves. And the author has not added to the national narrative with further comments. He was buried in a corner of his father’s garden in his ancestral village, and his aged mother and father bore this great loss with fortitude and faith in Allah’s will.
A number of photographs are included in the book and naturally they are black and white. But if possible their quality may be enhanced in future editions. The font is large and the printing is also of high quality. A must read for all Pakistanis especially the young generation lest we forget our heroes.
The writer is visiting faculty, English Deptt, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi
Among the most fearless, most resilient creatures on earth are the soldiers of a country that fight and bleed for the protection of their beloved homeland. Over the course of 72 years, Pakistan has been no stranger to war. Today our history books are filled with countless sombre and often gruesome yet heroic accounts of our brave soldiers. We hear about them from our grandparents, watch and read through their lives, priding in their bravery; basking in their glory
The Tale of One Such Sacrifice:
One such life story is of the receiver of the Nishaan-e-Haider, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed. His is a name familiar to every man, woman and child of Pakistan. He is a national hero; an awe-inspiring leader who led a limited number of soldiers to carry out a fiercedefense of the Burki area of the Lahore sector in the 1965 war with India. Despite being outnumbered and under unceasing fire from the enemy, Maj. Aziz Bhatti launched a strong, impenetrable defense against the Indian Army. Dismissing offers to rest or even see his family members in Lahore, our hero soldiered on. During an intense exchange of artillery fires between the two armies, he was hit by an enemy tank shell and embraced Shahadat.
The valiant soldier stood undaunted in the face of the raging enemy and laid down his own life to protect countless others.
Bringing his Story Back to Life:
This is the aspect of his courageous story that we are familiar with. But what most don’t know is who Maj. Aziz Bhatti was, without the title. Who he was as a person, a son, a friend. When, earlier this year, his brotherSardar Ahmed Bhatti reached out to Daastan with the intention of publishing a biography he had written about his brother, we were honored to be chosen for the task. Written from the perspective of a loving brother, the book gives an insight into previously unknown events of Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s life, his relationship and closeness with his brother, his life in Hong Kong as a boy before and during World War II and several unpublished, memorable pictures.
As a platform bent towards literary revival, Daastan strives to bring lost stories to life; stories that are worth being told and preserved. We are proud to be the means of bringing forth this heart-warming account of Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s life away from the border, to the public. The book titled “Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Hero” is available on Qissa’s website and has received over-whelming responses and appreciation from all over the country on our social media.
To honor the story of Pakistan’s son, a book launch ceremony is being held on the 12th of September from 14:30-17:30 at the Pakistan Academy of Letters, hosted by Daastan. On this Defence Day, as we look back to the lives of our warriors, let us seek inspiration from their courage and glean wisdom from their actions. Join us on the 12th to remember the sacrifices Maj. Aziz Bhatti has made for the protection of this beloved homeland. As we stand with the Shaheed’s family, we stand united under the slogan that kept him standing for so long, holding his own– unbroken, relentless–in front of the enemy: Pakistan Zindabad!
You can order your copy of Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Herohere.
On 8th July, 2019, a literary event was held at the Hyderabad Press Club, honoring the works and achievement of the young writer Mehrban Ali. At only 31 years of age, Mehrban Ali has authored a startling number of 50 successful books. His works explore religious themes and record the lives of many Islamic and historic personalities including Shams Tabraiz, Hazrat Fatima, Baba Bullay Shah, Hazrat Hussain, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal. His works also encompass the events of Islam’s most prominent battles and some religious phenomenon such as the interpretation of dreams and astrology.
Mehrban Ali is a motivational speaker, a social worker and a writer. His works can be found on his website as well as on his YouTube channel where he publishes religiously informative videos. At a young age, Mehrban Ali is a social entrepreneur and has paved the way for the upcoming young generation.
The event was attended by many renowned names of the Sindhi and Pakistani literary industry including Naseer Mirza, Shafih Warsi and Ali Gul. Attendants wore representative Ajrak shawls and gave their views about Mehrban Ali’s work. They encouraged the young writer’s efforts and congratulated him on his achievement of writing 50 books. Mehrban Ali was acknowledged as an entrepreneurial force in the industry and a motivation for young writers all around Pakistan. His works are a milestone, especially in the Islamic literary industry and are available in both English and Urdu to reach bigger audiences.
Speaking to the audience, Mehrban Ali said that his books contain the message of love, peace and brotherhood. His works are research based and inspired by the teachings of his grandfather and great grandfather. The audience greatly appreciated his address. Guest of Honour Salamat Feroz– a well-known Sindhi musician- termed the ceremony to be a spiritual event. At the end of the ceremony, Mehrban Ali was presented with an achievement award for being Pakistan’s Youngest Writer to achieve the publication of 50 books.
During the mid-summer of 2018, before Daastan Naama app was made available to the public through Google Play Store, an extensive marketing campaign was conducted on social media websites. The campaign, recorded under the hashtag of #OneOftheFifty, gained so much popularity and garnered an astonishing amount of traffic. People from all around the world wanted in on the new hit thing that was Daastan Naama, and would reach out to the team constantly to find out what it is that needed to be done to become a part of it. Speculations bloomed about who these celebrated authors were, how they were selected, and what is it that they were a part of.
