Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq’s Biography
Chapter 46: Meeting General Akhtar Hussain Malik
In 1968 Sahibzada Mirza Mubarak Ahmad, the then Wakeel ut Tabsheer, wrote to me from Rabwah and said that he was planning a trip to Turkey, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. He said that he would be happy if I could accompany him at my own expense. A short while earlier I had already written to the Sahibzada that under instructions from Mr Tubman, the President of Liberia, and the Liberian Government had already sent me some travel vouchers. I said that by using these vouchers and without spending any money of my own, I could undertake a journey to those few countries. I believe the Sahibzada had in mind those Travel Vouchers. Therefore I made up my mind to accompany him. As the journey was to commence from Turkey I reached Istanbul ahead of the Sahibzada and got settled in a hotel. Two days later the Sahibzada arrived at Istanbul where we spent 5 days together. We saw all that there was to see in Istanbul. We saw the beautiful mosques constructed during the Ottoman period; we visited the world famous Tapkoopi Museum where we looked at curios associated, in one way or another, to the Holy Prophet SAW, his Successors and his Companions. With great respect and reverence the priceless articles were all secured in protected glass cabinets and we were able to offer prayers in that room. We prayed for the reappearance of past lofty splendour of Islam. More than a dozen Companions of the Holy Prophet are buried in Istanbul. The most prominent amongst them was Hadhrat Abu Ayub Ansari. When Huzoor SAW migrated from Mecca to Medina, he stayed at the dwelling of Abu Ayub Ansari for a period of 6 months. Abu Ayub Ansari was included in the army that attacked Istanbul. That is where he died and that is where he is buried. We went in a taxi to pray over his grave. We offered Nawafil in the adjoining Mosque. For having been given the privilege to visit the grave of such an outstanding Companion, we expressed our gratitude to the Almighty. We visited Izmir from Istanbul and spent one night there. There we met our sincere Turkish friend Shabbir Sanai. He had translated the Promised Messiah’s book ‘Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam’ into Turkish. He was indeed a very sincere friend. Alas, he has since died.
We planned to visit Ankara where General Akhtar Hussain Malik was then representing Pakistan in CENTO. During their student days in Qadian, the General and the Sahibzada were classmates. On instructions from the Sahibzada, I telephoned the General and asked him to book us into a hotel. The General responded by saying:
“Where is the need for a hotel? I have a house and it will give me great pleasure to have you two stay with me.”
On the appointed day of our arrival, we found the General waiting for us in his car on the tarmac quite close to the exit from our aircraft. On very many occasions, I had heard a lot about the General but I had never met him. From the door of the aircraft, we saw a handsome, elegant and attentive young man. It was one no other than General Akhtar Hussain Malik. He drove us to his residence. While he was stationed in Turkey, he had the rank of an Ambassador.
To honour Sahibzada Mirza Mubarak Ahmad, the following day, the General arranged a magnificent party at his residence. All the members of the staff of the Pakistan Embassy and some other respectable Pakistanis were amongst the guests. We were introduced to his guests. At the dinner table he narrated certain incidents of his student days in Qadian. During his conversation, the General paid great tributes to Hadhrat Musleh Maood He told us that, even during his military career, he received valuable guidance from Huzoor. He said that although Huzoor was a religious leader from his discourse it appeared as if he had been to a distinguished Military Academy for his education. The General said that on occasion, he would take along with him other Generals to meet Huzoor and all of them came back deeply impressed. They were all greatly amazed at Huzoor’s knowledge of military affairs. In the evenings, the Sahibzada retired into his bedroom while the General and I continued to talk until late at night.
He told me in detail what happened at the Kashmir Front during the 1965 war. While he was relating the events that took place at the Chamb Jaurian Front, there were tears in his eyes. He told me how, due to erroneous orders, a nearly won battle had turned into a defeat. He said:
“The troops under my command were moving towards Tawi River from where Jammu could be seen. We felt confident that a victory was about to kiss their feet. The whole dispute of Kashmir was about to be resolved when suddenly I received orders from President Ayub to hand over command to General Yahya Khan and return to Headquarters. I was greatly astonished on receipt of these orders. I told General Yahya that at that point in time, when victory was in our grip, a change in command could turn into a success for the enemy.”
