The Pakistan Army takes a leading part in games and sports. It is justly proud of its major contribution towards raising the country’s athletic standards. Pakistan’s impressive progress since its entry into national and international events is due mainly to the efforts of the army.
All the Army’s best players and athletes were first discovered and later attained their high standard in these meets; thanks largely to the interest taken in them by the Army Sports Control Board under Brigadier C.H.B. Rodham. Sport in the Army owes a great deal to this officer.
It may be interesting to record here the Army’s contribution to various games and sports. In athletics it has always reigned supreme. Army athletes hold all the National athletic records and improve on them every year. Their contribution to the Nation’s prestige in international events is also considerable. Of the existing Asian athletic records, Pakistan holds seven, as against Japan’s six and India’s five; and of the seven held by Pakistan, six are held by the Army athletes. Subedar Muhammad Iqbal and Jemadar Jalal Khan have held the British Commonwealth and Empire records for the hammer-throw and javelin-throw respectively, 50,000 spectators at the White City Stadium in London stood up and applauded the stylish and handsome Muhammad Iqbal for three minutes for his record-breaking throw in a friendly competition in 1958. Jemadar Muhammad Nawaz broke the British Commonwealth and Empire record for the javelin-throw in July 1960 at the same stadium during the British Athletic Associations Championship. Of the twelve athletes selected to take part in the Olympic Games in 1960, eleven belonged to the Army.
Since the start of the National Hockey Championship, the Army has won twice and has been runner-up on three occasions. Contribution to the Nation’s hockey can be judged from the fact that the team which won the World Championship in hockey in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, consisted of eight Army players including the captain of the Pakistani team, Major A. Hamid. The Army is the chief patron of boxing in the country and has won the last four National Championships. Out of the five boxers who formed the Pakistani team to the Asian Games in Tokyo in 1958, four were army men, three of whom won medals. The four boxers, selected after a long and arduous training to represent Pakistan in the 1960 Olympics at Rome, were all soldiers; three were serving and one was ex-serviceman. The army also leads the country in swimming, diving and water polo, and holds all the National swimming records. The seven-men National swimming team which participated in the Asian Games in Tokyo in 1958, consisted entirely of Army men. The Army is also prominent in other games such as football, basket ball, squash and gymnastics. The Army’s standing in National games and sports can be gauged from the fact that it has continuously held the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy since 1950. This trophy was the personal donation of the Father of the Nation to be awarded to the service or province giving the best overall performances and displaying the best sportsmanship at all the games included in the National Olympic Championships.
The Army is making rapid progress in mountaineering knowledge and technique, and a cadre of experienced mountaineers is gradually being formed. About six foreign mountaineering expeditions visit the Karadoram each year, and the Army details a liaison officer to assist each one. In the past two years, however, several foreign mountaineering expeditions have taken with them some of our army officers as full-fledged climbing members. The 1958 American Karakoram Expedition to Gasherbrum I (26,000 feet) took two officers as climbing members with them; Captain S.T.H. Rizvi of the Armoured Corps reached a height of 22,500 feet. In the same year the British-Pakistan Forces Himlayan Expedition to Rakaposhi (25,600 feet) took two Pakistani army officers as climbing members and Captain Muhammad Shah Khan of the Gilgit Scouts reached the topmost camp, only to be prevented by sickness from making the final assault on the summit.
Three more officers accompanied the Pakistan/ British mountaineering expedition to Molubiting (24,200 feet) in 1959 and one of them, Captain Raja Javed Akhtar, reached the height of 23,600 feet. Finally, in July 1960, Captain Raja Javed Akhtar with two other officers accompanied the American mountaineering expedition to Masherbrum (25,660 feet) Captain Akhtar reached the summit with Mr. Nicholas B. Clinch, the leader of the expedition. This was a notable achievement, being the first time that a Pakistani had reached the summit of a major peak.
The Army’s contribution to sport is not confined to the provision of good performers for the National teams. It provides expert coaching for civilian sportsmen and offers them training-camp facilities annually. It also guides and helps the Pakistan Sports Control Board in organizing major national and international sporting events. The universities and colleges can, and do, share the services of army experts.