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Hilal Her

Navigating Trials and Triumphs of Military Life

March 2024

Capt Huma Nawaz recounts her experience of living steadfastly through adversity in service to the motherland.

In the tapestry of life, we often find ourselves entangled in threads of hardship, adversity, and unforeseen challenges. These trials, like relentless storms, can threaten to shatter our resolve and dampen our spirits. Yet, amidst the tumultuous waves of life, there exists a beacon of hope, a steadfast belief in God that sustains us through the darkest of times. Though the path may be fraught with obstacles, it is through surrendering to His divine plan that we find solace, resilience, and fulfillment. A marriage, like all other relationships, is tested during tough times and hardships that eventually strengthen it. Being the wife of an Army Officer belonging to Special Services Group (SSG) and an Army Officer myself I always expected our relationship to go through such times in the form of prolonged periods of living apart, having to go to hard areas/operation areas, etc., that affect family life. However, to face these hardships as early as nine months into my marriage was abrupt to say the least. 
On a chilly December evening of 2022, an unexpected incident occurred that had a profound impact on my life, etching itself in the form of an indelible memory. That weekend, my family and husband, gathered to celebrate my birthday. My husband had come home on leave just for that occasion. Surrounded by family, laughter, love, and eagerly anticipating the arrival of my first child, I felt deeply grateful for all the blessings in my life. However, in the midst of the well-wishes and heartfelt embraces, an unforeseen turn of events occurred. My husband received a phone call from his unit, telling him to ‘Stand by’. Being an Officer myself I knew what ‘Stand by’ means and how the next few days were going to unfold; during stand by commandos are deployed in the war/operation area, ready to defend the country against the enemy.
Standing by the gate and reciting Ayat ul Kursi, a sense of impending doom washed over me as I watched my husband depart hastily for fulfillment of his duty. After my husband’s departure, I kept staring at the phone screen eagerly awaiting a message or call to disrupt the harrowing silence in my room, but all I heard was the pounding of my own heart. As I sat by the window, the night seemed to be unending. As I waited for any kind of update on my husband’s whereabouts, time seemed to drag on with no end in sight. It felt like everything around me was at a standstill.
After discussing with relevant authorities, I discovered that terrorists at the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in Bannu had taken the personnel there as hostages. My husband’s unit was tasked with the execution of the rescue operation. The operation had lasted for about four days, during which the soldiers displayed valor in combat and successfully eradicated all the terrorists.
Although I was having a hard time keeping my composure, I made an effort to repress my feelings in order to project strength in front of my parents and my in-laws so they wouldn’t worry. But, my eyes continued to well up with tears as my mind raced over the worst-case scenarios that could occur during the operation, leaving me completely overwhelmed. After four days and three nights of anxious waiting and prayers, the phone rang in the middle of the night bringing the news of my husband being injured. In that moment I felt like the ground had been pulled out from under me like a rug, leaving me completely stunned and bewildered.
While engaged in the operation against terrorists, my husband and his team fearlessly entered the compound to confront and neutralize the threat. During combat, a terrorist ambushed them by throwing a grenade. My husband sustained injuries from shrapnel in various parts of his body, with one fragment causing severe damage to his left eye. He was promptly transported to Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Bannu for urgent medical attention and subsequently airlifted to CMH Rawalpindi for further treatment.
As an officer serving in Pakistan Army, I have witnessed numerous incidents of injuries and shahadat. However, when it is one’s own loved one, it is truly unimaginable and hits quite hard. Upon receiving the news of my husband’s injury, we rushed to the hospital and anxiously waited for the helicopter’s arrival. I felt my heart pounding as I stared fixedly at the gate. After an hour of waiting, I saw him entering the hospital with a bandage over his left eye and a wide smile on his face. Upon laying eyes on him, I felt sense of immense relief, as if a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. He arrived walking on his feet with his body covered in blood and experiencing tremendous agony in his left eye, yet he displayed high spirits and remarkable courage. He stood with us briefly before being transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where the physicians initiated treatment. During my husband’s surgery, I had to rely on updates from military acquaintances and unit officials since I couldn’t communicate with him. 
Afterwards, our calendars were filled with hospital appointments, operations, and prolonged periods of waiting. I observed my spouse, who embodied strength and courage, heroically battling his physical injuries. I witnessed the toll that it had taken on him, challenging his patience and determination at times. Amidst all the turmoil and uncertainty, our love remained unwavering. We were guided by the divine force of Allah through tough moments, which became the bedrock of our determination in overcoming adversity.
As he started his journey to recovery, I made sure to be there for him every step of the way, offering my unconditional support. Yet, there were moments of despair, tears shed in the darkness, and silent pleas whispered in prayers before God. Travelling from home to the hospital, then to office, and back to the hospital while pregnant was quite a challenge. At times, I experienced utter exhaustion from the overwhelming physical, mental, and emotional challenges, but I pushed through. Even after going through three major surgeries in one month and losing around seventy percent of vision in his left eye, my husband stays strong and resolute. He proudly showcases a brilliant golden bar on his chest, symbolizing his victory over the evil designs of the terrorists. I appreciate his perseverance and loyalty to Pakistan, as he actively took part in multiple operations despite suffering serious injuries.  
My husband’s experience stands as a testament to the unwavering resolve and valor of individuals who heed the call of duty in defense of their beliefs, values, and homeland. Through such courage and sacrifice of Pakistan Army’s brave souls, we are reminded of the indomitable spirit that drives them to confront adversity head-on, regardless of the odds. Their life and legacy serve as a beacon of inspiration, urging us to embrace bravery in the face of adversity, to uphold righteousness in the pursuit of justice, and to honor the memory of those who have paved the path for our collective journey forward.


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