GILGIT: A decade after the Kargil war, relatives of Ghulam Haider who was killed by enemy fire, are still waiting for news about his body.
Haider, 33, resident of remote Chipurson valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, was a soldier in the Northern Lights Infantry when he died in the line of duty. His body has not been found, a fact that continues to haunt his family to this day.
“We know Haider died in the line of duty but the fact that we have not received his body or any clue leading to it is even more painful,” his brother Ehsan Ali told The Express Tribune.
“It would have been a great consolation for us and especially his widow if we had been able to bury him in our ancestral graveyard, with the Pakistani flag draped around his coffin,” said the grieving brother.
He requested the government to make an alternative arrangement to pay tribute to his brother so his 10-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter could be proud of being a martyr’s children.
A plot promised by the government for Haider’s widow and children has still not come through.
Soon after his martyrdom, Ali said the government had sent them a letter promising them to allot a piece of land to his family as a reward for Haider’s sacrifice. But we have not heard of it since, he said.
“We have practically lost hope now.” The government paid Rs1.3 million as compensation to his family with which we constructed a house for the widow and his two children in Sost village and invested the rest, he said.
Haider died on the world’s highest battlefield — Siachen — on July 7, 1999 in shelling by the Indian army that also killed Colonel Capt. Sher Khan, who was later awarded Pakistan’s highest military award, the Nishan-i-Haider.
The body of Sher Khan was identified by the Pakistan government soon after the war. Ali, does not rule out the possibility of some miracle even today.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2012.