Siachen: The Land of Roses or an Ice Graveyard

Siachen, which literary means “land of wild roses”, is witness to thousands of deaths of both Indian and Pakistani soldiers. Yet, the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar insists that the question of withdrawing troops from the region “does not arise”. Pakistan, for its part, has no option but to follow suit, though reluctantly.

It was April 13, 1984 when Indian troops moved to occupy the peaks of Siachen Glacier. Pakistan responded in the same manner. With this move, Siachen Glacier, which is also known as the “roof of world”, became world’s highest battleground where two armies have fought more against the environment than against each other. Once uninhabited, the area now hosts the  two armies deployed at the altitude of 16,000-22,000 feet above sea level for the past almost 32 years. The 1949 Karachi Agreement, which both sides signed after fighting their first war soon after the independence, gave control of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan, whereas control of the Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh was given to India. Taking into account the actual positions of the troops of the two countries, a cease-fire line was drawn between two parts of  Kashmir up to a point at the base of Saltoro Range which is also known as NJ-9842. The area beyond this point remained un-demarcated and uninhabited until 1984 when India launched “Operation Meghdoot” to occupy the Glacier on the pretext of perceived Pakistani military designs in this region.

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