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Gilgit-Baltistan’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI) Wins Gold Medal at Exercise Cambrian Patrol 2018




Gilgit-Baltistan's Northern Light Infantry (NLI) Wins Gold Medal at Exercise Cambrian Patrol 2018

An 11-member team of Gilgit-Baltistan’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI) has won the 2018 edition of Exercise Cambrian Patrol. Exercise Cambrian Patrol is an annual event organized and run by 160th Infantry Brigade at Brecon in Wales, United Kingdom. This year’s exercise was held from October 12 to October 21. The event was attended by 137 patrols from 38 countries.

Exercise CAMBRIAN PATROL is the premier patrolling event of the British Army which is held in Wales and hosted by 160 Infantry Brigade.

Exercise Cambrian Patrol itself began in 1959, when a group of Welsh Territorial Army soldiers designed a weekend training event, featuring long-distance marching over the Cambrian Mountains, culminating in a shooting match on the Sennybridge Training Area.

Pakistan Army’s patrol has won a gold medal for the fourth consecutive time. This year, Pakistan Army’s team was represented by a battalion from Northern Light Infantry (NLI). NLI consists of soldiers from Gilgit-Baltistan.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, the spokesperson Pakistan Armed Forces, made a Tweet shortly after the result came.

A press release on Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) website states “Cambrian Patrol is a mission and task-oriented patrolling exercise of 48 hours during which participants of patrolling team cover 60 kilometers carrying 25 kilograms.”

NLI has been on a forefront of all major wars including the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Kargil War of 1999. A toll of NLI soldiers have embraced martyrdom in Operation Zarb-e-Azb and the on-going offenses in Waziristan, Siachen and India-Pakistan borders.

Havaldar Lalak Jan and Captain Sher Khan, both recipients of Nishan-e-Haider for their gallantry in Kargil War, were soldiers of 12th Northern Light infantry Unit.

The Northern Light infantry (NLI) is currently headquartered at Bunji near Gilgit and consists of  16 battalions.


Shaheed Malik Ashdar – the paramedic, the man, the wrestling fan, the migrant, and my savior

Riaz Akbar



Malik Ashdar
Photo: Shabbir Mir (Facebook)

Martyrs defending against COVID-19

A deluge of social media notifications woke me up this morning on the other side of the world to the devastating news of Dr. Malik Ashdar’s passing from COVID-19. His story is worth telling, so bear with me. I will be concise.

Malik Ashdar, the paramedic.

Dr. Malik Ashdar was the most recognizable face of Sumayar’s healthcare system. He was a paramedic but everyone called him doctor sb, and for the longest period ever he was the sole and unofficial chief medical officer of the valley- without any privileges but with every responsibility. The government had appointed him a technical assistant in radiology or something similar, but for all practical purposes, he was the chief physician of the valley.

He catered to the needs of hundreds of patients and would try as hard as he could to fix things himself instead of referring them to the District Headquarters Hospital in Gilgit city – a 100 kilometers away as it would not be affordable for most of the poor villagers. He would not shy away from hard jobs in any way, so it was natural that when the coronavirus patients reached him, he quickly responded – without any regard to his own safety, without any protective gear.

Malik Ashdar, the man

He had a calming presence, a wide smile and a humble demeanor. I am sure few people commanded as much respect for the valley as he did. He didn’t know personal time from professional time, and in his role it wasn’t possible for him either. No excuse like extreme weather, lack of transportation, fatigue would come in his way of rendering his services.

So when the infected patients began rolling into his clinic, he jumped to treating them, knowing perfectly well that treating them without gear would expose him to great danger and quite possibly death. He knew he was making a choice between his own life and the life of his patients. He made the ultimate sacrifice.

I am sure he would be proud of the way he bowed out if it were possible for a mortal to witness his/her own passing, and see his people’s grief and gratitude. And if it were possible to choose the manner of one’s departure, he would definitely choose to go just the way he did: die treating others.

