Should the Siachen Glacier Zone be demilitarized?

Submitted by aurora on Fri, 04/27/2012 - 09:57

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Soldiers are Siachen are facing a tough battle everyday. Not due to guns or bullets or ammunition, but the biting cold and extreme conditions there. Recently 140 soldiers of Pakistan army died in an avalanche. Since then the debate as to whether demilitarize that zone has begun again. Even at the peak of fighting in the 1980s and 1990s, maximum casualties on both the sides occurred because of the treacherous terrain, the super-high altitude - which affects the human body adversely, and the extreme weather. The lack of oxygen at heights between 18,000 and 20,000 feet and prolonged periods of isolation are a lethal combination and result in pulmonary oedema, frostbite and other serious complications. Besides, prolonged deployment at such heights takes a heavy psychological toll. While these casualties are now better managed due to early evacuation, improvements in medical science and the establishment of forward medical facilities, they can never be completely eliminated.

Is it time that the soldiers be spared from the severe trauma? Who will decide? Blogs and theories by experts point out to Kargil 1999, the breach of the Shimla accord of 1972 and many such instances and defend the posting of soldiers. Few organisations and individuals point out to the informal ceasefire prevalent there since late 2003 and vouch for demilitarisation. The Indian and Pakistani Governments blame each other.

Our concern as human beings must be to wish for the life of those souls who have decided to leave the pleasures of life behind and be a part of the battalions @ Siachen. If nothing, lets tell them that we care!

More info about life at Siachen available at: http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/node/2076 and http://www.sankalpindia.net/drupal/node/2077

Time and again, Pakistan has violated peace treaties with India. The Standstill Agreement in 1947, the Karachi Agreement of 1949, the Tashkent Agreement of 1966, the Simla Accord of 1972, the Lahore Declaration of 1999, and the Joint Statement of 2004 are nothing but jokes to the Pakistani forces. Can we really trust, that if we evacuate Siachen, Pakistani forces won’t try to capture Saltoro?Is 129 not less than 1000 soldiers who laid their lives in the same snow capped peaks? Pakistani forces can trek to Saltoro in a week, while it will take us three weeks to reach there. In 1999 when Pakistan sent infiltrators to occupy vacated Indian posts in Kargil,across the LOC, they believed that India would be forced to withdraw from Siachen in exchange of a Pakistani withdrawal from Kargil. Can we forget that? While peace in the valley is of absolute importance, it should happen in a step-by-step approach. Won’t loosing Siachen as the first step be suicidal?

You almost read what was there in my mind about this situation.. It's not just about Siachen glacier itself.. it is also about the safety of Leh and Laddakh.. Until the relationship between the two  countries changes dramatically and there is some stability in Pakistan, probably status quo is the best option for Siachen..

But yes, there should be continuous work done to improve the living conditions of soldiers there. We must do what we can to ensure that each man there deserves the best possible attention and treatment from us as a nation.