Hope for peace
June 03, 2011
Indian and Pakistani Defense Secretaries are finally on the negotiating table ready to talk at least about the 27 years old conflict which has bled both armies on one of the highest battle grounds on earth.
This meeting between the Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and his Pakistani counterpart, Lt. Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali, is the 12th round of talks on Siachen. A workable agreement has always slipped out of hands, despite the will on both sides to resolve the issue due to political expediencies.
Rajiv Gandhi and General Zia were reported to have agreed to demilitarize the zone in 1985.
Later General Musharraf in his bid to gain legitimacy and recognition by the Pakistani public sabotaged the demilitarization of the Siachen glacier by sending in troops to occupy the heights vacated by the Indian army.
India had suspended all talks with Pakistan after the Mumbai terrorist attacks accusing the ISI of being the brain behind the plot. The allegations were denied by the Pakistani side as no serious state organ could think of indulging in such a suicidal act. Both countries have nuclear arms and run the risk of triggering an internecine war.
It seems that the Indian side has finally come to the rational conclusion that nation states cannot let non- state actors define or sabotage their foreign policy. It's a good omen for changing the status quo and improving Indo-Pak relations.
It would benefit both countries and the people if border issues are resolved peacefully and bilateral trade increased to provide a fillip to the regional economy. Both India and Pakistan have wasted billions of rupees and human resources which could have been allocated for economic development. Neither country can boast to have eliminated poverty which runs deep into the entire region forcing people to live a sub-human existence.
Since the ceasefire between the two sides began in November 2003, Pakistan has always asked India to demilitarize the glacier. The Indian have been willing to do so, on condition that Pakistan authenticates the 110 kilometers Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) before any talks on withdrawing troops from the glacier can begin.
The Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir was delineated by the Shimla agreement of 1972 up to point NJ-9842 on the glacier. The area beyond this point has remained un-delineated hence both countries have claimed the glacier to be part of their territory.
It would be in the interest of both countries to relinquish the glacier and strive for peace in the region.
This cannot be done unless sanity prevails on both side and pending issues are resolved without resorting to using the military might.
Siachen glacier is a test case for both governments – if the talks succeeded there will be hope for peace but if they fail to produce results both nations will stand to lose. Prime Minister Gillani has played his part by reiterating the government’s resolve of not allowing any one to use the Pakistani territory for launching attacks. India has to trust the Pakistani side and has to let the peace process move forward.
Let Siachen be the first issue to be resolved peacefully as it’s a win-win case for both countries.
The glacier is merciless in killing and does not differentiate between Hindus or Muslims.
Let’s hope the conflict disappears before the glacier does as predicted in 2050.