On Sunday 28th April 2019, the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, in cooperation with the Royal British Legion Scotland, held a Christian-Muslim service at Kingussie Cemetery to commemorate members of the K6 Force Royal Indian Army Service Corps who fell during the Second World War.
Kingussie hosts the largest concentration of Muslim soldiers’ graves from the K6 Force.
The service was conducted by Sayed Razawi, Chief Imam and Director General of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, and Rev Catherine Buchan, Church of Scotland Minister at Kingussie Parish Church.
The event highlighted the work of Isobel Harling, who has selflessly and tirelessly cared for the graves of these Muslim soldiers for over 6 decades, and who as a young person watched some of them being buried.
The solemn and emotional service gave dignitaries and residents of Kingussie, including the local Army Cadets, the chance to live an important lesson: to recognise the shared sacrifices made by Muslims and others that have shaped the world of today.
We are grateful to Major Heather Lawrie for her guidance and tireless work to ensure the successful planning and execution of the event. We thank the Royal British Legion Scotland, particularly its President Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Stuart Hastings Irwin, KCB CBE, for their immense support and cooperation. Thank you also to the Church of Scotland for its support. And we thank Frank Ross, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, for provision of hospitality at The Silverfjord Hotel at Kingussie.
We are gratefully to the Highland Council convener Bill Lobban and other distinguished guests who laid wreaths to honour the fallen Muslim Soldiers.
We would like to specially mention the son of the late Col. Girdhari Singh, Captain Kuldeep Singh Solanki who came from India specifically to attend the service. And thank you to all who attended from Kingussie and the local council representatives.
Also, we are grateful for the generous support received from H.E.Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, the Pakistan High Commission, London UK.
Memorial Ceremony: Tribute to Muslim Soldiers, High Commissioner thanks Lady Harling for her dedication
A Memorial Ceremony was held at Kingussie Cemetery, Scotland, to pay tribute to nine Muslim soldiers, buried there, belonging to the areas that are now part of Pakistan. Mr. Hamish Johnston named the buried site in his historical account; “A Corner of Pakistan in Scotland.” These soldiers were posted to Scotland in WW2 and had died during that period.
The Memorial Ceremony was arranged by Royal British Legion Scotland, Scottish Ahlul Bait Society and the locals.
Ms. Isobel Harling, who had witnessed the burial as a young girl, had been paying tribute to these Muslim soldiers by laying wreath since 1947 regularly.
Ms. Harling, who is in her nineties, also attended the Memorial Ceremony this year. But this year it was different for her as High Commissioner Nafees Zakaria acknowledged her selfless dedication for those Muslim soldiers.
President of the Royal British Legion Scotland, Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE read out the High Commissioner’s letter of Gratitude for Ms. Isobel.
The High Commissioner’s message read:
“Your affectionate gesture to pay tribute to these brave men every year is a testimony of your sincerity and respect for those who served and sacrificed their precious lives, away from their homes and families in distant lands such as Britain to give the world a safe and better tomorrow. Indeed, their courage and sense of duty did not go in vain, as they are remembered for their services and sacrifices.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Pakistan, I thank you and wish you happiness and good health. The members of 1.5 million Pakistani Diaspora in the UK are also deeply appreciative of your thoughtful gesture.
“We are proud of the historic role our armed forces played for the world peace. With over 8,000 troops serving in seven UN Peacekeeping Missions across the globe in the most difficult situation, Pakistan is among the highest troops contributor to the UN peace keeping operations.”
The High Commissioner would also visit Ms. Harling in near future to personally pay his respects to the Lady.