By News Desk
The untold tale of 1971 War: the Pakistan Army’s Phantom Warrior who denied the orders of General Niazi and refused to surrender.
It’s 1971. A mother hugs her son as he departs for war. Her departing words: “Return as a Shaheed or Ghazi only.”
One night in a bunker, two SSG commandos were joking with one another to keep their morale and spirits high. SSG commando Bilal Rana turned to his friend Suleiman and said, “Promise me one thing, take this grenade of mine and should the enemy get close, use the grenade but never be captured by them and one last thing, should you have a son, name him Bilal” and with this they both erupted in uncontrollable laughter. On 10 Dec 1971, whilst on a mission, Rana Bilal fought bravely and embraced the highest honour of Shahadat.
On 16 Dec 1971, as the word spread about the “Fall of Dhaka”, one Pakistani commando had no intentions of breaking a promise he made just a few nights earlier to his friend Bilal Rana Shaheed.
SSG commando Suleiman barged into the underground dug-in bunkers of Eastern Command in Dhaka Cantonment, with his loaded Kalashnikov rifle in hand. He looked into the eyes of his commander & refused to accept the orders of surrender.
On the eve of 17 December 1971, the phantom commando disappeared into the darkness of the night & was never found by the Indians & Mukti Bahini, escaping to Burma. But, when Suleiman left HQ of Eastern Command, he didn’t escape alone.
Major PD Khan who was 2nd-in-command of 2 Commando Battalion (Suleiman’s Battalion) was in CMH Dhaka with a bullet in his knee. Suleiman went to CMH and asked PD Khan to accompany him. PD Khan refused saying he was badly wounded & he would only hamper Suleiman’s escape. One hit on the neck and PD Khan was unconscious. Suleiman lifted him and escaped to Burma, neighbouring East Pakistan.
PD Khan later became Lieutenant General PD Khan and commanded the famous 10 Corps of Pakistan Army. The lonesome soldier did not allow the enemy to stain his Khaki. He later returned to his motherland as a brave ghazi. Both Gen PD Khan and Gen Musharaf (Suleiman was Musharaf’s course-mate from 29 PMA Long Course) went on to name their sons “Bilal” after their friend, Bilal Rana Shaheed.
Due to his valour and courage, and refusal to surrender, General Musharaf, his course-mates and so many in the Pakistan Army till this date call him “Muhammad Suleiman, the Magnificent.”
Col Suleiman left this worldly abode on 9th December 2019. May Allah bless him with highest place in Jannah.