Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield, was a strategic step that went beyond bonding with Indians soldiers to also send a message to Pakistan amid escalating tensions between the nuclear armed rivals, analysts and political observers say.
India and Pakistan have faced off on the inhospitable terrain since 1984 and have long accepted the need to demilitarise Siachen, but still have not arrived at a solution that would allow them to pull out troops from the mountainous region that lies at about 20,000 feet above sea level.
Modi’s visit to Siachen on Diwali was the first by a PM in nine years. Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, visited the glacier in 2005 when he called to make Siachen an “abode of peace” between India and Pakistan.
“It is a masterstroke to spend the Diwali with soldiers in Siachen. Not only did he take this opportunity to bond with soldiers in far-flung areas but it was also a stern message to Pakistan that had, in recent times, tried to disturb the peace along the Line of Control,” said a senior bureaucrat.
Military analysts said the visit was in line with the stand of the BJP, which has in the past cautioned against any “settlement” over the Siachen glacier so that Pakistan does not get any terrain advantage to re-occupy the strategic heights.
“There is certain political subtext of this visit. Any visit of a PM to Siachen is of immense importance. This tour also plays well with the BJP’s narrative of showcasing its commitment to the national cause,” Commodore C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies, told HT.
Top sources added the trip was not a one-off event but Modi was likely to spend holidays with the army in future.
“It further showcases his government dedication and re-establishes India’s authority over the entire area,” said an official.
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