Plans on hold for Kashmir's science 'peace park'
Pakistan has postponed a high-profile meeting that was due to bring scientists from India and Pakistan together to draw up plans for a scientific 'peace park' in the mountains of northern Kashmir.
A border dispute has raged at the site — the Siachen glacier in the Himalayas — for two decades. More than 100 scientists from eight nations had planned to attend the 29-31 May meeting, sponsored by Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission and the US National Science Foundation.
But on Tuesday (23 May), a geologist from Pakistan's University of Peshawar emailed one of the conference organisers to say the meeting would be postponed "due to unavoidable circumstances", reports Science today.
Top of the agenda were plans to turn the politically sensitive glacial region into a site for collaborative research between India and Pakistan, a move that would require both countries to withdraw their troops from the area.
Saleem Ali, a US-based scientist behind the initiative, says Pakistan's Interior Ministry had pressured the Higher Education Commission to cancel for "security reasons".
The news came on the opening day of the tenth round of talks between the defence ministries of India and Pakistan on how to demilitarise Siachen.