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Chinese presence in Siachen, army alert

The Indian army has sent a note of caution ahead of India-Pakistan talks this month that Pakistan should be offered no concessions on Siachen glacier as the heavy presence of the Chinese troops in Karokaram has added to already existing dangers there. Arun Joshi reports.

india Updated: May 08, 2011 01:33 IST
Arun Joshi

The Indian army has sent a note of caution ahead of India-Pakistan talks this month that Pakistan should be offered no concessions on Siachen glacier as the heavy presence of the Chinese troops in Karokaram has added to already existing dangers there.

It has been made clear that "no risks" can be taken at this stage. The biggest danger, according to the highly placed sources in the army is that there was no guarantee of "Pakistan not repeating what it did in early 1980s when it set its footprints on the glacier".

The Army's apprehensions have widened with the increasing presence of Chinese troops in Karokram. The Chinese are in complete control of Karokram highway that links Pakistan with China. It has been read as a serious situation. Sources said that,the army's Northern Command whose troops guard the 72 sq km glacier at the height ranging from 18,000 to 21,000 feet above sea level , in its latest assessment has pointed to the new factors that have come into play in the neighbhourhood of the glacier.

Apart from insisting that Pakistan acknowledge the Actual ground Position Line, better known as AGPL, and exchange of maps, it has been suggested that Chinese presence in Karokaram highway should also be taken into account while talking of Siachen and its demilitarization. While Pakistan has been refusing the acknowledgment of the AGPL and exchange of maps, it has been insisting on the demilitarization of glacier.

It is believed that Pakistan's insistence that Siachen should be demilitarised is connected with its future plans on Siachen glacier with the active assistance of the Chinese troops. Much before the Northern Command chief Lt. Gen. K T Parnaik voiced his apprehensions that about the presence of the Chinese troops along the Line of Control, the American newspaper New York Times revealed it all.

" It is difficult to reclaim the things by moving out of barracks when ever the contingency may arise," is a line of caution that has been conveyed in the context of apprehensions .

The demilitarization of Siachen glacier, the highest battleground in the world, could prove strategically suicidal for India as Pakistan has breached trust time and again, at the glacier and Kargil. Although it is said in the army circles that a decision on the demilitarization of the glacier is upto the Government, but militarily the need of the hour is to maintain Indian army footprints over there to foil Pakistan's designs. What if Pakistani troops occupy the glacier?," it is being asked.

It has been pointed out that the cost of evicting Pakistan that time would cannot be imagined in terms of lives , logistics and money. That's simply unthinkable the sources said. Siachen and consequently Kargil, were a manifestation of breach of trust.