28 Oct 2012
Last few days had been really hectic for General Beg and his face showed it. He didn’t had a moment of rest during last 2 days and his eyes were puffy and red from cigarette smoke and endless cups of tea consumed in that period. Right after his announcement of martial law on TV, he had called a meeting to discuss his future course of action with some of his trusted army and civilian officers. He had decided to keep most of the civilian bureaucratic setup unchanged for the moment to deflect some domestic pressure. All of the cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats were to continue their work as usual. But a few changes in Army were inevitable and officers loyal to him reaped all the benefits in form of promotions and transfers to desirable places. For General Beg, it was a necessity to consolidate his position rather than a thing to reward his cronies. All the promoted and transferred officers were supposed to take up their commands within 24 hours but nobody was complaining. The officers who had to vacate their posts to make way for these new beneficiaries were sure to complain, but they didn’t know of it yet.
After the meeting was over, he poured himself a stiff drink of scotch and called for his car to take him to his residence. Drive to his official bungalow took barely 10 minutes on a crowded day, it was going to be even shorter in these wee hours. He finished his drink leisurely and ambled out of the front door of the building towards his waiting bullet-proof car. A body guard who usually sat alongside his driver in front seat saluted smartly and opened the back door for him. Beg got in the back seat and closed his eyes as the driver slowly eased his car out of the driveway. 22 heavily armed commandos in 7 cars and SUVs surrounded the car and escorted him.
He felt mobile phone in his pocket vibrating signaling arrival of a new sms, but he ignored it for the moment. Nobody sent him any sms apart from his 12 years old son, but he should’ve been fast asleep now. He opened his eyes just minutes later when his driver stopped the car in front of the bomb proof gate of his bungalow . There was a lawn almost 70 meters across between the gate and bunalow with a narrow paved driveway joining the two. Even though all the lights in the lawn were on, those inside the house were off, except for a single bulb on the porch of front entrance.
He yawned and took his phone out to read the message. In the meantime gate was opened and first car of his convoy started entering the premises. He fumbled with the buttons to get to message inbox and smiled quizzically when he read his son name as the sender of message. “It’s a little late for the little monkey to be up . Even the lights of whole house are off.”
He pressed the read button to open the message and his smiled disappeared at once. It was very short and read, “Bad men inside. Donot come Send help.”.
He immediately asked his driver to stop the car. All of his convoy behind him rolled to a stop. He snatched the walkie-talkie from the guard in front seat and hailed Major Sohail riding in leading SUV of convoy. “There’s a situation Major Sohail. I think my family is being held hostage inside the house.”
“What ! I don’t understand sir” Sohail exclaimed.
“ I just received this message from my son warning me that some bad men are inside and that I should send help.”
“ Asif is not of prankster type. Any idea who or what are we dealing with ?”
“No. He didn’t tell. I’m trying to call him but his phone is switched off. We need to act fast. “
“Agreed. General. I’m calling for additional forces from the HQ. Meanwhile we’ll check the house ourselves. You stay in your vehicle sir.”
“ Alright. Hurry but be very careful. “
Sohail immediately gathered his men and ordered 12 of them to take positions around the house and guard the general. All the windows of the house were barricaded by grills and there were only two entrances to the house, one each in front and back. guarded by 2 armed soldiers at all times. He split rest of his men in two 5 member teams, one for each entrance and decided to lead the one entering through the front door himself.
Running towards the door he prayed that Asif was indeed playing a prank on his father for once. If he was not, all his men were in serious trouble. The bad guys inside the house must already have him and rest of his team in their gun sights all this while. Feeling of butterflies in his stomach got worse as he neared the front entrance. Two guards who were supposed to be there at all times were missing. Just then Hav. Yaqub leading his 2nd search team informed him that there were no guards on back entrance either . For a moment he considered waiting for the backup to arrive. After all, it wouldn’t take 10 minutes for them to reach here. He brushed away these thoughts from his mind . He was a professional soldier trained for all kinds of situations. Backup or no backup, it was his duty to complete the mission assigned to him.
About 10 metres from the door he thought that he saw somebody moving on the balcony on 1st floor. He was about to hail whoever was there, when he saw a flash and heard the whooshing sound typical of a RPG-69. Before he had the time to react, the rocket smashed in to the ground right in the middle of his team and exploded. 2 of his team members were blown to pieces while the rest were thrown off their feet by impact of the blast. As he struggled to get up and return fire, he heard sounds of heavy gunfire and grenade blasts coming from back of the house, right were his 2nd team was supposed to be. He shouted at the survivors of his team to follow him as he ran towards the cover behind the heavy flower pots around the entrance. This time his approach was interrupted by a hail of heavy AK 47 gunfire and remaining 2 commandos following him dropped dead. He himself was hit by a bullet in left leg, but managed to crawl up behind cover of a flower pot where he lay bleeding, unable to move or fire back at his attackers.
General Beg was watching this carnage from the back seat of his car. 10 of his men were down without even firing a single bullet. His car was hidden from the house by a row of trees and decorative bushes, but they’ll provide no cover from the bullets once the intruders in the house start firing in his direction. He had no idea how many people were inside and could only guess their intentions. He only knew that they were very heavily armed and had his family hostage. Only thing he could do was to wait for backup from HQ to arrive. Till then, it’ll be better if he got himself out of their weapons range.
He ordered rest of his men to get in cars and get out of the bungalow. His driver immediately started the engine and put the car into reverse gear. His convoy, now reduced to 4 cars started backing up towards the gate at a high speed.
It was time to pay back for their second mistake. They had completely forgotten about the guards on the gate. As the first car neared the gate, one of the 3 guards on duty fired a RPG on it killing 3 commandos who were in it. Other 2 started firing from their assault rifles. Survivors took cover and started firing back. Guard who had fired the RPG was killed as he was trying to reload it. Just then, intruders in the house directed their small arms fire towards the convoy.
Inside his bulletproof car Beg was frantically shouting into the walkie-talkie calling for backup. Major Aslam answered him, “I’m almost at the gates of your bungalow General, but how do we get in ? “
General Beg was furious, “What do you mean by that ?”
“Your gate and boundary wall are bullet proof and bomb proof, designed to keep armed intruders out.”
“For God’s sake, just blow up the damned thing using C4 charges. I don’t care if you use up whole stock. We are being shot to hell from 2 sides. 13 of my men are dead already. “
“Understood sir. My men are placing the charges now. “
Moments later, whole compound shook when the C4 charges planted by men of Major Aslam’s team exploded. One of the guards near the gate was knocked down by the flying debris. Explosions also disoriented the third and last guard who was killed when he tried to run across the lawn towards the house.