The entire nation mourned when Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad lost his battle for life after his heroic rescue from a snowy trap following an avalanche in Siachen, the world's highest and coldest battlefield.
Now, some voices are clamouring for the demilitarization of Siachen. But does this really make sense? Given Pakistan's innumerable ceasefire violations and repeated infiltrations in our territory in the recent past, such a decision would be purely emotional and san any strategic reasonability.
We've seen a succession of 'bilateral talks, 'end of summit' conversations and candid meets between the statesmen of the two countries, but our historical animosity remains as powerful as it ever was. For all the attempts at peace negotiations and hand-shaking over the Line of Control (LOC), the past sixty off years have led to little improvement on the ground, whether you look at the Karachi Agreement of 1949 or the Simla Agreement of 1972. They have been reduced to mere stacks of papers whose purpose has been nothing more than to make the world see a travesty of a peace process.
The outward cordiality between New Delhi and Islamabad during international summits and conferences without any substantial change in reality could actually pose a further threat...
What's more, the current outward cordiality between New Delhi and Islamabad during international summits and conferences without any substantial change in reality could actually pose a further threat since peace allies and organizations might slowly withdraw their interventions in the Indo-Pak peace process. Pakistan, then, would be left to breathe free and the actual peace process would be more vulnerable than ever.
Many may or may not agree with the strategic significance Siachen carries for India apart from having a 'heightened' watch over the activities of Pakistani militants, but the mixed opinions of security analysts regarding withdrawal of troops from Siachen would have definitely raised hopes across the LoC. As it happens, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ruled out the possibility of withdrawing troops from Siachen.
The Siachen area was assumed to be too barren to be a bone of contention between the two nations by the UN officials back in 1971, but its seizure by Indian Army through 1984's Operation Meghdoot as a pre-emptive measure citing Pakistan's increasing interest in the glacier was undeniably an indispensable step with regard to our external security.
Another similar issue which has been exacerbating tensions between the countries is the dispute over the tidal estuary of Sir Creek, which separates Gujarat from Sindh. The mismatched interpretation of the maritime boundary of the disputed area by both the nations has been yet another reason for bilateral hostility.
It's high time that India and Pakistan, if they are indeed serious about peace, mutually ratify for a proactive and specialized third party involvement like the United Nation.
Unlike Siachen, Sir Creek is replete with oil and gas resources below the seabed making it a region of high economic importance, and the area would be valuable to satisfy the energy requirements of the nation gaining control over it through the clause of Exclusive Economic Zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The absence of a delineated demarcation has led to perpetual and inadvertent crossing of fishermen from both the countries for their economic benefits, with many getting arrested for the breach of territorial limits.
From Israel and Palestine to South China Sea, the terrible tales of territorial conflicts between the nations has exacted multitudes of innocent lives throughout the world. It's a story that has repeated over the centuries -- right from the agenda of territorial conquest to perpetual states of battle. The only difference is that we can cause more damage now with our weapons and drones.
It's high time that India and Pakistan, if they are indeed serious about peace, mutually ratify for a proactive and specialized third party involvement like the United Nation. It should be an urgent priority to achieve resolution on demarcation and allocation of disputed areas under the relevant legal clauses and jurisdiction without succumbing to the demands of any individual country.
We have been talking for well over 60 years. Now it's time to act towards some substantial measures that at least give us a fighting chance for peace.
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