Tension along the LoC is raisingTraumatophobia among the residents of Chourbat Valley, Baltistan
Traumatophobia (the fear of war) arises among the residents of the Chourbat Valley due to increasing tensions along the Line of Control (LoC). It has been almost 15 years passed the people of the region have experienced the bloody Kargil War at the borders of Chourbat Valley between the forces of Pakistan and India in 1999.
Before the Indo-Pak war of 1971, the Chourbat Valley was comprisedof more than eighteen small villages. During the Indo-Pak war of 1971 the Indian forces occupied several villages of Chourbat Valley creating a new border atFranu Village. The occupation of the territories of the Chourbat valley by the Indian Forces caused separation of hundreds of families at both sides of the borders, as the villages have a long history of trade and inter-village marriages.
This mass separation among the members of the families is remembered as the greatest loss in the history of Baltistan. One can easily identify a large community of migrants from the villages of Chulang-kha and Tiak-si in the Sherthang and Manthal areas of Skardu City with a distinct accent of Balti language and face outlook.
The Kargil war in 1999 once again aggravated a fear among the people of the region which killed dozens of civilians due to the cross border firings. The war of 1999 again affected the people of the region and a large number of IDPs migrated to other towns of Khaplu and Skardu District. This internal displacement badly affected the lives of the people. A yearlong displacement from their homes disintegrated the members of the families, the education of the children was lost and the financial resources were destroyed. The Kargil War of 1999 and the Skirmishes later on have laid an unforgettable terror on the minds of the people of the Chourbat Valley, since then people feel fear whenever the relations between the two countries becomes tense.
“Whenever the relation between the two countries becomes uneasy we get afraid that what how we will protect the lives of our family because the shells do not identify either it is a civilian or army personnel.” Said Karim a resident of Chourbat Valley
“We find ourselves vulnerable since the Kargil war because the Morter shell destroyed my house in 1999 war, thanks God my family was not present at the home at that time.” Said Rustam Ali another resident of Chourbat Valley.
It is a fact that the relations between the two countries have direct effect on the lives of the people living at the borders of the country. The people along the borders of Chourbat Valley and other parts of border areas of the Baltistan are getting punishment of a sin for which they are not guilty of, and whenever there is firing the civilian’s dying at both sides of the Chourbat borders are Muslims and relatives of the resident of Chourbat valley.
This is a high time for the Governments of the both countries that they shouldn’t convert their politics into wars at the borders of Baltistan because the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have nothing to do with the race of the two countries in the international politics. The run of the two countries for the permanent membership in United Nations is surely not going to transform the lives of the people of border areas.
Due to the militarization of the areas like Chourbat by both India and Pakistan is at one side affecting the peace of the region while at the same time the region is ignored by the international tourists due to security risks.
The locals are also demanding the opening of the borders of Chourbat Valley towards Ladakhand Kargil border from Kharmang Valley so the locals could meet each other after a very long separation. The trade activities through these borders can also transform the lives of the people of these regions.
The second largest glacier out of the Polar region Siachan Glacier is also a matter of contention between the two countries due to its militarization in 1980’s, since then the two countries are not only investing a huge portion of their defense budget to secure the LoC along the highest battle ground of the world but are also affecting the lively hood of the locals by not letting in the tourists to trek the SiachenGlaier.
Thus by taking measures of confidence building the two countries can benefit their national economy as well as the people of border areas could have better and peaceful way of life.
IrfanChourbati a Graduate of Politics and International Relations from International Islamic University Islamabad.