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Rasheed Khalid

The News

Published Date: Apr 11, 2012


Participants of a discussion forum on ‘Demilitarising Siachen’ were of the view that technical experts from India and Pakistan should sit together and try to find a solution to Siachen issue, which is taxing both the economies.
The forum was organised by Centre for Research and Security Studies in the wake of latest tragedy at the highest battlefield of the world killing more than 130 soldiers due to environmental upset here on Tuesday.
The discussants also observed that the glacier should be declared peace zone and UN may be involved as international guarantor.
Speaking on the occasion, international law expert Ahmar Bilal Sufi said that the issue of demarcation of the territory at the glacier was not settled under Karachi Agreement of 1954 and there was a vague sentence “thence north to the glaciers” and interpretation of this very sentence is creating problems. India interprets it in its benefit and Pakistan interprets it in its favour. Meanwhile, there are clear guidelines in international law for the solution of such disputes, he said.
Looking at the history and facts of the conflict, he said Pakistan has upper hand and it should take the issue to the International Court of Arbitration. Since, pre-conflict atlases produced by international organisations and encyclopaedias show Siachen as part of Pakistan.
Legal solutions of the conflict are possible but will take a little while, he said. Indian argument flows from Kashmir dispute and it wants to link the latter with Siachen glacier conflict, he said adding that Pakistan was contesting since 1984 through putting in place soldiers and held its own viewpoint on the issue.
If Pakistan gives up Siachen unilaterally, it will expose entire Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK to India, he said. Third party mediation, he observed, is also possible and US can play an important role in the solution of the conflict. On part of both Pakistan and India, though politically there had been headways but no legal breakthrough had been achieved as yet.
Mr Sufi said that there is need for informal legal and technical brainstorming by the experts of both states to devise a framework for dispute settlement and then political leadership can discuss possible solutions of the issue.
Water expert Arshad Abbasi said that Sicahen is melting only because of military activity and both Pakistan and India should take bold steps for solving the issue and should hand over glacier to the Unesco and scientists for studying and assessing climatic impacts.
Earlier, giving details, he said that this is a glacier surge which can take place because of three reasons: temperature, movement of military men and earthquake. He linked the latest disaster to the rise of temperature. He said that since 1885 till today, there were 39 glacial surges in the area.
He said that Pakistan has one pass under its control while India occupied three passes. The glacier is under stress due to rising temperature in the area. There are three airfields on Indian side of the glacier and burning of fuels is contributing towards spike in temperature. Chemical blasting of the mountains for making camps for the soldiers is also hazardous for the glacier, he said adding that total mass of the glacier dwindled considerably during the last two decades. Moreover, in 2001 India laid down kerosene oil pipelines on its side of the glacier and further made the situation climatically worst.
Arshi Saleem Hashmi of National Defence University proposed that that civil society in both countries should put pressure on respective governments to withdraw their militaries from the glacier and seek a peaceful solution of the conflict.
In the question hour, Arshad Abbasi from SDPI said that Indian side was agreed on military withdrawal from Siachen but soon everything was shattered after Indian Army wrote a strong note against it. He said that Indians are culprits in this issue. He regretted that Foreign Office never admitted that the glacier is melting. He said that rise in sea level disturbed the balance of tectonic plates that led to Tsunami in 2005.
Journalist Fahad Hussain said that becoming flexible from the draft agreement of 1989 is the only solution. A journalist questioned the argument that we should continue engaging in the issue as it is bleeding Indians more.
Brig (r) Tughral, Sajjad Baqir, Nadia Naviwala and Arif Ayub also spoke on the occasion.