- Siachen conflict
Infobox Military Conflict
Indo-Pakistani Warsand the Kashmir conflict
caption=Siachen Glacier lies in the
Karakoramrange. Its snout is less than 50 km north of the LadakhRange.
April 13, 1984- [http://www.kashmirsentinel.com/apr1999/3.9.html Kashmir Sentinel] , 1999 April.]
Siachen Glacier, in a disputed and undemarcated region of Kashmir
result=India captures and retains at present the
Siachen Glacierand Saltoro Ridge.
casualties1=1025 [ [http://www.pakdef.info/pakmilitary/army/siachen/index1.html www.pakdef.info/pakmilitary/army/siachen/index1.html] ]
casualties2=1344 [ [http://www.kashmirsentinel.com/apr1999/3.9.html www.kashmirsentinel.com/apr1999/3.9.html] ]
The Siachen Conflict, sometimes referred to as The Siachen War was a military conflict between
Indiaand Pakistanover the disputed Siachen Glacierregion in Kashmir. It began in 1984 with India's Operation Meghdoot.
The glacier is the highest battleground on earth [VAUSE, Mikel. Peering Over the Edge: The Philosophy of Mountaineering, p. 194.] [CHILD, Greg. Mixed Emotions: Mountaineering Writings, p. 147.] , where
Indiaand Pakistanhave fought intermittently since April 13, 1984. Both countries maintain permanent military personnel in the region at a height of over convert|6000|m. More than 4000 people have died in this inhospitable terrain, mostly due to weather extremities and the natural hazards of mountain warfare.Fact|date=September 2007
The conflict in Siachen stems from the confusion in the improperly demarcated territory on the map beyond the map coordinate known as
NJ9842. The 1972 Simla Agreementdid not clearly mention who controlled the glacier, merely stating that from the NJ9842 location the boundary would proceed "thence north to the glaciers."
In 1957 Pakistan permitted a British expedition under
Eric Shiptonto approach the Siachen through the Bilafond La, and recce Saltoro Kangri. [Himalayan Journal Vol. 21] Five years later a Japanese-Pakistani expedition put two Japanese and a Pakistani Army climber on top of Saltoro Kangri. [ Himalayan Journal Vol. 25 ] These were early moves in this particular game of oropolitics.
The United States Defense Mapping Agency (now
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) began in about 1967 to show, with no legal or treaty-derived justification or any boundary documentation, an international boundary on their Tactical Pilotage Charts available to the public and pilots as proceeding from NJ9842 east-northeast to the Karakoram Passat 5,534 m (18,136 ft) on the China border. [ [http://outside.away.com/outside/features/200302/200302_siachen_7.html 2003 article about Siachen in Outside magazine] ] Numerous governmental and private cartographers and atlas producers followed suit. This cartographic aggressionresulted in the US cartographically "awarding" the entire 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) of the Siachen-Saltoro area to Pakistan.
In the 1970s and early 1980s several
mountaineeringexpeditions applied to Pakistan to climb high peaks in the Siachen area as U.S army maps deliberately showed it on Pakistani side of the Line of Control, and Pakistan granted them. This in turn reinforced the Pakistani claim on the area, as these expeditions arrived on the glacier with a permit obtained from the Government of Pakistan. Teram KangriI (convert|7465|m|ft|abbr=on|disp=s) and Teram KangriII (convert|7406|m|ft|abbr=on|disp=s) were climbed in 1975 by a Japanese expedition led by H. Katayama, which approached through Pakistan via the Bilafond La. [ SANGAKU 71]
Indian government and military took note. Prior to 1984 neither India nor Pakistan had any permanent presence in the area. Once having become aware of this and the errant US military maps,
ColonelN. Kumar of the Indian Army, then commanding the Army's High-Altitude Warfare School, mounted an Army expedition to the Siachen area as a counter-exercise. In 1978 this expedition climbed Teram KangriII, claiming it as a first ascent in a typical 'oropolitical' riposte. Unusually for the normally secretive Indian Army, the news and photographs of this expedition were published in 'The Illustrated Weekly of India', a widely-circulated popular magazine. [ [http://outside.away.com/outside/features/200302/200302_siachen_1.html Outside magazine article about Siachen battleground] ]
The first public mention of a possible conflict situation in the Siachen was an abbreviated article titled "High Politics in the Karakoram" by
Joydeep Sircarin "The Telegraph" newspaper of Calcuttain 1982 [ [http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060515/asp/nation/story_6221947.asp The Telegraph - Calcutta : Nation ] ] . The full text was printed as "Oropolitics" in the Alpine Journal, London, in 1984. [ Alpine Journal, 1984]
Operation Meghdoot(named after the divine cloud messenger in a Sanskritplay by Kalidasa) on 13 April, 1984when the Kumaon Regimentof the Indian Armyand the Indian Air Forcewent into the glacier region. Pakistan quickly responded with troop deployments and what followed was literally a race to the top. Within a few days, the Indians were in control of the entire area, as Pakistan was beaten to all of the Saltoro Ridgehigh ground by about a week. The two northern passes - Sia Laand Bilafond La- were quickly secured by India. Pakistan lost almost convert|900|sqmi|km2 cite book|author= Pervez Musharraf| title= | publisher=Free Press | year=2006 | id=ISBN 0-7432-8344-9(pp. 68-69)] to nearly convert|1000|sqmi|km2 of territory to India [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,958254-2,00.html The Himalayas War at the Top Of the World] July 31, 1989 - TIME] Since then Pakistan has launched several attempts to displace the Indian forces, but with little success. The most well known was in 1987, when an attempt was made by Pakistan to dislodge India from the area. The attack was masterminded by Pervez Musharraf(later President of Pakistan) heading a newly raised elite SSG commando unit raised with United States Special Operations Forceshelp in the area. [cite book|author= J. N. Dixit| title= India-Pakistan in war & peace| publisher=Routledge | year= | id=ISBN 0415304725(pp. 39)] A special garrison with eight thousand troops was built at Khapalu. The immediate aim was to capture Bilafond La but after bitter fighting that included hand to hand combat, the Pakistanis were thrown back and the positions remained the same. The only Param Vir Chakra- India's highest gallantry award - to be awarded for combat in the Siachen area went to Naib Subedar Bana Singh(retired as Subedar Major/Honorary Captain), who in a daring daylight raid assaulted and captured a Pakistani post atop a 22,000 foot (6,700 m) peak, now named Bana Post. [ [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/History/1984/Siachen.html] .]
