Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on October 21 announced that the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield, was now open to tourists as part of the efforts to boost tourism in Ladakh and give people a first-hand experience of the tough conditions in which Indian Army personnel operate.
However, New Delhi’s decision has been condemned by Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the entire territory.
“India has made attempts to occupy the territory of Siachen. The disputed land cannot be opened for tourists,” Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal said in Islamabad during a weekly press briefing.
Faisal said India had not formally conveyed its decision on Siachen to Pakistan. The spokesperson said: “I have only seen the press reports in the Indian media regarding opening of Siachen for tourists. Siachen is a conflict zone between Pakistan and India (not a tourist spot).”
Faisal added that Pakistan was not expecting anything good or positive from India in the matter. He alleged India was creating hurdles for pilgrims visiting Kartarpur which was opened this month, celebrating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
He said that 5,000 people were allowed to visit the shrine but the actual numbers were lower than expected.
The Kartarpur Corridor was thrown open by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 9, facilitating Indian pilgrims to visit one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines in the Pakistani town of Narowal.
The corridor links Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur in India to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak.