VT Mourns: Major Raja Mujtaba Dead

Raja and Jeff Gates, taken in Islamabad by Gordon Duff
Raja and Jeff Gates, taken in Islamabad by Gordon Duff

By Gordon Duff

I spoke with Raja Monday.  He was buried today, reported as cardiac arrest.
Raja was a close personal friend.  There is little I could say that would be adequate.  I will work on something.  There have been few in my life I have admired as much.  We are one fewer today.

I am getting to where I can write something, hours later.  Perhaps a short story.
Raja, Jeff and I had spent several days meeting Pakistan’s elite, TV interviews, debates, briefings and high tea with the likes of Sirohey, Beg and others.
We were in the hills well north of Islamabad, just the 3 of us, no security details and ISI watchers.  We were walking down a small road lined with tiny shops.  Jeff and I were buying souvenirs.  The area was relatively remote but quite beautiful.
We came to a small shop, my guess no more than 50 square feet. The entire contents would have filled no more than a half dozen boxes, all neatly displayed.  A single light bulb overhead and a wire town to an electric kettle.
There was an old man, and considering Raja is dead and Jeff and I “not so young,” mid 70s or more, bearded very erect, dignified, even stately.  He had been Raja’s sergeant when Raja was a tank platoon commander during the 1967 War.
Raja had brought us there to have tea, foam cups, tea bags, with his sergeant in that tiny shop, probably above 8000 feet or more.  Raja brought the American “dignitaries” to meet who Raja respected more than the generals and party officials he knew so well.
This was where Raja belonged.

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