In , former Pakistani president, General
Pervez Musharrafstates that Pakistan lost almost convert|900|sqmi|km2 of territory.cite book|author= Pervez Musharraf| title= | publisher=Free Press | year=2006 | id=ISBN 0-7432-8344-9(pp. 68-69)] TIMEstates that the Indian advance captured nearly convert|1000|sqmi|km2 of territory claimed by Pakistan. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,958254-2,00.html The Himalayas War at the Top Of the World] July 31, 1989 - TIME]
Further attempts to reclaim positions were launched by Pakistan in 1990, 1995, 1996 and even in early 1999, just prior to the Lahore Summit. The 1995 attack by Pakistan SSG was significant as it resulted in 40 casualties for Pakistan troops without any changes in the positions. An Indian IAF MI-17 helicopter was shot down in 1996.
The Indian army controls all of the convert|70|km|mi long Siachen Glacier as well as all of its tributary glaciers as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier, Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La, thus holding onto the tactical advantage of high ground. [See http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE6-1/Siachen.html for perhaps the most detailed treatment of the geography of the conflict, including its early days, and under section "3." the current status of control of Gyong La, contrary to the oft-copied misstatement in the old error-plagued summary at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/siachen.htm] . [See http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2304/stories/20060310001704400.htm for a detailed, current map.] Gyong La (Pass) itself is at 35-10-29N, 77-04-15 E; that high point is controlled by India.
The Pakistanis control the glacial valley just five kilometers southwest of Gyong La. The Pakistanis have been unable get up to the crest of the Saltoro Ridge, while the Indians cannot come down and abandon their strategic high posts.
The line where Indian and Pakistani troops are presently holding onto their respective posts is being increasingly referred to as the Actual Ground Position Line(AGPL). [ [http://www.hindu.com/2006/04/29/stories/2006042906591200.htm Confirm ground position line on Siachen: BJP] - April 29, 2006, "
The Hindu"] [ [http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_26-11-2003_pg1_1 Guns to fall silent on Indo-Pak borders] November 26, 2003 - "Daily Times"]
A cease fire went into effect in 2003. Even before then, every year more soldiers were killed because of severe weather than enemy firing. The two sides have lost an estimated 2,000 personnel primarily due to
frostbite, avalanchesand other complications. Both nations have 150 manned outposts along the glacier, with some 3,000 troops each. Official figures for maintaining these outposts are put at ~$300 and ~$200 million for India and Pakistan respectively. India has built the world's highest helipadon this glacier at a place called Sonam, which is at 21,000 feet (6,400 m) above the sea level, to serve the area. India also installed the world's highest telephone boothon the glacier. [ [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-5480111.html India Installs World'S Highest Phone Booth Soldiers Fighting Along Kashmir Glacier Can Now Call Families, Army Says - Denver Rocky Mountain News - Highbeam Research ] ]
One of the factors behind the
Kargil Warin 1999 when Pakistan sent infiltrators to occupy vacated Indian posts across the Line of Controlwas their belief that India would be forced to withdraw from Siachen in return for Pakistan pulling back from Kargil. Both sides have been wishing to disengage from the costly military outposts but after the Kargil War India has backed off from withdrawing in Siachen, wary that the Kargil scenario could play out again if they vacate their Siachen Glacier posts without any official confirmation of their positions.
During her tenure as
Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ms Benazir Bhutto, visited the area west of Gyong La, making her the first premier from either side to get to the Siachen region. On June 12, 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singhbecame the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the area, calling for a peaceful resolution of the problem. In the previous year, the President of India, Abdul Kalambecame the first head of stateto visit the area.
Jet Airwaysplans to open a chartered service to the glacier's nearest airlink, the Thoise airbase, mainly for military purposes. Pakistan's PIA flies tourists and trekkersdaily to Skardu, which is the jumping off point for K2, the world's second highest point just 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) northwest of the Siachen area, although bad weather frequently grounds these scheduled flights.
Since September 2007, India has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the forbidding glacial heights. The expeditions are also meant to show to the international audience that Indian troops hold "almost all dominating heights" on the important Saltoro Ridge and, to show that Pakistani troops are not within convert|15|mi|km of the convert|43.5|mi|km|-1|adj=on Siachen Glacier. [ [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_opens_Siachen_to_trekkers/articleshow/2363583.cms India opens Siachen to trekkers]
Times of India13 Sep 2007]
*"Siachen: Conflict Without End" by
List of glaciers
Line of Control
* [http://www.pakdef.info/pakmilitary/army/siachen/index1.html The War from Pakistani sources]
* [http://www.time.com/time/asia/covers/501050711/story.html Time report]
* [http://www.kashmirsentinel.com/apr1999/3.9.html Siachen: The stalemate continues]
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