Someone else remembers a saint

A gem of a man

The 70-year-old Khurshid Begum was alone looking for someone to hold her hand and take her upstairs in the Military Hospital’s ophthalmology department. Her eyesight was too weak to walk without anybody’s help. Her daughter was out to get her receipt registered. Realizing, she had left her mother waiting, she rushed to the stairs but got surprised seeing a tall uniformed officer holding her mother’s arm with his arm around her shoulders, helping her to go upstairs. It added more to her surprise when the officer took her to the surgeon-general’s room and himself started checking her eyes. It was her daughter’s first visit to the hospital. She never knew the angelic looking bearded helper was no other than Lt-Gen Mushtaq Baig, who was not only a doctor of great repute but also a human being of great stature.

Today when he is no more amongst us, there is pain and grief in the heart and tears in the eyes of those thousands of patients whom the kindhearted top doctor of the Pakistan army treated.

I have witnessed many friends and colleagues, subordinates and personal staff of the compassionate Mushtaq Baig bitterly weeping as if they had lost their own kin. Those who knew that the surgeon-general of the Pakistan army was also a Hafiz-e-Quran and a regular five-time namazi were seemingly flabbergasted as to why the militants who claim to be torch-bearers of Islam had killed such a precious man. They may boast of his only ‘sin’ being the man in uniform, but they are not aware that their act of terror has elevated a true patriotic soldier to the heights of martyrdom.

He had topped the Sargodha Board and won gold medal in the matriculation. The entitlement to scholarship and offers from various colleges paved his way for the FSc studies without getting any monetary help from parents. Again the gold medal in the intermediate exams got him the admission in King Edward’s Medical College, Lahore. After MBBS, he joined the Pakistan army’s medical corps in January 1976. He was promoted as lieutenant-general and appointed surgeon-general of the Pakistan army and director general of the medical services (inter-services) on February 8, 2007. He was the country’s most experienced eye specialist and a number of publications on ophthalmology are to his credit. He attended many national and international workshops, and at present he was serving as principal of the prestigious Army Medical College, Rawalpindi.

One wonders as to what objectives the terrorists have gained by victimizing this innocent soul, a practicing Muslim. No patriotic Pakistani living in whatever part of the country can think of getting involved in such a dastardly act. There is a state of mourning everywhere over the death of Lt-Gen Mushtaq Baig. It has raised many questions about the masterminds of such bombings who appeared to have turned blind to achieve their ambitions and agenda. The incident also proves that terrorism has no religion, no boundary and is a faceless enemy. The incident leaves every Pakistani thinking that by joining hands with the army we have to extirpate this menace once and for all, no matter whatever the cost may be.

Despite her deteriorated health the elderly Khurshid Begum was at Dr Baig’s home, wailing. Her two daughters, holding her hands from sides, brought her near to the coffin of Gen Mushtaq. She leaned and kissed it, saying “farewell my son, the son of soil, farewell.”

Dr Faryal Farooq


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