Where there is no sun, there is fire

With temperatures dropping to -70 degrees, Siachen is the highest battle field on earth

Winter has come. It first came in 1984 when politics hijacked humanity and strategic gains outpaced the efforts for social benefits.

It was then, when India and Pakistan first sent their military expeditions to the second largest non polar glacier ‘Siachen’ and crowned the area as the highest battlefield in the world.

Many marched; many died…many wept and many sung. More than two thousand casualties have resulted from this conflict so far in a region so desolate where birds don’t chirp and snakes don’t hiss, temperatures drop to minus 70 and frost bites are as common as sunshine for us.

But, we pride ourselves on echoing the sounds of gunshot at the highest places of all.

2,000 dead! If casualties are just a number then 124 is expensive. And 124 Pakistani soldiers are still buried in the deadly avalanche that washed the region on the 8th of April. It has been more than 48 hours since the disaster hit, but no trace of life has been recovered from the deep snow. Rescue efforts are still on way.

I wish the rescue could have been done in Feb 99 when Indian Prime minister Mr Vajpayee visited Lahore and both sides agreed to carry the dialogue further to demilitarize this region. We still could have rescued them in July 2006 when President Pakistan Pervez Musharraf visited Agra but again both sides could not agree to the demilitarization.

No country has constitutional claims to the region. The region was deemed uninhabitable and not included in the borders under Simla Agreement of 1972.

A soft wave of pen agreeing to demilitarize the highest battle field in the region and to revert to pre 1984 positions could have saved it all. Soldiers die there on a frequent basis, not due to gun fire but due to harsh weather. The daily servicing of army check post and supplies reportedly cost Indian army 40 million rupees. It must cost somewhat same to the Pakistani side as well. With countries, having almost half of their population below poverty line, it’s a big joke being played on the people of both sides.

Both sides with hard-line bureaucracies have a history of mistrust which is sometimes not completely unjustified. But the latest act from the nod of Pak army to open trade ties with India and then the visit of Pakistani President to Indian could never have come at a better time. Trade and peace have a mixed history. But its solution that brings hope.

In 1909, British writer Norman Angell in his best selling work ‘The Great Illusion’ argued that interdependence of trade and commerce between industrial advanced nations have rendered the wars useless and improbable where the costs of the victors will outweigh the benefits of the quest.

War is improbable.

He was proved wrong within 5 years when the world witnessed the First World War.

I hope the trade agreements between Pakistan and India prove otherwise.

When I read history, I see barbarians fighting in the dark ages and then triggering the deadliest two wars this planet has seen. Today, I see them sitting together under the banner of European Union. This gives me hope.


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