GAYARI - Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday said that those who sacrificed their lives for the motherland would not be forgotten.
He was speaking at a special ceremony organised by Pakistan Army at Gayari sector in Siachen to pay tributes to the martyrs of avalanche which struck a military base and buried 129 soldiers and 11 civilians under snow last year.
The ceremony was attended by the heirs of martyrs and officers and soldiers of Pakistan Army at the avalanche site in Siachen – the world’s highest battleground. General Kayani laid floral wreath on the monument of martyrs and offered fateha.
Paying tribute to the martyred soldiers and their heirs, he said that recovering the bodies of soldiers from the depth of mud and snow was a difficult task but the army has made it possible through the unprecedented efforts.
“Several experts had declared it impossible to retrieve bodies but we had the resolve to make possible the impossible, for which we transported heavy engineering machinery and carried out the massive digging work. Finally, we successfully retrieved most of those buried... We can’t ever forget those who laid down their lives defending the motherland,” the army chief said.
General Kayani said that some experts had earlier recommended Gayari to be declared as collective grave of the martyrs. He said that 133 bodies of the martyrs, out of 140 buried in an avalanche a year ago, have so far been recovered. He lauded the untiring efforts‚ dedication and devotion of the troops who succeeded in accomplishing this difficult task. The army chief said the entire nation stands by the armed forces of Pakistan in performing their sacred obligation of defence of the country.
Meanwhile, the military denied Indian accusations of Pakistani soldiers being involved in a reported clash on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC).
An Indian Army commander had alleged that Pakistani troops might be involved in an ongoing gunbattle near the disputed border. The Pakistani Army rejected the allegation. “We totally deny this baseless allegation. This is a blatant lie. No such thing happened,” a spokesman for the Inter-Services Public Relations, said.
Senior Indian Army commander Gurmit Singh told reporters in Srinagar that the Indian soldiers had launched an action against militants on September 24 and which was still going on.
The Lieutenant General claimed some 30 to 40 heavily-armed fighters had crossed the LoC in the Keran sector and were holed up for the past nine days in thick forests in the area.
However, he denied reports in the Indian media that the ‘infiltrators’ had overtaken a ghost village along the border.
Foreign news agency AFP quoted Indian police sources as stating that the fighting was still taking place in Shala Bhatta, the abandoned village.
India and Pakistan often trade allegations of ceasefire violations from both sides of the disputed border. The most recent incident comes just days after the Prime Ministers of both countries agreed to soothe tensions.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New York on Sunday for the first time since Sharif swept to power in May promising an improvement in relations.
They agreed to task senior military officers to “find effective means to restore the ceasefire” in Kashmir, where regular clashes have taken place this year, resulting in casualties on both sides.