Thalassemic teenager ‘joins’ Pakistan Army

By Awais Saleem, IANS,

Islamabad : A 15-year-old boy suffering from thalassemia made history on the 64th independence day of Pakistan by joining the armed forces for one day, media reports said.

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Abdul Basit had expressed his desire through an NGO to join the Pakistan Army as his life’s dream.

Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, taking special interest in the boy’s wish, allowed him to join armed forces for a day Aug 14.

The boy reported to a unit of the Punjab Regiment in Karachi’s Malir Cantt early morning and went through all the drills with other soldiers. He also took part in the flag-hoisting ceremony.

After spending a busy day in the regiment, he was presented with a certificate by the General Officer Commanding, Maj. Gen. Asfand Yar Khan.

Basit, though very weak and fragile because of his ailment, put on a military uniform like a professional soldier, the Associated Press of Pakistan said.

A jubilant Basit said that his life-long desire had been fulfilled and he would cherish every minute of this day spent as a soldier for the rest of his life.

His father Abdul Khaliq said he never imagined that his son’s wish could be fulfilled like this. He thanked the army chief and NGO Make a Wish Foundation for making it possible. Amongst Khaliq’s six children, three are thalassemia patients.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at [email protected])