Creative posters were designed which had the picture and name of the author, along with the title of their work which was to appear in Daastan Naama. The posters were titled with hashtags of #Top50AuthorsYouDontKnowAbout and #OneofFifty, which created a buzz in the whole community of Daastan over what was coming. Eventually it would become clear that not only would the work of these authors be uploaded to the app, but in fact, it would be done so in the way of poetry recitals and podcasts. This innovative twist on sharing their work brought it to life, and that too in their very own voice.
Each author in the spotlight had something unique to add to the app. The very first one was Ms. Kayenaat Hameed Khattak, an English poetess whose poem “God is Great” was chosen for the app. The next author was Ms. Dania Shah, whose Urdu humorous prose “Muhabbat ki Shadi” found its way up, followed by Urdu prose of Ms. Durre Shahwar Ali. Other English poets featured included Ms. Waneeza Zia, Ms. Momina Latif, Ms. MaryamMr. Hassan Naqvi, Mr. Saad Ahmad, Ms. Maryam Arshad, etc. Mr. Morgan Melhuish, from the United Kingdoms, also contributed an English poem. Another very curious and pleasant feature was the addition of two Pashto poems by Ms. Spugmai Alee Khattak, and also a poetry piece in Punjabi by Mr. Abrar Nadeem, an award-winning author and script writer for PTV. A Punjabi play was contributed by Ali Usman Bajwa.
Want to have a trove of literary goodness on your phones? Download the app now!
Coming back with another exciting feature of the Trailblazers series, where we focus on individuals of our family who spread their wings and took off towards heights previously unthought of and uncharted. In this feature we will be writing about another graduate of the second batch of our Literary Fellowship program, Fatema Bhaiji.
Her Journey through the World of Words:
Before she joined our fellowship though, she had already made herself known and left a mark on us, by participating in and becoming one of the top finalists of The Stories Untold season two. Her story, titled “Holding her Hand”, was in perfect accordance with the theme of our story writing competition, “A War Within”. Fatema, in her book, addressed very boldly the dilemma of having feelings for an individual of the same gender, the havoc it causes on our emotions and inner stability, all the while living in a society which in no way tolerates this. Her book was put up for crowdfunding, and through the help of our community, was brought to print.
With this booming introduction, Fatema came to join the Editorial department of our fellowship program. Halfway through the program, while she was also pursuing her engineering degree in Sri Lanka, she came to the team with her idea of forming a queer lit magazine targeted towards the South Asian community that zeroed in on increasing the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community through art, poetry and stories. In the beginning of the fellowship, the graduates were encouraged to pursue projects of their own and full support on behalf of Daastan was promised to them. When the time came, despite all the criticism and hate that was thrown at the team for powering a magazine of a community otherwise ostracized by all, Daastan stood strong. And so, the Outcast magazine ‘came out’ – its website was launched a little over a month after the idea was rolled out, and its first digital issue came out just a month later.
Acclaim and Applause:
Outcast Magazine was later on endorsed by a global platform, i.e. Commonwealth Writers, and conducted an extension of our Stories Untold Season 4 on their forum, encouraging those from the LGBTQ+ community to put to words any abuse they might have faced, directly or indirectly. Outcast went on to announce a Micro Fiction competition of their own in collaboration with Daastan and White Falcon Publishing, and released their first issue in print the very next year. Fatema was invited to many events as a speaker, one of which was “Salzburg Global Forum” held in Nepal and powered by UNDP.
Daastan’s vision for the revival of literature was never limited to the widely used language English, nor was it bound to our national language Urdu. In fact, when Daastan launched its Qissa self-publishing portal, it was one of the very first forums to recognize the need for an online tool that allows users to upload their works in regional languages such as Pashto and Punjabi. After that, the team worked hard to bring on board specialists that would help us realize the dream of thousands of writers, and breathe life back into the literature of such languages, that were heaving its last breaths. And so, Daastan finally upgraded its tool into one that accepted most of the regional languages of Pakistan.
To further this idea, Daastan in collaboration with Punjabi Parchar, launched its very firstPunjabi Writing Competition by the name of “Likh Punjabi”. Punjabi Parchar is a hub of intellectuals from the Punjabi community, that works exclusively for the preservation and promotion of Punjabi literature, art and culture. The editor of Punjabi at Daastan, Ali Usman Bajwa, helped bring them on board with us – and he also took lead on Likh Punjabi and became project manager for the module. Such a competition being held in the language which is very dear to his heart was his lifelong dream, and in Daastan the team is willing to work day and night to bring the dreams of their family to reality.
Dream Turned Reality:
Likh Punjabi became an excellent initiative to revive and rebrand Punjabi literature. It helped us reach the legendary authors who, even in this day and age, refused to part with their ancestral language. Due to this movement, we got the opportunity to work with Punjabi authors, helping them digitize their stories and tales, and preserve their work so that it could reach lands as far and wide as they wished.