Ghazanfar Ali Issani, veteran of World War II, is great son of the soil. Our young generation does not know about the patriotic approach of this son because neither was he publicity conscious nor someone recorded him in the history.
By Colonel (R) Hassan Imam
Some people make a significant mark in the public interest in their time but are lost in pages of history. One such a great son of the soil is Ghazanfar Ali Issani. Our young generation does not know about the patriotic approach of this son because neither was he publicity conscious nor someone recorded him in the history. He was an icon of a true Pakistani Nationalism. He was born in a village Buddo in a famous illustrious Issani Family of Shikarpur district in 1920.
Since my grandfather mobilized the Sindhi youth in World War-I in 1918 along with donations from his own pocket, therefore, I also wanted to contribute by recruiting and sending sons of Sindh-soil in Armed Forces of Pakistan so that they could also be the proud defenders of the motherland. In this regard, my father advised me to seek guidance from a famous, honest and senior police officer Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ghazanfar Ali Issani who had brilliantly and bravely fought World War II. Another most important and amazing thing was to know that he happened to be the elder brother of famous CSP officer Capt. Usman Ali Issani, (another Sindhi soldier who is also the recipient of Sword of Honor of 13th PMA Long Course. Gen. Ayub Khan had visited both the brothers in Hyderabad to congratulate them). On my father’s instructions I decided to go and meet him. During mild winter days of January 1998, I planned to visit this hero of World War II and proceeded to his village Buddo, which is at twenty minutes’ drive from my village Ratodero.
I reached his village and found him a man with thrilling voice, who did not seem to be a retired officer rather he looked immensely active, energetic and robust. As I had reached in the early hours of morning, I saw him examining the crops on his land mounting on the horseback during cold days of winter. I came to know that it was his routine to visit his lands even at the age of eighty.
On meeting him, I found him very cordial and caring person. He had very strong roots in interior Sindh and was very thorough on past history of Sindh during the British Rule. Same day at seven in the evening in a very informal but magnificent dinner we talked a lot on the past events. I requested him to share his experiences of World War II and also advise me as to how I could proceed to induct Sindhi youth in Armed Forces of Pakistan.
With a deep sigh, he said, “Major, you are taking me back to my golden days, but I must first tell you about World War I and contribution of Sindh”. According to him the youth of Sindh and southern Balochistan were recruited in Jacobs Rifles. He had a strong academic back ground, but was inspired by the stories of soldiers of World War I, so he decided to join Royal Navy. He was commissioned in World War II as Midshipman and served till 1946.
During the culmination days of war, he was part of surface forces in Mediterranean Theatre near North Africa. They had skirmishes with Italian and German Naval vessels and he was even seriously wounded. After medical treatment of three month, he fully recovered and was moved to Indian Ocean where he became part of Inland Water Transport (IWT) and was employed in logistics services.
Later, he was promoted as Lieutenant during the war. The task was demanding and challenging but he enjoyed the adventurous and interesting life at the fullest. Later, in 1946 he was transferred to Indian Political Services in police group as Assistant Superintendent of Police and served till he became the DIG.
Finally, to answer my queries of recruiting Sindhi youth in the Armed Forces, he said, “You must write it to your Army Chief to open Army Recruitment Offices in Larkana and other parts of Sindh. The soil is very fertile and carries rich history of valor.”
Former Inspector General of Police Nagra Sahib, who served as Assistant Superintendent of Police under Issani, mentions that whenever there was an emergency, the government always moved Issani to handle the situation. He initiated the concept of welfare organization in police department.
Having inundated with historical knowledge from Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Issani, I left and embarked upon his advice of Sindhi youth’s recruitment in Pakistan Army. His advice colossally contributed and General Musharraf ordered opening of a recruitment office in Larkana. As I had pursued the case, so I was moved to Larkana.
By the grace of Allah and hard work, more than twenty thousand young Sindhis were inducted in the Army along with officers in a short period of three years. The soldiers from Sindh proved their mettle and they performed meritoriously in Kashmir as well as during war on terror. Out of three Sindhi officers, who embraced Shahadat near Pak-Afghan Border, two were from Larkana.
It was my routine to see this brave visionary Sindhi soldier in his village till the time I was posted in Larkana. On March 31, 2009, Ghazanfar Issani, the only Sindhi World War II veteran, breathed his last and departed to eternal life.
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