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Army cautions against concessions on Siachen
Rules out any demilitarisation of the world’s highest battlefield
Arun Joshi/TNS

Jammu, May 26
The Indian Army has cautioned the Central Government against falling into any trap of Pakistan on the Siachen glacier. It has re-asserted its stand it would not move any of its men or machines from Siachen glacier, ruling out any demilitarisation from the highest battle ground of the world.

The Army regards Siachen, standing at a height of 21,000 ft, as its high-value strategic asset and believes that any diplomatic mis-step would work to the advantage of Pakistan and China.

Notwithstanding the plea of Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ahead of the June 10-11 India-Pakistan talks on Siachen, that the glacier be demilitarised, the Indian army is not convinced by any of the arguments forwarded by him.

His plea had come in the wake of the killing of 140 or more Pakistani soldiers in an avalanche last month.

The weather and terrain are more lethal than guns of Pakistani soldiers, which, in any case, are silent now for nine years following November 26, 2003 ceasefire on borders, including the glacier. The Army has made a fresh assessment of the situation and said a firm no to the Pakistani proposal unless Islamabad agrees to Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on the glacier.

“Essentially, this is because of the trust deficit,” Army Chief Gen V K Singh told a TV channel yesterday.

He also disclosed that Pakistan was not on the glacier, its deployment was beyond Saltro Ridge - one of the most strategic points on the glacier.

Ever since the Kargil war, which happened as a result of Pakistani soldiers occupying trans-Himalayan heights in 1999, the Indian Army is not in a mood to take any chances. Sources told The Tribune today that the China factor, too, has also been taken into the account.

There are nearly 11,000 men of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Gilgit, Baltistan and other parts of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Some of them are very close to the glacier.

Pakistan had, in the last talks on the glacier in May last year, stressed on the involvement of China in the future talks on Siachen.

This has doubled the threat to “our strategic asset,” a senior army officer told The Tribune. The China-Pakistan nexus presents a worrying scenario for the Indian Army. The Northern Command chief Lt. Gen. K T Parnaik, while talking of the nexus, had said that the presence of “Chinese troops in Gilgit, Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir was a worrying scenario for the Indian army.”

the contentions

  • Siachen is its high-value strategic asset
  • Any diplomatic mis-step would help Pakistan and China
  • A firm no to the proposal unless Islamabad agrees to Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on the glacier
  • Indian Army is at the strategic heights. Once vacated, these would become vulnerable
  • Pakistan, it is feared, might repeat Kargil-type misadventure





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