By: Tabish Qayyum
It’s been few days, already. No sign of survivors, No indication of life, not a single body, not a single voice. Hundreds of soldier’s frantically search for their lost fighters buried deep down in worlds highest battle ground ever heard in the history of Mankind.
The worst enemy, weather continues to threaten what could be the most miraculous survival for any of Pakistan’s 6th Northern Light infantry valiant soldier, if he eventually makes it. Apparently, it’s becoming a futile effort on top of the ground, and to add insult to the injury the weather dims the hope with each passing moment.
I was wondering, what these soldiers mean to us, away from home in places we would not even think of in wildest of imaginations, these men defend us. I had been involved in many of the past relief efforts in natural calamities that we as a nation have gone through; Earth quakes of 2005 or Floods in 2010-11, our men in uniform were there, digging people out from debris and cutting the beams to pull them out of fallen roofs in Balakot, perhaps providing shelters and food to families stranded on mountain tops.
They were among the first ones who held the hands of those drowning in flood water, In short, these sons never gave us a reason to complain when they were called or looked upon.
Today, they remain hidden beneath layers and layers of Snow and Ice, some already departed and some still fighting their way out in areas where none of us can reach. The way they sprang to our help when we needed them, we are unable to even take a single step in their direction. Let’s for a second, try to dig few feets of this 80ft snow with bare hands and have a look at the adversity that struck them.
It was 5 Am when the avalanche struck, most of them would already be on their praying mats, some of them on guard and many of them still in their sleeping bags. A sudden impact and ground shaking sound would have alerted few only for few seconds before the actual tragedy unfolded. Having no idea of the technicalities of the speed and gravity of an avalanche in such conditions, I can only assume that it wouldn’t be less than, any mountain falling directly over head.
Beneath the snow when it was them and their lord, many stories of courage and determination will also remain unheard. Virtually making the barracks a large grave covered with tons of snow, many of these men would have instantly given up on their breath and only few might have been allowed a little room to add few hours or may be days before they will finally succumb to harshness of their trial. Some of them would have made an effort for a while and some might still be fighting their way out.
As I write these lines, in the comfort of my room, I am unable to represent the true agony, in fact no one can describe what these men embraced. Given one second, minute, hour, day or perhaps weak by the remaining life, what would these, once father, brothers, sons be thinking?
Faces of their loved ones would be popping in their minds the most, the lovely tricks children play when they used to return home from duty, how passionately siblings loved and took pride in them telling their friends about how metal-hard their brother was; how shockingly parents used to hear their tales of courage and they would be thinking how their wives looked at them with shyness and innocent complains in their eyes, for being so late at home. Yes, all of this would have spinned their brave minds.
Then, they would have looked upon their lives, how they were inspired by the courage of 1965 and how hurt they were on the events on 1971, how enthusiastic they were for Kashmir and how immensely they loved – Pakistan; first day at Military academy, first day they wore uniform and the first day they held the gun with an oath to protect the land carved in the name of Islam.
One can only assume the mesmerizing communication that would have taken place between them and their lord, the one the loved the most in the freezing night, the one they trusted the most, the one who never left them alone when they were literally cut off from the place called World. They would have been compassionate for their job was near done. They proved true to their oath, honest to their commitment and dedicated to their desire of martyrdom that would have been inches away.
When thinking about their visions and dreams, they would have certainly tried to raise their hands or at least positioned them in a way a supplication is made, they would have prayed for our prosperity and security and they would have hoped that their fallen guns will be picked up, and the enemy will not dare to cross an inch from where they stood guarding the dreams of Pakistan. They wouldn’t have regretted the loss of their lives; in fact they would be only yearning for the defense of Pakistan, for which they were buried alive. When they will meet their Lord on the Day of Judgment, they will request him to be allowed to return and die again in his way. Yes, these will be the martyrs with an unending resolve.
I could not possibly hold back my mind from flashing these painful last moments, as tear roll down, I feel worthless when my defenders lay undefended. What worries me is not the coldness that surrounds them, instead it’s the coldness of our hearts that fears me, fashion shows never stopped, no mourning and national unity witnessed, no patriotic atmosphere seen.
It’s just like another day for us, I ask myself, were these normal lives that went away? No life is less valuable, but these sons were priceless. How many of us have raised hands once since this news broke? Let’s be honest, if anyone of us has had the opportunity to read a will of martyrs, do see it. Most of them write a famous line at the end, “Hamari Shahadat ki Qabooliat ki dua kijeay ga…” – Pray for the acceptance of our Martrydom.
In the most testing and closing moments of their lives, beneath the Ice, a moment would have come when seconds away from freezing to death they would have said their last ‘Salam Sar Zameen e Pakistan’ – I wish, we learn what Pakistan, meant for them.
Walaikum assalam, my 135 brothers, we owe you nothing less than our lives.