MAJOR GENERAL SANA ULLAH KHAN
The history of Pakistan Army is replete with examples of resolute bravery, selfless leadership and supreme sacrifices. The military leaders in Pak Army always take pride in leading troops from the front, and this is the reason that the casualty ratio between the leaders and the led in Pak Army is one of the highest in world and we are surely proud of it.
Of late a new chapter of bravery was added in the archives of audacious achievements, when Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi along with Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef and Lance Naik Irfan Sattar embraced Shahadat at the Pak-Afghan border in District Upper Dir. ‘To ALLAH we belong and to Whom we will return’. This article briefly explains the attributes and achievements of Major General Sanaullah (Shaheed), with special focus on his vision of Swat.
The General entered the operational area in February 2013 as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the infantry division deployed in Swat. He was a visionary military commander and a staunch supporter of breaking the status quo. In a short span of just seven months, besides ensuring stable security environment, the General pursued numerous socio-economic events in Swat. It was due to his relentless efforts that Tourism got revived, bringing back life, normalcy and business to the commoners of Malakand. His earnest endeavours, besides catalysing his predecessors’ contributions, ensured the changing of local and international perception on Swat, which has indeed become “A Success Story” of Pakistan Army.
The aura around General Sana was that of compassion, logic and wisdom above and beyond ordinary minds. His vision was to restore normalcy in Swat and enable the civil administration to gradually take-over Malakand region, while retaining built-in capability of the Army to react expeditiously (when required). It was due to this clarity of thought and his power of decision that the General was respected in military and civil circles alike. He was a beacon of hope under which Swat was progressing at a rapid pace and an all-encompassing approach was being pursued to build the capacity of law enforcement agencies and ultimately ensure a smooth transition in times to come.
Maj Gen Sanaullah was born on 10th Sep 1963 in a respectable family from Daudkhel, Mianwali, the people of which are known for their valour and respect for human values. ‘Like Father, like Son’, the General was brought up to become an upright and an honest human being like his father DSP Khalas Khan, a legendary Police officer, who served most part of his career in Quetta. After his basic education, the General joined Pakistan Army in December 1983 and was commissioned in one of the prestigious Baloch Regiments. General Sana was a thorough professional and a true infantryman, whose affection towards his troops earned him an eternal name; A Soldiers’ General. A kind and contended heart was a distinct attribute of his personality, which earned him great respect of his under commands.
During his illustrious career, the General served at almost all important assignments. A graduate of Command and Staff College, Quetta and Armed Forces War Course (National Defence University) from both Islamabad and China, he also had a vast experience of command, staff and instructional assignments. The General remained as a Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade (twice), General Staff Officer Grade 2 (Chief of General Staff Secretariat) and Director Military Training – Combat (Military Training Directorate). He commanded an Infantry Battalion and an Independent Infantry Brigade Group. He served as a Military Observer in United Nations Mission in Angola and also commanded a contingent in United Nations Mission, Sierra Leone. He also served on the faculty of Pakistan Military Academy, School of Infantry & Tactics and Command and Staff College, Quetta. He was happily married with two daughters.
He always stressed upon setting a personal example and leading from the front. His urge to spend maximum time with his troops at the forward posts made him travel very frequently, despite the risk of presenting a high value target. It was due to this insistence that he was a very regular visitor of his Area of Responsibility (AoR) and, meeting officers, troops and even civilians (Lashkar commanders) was a normal routine. I remember once (a week prior to his Shahadat), when a threat to a forward post (along Pak-Afghanistan border) was shared with him, he was most desperate to reach his men the same night.
On 14th September 2013, Maj Gen Sana departed from his headquarters on operational visit of border posts in Chitral and Upper Dir. After visiting Arandu Post in Chitral, he landed on Sabar OP (Upper Dir) in a helicopter and moved on foot to Malatar Post. Owing to the tragic incident of 24th June 2012, when a sanitisation operation in Sunai Darra (Upper Dir), claimed precious lives of 18 soldiers ex 33 Baloch, the General always wished to stay a night at Malatar post to boost the morale of his troops.
On 15th September, after night stay at the border post, while moving to the Battalion Headquarters of 33 Baloch, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded under the vehicle of the General Officer, resulting in his Shahadat alongwith Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef (Commanding Officer 33 Baloch) and Lance Naik Irfan, 33 Baloch.
It was due to General’s audacious and undaunted policies that the terrorists were unable to re-create any space and were thus desperate to exploit any fleeting opportunity. The people responsible for the General’s martyrdom should be considered nothing more than barbarians. Their sole purpose is to undo the efforts made by the Pakistan Army, thus posing a clear and present danger to the state. Their actions over the years have proven the fact that there is no trace of humanity or reason in the hearts of the enemy. Their heinous crimes should not go unpunished and their malevolent intentions towards Pakistan must never materialise. The great sacrifices made by him and hundreds of other brave officers and soldiers of our Army will certainly bear fruit, In Sha’ Allah!
Maj Gen Sanaullah (Shaheed) was indeed A Soldiers’ General and a true specimen of a gallant military leader, who laid his life for his men. His distinct attributes of loyalty to his country, simplicity and quick decision-making earned him great respect of his subordinates, colleagues and seniors. The likes of General Sanaullah can only be found in the pages of illustrious Muslim history.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (COAS ) paid rich tributes to the exemplary courage, total commitment to duty and the demonstration of highest leadership qualities by Major General Sana Ullah Khan. The General Officer has set towering example of leading from the front which is hallmark of leadership in Pakistan Army. Acknowledging the General Officer’s ultimate sacrifice for the motherland the COAS said, we all salute his bravery.His subordinates extol him in these words “He was a kind-hearted genius,” He inspired all his men in the division and kept their morale high .