ibnlive » India

Nov 13, 2006 at 08:29am IST

PM out for a Siachen adventure

Siachen Battle School: While the Indian Army is clear that demilitarisation of Siachen is a proposition India can do without, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has another unique idea to bring a thaw on the freezing frontier.

Manmohan Singh wants to convert world's highest battlefield into a mountain of peace by setting up a mountaineering base to promote adventure sports.

So, while the political establishment may find it tricky to completely overrule the Army viewpoint on troop disengagement, this could be the way forward for a Siachen thaw without provoking a backlash in the form of security concerns.

The idea seems acceptable to Army's Siachen icons.

"There's no shelling there, no firing. We should allow freely so that awareness will also come that Siachen is with India and you can go and climb there," says a Siachen pioneer, Colonel N Kumar.

Though military disengagement may yet be some distance away, a Siachen peace park driven by adventure sport may create room for a politico-strategic interaction between India and Pakistan.

"You look at joint mountaineering expeditions, you look at joint tourism boards which will look at this area and provide clearances to other foreign expeditions which come there and in the process greater contact between the two sides, without coming into the inherent fundamental issue of territoriality," says strategic analyst, Kapil Kak.

There's peace on the world's highest battlefield for the last three years. The next step in normalising Siachen could be to dilute the military character of this frozen frontier.

There are many who believe that a Siachen thaw will be a precursor to peace in Jammu and Kashmir and opening up the unforgiving battleground to actors other than the military may just be an idea whose time has come.