Pakistani soldiers dug into a massive avalanche in a mountain battleground close to the Indian border on Saturday, searching for at least 117 of their colleagues buried when the wall of snow engulfed a military complex.
More than 12 hours after the disaster at the entrance to the Siachen Glacier, no survivors had been found. “We are waiting for news and keeping our fingers crossed,” said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas.
Set your political views aside and think for a moment about the extreme conditions at Siachen under which humans have to live (protecting their respective nations but that’s beside the point). Really, read about Siachen. More soldiers have died due to its inhospitable conditions than in combat.
I have only climbed upto 21,000 ft. once where I stayed for a couple of hours; I can assure you extreme altitudes are a living hell. No one should ever have to live in such extreme conditions. Altitudes at Siachen are so close to the death zone.
While I was travelling in Ladakh in ’08, I was introduced to the then-recent movement to demilitarize Siachen. It was an initiative started by two retired brigadiers, Asad Hakeem of Pakistan and Gurmeet Kanwal of India. As you’d expect, it has gotten nowhere. With yesterday’s tragedy, calls to demilitarize Siachen are getting stronger with NatGeo pitching in too.
Well, there is a ceasefire in effect since 2003, but you know how much Indians and Pakistanis trust each other. Control of Siachen was at stake in the Kargil war. India has the highest permanently manned post in the world in Siachen. Pakistan too has permanent manned posts–well after the avalanche they now have posts.
Oh and if you think India doesn’t care about its soldiers sent to die in extreme conditions, rest assured that we do. We have installed the world’s highest phone booth on the fucking glacier. And only because India controls the highest points in Siachen, I’m guessing Pakistan has installed the world’s second highest phone booth.
When life gives us lemons, we install a phone booth on it.