Siachen tragedy: With hopes crushed, soldier’s widow seeks reason

Sughran Bibi only has one question: What exactly did her husband die for. PHOTO: INP

Sughran Bibi only has one question: What exactly did her husband die for. PHOTO: INPRiaz’s family lives in a small mud house located on the top of Agaz Khel mountains in Pahar Pur tehsil, near Dera Ismail Khan. PHOTO: ZULFIQAR ALI/EXPRESS

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Sughran Bibi lost her voice the moment she heard about the possible death of her husband, Muhammad Riaz.

With the radio blasting the news of the avalanche in Siachen and the entire house crying out her husband’s name, a stunned Sughran just fell to the ground.

But with her voice back, albeit weak, she only has one question: What exactly did her husband die for?

Married for only a year and a half, Riaz was one of the 129 soldiers and 11 civilians martyred when a glacier hit the Giari sector in Siachen where they were deployed on April 7, 2012.

Sughran, 25, hardly got to spend any time with Riaz. “I have lost all hope. Riaz is dead; we used to talk on the phone with each other once a week and now I don’t hear his voice at all,” she shared with The Express Tribune.

She is also five months pregnant with his child.

Now, every time a journalist visits her, she wants to know what the Siachen dispute is about and what her husband died for.

The morning after the radio broadcast, Riaz’s brother, Muhammad Tariq, contacted the telephone exchange set up in Giari, which confirmed that Riaz was on duty when the glacier hit. Riaz’s father, Allah Dad Khan, 66, is also devastated by the loss of his son, “a person of soft temper and kind hearted.” He added that he now constantly worries about the future of Sughran.

The family lives in a small mud house located on top of the Agaz Khel Mountains , near Dera Ismail khan.

Agaz Khel is a small village where people mostly earn a living through their cattle. “Sughran along with other members of the family used to take care of seven cows, and 19 goats.  She was so active but now she is in depression,” Allah Dad told The Express Tribune.

For Riaz’s mother Bakhturah Bibi, 62, she says she only finds peace in knowing that her other son is retiring from the army soon and will move back with them. “The void left by Riaz’s death will be filled by him,” she said, adding that learning of her son’s death nearly killed her.

Riaz joined Pakistan Army in 2005 and after training in Gilgit, he was sent to Wana, South Waziristan. He was also deployed in Liberia, before being shifted to Siachen.

With the voices of their loved-ones forever muted, many other victims’ family members, like Sughran, are now in search for another voice to tell them that their husbands, brothers, fathers or sons did not die in vain.

Martyred soldier Rashid
laid to rest

Meanwhile, one of the 140 martyred victims of the avalanche, 25-year-old Muhammad Rashid, was laid to rest in his village Pattan Sheir Khan, Palandri district of Azad Kashmir.

“The body of the martyred soldier arrived in his ancestral village where the he was laid to rest with full state military honour at about 12:30 am on Wednesday”, a police official said. The soldier left behind two children and a wife, Majid Hussain, Rashid’s close friend and neighbor told The Express Tribune.

“Rashid joined the army about seven years ago and was recently posted at Giari sector at Siachen,” said Hussain.

(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR CORRESPONDENT IN MIRPUR)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.

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