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Pakistan’s soldiers: The sons of our soil

Since 1984, the Pakistan Army has been fighting a war on the highest battlefield of the world, the Siachen Glacier. Although there have been periods of temporary ceasefire, they have always been followed by severe aggression from both sides.

During one such hostile period in 1987, a high altitude post of the Pakistan Army at the Siachen Glacier was commanded by my uncle who was then a captain. He had been there for five months and had no hope of being relieved in the near future because of the escalated tensions and harsh weather. One day he was sitting with his troops in the igloo listening to a radio program that aired from Islamabad.

One soldier was peeling potatoes for dinner, another was reading a letter from home, possibly for the hundredth time and two were lying in their sleeping bags trying to rest since sleep was usually the last thing on their minds. They had numbed themselves to the memories of their homes and families.

In the program on the radio, listeners would call in and ask for their requests to be played along with a small message. My uncle told me that after a few such calls, the radio host began to read a letter which was probably sent by a soldier’s wife or relative. The letter read that the sender wanted to dedicate a song to a young soldier who had gone to war at Siachen and was sitting somewhere far away from home, unable to call back. The letter said that he/she wanted this song to be dedicated to this soldier whom all his friends and family missed dearly.

The host, without missing a beat added,

“We will play this song for your friend and for all our brothers-in-arms who are away from their families, in unknown location and perhaps, in very difficult conditions only so that we all can be safe, enjoying the warmth of our homes and our families. For that, we are all very grateful to them.”

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