Remembering Mumtaz

A Jolly Good Fellow - No More

"The death of a friend is equivalent to the loss of a limb." ( German Proverb )

"Life without a friend is like death without a witness." ( Spanish Proverb )

24 May 2009 robbed from us yet another comrade - this time it was Mumtaz - who battled for his life for years very bravely with a smile on his face. He was buried in his ancestral village near Jhelum on 25th May around 4 pm. To pay homage to the lost friend, Jamaz-e-Jinaza was offered at Malir and Rawalpindi, and a lot of course mates attended. Myself, Ikram Kiani, Asim Jilani and Naseer made it to his village Raryala Jagdeo across River Keahn near Jhelum city. A number of senior officers from air defence (since he was an air defence officer), Military College, Jhelum ( he being from this college) and locals attended.

I knew him from PMA days. He was always smiling, helping others and was a real sport. He wore glasses from the very early days and one could feel his strong gaze from behind the glasses. He would often mimic his platoon commander (Capt Navqvi) with exactly the same style and voice.

Sergeant Mumtaz seated second from right

Mumtaz was born in Malir when his father was the first SM of the famous 19 LAA Regt (and what a coincidence that after 55 years, he died in the same cantonment). Therefore he was a claimant for the same unit which he rightly got and joined it at Multan Cantonment. He also had the distinction of commanding the same unit years after in 1996 at Kharian Cantonment - it was here that I was also raising and commanding a new air defence outfit and our units were just across the road and we would very frequently visit each other (much the the annoyance of our brigade commander who would often spy on us through his "rats" that who is sitting in who's office). My mess waiter was too good in making coffee and Mumtaz liked his coffee - so I would deliberately made him sit outside the kitchen of the field mess in a manner that he was watched by Mumtaz's office orderly. And certainly the news would travel Mumtaz that coffee is being stirred and in next few seconds he would be with me. We both would call on each other off and so did our lady wives. Even in exercises, we would find each other and had jolly good time. Once while passing a running tube well he asked if I had ever taken a bath under the tube well. Since I had never, we went to our tents and brought back sports kits and had almost half an hour of bating under the tube well water.

Mumtaz (third from left) with platoon commander Major Shuja Ullah Khan Tarrar (also seen late Javed Sultan - second from left)

A few years back, he developed a brain tumor and became seriously ill. The family initially never understood the gravity of his disease as Asim Jilani narrates. He visited him in hospital where he was admitted on the assumption that he has temperature - but when Asim met him, he says he found Mumtaz apparently not to recognize him, which worried him and he talked to his family and the same day he was rushed to the Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi, where after a series of tests, it was found out that he was in real trouble. He recovered after a few surgeries and was driving and moving again. I met him a couple of years back when I was in Karachi and he was smiling and talking. But after sometime when I rang him up, his daughter told me that he had lost his speech - this really hurt me. When he was well, he made everyone laugh and smile - now there he was lying speechless - that made everyone around him to silently cry over his agony and plight.

Though, things were apparently improving and it was hoped that he would improve, the malignant cancerous tumor reappeared - this time quite deadly. He had four brain surgeries - and in the process lost his speech. But he was still there smiling and fighting back with lot of resilience and determination. But he was losing time everyday and on night 23-24 May 2009, he breathed his last. The news spread through SMS to all course mates (I got from Zahir first). I was in Lahore so I rushed to Mangla on 24 May to attend his funeral proceedings in his village. However, before the last rituals, a namaz-e-janaza was held at Malir Cantonment and later at Islamabad airport - both attended by a large number of course mates.

Left to right: last glimpse of Mumtaz before burial - Ikram Kiani and Asim - Dua after burial - the grave - and the wreath on behalf of the course

Sometimes back while visiting his ancestral lands in his native village, he had shown his desire to be buried there instead of their family graveyard owing to the beauty and picturesque landscape. In line with his desire, the family had chosen an appropriate place, where the first grave was dug for Mumtaz as per his desire. The Janaza was well attended by senior serving and retired officers of Military College, Army Air Defence, friends, colleagues and others.

I (  Jalal HB  ) on my own behalf and behalf of the course am thankful to Ikram Kiani who brought the floral wreath, which myself, Kiani and Asim placed on the grave with a very heavy heart. Slowly everyone thinned and left the once a real Jolly Good Fellow behind all by himself. I sincerely prayed for his forgiveness from the Almighty and pray his soul is blessed. We shall always miss him - a great course mate - now no more. He leaves behind a widow, a son and a daughter. May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace and eternity, and grant strength to his family and friends to bear this irreparable loss, Aameen

Messages from Friends and Course Mates:

Dear Jalal, AOA - Mumtaz was a gem of a person. We had the honour of serving together at two places Gujranwala and Multan. We also did isc together at Cliffden Murree. oth me and my family have no words to portray the personality of Mumtaz. He was loved by all his course mates and God also loved him and he has been called back ceremoniously. Allah Hafiz Mumtaz may ALLAH bless you with eternal peace. Col Shakeel joins me in paying our homage to the departed soul. Ameen ( Rizwan Ur Rasheed )

Mumtaz our course mate a great friend, a loving father, a faithful husband a true brother and refined soldier expired. "Inna Lillah e Wa Inna Ilayehee Rajioon"
This has been a shocking news for me and my family as he was a very close friend of mine and our families also had long association with him. A smiling figure with a genuine kindness. I found him to be the best amongst all of my platoon mates from Tariq 3 and (later  Salah-u-ddin Company), a person who will always keep us united and act as a mediator, honest and ready to help. Mumtaz has gone but has left many sweet memories with all of us.
May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace and eternity, and grant strength to his family and friends to bear this irreparable loss, Aameen!! ( Jamil Bravo from Canada )

Dear Course mates, AOA, Jamil has printed true picture of our beloved friend. May Allah Rest his soul in peace. AMEEN. What a wonderful person he was. I will personally miss him as a friend. Tahir Sheikh

Mumtaz was indeed a great friend and we will miss him a lot, may God bless his soul in peace, Ameen.  Shahid Aslam

Whatever you and Jamil has said about Mumtaz was though true but not fully describe him. He was a diamond of his own kind and cannot be expressed in words. He was my platoon mate from the beginning and we passed out together. Jalal, at the website, in the photo gallery in my portion you would find him behind me on the monkey bridge and at the saluting test inspection. Also you would also find him in Javed's section standing in the group photo with the platoon commander. ALLAH grant him JANNAH. AAMEEN! SUMMA AAMEEN. Zaffar Iqbal Durrani

I would request all friends and well wishers of Mumtaz to share their views and send me his photos that we could include here to preserve the moments spent with him and share with all others. Such great men like Mumtaz are seldom born - therefore they be paid the homage they rightly and truly deserve. ( Jalal HB )

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