I was taken from my home when I was in my teens, a young lad of 17 years, to be trained by one of the best in the profession for two years. These two years changed my life forever. They changed my attitude and aptitude for life. A sense of sacrifice and devotion for duty was imbued in my character for the rest of my life. For me my duty and my motherland were of the foremost importance than any other thing. I endured many hardships during my training period; long sleepless nights, long tiresome walks with 35kg load on my back, sleeping in the open cold winter nights and walking all day long in the hot summer days. For me there was no margin of error, what all I had to do had to be perfect and according to the rules and procedures. I had to learn so many things which were unknown to me. By the end of these two years I was a new person altogether who was stepping into the practical life of one of the noblest professions of all.

One would think that the things become easy after two years, but that was not so. Many more trainings followed in the coming years which were at times tougher than the initial ones. With the passage of time I had to grow more responsible and thus was entrusted with difficult assignments and the people whom I was responsible for increased manifolds. Years passed and I became a senior in my rank and hence new assignments were given to me. One of the foremost things that I had to look after was to take care of the people who were under my command. They are the people who would embrace death with a smile on my orders, so I had to think hundreds of times before giving an order so that the lives of my comrades were not put into undue danger by my ill planning or any wrong order given by me. These men were like brothers to me, they were part of my family.

I am called whenever my country is in trouble, be it floods or devastating earthquakes, I am there whenever there is a need to look after the internal security matters. Now a days I am fighting the enemies of my homeland, who are living amongst us right inside my own country. Who are these people? They are my countrymen but diverted from the right path, funded and trained by the external enemies. Who are they killing, my own innocent countrymen who have nothing to do with them, their agendas and their grievances either? My job is to fight the enemies of my country, defend the borders of my homeland and safeguard the sovereignty of my country. Who am I? I am a disciplined soul, I am an untiring worker, I am a patriot, I sweat so you can relax, I am awake so you can sleep, and I shed my blood so that my country stays safe. I am a soldier and this is my life.

SAFIYA SALMAN,

Lahore, January 22.