Last year a wall of snow crashed into a remote army camp in the hostile, deadly mountains of Gayari sector where Pakistani troops were deployed. Immediately a rescue search was initiated for retrieving 135 people buried in the fatal avalanche consisting of stones, snow, mud and slush. The search was never officially ended while mountaineering experts gradually began admitting that there was no hope - at all - to find those trapped under the snow. The nature of catastrophe was pointed out; it was virtually impossible to survive such extreme cold, lack of oxygen and the numbing weight of snow. A year later, the search goes on.

Much has been said about the Gayari tragedy. Local and foreign analysts penned article after article on how the demilitarization of the region would serve in the favor of the Pakistani troops, although ground realities indicated otherwise. Swallowing soldiers and several civilians whole, it was the worst avalanche in the past two decades to hit the Battalion Headquarters in Gayari. Memorials and vigils throughout the country were held by citizens to honour the memory of the departed while solidarity with the deceased’s families was expressed passionately. The country, in yet another profound loss of human life, stood together.

Despite the latest locating gadgets and extensive machinery as well as utilizing sniffer dogs and helicopters on the terrain, the bodies of several soldiers were never located. Recoveries were sporadically made and sent for burial to relatives in various parts of the country. It bears emphasizing that our soldiers became morsels of death while guarding a border situated in the highest and possibly most inhospitable battleground on earth. Their presence alone in such a hostile environment is a service to the country and its people. They did not lose their lives in vain. They remain alive in our collective memory, and we honour their ultimate sacrifice for the country. May the Gayari shuhada rest in peace.