It was the “Land of Wild Roses” before it became the highest battlefield of the world. It was the Armageddon of storms but the human megalomania made it the combat zone between two potential nations of the world. We believe that Pakistanis or Indians feel pride that this frozen pool exists in their area but not sure whether they like this to be the bone of contention among them. By now, it would have become a necropolis of hundreds of soldiers. What if we make it a real Peace Park?
In the eastern Karakoram Range, just adjacent to the Line of Control, the second largest glacier outside the Polar Regions lies with all of its glory and esteem. This is known as Siachen Glacier, the land of wild roses which is a word from Balti language. Sia means “roses” while Chen denotes “something in abundance”. This name was associated to this no man’s land for its lower basin to be the botanic garden of exotic flowers and thorny shrubs which grow on the rocky outcrops. The military presence was out of question before 1980’s as it was only the home of majestic peaks and glacial masses far from the human inhabitation. It lies right in the middle of the Saltoro Ridge which originates in the north from the Sia Kangri peak on the China border in the Karakoram Range. Due to its extensive glacial geography sometimes it is also referred as the “Third Pole” and it separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian Subcontinent. Siachen Glacier is almost 75 Km long but the whole of Siachen Glacier system including its tributary ice bergs cover an area about 700 km2 (270 sq mi). Siachen Glacier is also the water source of the Nubra River of Ladakh which falls into the Shyok River. Shyok ultimately drains into the great Indus River.
Siachen Glacier was technically under the control of Pakistan as most of the mountaineering expedition permits were granted by the Government of Pakistan. This area was far from the military presence but on 13th April, 1984 the Operation Meghdoot was launched by the Kumaoun Regiment of the Indian Army and occupied the top area of the Siachen Glacier. As a result of which Pakistan also responded with the quick deployment of her Army but meanwhile the control of the Sia La and Bilfond La passes were taken by the Indian troops. Gyong La pass remained under the control of Pakistan but since then it has become the mountain warfare between these two countries. However all the access to the neighboring high Mountain Peaks is blocked by the Pakistan Army and whole the expeditions pass through the approval of the Pakistani Government.
“The Land of Wild Roses” is now the highest battlefield of the world and no permanent demarcation of the Line of Control has resulted into a long dispute between these two nations. Currently, the situation is that neither Pakistan Army can go up to the glacier nor the Indian troops can come down. According to the statistics, both armies have spent trillions and suffered from the 6,000 personal causalities of the soldiers. Major causalities are the result of the severe weather conditions. The climate of this area is completely inhospitable and avalanche-prone terrains have claimed more lives than the gunfire.
A major catastrophe occurred on 10th of April, 2012, when the Military Camp of Pakistan was destroyed by the hit of a monstrous avalanche and more than 130 Pakistani soldiers were buried over there. Both sides are apparently agreed to vacate this area from their respective troops but practically they are reluctant to take the first step. There is no real justification to militarize the Siachen Glacier and this is extremely better to restore the Siachen Glacier in its preposition. The huge and useless expenses which have occurred in all of this military exercise are criticized by the philanthropists of the both sides.
Another major concern is the ecological disturbance of this area as the glaciers are melting on a rapid rate. Both of the Governments must consider that their bloodthirsty campaign is putting the population of the both countries under risk of catastrophic floods and droughts .The environment is being polluted and the massive area is degraded. On the other side the Global Warming has also significantly reduced the Siachen Glacier over recent decades. This place was the habitat of Snow Leopards and Snow Bears but now their dens are being eliminated due to habitat destruction and war. The Indian Government has installed a long Oil pipeline on its side along the Siachen Glacier and both of the armies are continuously using chemicals to melt and cut through the perfect glacial ice to build their bunkers, helipads and airfields.
The people of both of these great nations really want to establish the Siachen Glacier, the land of wild roses as a real Peace Park. This area can be converted into an environment friendly national park. Both of the countries have enough land to house their people and now this is the time to move forward and forget the past. Otherwise our upcoming generations will only find this as a past natural wonder in their geographical literature.