An Open Letter to President of Pakistan and Prime Minister of India on Siachen Glacier, urging them to convert ‘world’s highest battlefield’ into a Nature and Peace Park
Government of Pakistan
Hon’ble Prime Minister
Government of India
Subject-For Converting Siachen Glacier into Nature and Peace Park
This is to draw your attention towards the avalanche in Siachen glacier that hit a Pakistani military camp in the area, burying at least 130 Pakistani soldiers on April 7, 2012. This avalanche underlines how governments of India and Pakistan have maintained a permanent military presence on Siachen glacier at a height of over 6,000 meters since April 1984.
It has been estimated that more than 2000 people have died in this inhospitable terrain, mostly due to weather extremes and the natural hazards of mountain warfare. several thousand Indian and Pakistan soldiers are deployed at Siachen, the site of one of the border disputes between the two countries. Bothe Indian and Pakistani soldiers have died. They suffer from sunburns and frostbites in temperatures that plunge to -40 degrees C.
It is high time both the governments withdrew the military from Siachen. The withdrawal of armed forces will be a great act of ecological sanity. The glacier’s melting waters are the main source of the Nubra river in India Ladakh, which drains into the Shyok river. The Shyok in turn joins the Indus river It is thus a major source of recharge of the Indus. The glacier located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya mountains east of the Line of Control between India-Pakistan is longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas.
It is noteworthy that the visit by a US Army Chief along with the Indian Army Chief in October 2008 underlined the strategic significance of the area. What has not been underlined is its ecological significance. It has been noted that Siachen glacier has vanished by half as per geological field evidence.
As you are aware, Siachen glacier, where both Indian and Pakistani military troops are stationed for 25 years, has melted to half its earlier size. It has reduced it to 74 kilometers from (150 kilometers in length.
In such a situation, if this trend is not arrested with promptness and unity of purpose Siachen glacier might vanish in your life time. This will be a fitting tribute to the soldiers who have died to defend their motherland. History will judge you quite harshly if blind jingoism is allowed to have a field day even as the motherland melts away.
In view of the above facts, I earnestly and solemnly appeal to both the President of Pakistan and Prime Minister of India to convert on Siachen glacier, “world’s highest battlefield” into a Nature and Peace Park which will be remembered by history as an act of statesmanship worthy of emulation by generations to come.
ToxicsWatch Alliance, New Delhi