Did you ever realize the bitter truth of not recognizing our heroes? Did you ever read about martyrs other than Nishan-e-Haider recipients? Do you know about the history of liberation of our Northern Areas?

Muhammad Aslam Khan, was a man of valour, and undaunted values, belonging to the Afridi clan in Tirah valley. He was brought up in Jammu Kashmir, and his primary education was at Srinagar. Sardar Rehmatullah khan was in the army of Mahraja Hari Singh of Kashmir, and had conquered much of the territories while leading his army. His son Aslam had inherited bravery which he had inherited from his predecessors so, he was inclined towards joining the British Indian army. Americans owe him success as he captured the famous Kennedy peak in October 1944 in Yidium road operations which they themselves had failed to conquer. For his gallantry services at Fort White, Burma attack, he was awarded with the military cross by the British Royal family. After partition, he was transferred to Pakistan Army in 6/8 Punjab regiment.

Gilgit comprises of states like Hunza while, Balitistan covers Skardu, and onwards till the Kargil front. The great Karakoram ranges lie in the domain of Baltistan, and also known as “the doorway to the roof of the world”. Gilgit was a princely state which acceded to Pakistan but Skardu was under the tyrannical rule of Hari Singh. Governorship of Gilgit was given to Sardar Alam Khan, a political agent. This momentous area of Baltistan was not a part of Pakistan in 1947 until a strong, stoutly built man with rich experience of local geography was given the task of acquiring as much area as he can with mere resources. Muhammad Aslam Khan, at the rank of Major was the most senior Muslim officer other than Colonel Ahsan. In the short span of time, he had to raise an effective organized force from within the civilian population that could counter the veteran soldiers of India. His mission was to defend the area so far acquired and liberate as much territory as possible on his own responsibility with merger resources and was ready to sacrifice his life for this objective. It was seen as a failed mission planning by the opponents who deemed it as impossible. But Major Aslam was determined to command men of unbreakable steadfastness, like the lofty mountains.

He resumed his command in January, 1948 bringing with him his younger brother, Major Anwar khan who was appointed as brigade major for administering the logistics. The abridgement of weapons was such that he was compelled to use dummy wooden rifles for provision of training to scouts. The scope of the operation was from South of Astor, up to Gurez, and from Deosai plain upto border of Zojila. Albeit, the Indian encroachment at Rondo was present which could advance ahead along the Skardu-Astor road. Aslam Khan was a military genius, where he ordered his forces to occupy as much military blank territory as plausible in winter to make a rock solid ground till next summer on the South East, and South West pass. In this strategic victory, it was not possible for the enemy to retake possession of the ground so, conquered, and finally, to neutralize strength of army at Skardu integrating further into Baltistan.

Major Aslam formulated, and gave rise to two new forces namely, the Tiger force, and Ibex. The duty of the tiger force was to advance up to Tragbal, Gurez, and continue striking on Bandipur till the Indian army retreated from the borders. The task of Ibex force was to pave along River Indus; meeting Indian encroachment at Rondu, and move ahead occupying Skardu, onwards to Kargil, drass, and Ladakh. In this way, the enemy could not reinvigorate itself in any direction. Extreme weather conditions were undoubtedly a huge hurdle but the commander was a man of steel, Major Aslam Khan who was ready to change strategies in lieu of transforming circumstances. When the Ibex force failed at Skardu, and got difficult to advance forward, Aslam Khan established his headquarters at the Chillum valley. He began to train another force in the mountains around Burzil. He trained the soldiers hailing from Yasin, and Hunza to wrap their legs in rugs, and they began to move towards Kargil through Deosai plains. They had to wade through fifteen inch snow in severe winter with the commander Major Aslam, and reached Kargil in three days. A junior of Major Aslam, raised an icy-proof Eskimo force which had a challenging laborious task of crossing the 12000 feet high mountain sheets of Deosai plateau .They had to sleep on the snow as well as hammer the enemy logistics by surprise assaults. The scheme of this mission succeeded as these resolute soldiers were led by an inexhaustible commander.

the personality of Aslam Khan was such that he never took absolute authority into his power, by suppressing his juniors rather he always gave them autonomy. He had given them the opportunity to transform the intelligence strategy as they liked to adopt, and carry out persistent attacks confusing him to keep the Mahraja’s army away. Major Aslam had a geographical acquaintance with the area so he knew inch-by-inch of this land. Therefore, he was always successful in sending supplies, diverting troops, battalions, and platoons from one sector to another.

Major Aslam moved men into Jammu Kashmir that began raiding Hirmal Pardesh, and sent a wireless message to his commandant at Rawalpindi. The Commander-in-chief General Douglas Gracey was bewildered, and ordered him to report back at his office. He was called back, and COAS appointed him as his private secretary. Colonel Aslam had keen passion to expand the frontiers to Srinagar from where the Mahraja had already fled away in apprehension. Leadership did not permit him to do so, and awarded him the Hilal-e-Jurat by Government of Pakistan. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier at the age of 36 years ranking him as the youngest brigadier in the history of the world. Brigadier Aslam was struck off, and retired in 1963. He decided to eschew from politics, and work for the evolution of tourism in trans-isolated Himalayan zone for which he founded Shangrila Resorts at Skardu. He died in 1994 suffering from Liver Cirrhosis.

In a nutshell, the Almighty for the defence, and consolidation of military in Baltistan made a soldierly personality like Brigadier Aslam. Khan. The freedom of a country lies in the hands of freedom fighters but its expansion, and protection is the responsibility of military. The bitter reality is that we did not pay homage in the way that he deserved nor did we try to learn about his glory. Today, people from across the world come, and enjoy the scenic beauty of Shangrila Resort. It was undoubtedly, a marked stone of initiating development in Gilgit Baltistan. The need of the hour is to commemorate the sacrifices of our forefathers, and learn from history.