Siachen War: The Siachen war, sometimes introduced to as the Siachen conflict is the military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed Siachen Glacier region in Kashmir. It started with a crossfire between Indian and Pakistani soldiers on the 13th of April 1984.
Operation Meghdoot was the code for the Indian armed forces operation to seize the Siachen Glacier’s control in Kashmir, precipitating the Siachen war. The Siachen Glacier is positioned in the Eastern Karakoram range of Himalaya where the line of control between India and Pakistan ends.
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Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the entire Siachen region. In the 70s and 80s, US and Pakistani maps consistently showed the dotted line from the line of control to the Karakoram Pass. Both India and Pakistan deploy military Troops in the vicinity of Siachen. Before 1984, neither country had any military forces in this area.
Why is the Siachen Important?
The Siachen Glacier differentiates Central Asia from the Indian subcontinent, and separate Pakistan from China in the region. The Saltoro Ridge of the Siachen Glacier serves as a divider that prevents direct linking of Pok with China, stopping them from developing military geographical linkage in that specific area.
Siachen also works as a watchtower for India to keep a deep watch on Pakistan’s Gilgit and Baltistan regions. If Pakistan gets the location power in Siachen, it will become a big threat to India from the west in Ladakh and the Chinese threats from Aksai chin in the East.
Why is the Siachen Such A Difficult Area To Defend?
Besides the double military threats from Pakistan and China, the climatic condition is the biggest challenge for the armed forces. The temperature in Siachen Glacier in winters drops below -60 degrees. There are also consultant threats of avalanches, crevasses on the Glacier and high-speed winds. Soldier station in the area affected by a range of fatal altitude-related elements like frostbite, hypothermia, hypoxia and whiteouts.
What is the Source Of The Siachen Dispute?
Negotiations between Pakistan and India that followed the war of 1948 and 1971 did mark or determine the dividing line in Kashmir Northeast reaches, one of the world’s most inhospitable and desolate regions. The July 1945 Karachi agreement established a ceasefire line, which became a line of control under the 1972 Shimla agreement after minor modifications.
In the mid-1970s Pakistan began to allow International mountaineers and expedition teams to visit the Glaciers peaks. India established major air-bone operation named “Meghdoot”, about which Pakistan soon found out. Pakistan’s effort to dislodge the Indians did not succeed. Both nations gradually came to deploy more soldiers and create more posts.
When Did Diplomatic Efforts Start To Resolve The Siachen Conflict?
Soon after the first classes, both the countries made diplomatic efforts. But it wasn’t until December 1985 meeting in Delhi between General Zia ul Haq and prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that a serious attempt was made to pursue a settlement. Since then, 12 rounds of talks have taken place, the last in the year 2011.
What is the Cost Of Staying in Siachen?
Both India and Pakistan have deployed around 5000 Troops. For India, the cost of maintenance in the region is about rupees 5 crores a day. India has spent over rupees 7500 crores for procurement of clothing and mountaineering equipment for soldiers.
In terms of human cost, as many as 869 Indian officers have lost their lives in Siachen since 1984 due to climatic and weather conditions, in contrast to around 2000 Pakistani soldiers. In one of the worst known incidents, 140 Pakistani soldiers were killed after Avalon slammed into the army camp in 2012.
How Did India Occupy Siachen Through Operation Meghdoot?
Pakistan was the first to see the potential of this strategic importance unoccupied area. However, it did not deploy troops till 1970 but used to send Mountaineering expedition to the places. In 1981 Indian Army Col Narendra Bull Kumar sounded the alarm over Pakistan’s travels in the region.
After that, the army permitted him to map the entire region. Census Indian Army’s interest in the region, Pakistan army plan the nation to occupy the area but was hit by an intelligence failure. India got the information about Pakistan acquisitions from a London company, from whom Pakistan bot Mountaineering gears. In 1984, India urgently dispatched troops to Siachen under secret.
How was Operation Meghdoot Executed?
The first stage of the operation began in March 1984 with the March on foot to the Glacier’s Eastern base. The first unit was tasked with establishing a position on the Glacier’s heights, which was led by Major R. S. Sandhu. The next unit secured the Bilafond la.
