Pakistan and India Negotiate over Glacier to Warm Relations
After a hiatus of four years, Pakistan and India have resumed talks cut off since the 2008 Mumbai massacre in which 166 people were killed, including Chabad House directors Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg.
India blamed terrorists harbored and trained by Pakistan for the atrocity.
The topic that will be discussed by the two countries' defense ministers offers an opportunity for pragmatism: Reaching an agreement on the Siachen Glacier in the area of Kashmir. The dispute goes back to 1949 when the United Nations simply stopped mapping the border between the 2 countries, 40 miles from the end of the area.
The cartographers could be excused for reasoning that nobody would want an area where the usual winter temperature is 45°F below zero and much worse with the wind chill factor. The area has been called the 3rd pole due to its frigid conditions. But the North and South Poles do not have to cope with the high altitudes where soldiers have to catch their breath after taking 5 steps.
Despite this, Pakistan and India have fought over this area, in the 1980s and in the 1999 Kargil War.
It costs both sides a great deal of effort to maintain a troop presence in the area, as many of the bases are only accessible by air. Patriotic fervor runs high and the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as well as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have visited the area where both sides displayed a great deal of heroism and fortitude in the fighting.
The specter of terrorism still hovers above the talks, Both countries' leaders have attempted to create the proper atmospherics prior to the discussions. Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said "We have ensured that our soil is not used for terror attacks in any country. Both the military and political leadership are on the same page on this issue,"
Indian Premier Singh claimed that combatting terrorism was first of all a Pakistani interest. "The more I see of what is happening in Pakistan, the more I am convinced that Pakistan's leadership must now wake up, and must recognize that the terror machine they have, or at least some elements in the country patronize, is working not to anybody's advantage."
India's Defense Minister AK Antony is pessimistic "With regard to Pakistan, the biggest problem in permanent good relations with them is there are 42 terrorists camps functioning there… To have excellent relations with Pakistan, they have to first destroy those terrorist camps and without that it is practically impossible to have the best of relations with them."
India was alarmed by the fact that Osama bin Laden operated in the vicinity of a Pakistani garrison town in an overt fashion. Last weekend came a 17-hour Taliban siege of a strategic Pakistan naval air base in which heavily armed terrorists destroyed two surveillance planes and killed 10 Pakistani soldiers.