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.