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Battling over the Siachen heights

October 2, 2007
Introducing a new columnist: Manvendra Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party's member of Parliament from Barmer in Rajasthan, is a former journalist with the Indian Express and a Major in India's territorial army. In his first column for rediff.com, the young MP combines his two interests

In the early, tortuous, days of the Kargil war, an articulate Pakistani minister equated India's condition in the battle zone to what would also be the fate during an upcoming cricket World Cup match. While the soldiers were struggling to make headway in those early startling weeks, Indians and Pakistanis were expected to recreate the same over a 22-yard pitch. It was a trying time nationally, and the soldiers followed the cricketers to subsequent victory over their Pakistani opponents.

I was reminded of that minister's crass remark when it came to India facing Pakistan, once again, in a cricket World Cup match last Monday. While there may not have been any guns blazing on any of the heights as there were in 1999, there was still tension brewing between the two countries over the world's highest battlefield. Since the country produces a slew of news stories everyday, this latest Siachen episode did not get the treatment it deserved. Deeply ironical, since India's latest stated position has been a neat turnaround from a long held policy. Turned around over a dime, as they say in Americanese.

The Army recently announced that it would be permitting private party adventures to mount trekking expeditions to the Siachen glacier area. This was an officially stated declared policy, and it produced the expected official riposte from Pakistan. Islamabad has now even summoned the Indian and British high commissioners to protest a joint military exercise between the two countries. 'Disputed region' is the mantra repeated, once again.

Image: An Indian soldier keeps vigil near Siachen glacier, dubbed the world's highest battlefield

Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Also read: Claude Arpi on a likely solution for Siachen

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