General Yahya said:
“What can I do? Orders have been received from above.”
Some of my subordinates protested but in keeping with the traditions of the Pakistan Army, I handed over command to General Yahya and thus we lost a battle that had been almost won. I returned to the General Headquarters with a broken heart but I had no option.
The following day, in my conversation with the General, I brought up the subject of Maulana Rumi. The Sahibzada asked the General if it would be possible for us to visit the grave of the Maulana. The General said that he adored the Maulana and on repeated occasions he had read his Mathnavi. The General instructed his Secretary to make all the necessary arrangements for us to visit Konia.
The following day the Sahibzada sat in the front of the car and the General and I occupied the rear seat. Another vehicle carried our lunch. All the way to Konia the General kept on reciting verses from the Mathnavi. He had obviously memorised all the verse that he recited. I was greatly surprised that an Army General should have mastered the work of Maulana Rum. On arrival at Konia, we discovered that it was a holiday and the mausoleum was closed. As the General had sent a message earlier on, as a special favour to us, the doors were opened and we were able to visit the mausoleum. Standing near the headstone, we were enabled to offer earnest supplications. We especially prayed for the day to dawn when, through Ahmadiyyat, the grandeur and majesty of Islam would once again be established. In the evening, we returned to Ankara. The next day the General took us to the mausoleum of Kamal Ataturk. The General seemed to be abnormally impressed by Kamal Ataturk.
In her hospitality the General’s wife left no stone unturned. Mrs Malik was a Moosia and was very devoted to Hadhrat Musleh Maood. She had difficulty in containing her pleasure at being able to play host to a grandson of the Promised Messiah who was also a son of the Musleh Maood.
What impressed me more than anything else was the extreme simplicity in the General’s behaviour. Although he was a very highly regarded and a high-ranking General, there was not the slightest trace of pride or arrogance in him. Although I was much younger than he was he treated me with great respect. Whenever he noticed humility in my conduct, he would say:
“You are the Imam and Hadhrat Musleh Maood has appointed you to this position.”
He would assume such meekness in front of the Sahibzada as if he had taken on a role of a domestic servant. May Allah admit the General and his wife into Heaven and elevate their positions. Both are buried in Rabwah.
In 1998, Dr. Abd ul Waheed Khan invited me to accompany his wife Neeno, his children Madeeha, Alia, and Humayun for a tour of Turkey. We spent 7 days in Istanbul and were able to relive very many pleasant memories. We visited the graves of the Companions of the Holy Prophet and were able to offer our prayers there. We saw a number of places and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. May He reward these members of my progeny abundantly. During my visits to Turkey, again and again, I remembered my dear friend Muhammad Afzal Khan. I first met him during my student days in Chiniot half a century ago. Soon our affection for each other was transformed to brotherhood. Afzal Khan belongs to a very well to do influential Turk family and he was the first to accept Ahmadiyyat in Rabwah. Hadhrat Musleh Maood regarded him as the ‘first fruit’ granted to the Jamaat in Rabwah. These days he permanently resides in London and has always maintained a deep, sincere and loving relationship with me
Daily Jang, a well known Pakistani newspaper, published from Lahore, dated 6th September 1984 wrote about General Malik as follows:
“The skill with which Akhtar Malik attacked Chumb cannot be given any other name but magnificence success. He was in the position to take over Jaurian because the enemy was fleeing after its defeat at Chumb and had cleared Jaurian for the on-coming Pakistan Army.But; this was not allowed to happen. The change of command at that juncture was a fatal mistake. It was designed that Yahya Khan should reap the laurels of the battle. But who ultimately suffered from this design? The one chance to inflict total defeat on India had slipped from our hands”