The Blunder of Siachen
Siachen Glacier is one of the most militarized posts in the world second to the DMZ in Korea and guarded by the Indian armed forces. This article highlights a few facts about the futility of guarding this uninhabitable glacier.
Siachen Glacier is a glacier situated in Jammu and Kashmir region close to the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan. Siachen glacier though clearly within Indian territory has been claimed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The Siachen Glacier experiences extremely harsh weather and has an extremely high altitude. It is one of the most hostile places on the planet and the glacier is absolutely uninhabitable and unsustainable for human occupation.
Yet, Siachen is one of the most heavily militarized places in India with an extremely large presence of the armed forces. The armed forces keep guard round the clock to prevent Pakistani intruders from sneaking into Siachen and claiming it to be Pakistani, like they did during the Kargil War.
The truth is that during the late 1970’s, there were huge tensions between India and Pakistan due to the war in 1971 in which India was victorious. K2, the second tallest peak in the world is in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. When mountaineers would go to climb K2, the Pakistani government would issue maps to these mountaineers which claim Siachen Glacier to be a part of Pakistan. The Indian leadership, which was headed by Rajiv Gandhi at that time, were angered and furious. So the obvious reaction of the Indian government was to heavily militarize Siachen.
This move has been one of the biggest blunders ever made by the Indian administration. It is a mistake which all Indians are paying for with their money. Sadly, the mistake will never be undone unless negotiations regarding the Kashmir issue will be complete and the issue is resolved.
First of all, not a blade of grass grows in the glacier. It is totally uninhabitable and unsustainable. Nobody can grow crops or set up factories at such a hostile environment.
Secondly, the Pakistanis are least bothered about the Glacier. First of all, they are battling for their own survival and they are desperate to keep afloat and prevent themselves from being a failed state soon enough. They know its foolishness to claim the glacier and they have absolutely no use of Siachen.
Thirdly, it’s a waste of resources. The government of India spends close to Rs. 1 crore ($22 million) each and every day in Siachen. Many soldiers have died in the harsh and hostile environment of Siachen. An interesting example is how the DRDO spent over Rs. 4 crore to develop sweets which could be fed at such a high altitude. The government spends so much money on something which is never going to guarantee them anything in return.
The government should reduce the number of troops present in Siachen. There are too many troops guarding a region which is almost completely useless. So many soldiers die just out of frostbite in these extreme weather conditions.
It is time that India took necessary steps and demilitarize Siachen and save India some money.