GILGIT: The mood was sombre and the air was filled with grief as Astore Friday laid to rest Havaldar Jumma Khan – who was among two soldiers killed along the Line of control by Indian cross-broader shelling on Thursday.
His sibling, Azhar Mehmood, said that he wants to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps.
Khan, a member of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) regiment of the army, was laid to rest in his native village of Faqir Kot in Astore Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan. He along with Naik Imtiaz were killed after Indian forces rained artillery shells near their positions in Bhimber, Kel and Lipa sectors on Thursday in a series of unprovoked firing, violating the ceasefire.
“We are proud of the sacrifice that our brother rendered for his homeland,” Mehmood said.
Mehmood is also enlisted in the Pakistan army and is currently posted in Azad Kashmir.
“Now I’m ready to give my life for my motherland and that is something that everyone here is ready for,” he proclaimed before the media after the funeral.
Force commander FCNA Major General Saqib Mehmood, Brigadier Kamran Nazir and several senior government and military officials along with a large number of people attended the funeral prayers. Locals said the funeral was possibly the biggest congregation in the area’s history.
Speaking to the media, Maj Gen Mehmood paid rich tribute to Havaldar Khan for the valour he showed while fighting the nation’s enemies.
“We will defend every inch of our soil like Khan did. He was a brave son of soil and he will be remembered,” Maj Gen Mehmood said.
He added that the civilian and military leadership were on same page to defend the country and its people.
Havaldar Khan, who is survived by one son and two daughters, had joined the NLI in 1996.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.