Pakistan’s argument that India should not open the “disputed Siachin” ( (Asian Age 18 Sept.) to the tourists is untenable. Northern Areas, especially Gilgit under Pakistan’s illegal occupation is part of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir under Indian sovereignty. Pakistan being in its illegal occupation threw it open to tourists long back. Nearly five thousand kilometers of Indian territory in Aksaichin under Pakistan’s illegal occupation was thrown open not only to the tourists but also to the Chinese technical as well as intelligence personnel when Pakistan and China collaborated to build the Karakorum Highway across it. India protested. Furthermore, when after cease fire in Kargil, talks were held between the two countries on withdrawal and related matters, Pakistan put forth the argument that many foreign tourist had obtained Pakistan tourism ministry’s permission and trekked over several peaks along the Karakorum in Siachin range. On the basis of that Pakistan claimed sovereignty over those peaks and regains. This means Pakistan had clandestinely thrown open the Karakorum heights to foreign tourists. As such she has no right to object to India doing the same albeit not secretly but openly.
Kashinath Pandit, New Delhi
By email, 18.09.2007