Our favorite war right now is definitely India vs. Pakistan up on a glacier in the Himalayas, but it might be coming to an end. For those few who don’t know, India has been actually at war with Pakistan since 1984 (something to tell people when they raise the specter of India and Pakistan ever going to war with each other), and neither side has used any nukes. They’re fighting over a glacier so immense and rad that it’s referred to in geography cliques as the Third Pole. They’re fighting because of cartographic ambiguity and they’re fighting because it’s good politically on both sides to do so, since partition.
Since a 2003 ceasefire and because there’s a ‘line of control’ that both sides accept in real terms as a de facto border, this conflict has moved into the truly pointless category. The real battle isn’t India vs. Pakistan anymore, but Each Side vs. the Unlivable Mountain, with its hundred mile an hour winds and negative-50-degree temperatures. The oxygen level is half of that at sea level. You can only hike at night because the sun’s heat makes avalanches more likely during the day. You get to shower once a month in the summer, and never in the winter, so you get lice, you fall into giant crevasses a hundred feet deep and ten feet across and die. And to top it off, idiot talk show hosts come tape episodes and eat all your damn food.
Over 3,000 soldiers on the Pakistani side have died since this all started, and most of them succumbed to the mountain, not India. Just this past month, an avalanche killed 138 of them, and now there’s growing sentiment on both sides of the war that this isn’t a smart war to be fighting. There’s talk of turning the entire 50-mile glacier into a Peace Park, and considering a billion people drink its water, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea!
Pakistan’s even being pretty cool. Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a rare media thing, said about Siachen: “All issues should be resolved and peaceful co-existence is very necessary for both countries. There is no doubt about that.” And check out this really nice video they put out recently honoring their avalanched soldiers; except for that scary part when they point that cannon at the mountain, it all seems so innocent up there. Maybe they can stay on as Park Rangers.
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