Sibling Sendoff Invokes ‘Farewell to Arms’ Plea in Poonch

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Amid blazing guns in Pir Panjal peaks, a warm goodbye gesture once again gave a ray of hope to frontline civilians caught in existential crisis and chaos.

By Kamran Ali

AFTER their frontier wrong turn, when two teenage sisters received a grand repatriation in Poonch’s Chankan Da Bagh, Rashid Khan’s eyes turned moist over his long-departed clan progeny’s safe passage to home.

This battered border resident who lost some of his tribe members to divisive frontlines and combative guns over the years termed the “homecoming” of the two girls as a sign of hope amid growing hostility.

“The human treatment towards the two girls has become one of the rare heartwarming gestures in our seven-decade-long unending trauma here,” Khan said.

“Their sendoff makes you believe that humanity still exists in these terrible times. We’ve seen enough lives getting wasted here due to the constant border shelling. May those little angels now become the beginning of the end of our long torment!”

Khan’s village falls in the firing range of Pir Panjal, where belligerent borders are known to explode and bleed civilian lives for decades now.

But the blazing guns at the international border in Poonch have only intensified since last year when New Delhi claimed countering the Pulwama bombing with the Balakot strike.

“Guns are still blazing here,” Khan lamented. “And we continue to cower in fear.”

Amid this terrifying situation, two teenage sisters lately landed in Poonch as the cross-border “intruders”.

After taken into custody, the siblings voiced their human tragedy which often gets sidelined under the heightened vigil of watch towers and frontline sharpshooters.

Border resident say that any wrong move can prove fatal for them.

Lamenting over the loss of their father—“the butcher who died due to heart attack some fortnight ago”—the two siblings had abandoned their home apparently to “get some moments of respite and solace” from the escalating tempers and tensions in their bereaved family.

But on the sundown of December 5, when Laiba and her younger sister Sana Zubair didn’t show up, their brother filed a missing report in Abbaspur Police Station, falling in Rawalkot area of other Poonch.

On the heels of that report, government forces posted in Poonch leaked the capture of two uncanny “infiltrators” at border.

“From the word go itself, it was clear that the two girls were running from their distressed home situation,” said a police officer posted in Poonch. “Our army men hosted and treated them well. And later they were sendoff with gifts.”

Even girls made no bones about their hosts’ “good gesture”.

Back home, the other administration is presently trying to ensure a friendly family atmosphere to avert such wrong turns at the blazing borders.

“But this fresh humanistic display should not be confined to a single instance only,” Khan said.

“All of us are happy for the girls, but at the same time, those shells should stop rain and ravage our lives now. We want to live in peace. Let these guns fall silent now.”

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