A tear for you, dear soldier
There are very few images which have the power to draw out the deepest emotions of the seer. These are the snapshots which really make you empathise with the subjects of the photograph - you try to imagine yourself in the same circumstances, under the same context and events pictured.
One such image was that of the 15 FC troops killed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants on January 5. Fifteen men, all from less privileged economic contexts, standing hand in hand with the realisation firm in their bosoms that life ends at this moment.
It is a sepoy, a ‘jawan’ who commands the respect of most Pakistanis. These men epitomised by the bare simplicity of human soul, were one of the most formative influences in my childhood too.
Having lived my life mostly in military cantonments, seeing these men go around camp fires singing traditional ‘tappas’ or Ataullah’s immortal ‘Thewa’, accompanying them for their various ‘langar’ meals at noon, sharing with them the Kashmir tea were the most rewarding experiences any child could have.
The Pakistan Army has had it shares of blunders and successes. It has had to come to terms with the fall of Dhaka and its interventions in the civilian affairs of the country are to be condemned in the strongest words. Balochistan is another sorry tale altogether.
The sepoy on the other hand has been utterly selfless in his service to the country he believes in. Be it the successes of the Rann of Kutch skirmishes, 1948’s Kashmir march or the defence of Lahore by a few heroic units in 1965, it is the sepoy who has always been there at the frontlines of battle.
Promises of lucrative plots do not cross his mind; aspirations to be at the seat of authority are not his concern - what only matters is his call for duty. Then, there were these images.
This war, this terrible war, will one day indeed come to an end. A time will also come when both sides of the conflict are held accountable for the atrocities that were committed.
It is an old man’s adage that sins of war always weigh heavy on one’s soul.
I hope they do. When those self-styled ‘men of God’ executed the 15 FC men, I hope that they remember the service they did to the religion they claim to be defending. That realisation, itself, will be retribution weighing enough.
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