The Most Insane Battlefield


Pakistan and India have to be the most insane countries in the world. At least I have no doubt in my mind at all. I cannot think of any other country fighting over a freezing hell. I am talking about the Siachen Glacier. It is really idiotic when you look at it. Hilarious yet outrageous. In terms of patriotism and defense, it is a magnificent feat, but one which both the countries could easily do without. Nothing to take away the great sacrifice that the soldiers are offering and the kind of selfless service they are performing, which is appreciable and inspiring, but for what?

I simply cannot understand why would anyone like to fight over an uninhabitable piece of land, which hardly qualifies as land really. Not only that Pakistan and India have lost thousands of soldiers on this barren and frozen hell, they spend millions of Rupees every single day to maintain their posts on the glacier. It’s like establishing scattered outposts on the moon and fighting over it with no consequence whatsoever to the populated parts of these countries.

To quote journalist Muneeb Faruq:

Approximately, over 2,200 Pakistani soldiers lost their lives on the Siachen Glacier since 1984 as against over 4,000 Indians.

Don’t get me wrong. I really respect those soldiers who are dying for their nations. But hey, I am not saying this to criticize those troops but to actually criticize those politicians and generals who are resting with their asses on the coziest of furniture in their lavish offices and homes. I don’t think the Siachen glacier is worth more than a single human being and for me personally, all the arguments end there. However, there is no doubt that both these countries have a horrible history of warfare and they trust third parties far more than they trust each other.

This is why I think it is the responsibility of the civilian and military leadership of both the countries to sort this issue out immediately and to instantly reach an agreement of the withdrawal of troops from these unnecessary posts. Of course, the matter is always forgotten from the public debate frequently after a skirmish or two and that has been the case since the conflict sparked in 1984, but Mother Nature reminds us  of doing the needful when our brains stop functioning properly. On April 7, 2012, a tragic and disastrous incident occurred when a Pakistan Army base was engulfed by an avalanche in the Siachen glacier. Rescue work, interrupted by bad weather, is underway but there is little hope of any survival. Yes, weather has killed more soldiers than the bullet there.

If I ask myself if I would want to live on a post in the Siachen glacier, I would not want to, and it would be plain hypocrisy if I would force anyone else to go there. I appreciate the troops with all my heart for their courage but I do feel that precious men are wasted for a lost cause there. According to Reuters, somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 soldiers from both sides are stationed in the Siachen glacier and it is a shame that both these countries cannot reach a settlement to demilitarize that area like civilized nations.

Today, President Asif Zardari is meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. While like always I know that nothing substantial would come out of the meeting, it is a good time for the leaders to reflect on the pointlessness of the conflict when billions of people are living in poverty from Peshawar to Gauhati. They should live up to their high claims of working for peace in the region. It is time that they agree on something sensible at least and call the troops back from a battlefield where by now we should have learned that you can never beat Mother Nature.

I really hope I live to see that day.