Tag Archives: Siachen Glacier

Pakistan in ‘India Today’ During 2012- Part 2

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.

Blood Politics in SiachenMay 2012 Edition of ‘India Today’ magazine

Cover Stories: *Siachen can be a mountain of peace *Blood Politics on Siachen *India cannot afford to give up Siachen

*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


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Siachen: dispute within a dispute- China as mediator

THERE is a need to adopt a negotiated approach among the Third World countries. Pakistan has finally decided to engage in a dialogue with India over the Siachen issue.

A few would disagree with the analysis that Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been overshadowed by rivalry with its neighbour, India. Kashmir has remained a bone of contention between the strategically-important Pakistan and economically-empowered India.

Both countries are spending huge amounts of money in order to swell their defence budgets. Bilateral and multilateral diplomacy seems to be the only solution for resolving outstanding issues.

Both countries have hardly ever used bilateral or multilateral diplomacy. It is imperative to utilise regional associations for developing a symbiotic relationship between states at a regional level without undermining their sovereign status.

With regards to Pakistan and India, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation can be considered a good option for the purpose of ‘accommodative diplomacy’.

Undoubtedly, the association has remained a debating platform since its establishment.

It has played a pivotal role to accentuate common issues and regional interdependence among the South Asian countries.

India being the second most populous country in the world, an emerging economy and a potential market, has left its neighbours with no other option except to live with it as good as they can.

The Siachen issue is often referred to as a ‘dispute within a dispute’ and for this reason it is intertwined with various factors. It is imperative to mutually decide and allocate the defence budget, keeping in view the resources of all the South Asian countries.
All the countries should only spend the amount decided for the purpose of their defence.

Through dialogue and negotiation both Pakistan and India should withdraw their troops from what is considered the world’s highest battlefield. Being an observer state of Saarc and Pakistan’s ‘all-weather friend’, China can become a mediator between Pakistan and India for transforming Siachen into a peace park.

On the other hand, India should remain flexible and comprehend the diplomatic intricacies of the South Asian region which directly affect its development, prosperity and survival.

Originally published in Dawn newspaper on April 27, 2012.

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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Letters


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