Siachen tragedy: Weather continues to hamper operations
 
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Siachen tragedy: Weather continues to hamper operations
ISLAMABAD:
Harsh weather hampering the search for 138 people buried under a huge avalanche at an army camp will continue for least another 24 hours, a senior meteorological official said on Wednesday.
A huge wall of snow crashed into the Siachen Glacier base early Saturday morning, smothering an area of one square kilometer.
More than 450 rescuers are working in sub-zero temperatures at the site, though experts have said there is little chance of finding any survivors.
Rescuers have dug a 450-metre track on the avalanche site to access five points where the search is being concentrated, the military said in a statement on Wednesday.
Heavy machinery is at work at two of the points, while infantry troops are digging by hand at the other three, the statement said.
Mainly, plant equipment is employed at two points, where work is in progress at a rapid speed.
A dozer has been employed to restore the water channel, which has been blocked due to the avalanche.
The site of the Gayari camp has been hit by heavy snow in recent days and Arif Mahmood, head of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said the bad weather was likely to last another day.
Expert view
Defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood is of the view that India and Pakistan should reach a temporary solution as the situation is getting worse at the glacier.
“India and Pakistan could agree to an interim solution pending final settlement of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute,” he said.
He further said that after determining the exact position held by both sides and exchanging maps and an agreement that the Line of Control would be respected by both sides, the disengagement of troops can follow.
“The vacated portion of glacier can be considered a peace park. An agreement on these lines could save lives, reduce the defence expenditure of both countries and give a boost to the peace process,” he said.
Defence analyst Imtiaz Gul endorsed the words of Masood and said that the immediate demilitarisation of the deadly terrain is the only solution to the meaningless battle between India and Pakistan.
An estimated 8,000 troops have died in the glacier’s freezing wastes since conflict over the area flared in 1984.
Colonel Sher Khan, a retired Pakistani officer and mountain expert, says that not a single shot has been fired in anger in at least eight years and combat deaths in Siachen have numbered only in the dozens.
The rest have succumbed to frostbite, altitude sickness, heart failure and inadequate cold weather equipment – as well as avalanches and landslides.
Military experts quoted in local media say a Pakistani soldier dies around every three or four days in Siachen.
“It’s a matter of ego. Nobody is ready to take that step, even if they want it, because elections are coming,” said retired colonel Khan.
Concerns on China’s Silence
A military official deployed in Siachen to supervise the rescue operation told The Express Tribune that China, believed to be “a time-tested friend” to Pakistan, has neither sent an official message of sympathy over the tragedy nor has it offered any assistance in the rescue operation.
Concern has risen especially amongst military officials, since Sino-Pak military ties are said to be strong, the official said.
A Pakistani diplomat assigned in the Pakistani embassy in Beijing, on condition of anonymity, also expressed his astonishment over the silence, especially since it was a military tragedy.
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