Climbing down the Siachen glacier

The issue in Siachen is a microcosm of India-Pakistan relations. Can Pakistan be trusted?

Gen Musharraf as assured Manmohan Singh that Pakistani troops will not seize vantage points on Siachen if India were to demilitarise the glacier. A positive signal, considering Pakistan believes it is causing the Indian army to bleed money and lives by keeping the conflict alive in those god-forsaken heights.

But a lot depends on whether Gen Musharraf can be trusted to keep his word. As Kautilya writes, not only is the General’s record of keeping promises unfavourable he is also the architect of Kargil. In that last conflict, it was Musharraf who thought he had a clever idea when he sent ‘mujahideen’ militants to occupy positions left vacant by the Indian army when it retreated for the winter.

It is more difficult to send ‘freedom fighters’ to Siachen, but Musharraf’s credit rating must be judged by his past payment records. And those dont look very good. So while it may make financial sense for India to climb down from the Siachen glacier, it may well be remembered that wars are not fought for purposes of thrift.

Demilitarisation of Siachen is also a good military confidence-building measure. There were 72 other confidence-building measures that India last proposed – it may be more prudent to ask Pakistan to demonstrate good faith on some of those non-military ones before the more ambitious Siachen issue is tackled.

Tailpiece

“I have no reason to doubt his sincerity,” Musharraf told Newsweek in an interview when asked if Singh was as committed to peace as former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. [IE]

3 thoughts on “Climbing down the Siachen glacier”

  1. vacating siachen would gladden the hearts of many a blighted jawan trapped in that icy hell. But yes, Can Mush be trusted to keep his word? Coz if the pakis seize our side of siachen, they’ll have the field clear to march into the Nubra valley, gateway to Indian Ladakh.

    And yes, going bypast record, it really doesn’t take long for pakistan to become puke-istan, eh?

  2. The concentration is always that pakistan should not be beleived, if that is the case then why are we even talking with it? Pakistan does not want Siachen, it is after it only because India Occupied it, it is just an egoistic one unlike kashmir. So there probably will not be any problem in leaving siachen as this free resources of both the countries.
    If trust is all that matters then we probably can include the UN or US into a formal public declaration which may be used to bind pakistan. If pakistan fails to live upto the promise then also we have the advantage as we can show this as the reason as to why we cant have talks with pakistan.
    Unless a conflict breaks out ( a war not tensions like after the parliament attack) i dont see pakistan trying to occupy siachen.

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