In April 2012 an avalanche trapped 140 Pakistani soldiers under the snow in Giyari sector located at the Siachen glacier. 129 lost their lives and all the bodies have not been recovered due to the difficult terrain. Siachen is known as the world’s most difficult and highest battlefield. Once again, peace proposals came into limelight.
However, the adamant stance of India is clearly reflected through the reviews of the cover stories, published in India Today during 2012.
*Siachen can be a mountain of peace
Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri (former foreign minister of Pakistan) suggests to expand the ‘issues of concern’ related with Indo-Pak diplomacy, beyond the Kashmir issue. He recalls in his article, the consensus between Rajiv Gandhi (India) and Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan) to call back soldiers from Siachen. Kasuri emphasizes on the expenditure of budget on developmental projects instead of defence and military. Being the adviser on foreign affairs and head of Kashmir affairs for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Kasuri revealed that his party wants a harmonious relation between both the countries.
As quoted in ‘Siachen can be a mountain of peace’:
Between 2002-2007, we were able to create the right atmosphere for peace. We had reached an understanding on key issues like Jammu and Kashmir and were just a signature away from a solution for Sir Creek. It is time to infuse momentum in our bilateral ties-in 2007, a draft on Kashmir was ready to be presented to our Cabinet and Parliament. Our solution would have been acceptable to all the three sides, India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris I had several meetings with the Kashmiris in India, Pakistan and in other countries and almost 85 per cent of them were willing to accept the solution we proposed.
*Blood Politics on Siachen
Gaurav C. Sawant and Shiv Aroor reiterate the idea that ‘peace talks’ are in vain and the Indian army has an edge over the Pakistan army at Siachen. In case the civil government is resolved to ‘gift’ Siachen to Pakistan then the military should stop it all costs. They blatantly state:
The status quo, India believes, is bleeding Pakistan more. For the Indian Army, Siachen is not negotiable. “There is no reason for withdrawal from Siachen at this stage. Both tactically and strategically, holding those commanding heights is to India’s advantage. Pakistan has given no reason for India to trust it.
The strategic community is opposed to the Indian Government’s piecemeal approach to peace. They want Pakistan to stop infiltration, close down terror camps, crack down on terrorist groups hostile to India on their soil before there is forward movement on Siachen.
The entire article draws the conclusion that dialogue over anything (let alone Siachen) between the two countries isn’t feasible. The authors inadequately use the term ‘serial violator of bilateral agreements’ for Pakistan. This is proved by another author in the same edition of the magazine…
*India cannot afford to give up Siachen
…the changed circumstances of the day demand that we abandon the quest for an accord on Siachen. In this context, it may be recalled that when such an agreement was originally mooted in the late 1980s, we were suffering many casualties in the area which is no longer the case. Satish Chandra
This explicitly shows that the Indian government had been shifting stances on the Siachen issue according to its position on the ground.
What are the guarantees that Pakistan will not occupy the heights vacated by India? General V.P. Malik, Former Chief of Army Staff
Prime Minister cannot compel the Army to withdraw based on empty, meaningless words not backed by action. Ajit Doval, Former Director, Intelligence Bureau
At Saltoro, we dominate the heights overlooking the Northern Areas and land illegally ceded by Pakistan to China. Kanwal Sibal, Former Foreign Secretary