Letter to a Chilean Friend

By Maj Agha Amir Ahsan, Sigs (2nd SSC)

Editor’s Note: Our course mate Maj Agha Amir Ahsan, Sigs, sent an email to a Chilean friend regarding a rescue effort to save 33 miners in 2010. They were trapped in a mine about half a mile deep under the Chilean desert. The reply of his Chilean friend is also enclosed. These emails are right from the heart of two individuals who live thousands of miles apart. Hope you would find it interesting.
Maj Agha expired on 28 Nov 2012.  This article was published a few days after his death.

Letter to a Chilean Friend

Dear Gail,
For me Chile has never been more than a map in the World atlas, I hadn’t even met anybody from Chile in my life, till I met you in the distributors meeting of Vaisala at Helsinki in 1993. Since then you are an image of Chile in my mind, whenever I hear something about Chile, your beautiful face flashes in my mind.

So when I heard the story about the miners rescue, it seemed as if this had something to do with you, I don’t know how much were you involved, but it seemed like the whole of Chile was personally taking interest. I was almost emotionally involved, and it seemed as if I knew these people.

For me it had a special effect. I live in a region where human life is very cheap, people are expendable, normal every day people are absolutely desensitized to death and destruction, all these happenings are simply ‘a news on the media’. For me it was a miracle to see politicians and officials so concerned for a few ordinary people, who were in such a situation that, their fate seemed already doomed.

I was really thrilled to see a country, yes the whole country, coming together in a herculean rescue task; it was something which brought tears to my eyes. When I heard the first news about the disaster, I had no hopes. But when one after the other people started coming on television and explaining their plans for rescue, I could see the earnestness and truth in their eyes, I could see a very different breed of people. Very soon the things started looking very bright and I started looking for details every day, and following the progress of the tunnel foot by foot. I have no experience of being stuck in a deep dungeon, but I could feel the agonizing wait of the miners, slightest of hitch in the progress made me afraid of failure, and the progress always renewed hope. In spite of very busy personal happenings in my life, I could still feel a part of me stuck deep down with a group of people in that mine.

Tragedies keep happening in the World, but the concern for other people’s miseries and sensitivity to hopes and fears of another person was something which I had only experienced in my military life. Involvement of all people, politicians, management, coworkers was something I could never imagine in my part of the World.

Climax was like a happy movie ending, and I watched with interest the marathon transmission on different television channels, as each miner was brought to the surface one by one, and their reunion with their loved ones.

I Salute with very deep respect in my heart, and congratulate you for being a part of such a great Nation.
Best regards,

Reply of Chilean Friend

Dear Ahsan,
Your comforting words really touched our hearts. This country in a faraway corner of the world is very frequently stricken by nature and I guess getting back on our feet again fast and properly comes from practice.

It was really amazing to hear that from all parts of the world the news of these 33 Chilean miners trapped 700 m below ground and their rescue was being followed. This year has been rather difficult for Chileans, first with the Earthquake, a tremendous tragedy, that brought out the best and the worst of people and later this terrible accident.

Although I wasn’t involved in anything related to miners situation, it really had a deep effect in all our lives, the constant news, to see all the efforts so many people were putting in having them rescued makes us all feel very proud and certainly will change the way we face future challenges.

Thanks again for your touching words.
Best regards,

More Articles by Maj Agha
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part I)
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part II)
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part III)
Rawalpindi, a City of Dreams and Demons (Part
Social Animal
Close Call
Short Lesson
The Chocolate Fairy
Sirf Shoaib


  1. Sher Afgan says:

    Although we are an emotional people yet usually shy away from expressing our feelings. I really appreciate the manner in which Maj Ahsan has conveyed his concerns and shared pain with his friend. This is true humanity which is so central to our religion, Islam.

  2. Col (R) Shah Alam, Canada says:

    Thanks to Maj Ahsan for making his personal correspondence with Gail public.

    Maj Ahsan has very adeptly and articulately described his sentiments. Indeed in Pakistan we value human life very poorly: it’s unfortunate, but true. It’s also true that on this particular event Chile enjoyed the Centre stage on global TVs. I think the horror of the miners being trapped 700 Meters below was a contributory factor and the US teams joining the rescue covered live by TV added to the excitement.

    Thanks to the modern day communications that the two countries are able to feel the pain and joy of each other. My prayers that this camaraderie and feelings for each other grow and prosper.

    I am grateful to Maj Ahsan and deeply appreciate his efforts for undertaking to write to a Chilean friend expressing sympathy in their hour of trial. His sentiments truly reflect the feeling of all Pakistanis though none of us ventured to write to someone in Chile to express it.

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