ISLAMABAD  – Speakers at seminar called for complete demilitarisation of Siachen glacier as the glacier is fast melting due to heavy military presence.

Calling for complete demilitarisation of Siachen glacier, speakers argued that Siachen glacier is fast melting due to heavy military presence and activities, beside global warming and black carbon as other contributing factors.

They called for preservation of glacier by turning into a peace park for good bilateral relations and to focus on more vital issues of addressing chronic poverty and under development in South Asia. The experts were discussing at a seminar on `Climate Change and Siachen Glacier: A Global Challenge’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. Chairing the session, Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, Advisor Climate Affairs, Government of Pakistan deliberated on climate change impacts on glaciers and said, scientific studies reveal that eastern glaciers are melting more rapidly than glaciers in western regions in the north.

He said, average temperature in northern areas has increased by 0.76 C with increase in frequency of heat waves that had adversely affected the environment in the region. He said, Siachen glacier is under stress from factors such as global warming, black carbon and human military interventions.

He also talked of trans-boundary pollution that results in to heavy deposits of carbon on glaciated ice, triggering the temperature to rise, due to more absorption of solar radiation. Arshad H. Abbasi, Advisor Water & Energy at SDPI, and an expert on glaciers said rise in temperature at Siachen glacier is the direct result of large-scale military interventions.

He said forces have used chemicals to melt and cut through the age-old glacial ice to construct bunkers, camps, helipads and airfields. He rejected the notion that global warming is melting Siachen glacier and cited NASA report titled `Advancing Glaciers and Positive Mass Anomaly in the Karakoram Himalaya’ which states that more than 65% of glaciers in the Karakoram are growing.

“ If adjoining glaciers are gaining further mass, then it is a case of direct human interference that is melting Siachen,” he added. He said recent tragedy in Gayari sector is caused by `glacier surge’. He elaborated that rising temperature melted the base of the glacier, reducing the frictional resistance and transferred large volumes of ice on Pakistan’s Army camp.

Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study Center, SDPI concluded that prevalence of black carbon content is one of the major reasons behind Siachen glacier’s rapid melting. He said presence of Pak-India militaries and their different activities involve heavy omissions of black carbon, which has strong correlation with the depleting glaciers including occurrences of incidents such as Ghayari.