Siachen: Can This Ice Melt?

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They see it as a related preserve to the existing Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP) sprawling over an area of 973,845 hectares immediately west of the Siachen Glacier including K2, the 2nd highest peak in the world. Campaigners for SSP want, redeployment, and introduction of technical means of monitoring and surveillance prior to complete demilitarization.

Over the years, hostile neighbours have converted straddling boundaries into protected areas. It was over 70 years ago when USA and Canada established the first Peace Park the Waterton glacier international park. Since then the numbers of peace parks in the world have gone up to 169 involving well over 100 countries. But, the first officially designated `trans-frontier’ park was set up between South Africa and Botswana, around a decade back. Inderfurth had suggested that the SSP would be “jointly maintained by both nations without reference to territorial boundaries”.

Another option is the Siachen Science Club, evolved by various specialists of the Cooperative Monitoring Centre, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, USA in 1998. It substitutes a scientific presence on the glacier for the military one that would satisfy the requirement for a national presence while advancing the cause of science in many fields. Supporters of the idea have identified scores of subjects that would get benefited if SSC envisaging scientific research facility comes into being. The centre would be staffed by scientists, engineers, and technicians conducting research, along with necessary support staff on the lines of scientific stations and outposts in the Arctic and the Antarctic.

The campaign once led the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to fly to the Siachen base camp in June 2005 and talk to the soldiers. “Time has come to convert this battlefield into a peace mountain,” Dr Singh said. “It must become an example of peace wherein nobody feels any threat and there is no scope for conflict”.

Seven years elapsed. Somehow the two countries are unable to make peace either with the glaciated mountains or with themselves.

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