Melt­ing Si­achen


Atrend of veer­ing to agree to de­mil­i­tarise Si­achen be­cause “Pak­istan wants it”, dis­re­gard­ing ad­vice of suc­ces­sive Army Chiefs, should make the coun­try sit up. A Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment re­cently asked the Rak­sha Mantri why In­dia was not in­sist­ing on authentication of CFL rather than the AGPL; hint­ing de­mand of authentication of AGPL be dropped. The man­ner in which me­dia is be­ing or­ches­trated to mould pub­lic opin­ion to de­mil­i­tarise Si­achen in­di­cates po­lit­i­cal skull­dug­gery of the worst kind that may earn brown­ies for com­ing elec­tions and per­haps a peace prize but would be the big­gest strate­gic blun­der post the Shimla Ac­cord with­out re­solv­ing Jammu & Kash­mir.

Vet­er­ans who have joined the cho­rus are in­ter­est­ingly those who shed uni­form un­der un­savoury cir­cum­stances. It is not only that we lack strate­gic sense but some don’t mind shed­ding it for car­rots. Our Track Two team dis­cussing Si­achen is with­out any of­fi­cer who has served in Si­achen and the team has never vis­ited Si­achen de­spite sev­eral months of dis­cus­sions at lo­cales around the world. A vet­eran’s ar­ti­cle says Si­achen has no strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance even when de­scrib­ing Mushar­raf’s ad­mis­sion of Pak­istan want­ing to put a bat­tal­ion on Sal­toro but pre-empted by In­di­ans. Next, is the ar­gu­ment that if Pak­istan wants to dou­ble cross us, move­ment would take highly skilled Alpin­ists min­i­mum two-three weeks and they would be sit­ting ducks. Can a vet­eran be more naive know­ing In­dia’s light­en­ing he­li­copter oc­cu­pa­tion of Sal­toro sans ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion, spe­cial cloth­ing, spe­cial ra­tions and troops con­tin­u­ing there for one year.

Arm­chair war­riors who talk of offensive when dou­ble crossed need to ex­am­ine where, what depth and cap­tur­ing which crit­i­cal area(s) in nu­clear back­drop. As re­gards some agree­ment reached in 1989, the changed geostrate­gic en­vi­ron­ment must be taken into ac­count: China’s strate­gic foot­prints in POK and in­creased aggressiveness; nu­clear threat­en­ing by Pak­istan; Pak­istani in­fil­tra­tion and ter­ror­ism. The Track Two team cer­tainly would not know that in sum­mer months, how many and which of our posts on the Sal­toro are ‘with­out’ snow. De­mil­i­tari­sa­tion will open the flood gates for in­fil­tra­tion that would pen­e­trate the Ladakh and Zan­skar ranges re­quir­ing thou­sands of troops to block it. ISI has been nur­tur­ing Shia ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions. Mushar­raf’s con­fi­dence in mak­ing In­dia de­mil­i­tarise had led him to de­clare, “There will be many more Kargils.”

As re­gards ca­su­al­ties, we have suf­fered a bri­gade mi­nus worth in Kash­mir Val­ley, many ca­su­al­ties in North­east and avalanches have wiped out en­tire gun po­si­tions in Dras area. Does that jus­tify with­drawal from these ar­eas too? With Gil­git-Baltistan leased out by Pak­istan to China and China il­le­gally oc­cu­py­ing Aksai Chin and Shaks­gam Val­ley, de­mil­i­tarised Si­achen area will pro­vide the bridge be­tween these two, push­ing In­dian de­fences south to Ladakh Range re­quir­ing lakhs of crores of ru­pees to cre­ate the new de­fence line and many time more troops than the bri­gade man­ning Si­achen.

We should tell Pak­istan that cir­cum­stances have killed the Si­achen de­mil­i­tari­sa­tion is­sue. The LC be­yond NJ 9842 should run “thence north” to Wakhan Cor­ri­dor on J&K-China bor­der. Any other talks con­cern­ing ter­ri­tory must await defin­ing the line north from NJ 9842. When we are be­ing bam­boo­zled by threats of se­rial blasts even in the na­tional cap­i­tal by LeT, HUJI, IM on Pak­istan’s be­hest where is the ques­tion of de­mil­i­taris­ing Si­achen.

Agha H. Amin, de­fence an­a­lyst and vet­eran Pak­istan of­fi­cer, writes, “Utopi­ans in In­dia are ju­bi­lant that Pak­istan has made peace with In­dia. Noth­ing in re­al­ity can be far­ther from the truth. The real pic­ture will emerge when the US with­draws from Afghanistan... Pak­istan will be a semi-au­ton­o­mous Chi­nese prov­ince by 2030 or so…Pak­istan’s po­lit­i­cal econ­omy of ex­port­ing ter­ror­ism as a for­eign pol­icy tool…and ever grow­ing reser­voir of …young­sters who will fill ranks of ex­trem­ists and sui­cide bombers will continue”. Let us en­sure our own na­tional in­ter­ests. The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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