Oxford launches book on a Pakistani POW's experiences

Present at the launch were (from l to r): Brig. Muhammad Taj addressing the audience; Brig. A.R. Siddiqi; Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan; Ikram Sehgal; and the Chief Guest, Imran Khan.

The photograph shows Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan, presenting a copy of the book launched to the Chief Guest, Imran Khan. Brig. A.R. Siddiqi (extreme left), Ikram Sehgal (centre), and Brig. Muhammad Taj (extreme right) are also seen in the photo.

Seen at the launch are (from l to r): Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan; the Chief Guest, Imran Khan; and Brig. Muhammad Taj.

Karachi, 11 July: Oxford University Press launched its latest publication Escape from Oblivion: The Story of a Pakistani Prisoner of War in India written by Ikram Sehgal. Following the 1971 rebellion in the then East Pakistan, Ikram Sehgal, a Pakistan Army officer, was taken a Prisoner of War (POW) in India after being handed over to the Indian Army. Throughout 1971, around a hundred POWs remained undeclared by India. Kept in solitary confinement, Sehgal escaped on the hundredth day of captivity, becoming the first ever Pakistan Army officer to successfully escape from an Indian POW Camp. Compiled from the original notes jotted down by the author during the period of his de-briefing on return to Pakistan, this fascinating book provides an insider's account of conditions under Indian custody. It is a gripping tale of individual courage, of disparate friendships made in adverse circumstances, and of the will to survive. 

Ikram Sehgal graduated from the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul, in October 1965. Commissioned into 2E Bengal (Junior Tigers), he served the regiment till 1968, before qualifying as a pilot in Army Aviation where he served from 1968 to 1971. Sehgal was posted to 44 Punjab (now 4 Sindh) in November 1971. He saw action as Company Commander in the Thar Desert, getting 'battlefield promotion' to the rank of Major on 13 December 1971. He took part in counter-guerrilla operations in Balochistan in 1973 before leaving the Pakistan Army. He then worked as a commercial pilot before setting up his own business in 1977. He is currently Chairman, Pathfinder Group Pakistan, which includes two of the largest private security companies in the country. Ikram Sehgal is a regular contributor of articles in newspapers and also appears on current affairs programmes on television in his capacity as a 'defence and security analyst'. 

The speakers present at the launch included Javed Jabbar, Lt Gen. Ali Kuli Khan, Brig. Muhammad Taj, and Brig. A.R. Siddiqi. Imran Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, was the Chief Guest at the function. The speakers were of the view that Ikram Sehgal's efforts to escape from Indian custody at great risk to his life is a tribute to his loyalty to his country and to the courage of his convictions. In his concluding remarks, Ikram Sehgal said that such men who fight against all the odds of war are to be eulogized for what they believe in, even if their views and aspirations thereof are contrary to each other. Earlier, in her welcome address, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan, said, "The book we are launching this evening belongs to the category of books often known as an 'unputdownable'. More so because we know that the story is true and recounts one of the episodes that bring history alive."