Martyrs Never Die
The martyrs were from Karachi and interior Sindh, from Punjab, Balochistan, Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They were in Siachen not to secure a plot or a seat in parliament. They came to serve the motherland. God and all Pakistanis should look after their children.
By ADNAN GILL | Wednesday | 11 April 2012 | The News International
“ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—One hundred and thirty-nine brave Pakistanis, 124 of whom were members of the Pakistani army, lie buried under 80 feet of snow on the Siachen Glacier after an avalanche crashed down on a battalion headquarters at Gyari near Skardu on Saturday. The massive avalanche which hit before dawn while the victims were sleeping was 1,000 meters long and 25 meters wide.
On Sunday military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said it was not clear whether any of the victims were still alive. As these lines are written, hopes are rapidly fading, as not a single survivor or body has been dug out from the snow. Funeral prayers have already been offered in Pakistan for the victims of the tragedy.
Pakistanis should not think of them as dead but as living, because they laid down their lives for the motherland. God has instructed us to remember such people as martyrs, and martyrs never die. The martyrs of Siachen are going to be in good company in heaven, with all the heroes who laid down their lives in defense of our frontiers.
The people of Pakistan should not let the tragedy lower their morale. The morale of Pakistani officers and men is as high as ever. As Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff, said in a statement in reaction to the incident, that the tragedy “in no way should affect the morale of the troops defending the motherland at the highest battlefield.”
Gen Kayani, who visited the site on Sunday to personally supervise the rescue effort, gave the assurance that the army and the air force had mobilized all available resources for the operation. In his instructions to local commanders, he asked them to “utilize all available resources” and “leave no stone unturned” in their efforts to find those buried under the snow.
Indeed the Pakistani army did not leave any stone unturned. The valiant members of the search and rescue teams, who joined the effort defying tremendous difficulties including the freezing cold and the fierce wind, used sniffer dogs and specialized heavy machinery for digging. More than 200 army personnel pressed ahead although extreme weather conditions had worsened by fresh heavy snowfall. Even daytime temperatures plunged to minus 15 degrees Celsius.
The Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram Mountain Range is the world’s highest battleground at more than 20,000 feet, where Pakistani and Indian soldiers are facing each other since 1984. The terrain is extremely inhospitable and the temperatures can plunge as low as minus 150 degrees C. More soldiers die from cold and bad weather, blizzards and the icy winds than in fighting. There has not been much fighting since Pakistan and India declared a ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, where the Siachen Glacier is.
There is no ethnic distinction between these martyrs. Among them are Punjabis, Pathans, Baloch, Sindhis and Urdu-speaking Pakistanis. They laid down their lives to enable us to return to our children and our families in the safety of our homes all over Pakistan. These 139 martyrs did everything to make sure that Pakistan’s borders are secure and the citizens of the country continue to live in honor, dignity and freedom.
None of the individual among the martyrs lost his life arrived on the Siachen Glacier to secure a piece of agricultural land or a residential, or a seat in parliament in the future. But who will look after the martyrs’ family and children? God and Pakistanis from all walks of life who have a desire to serve the motherland.
The dedication of the martyrs of the Siachen Tragedy will be a source of inspiration for generations of Pakistanis to come.”
This op-ed appeared in The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper.