A scene from the play Siachen staged at PNCA on Saturday. — Photo by Khurram Amin
A scene from the play Siachen staged at PNCA on Saturday. — Photo by Khurram Amin

ISLAMABAD: Anwar Maqsood and Dawar Mehmood’s Siachen opened at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) on Saturday.

The play is based on the projection that tensions between India and Pakistan have dwindled and that warm relations is a probable outcome. The play is an amalgamation of situations facing young soldiers posted to the Siachen region over a six month period. It is a poignant reminded that soldiers on the frontlines are young, and human.

The play opens with the vignettes of a mother whose third son is heading to the India-Pakistan border, a wife who is sending off her husband, a son being bribed with a football to let his father leave, and a sister parting with her brother. Mr Maqsood is heard interpreting the conversations to express that they believe their loved ones will return.

A young man holding an isolated post gives a monologue on the probability of dying for Pakistan and charging forth to destroy the enemy singlehandedly, before his fellow soldiers join him and mock his grandiloquence. One of the other soldiers holding the post is haunted by the ghost of his father, and others receive visitations as well.

In another instance, Pakistani soldiers have screaming bouts of conversation with their Indian counterparts, over a Pakistan-India cricket match which almost leads to the end of the ceasefire.

The play also features a young BBC journalist, who comes to the region to interview the soldiers.

Siachen inspires laughter, tears and everything in between. It highlights the brutality of war but also makes heroes of the soldiers from whom battles are a way of life, and duty. Mr Maqsood’s script was exemplary, walking a fine line between glorifying soliders and ridiculing war, while Mr Mehmood has brought his words into fruition.

“An absolutely fantastic performance about the highest battleground on Earth,” said Dure Najaf. “[It] made me intensely proud of the young men who protect our country.”

Rashid Khan said: “It was a very good play, about an area we all hear about but have never been to. The message of peace, too, was very strong.”

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2015

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