South Asian Media Net


Speakers at a seminar on April 18, 2012 called for complete demilitarization of Siachen Glacier and making it a tourism spot and peace park to promote harmony in the region.


Veteran journalist Khaled Ahmed, analyst Prof Hassan Askari Rizvi, Siachen expert Col Tahir Kardar, an NGO representative Ahmed Rafay Alam, writer and journalist Tahir Malik and religious scholar Tahir Ashrafi addressed the seminar ‘Siachen: Peace and Environment’, organised by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).


Speaking on the occasion, Khaled Ahmed said that Indian development in trade sector was marvellous and Pakistan needed to worry about its economy. India could afford the boarding and lodging of its army at Siachen, but it was hard for Pakistan to sustain its presence in the region.


Ahmed said leaders of both the countries needed to think about the Siachen issue seriously. He said that both countries should solve the issue and the billions of rupees being spent on the war should be directed towards people’s prosperity.


Prof Hassan Askari Rizvi said that deployment of troops at Siachen was wastage of money and resources. He said that the issue started in 1984 and later it became a matter of ego and pride for India and Pakistan. The professor said the ceasefire line was demarked and it ended exactly near Siachen, making the area a disputed territory. He said India and Pakistan had signed two ‘understandings’ – one in 1987 and the other in 2007 –in which relocation of troops was suggested but nothing happened afterwards. He said the armies of both countries should withdraw and make Siachen a culture spot, jointly organised by India and Pakistan. Rizvi said the people of the two countries and especially the social sector should pressure their governments to end the conflict that was consuming millions of rupees daily.


Col Tahir Kardar said that India and Pakistan were indulged in a crazy war on Siachen and were wasting money since 1984. He said Pakistan and India were spending money while some countries were earning a large sum of money out of the conflict. Kardar said Pakistan and India should retract their troops from Siachen Glacier and go for peace in the region.


Ahmed Rafay Alam called for complete demilitarisation of Siachen glacier, arguing that the glacier was fast melting due to heavy military presence and war activities, beside global warming and black carbon as other contributing factors. He called for preservation of the glacier by turning it into a peace park for good bilateral relations, and to focus on more vital issues of addressing chronic poverty and under development in South Asia.


Tahir Ashrafi said Pakistan and India should take a lesson from the recent avalanche that had buried 138 people in the Siachen sector. He called for a review of deployment of forces at Siachen, where soldiers from the two countries had been engaged in a standoff since 1984. Ashrafi said more troops had died due to the adverse weather in the region than combat. He said the leaders of both the countries were trying to save their rule.


(April 18, supplied by ACHA April 21, 2012)

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