Malik Ashdar, the wrestling fan

He was a diehard fan of wrestling. You would find him perched on the front bench of the only TV-owning hotel in Sumayar. Everyone knew that it was his seat and would immediately give it up for him the moment he would enter the hotel. He was very passionate about it. He was not any less devoted to the game than the most ardent fan sitting in the audience of the live game, but he watched recorded VHSs and DVDs.

Last year, while in New Orleans, Louisiana, my Uber passed by the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – which had hosted the Wrestlemania event the previous year, and my thoughts took me to that small hotel hall in my village with Dr. Ashdar and many other regular wrestling fans on the edges of their benches cheering on their favorite wrestlers. As far as I can tell, this was his only source of entertainment in life.

Malik Ashdar, the migrant

Dr. Ashdar was born and raised in the beautiful tourist hub of Hoper, but he chose to make Sumayar his home. As locals would understand this is a very rare thing to happen in Nagar. Internal migration on permanent footing is unheard of. But he fell in love with Sumayar, Nagar, and the people of Sumayar returned the sentiment with great admiration which was on display yesterday. Every single person in Sumayar has a personal story of gratitude and service by this man. I too have a story that I would like to share as my gratitude to the man.

Malik Ashdar, my savior

In 1999, during the month of Ramzan, I suddenly had unbearable pain in my bottom left abdomen and my father was out of the valley.  Dr Ashdar came to my house and tended to me, giving me the injections and the medication. Later that night or the next day, he visited again and took me to Aliabad Hospital in Hunza because he suspected something was off and he couldn’t quite figure it out. I was taken to the hospital in Aliabad, and the doctor there asked me to go to Gilgit headquarters hospital right away.

Dr. Ashdar wanted to accompany me there but had to be at his job in the morning so I insisted he go back. He got off the car in Murtazabad and walked ten kilometers back to Sumayar on that bone-chilling winter night. It was twenty-one years ago, and I have never forgotten it and I will never forget it. When I reached the hospital in Gilgit city in the middle of the night, they rushed me to emergency surgery to remove my appendix as it is in a very risky state. In the two decades since whenever I would run into him, I would swell with gratitude, and I think he could feel my gratitude.

Malik Ashdar, the spiritual man

Doctor sb is known to enjoy the annual feature of the valley: the celebration of the 13 Rajab: the birthday of Imam Ali (AS). It is always a festive occasion with a series of events, but the main event is the poetry recitals on the life of Imam Ali. Poets, young and old, profusely shower admiration on Imam Ali in moving and flowing language.  Dr sb wallowed in its spiritual comfort and peace.

May his soul find eternal peace. Amen.

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Paramedic from Gilgit-Baltistan passes away in the fight against COVID-19




Malik Ashdar Paramedic Nagar Gilgit-Baltistan - COVID-19 Coronavirus deaths

Coronavirus takes the life of another on-duty health worker from Gilgit-Baltistan. The 55-year-old radiology lab worker from Nagar district had contracted COVID-19 locally. He passes away four days after being shifted to a quarantine center in Nagar, Gilgit-Baltistan’s most hard-hit district.

Malik Ashdar

Locally transmitted cases are surfacing more frequently as the government tries to contain the epidemic. As of March 29, Pakistan has over 1500 cases with 28 recovered patients and 16 deaths.

Malik Ashdar Paramedic Nagar Gilgit-Baltistan - COVID-19 Coronavirus deaths
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COVID-19 Precautions

Follow these steps to help slow the spread of the virus and to reduce the risk of infection:

➡️ Wash your hands with soap and water regularly and thoroughly; this means for at least 20 seconds

➡️ Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a clean tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin

➡️ Stay 1.5 meters away from others. If you are sick, stay home

➡️ If you’re feeling sick or showing symptoms of coronavirus, you should call your designated numbers in your city for advice.

➡️ For more information and tips to help improve your safety and wellbeing, visit the Federal Government’s official website


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