The remaining units then marched and climbed for four days under command to secure the remaining heights of Saltoro Ridge. By the 13th of April, approximately 300 Indian troops were dug into the Glacier’s critical peaks and passes. Handicapped by the altitude and limited time, Pakistan could only manage its western slopes to control the Saltoro Ridge.
How Many Casualties Were Reported?
No reliable data is found anywhere regarding this—however, both sides incurred most casualties because of the weather and terrain. Many soldiers from both sides suffered frostbite and high altitude sickness organ lost in Avalanches during patrols.
In the Siachen Glacier operation Meghdoot, 35 officers and 887 junior commissioned officers have lost their lives. This news was given by the Minister of State for Defence in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
What Was The Outcome Of The Operation?
The operation resulted in India obtaining 70 kilometres long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary Glacier and the three central passes of the Saltoro Ridge. The operation and the continued cost of supporting logistics to the area is still a major drain on both militaries to this date.
Was An Agreement for The Military Disengagement Reached?
An agreement was made in the fifth round held in 1989 after the advent of Benazir Bhutto’s government. The joint statement issued after talks on the 17th of June, 1989 outlines the settlement’s core elements.
Was Pakistan Ready To Turn This Understanding Into An Agreement?
Absolutely yes. Pakistan’s Defence Secretary was mandated for the sixth round of talks in November 1992 to discuss implementation modalities in 1989 agreement.
Were There Any Missed Opportunities In The 90s?
Possibly. In November 1992 talks Pakistan showed very nice to record “present” positions on the annexure to the agreement provided the main text contained the provisions that would not constitute the basis of a legal claim or justify any political or moral rights to the area.
But Indians in sister on complete authentication and exchange of maps, to which Pakistan refused. After that, the January 1994 talk explored ideas about a zone of complete disengagement based on Indian non-paper. Jelly continued to press for acceptance of the AGPL before demilitarization.
In the mid-1990s, BJP leaders began calling to retain Siachen for strategic security reason while Pakistan started to link Siachen to resolving Kashmir.
Can Ordinary Civilians Go To The Siachen?
Indian army does not allow commoners to access the premises near Siachen Glacier, other than the locals who lived nearby and served as potters for the forces. The military is also considering opening up more of its operational positions in the high altitude theories of Ladakh for common people to see.
However, the world highest battlefield is open for tourist. Tourism will be allowed from Siachen base camp to Kumar was that lies 15,000 feet sea level.
Was The Siachen War A Waste In All Terms?
Siachen was a piece of a frozen wasteland, yet each of the two Armies spends nearly rupees 3 crores every day just to keep the battle going, and the troops supplied. Siachen has snowballed into a diplomatic, military disaster between the cold, the generals, and the political leadership on both sides.
Since the 13th of April 1984, when Siachen became an active Warzone, both countries have spent over Rupees 15000 crores here, almost equal to India’s entire annual defence budget. Both sides have lost over 2,000, and the futile battle still goes on despite five rounds of bilateral talks.
Did The 1999 Kargil Episode Have Implications for Talks On Siachen?
Inescapably. Any escalation of tension or confrontation inevitably sets back diplomatic efforts, but Kargil did more. It gave Delhi an added ” can’t trust Pakistan ” justification to toughen terms for a Siachen settlement and put Islamabad in the docs for violating the Simla Accord. It helped the Indian army argue the disagreement would risk Pakistan seizing the posts it vacated.
What Are Some Interesting Facts About The Siachen War?
- India, which has to spend rupees 5 to 7 crore daily on guarding the Glacier, has deployed around 3000 soldiers at Siachen, where temperatures can talk to -60 degrees.
- More than a thousand soldiers have died in Garden main areas in the army to control inhospitable gracious in April 1984, which is almost twice the number of lives lost in the Kargil War.
- About 220 soldiers have been killed in firing from the Pakistani side, and the other casualties have been caused by extreme climate and treacherous terrains.
- Siachen is important to India because when under India’s control, the Pakistani army can’t associate with the Chinese and pose a danger or threat to Ladakh.
- Glacier acts as a which between Shaksgam valley under Chinese control and Baltistan which is occupied by Pakistan.
- India currently occupies dominating position on the Saltoro Ridge with Pakistani posts located 3,000 feet below. Several rounds of discussions between India and Pakistan on demilitarization the Glacier have failed, with Islamabad refusing to authenticate through positions on the ground.