RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN —
Pakistan has lost more than 5,000 security personnel in the fight against terrorists and militants since 2001. The campaign has also wounded some 10,000 regular and paramilitary troops. The steep toll has resulted in improved care at the army’s top rehab center in Rawalpindi, where doctors help troops get back on their feet.
These are small, but significant steps taken by Aman Ullah, who lost both of his legs more than a year ago in Khyber, a volatile tribal district on the Afghan border.
The 23-year-old Aman Ullah is one of the thousands of Pakistani soldiers coping with wounds sustained in Pakistan’s ongoing fight against militant groups. Most are wounded by blasts from improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
“I was part of FC, you know, the Frontier Corps [paramilitary force] convoy when a roadside IED planted in a vehicle exploded. I lost both my legs and received multiple injuries all around my body,” said Ullah.
“We were engaged in an operation against extremists in the Mohmand agency when one of their bullets hit me in the leg and I lost it,” explained Arif Hussain, another patient recovering from his injuries.
After recovering from major surgeries at Rawalpindi’s Armed Forces Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM), Aman Ullah and several colleagues are now hoping to take part in the next Paralympics.
Their inspiration is South African Oscar Pistorius, who became the first double amputee Olympian in London last year - long before he faced charges of murder.
“When I saw the boy [Oscar] from South Africa on television racing with a horse and competing in the games I decided that Inshallah [God willing] next year I will also do that and compete with that young man,” Ullah added.
Head of the army-run rehabilitation center, Major-General Akhtar Waheed, is proud of the progress made in treating patients with multiple amputations.
“I had a few patients with three amputations and one patient with four limb amputations. So I think you have seen them in today’s event and they are not less than any normal person,” he said.
The experience of treating thousands of patients over the years has led to improved surgical practices, more useful artificial limbs and better facilities to help patients again stand on their feet. With army operations continuing in Pakistan’s turbulent tribal districts, there are plans to further expand the facility.