Adnan Sarwar

Adnan Sarwar

Adnan Sarwar is a filmmaker and writer and a former soldier in the British Army.

Zaitunay Bay, Beirut


Don”€™t Come for the War

I landed at Rafic Hariri Airport at five in the morning. Friends had asked if Beirut was dangerous. I wanted to see. Basra had surprised me in the war, it was pleasant around the fighting"€”bartering for ice, chatting with locals, playing football ...

Zayn Malik


Carry On

Three thousand miles from the fighting in Syria I was sat with Pakistanis who definitely wouldn’t be giving up their lives here in London for Raqqa. They fit somewhere inside the label of Muslim. Muslim can mean what you want it to. I bristle ...


Shorn of Individuality

In Basic Training, we were given a set of civilian clothes which had to be worn whenever we weren"€™t in uniform. It was another uniform to make us all the same, they said. The barber's clipper performed the same function. Week One saw new ...


Moonlight Over Basra

One of my sergeant majors was an airborne soldier and what he said was gospel to us. We young soldiers saw the wings on his arm and asked him what parachuting was like. He said it was the second-best feeling in the world. When we asked him the first ...


When the Towers Fell

September 11 happened as soon as I"€™d gotten to my first regiment. It was just after lunch and our full bellies were satisfied as they worked away on fish and chips, pudding and tea. The Army fed you well when at camp; in the field it was all ...


The Futility of Cleanliness

The Army was obsessed with cleanliness. We"€™d crane our necks around the bottoms of toilets and plumbing pipes until we could see our tired faces in them. We"€™d show off our pipes to the other lads and say ours were better. Corporals wearing ...


In the Shadow of the Yanks

Everything was bigger with the Yanks: their soldiers, their food, and their imaginations. I was in the cookhouse with them in Kuwait before we tore across the border. We Brits had small ration boxes and they had three times the food. We had come to ...


Building Bridges and Making Soldiers

The Royal Engineers did anything the Army needed"€”from building bridges to crossing rivers, from building camps to clearing mines"€”so they needed to be tough soldiers. They needed to be able to take shit all day and all night and still carry ...


Ours Was Not to Reason Why

Tony Blair was interrupted at the Leveson Inquiry last week by a protestor calling him a war criminal. It seems the Iraq War won"€™t go away for Blair. Leadership involves getting people to do what you want them to, even when they don"€™t want ...


A Millionaire in the Danger Zone

Sunil* was a well-fed Indian shipping millionaire. I"€™d heard about him through people who worked for him. I was helping the British Army build a prison in Iraq and would wonder about Sunil. He was in charge, the workers would say, although he ...


The Bore War

War is supposed to be full of action. Men are supposed to dive over barbed wire and charge at the enemy while being shot. The enemy is supposed to be tough and unrelenting but eventually die or surrender. War is supposed to be noisy and bullets are ...


Last Letters

"€œI want you to shoot me,"€ he said. He must have been joking. It was a struggle to drive, never mind listen to rubbish like this, but he was serious. I was following an American Humvee in the middle of a Kuwaiti night in 2003. Under the ...

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