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India Will Stick To It's Position On Siachen

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Manmohan Yadav, Jun 8, 2012.

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  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    India is not going to give up its tactical and strategic advantage over Pakistan in the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region anytime soon, even though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may still want to convert it into "a mountain of peace".

    The Government of India has decided to stick to the conventional Indian position that before any demilitarisation of Siachen, Pakistan should agree to full demarcation of the ground position of troops on the glacier. The decision was taken during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and the same will be reiterated by India at the defence secretary-level talks between the two countries in Islamabad next week.

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    India has always insisted on iron-clad guarantees that Pakistani troops will not occupy any post vacated by Indian troops in the event of an agreement being reached in the future on demilitarisation. This is all the more crucial, considering the Kargil experience 13 years ago.

    Pakistan has so far resisted the idea of demarcation of current ground positions on both sides. This raises considerable doubts over Pakistani intentions. Indian defence experts feel that Pakistan is reluctant so that it (Pakistan) can exercise the option of occupying posts in case they are vacated by the Indian Army as part of any settlement. Pakistan's game plan so far has been not to extend any border demarcation in the northwest direction to the Karakoram pass.

    India, on the other hand, wants extension of any mutually agreed upon border demarcation straight up north from the NJ 9842 position along the ridgelines. The Indian position is that the line runs towards the glaciers along the watersheds formed by the Saltoro Range as per the internationally accepted principle of border delineation.

    After an avalanche near the Siachen glacier that killed over 100 Pakistani soldiers a few months ago, Pakistan had requested India for withdrawal of troops of both countries from the Siachen region which is the world's highest battlefield. The issue had also figured during the recent meeting between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. Pakistan Army chief Gen. A.P. Kayani had also called for demilitarisation of the region.

    India, too, has lost many soldiers. Although the casualty rate has steadily dipped in recent years, the toll stood at 26 last year. The infrastructure on the Indian side is much better compared to the Pakistani side. Soldiers on the Indian side have much better living conditions and hence leaving the glacier does not make any sense for the Indian Army. Pakistan is bleeding heavily due to troops in the region and is taking a massive financial toll on it's economy. India on the other hand has a bloating defence budget with no shortage in funds.

    India and Pakistan are also expected to discuss the Sir Creek issue soon. The government had recently informed the Parliament, "The President of Pakistan during his meeting with the Prime Minister on April 8, pointed out the need for all issues in the bilateral relationship including Sir creek, Siachen and J&K to be addressed. Both leaders felt the need to move forward step by step and find a pragmatic and mutually-acceptable solutions to all those issues."

    "India has all the advantages now...why give them up without any gains?" asked a senior officer. If India was not holding the heights on the Saltoro Ridge, the highest watershed in the area, Pakistani and Chinese armies could link up to bring the Karakoram Pass under their control and threaten the Ladakh region. "The increasing Chinese presence in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is a fact of life," he added.
     
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