Thursday, April 06, 2006

Leaving Saltoro and a path to Peace

The intensity and cost of the Saltoro War makes a disengagement from the region difficult for both sides. I can't say about Rawalpindi, but memories are still fresh in New Delhi. It was not so long ago at Subedar Bana Singh and the men of the 8 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry were asked to do the impossible by the Grace of Allah they succeeded.

Despite this painful past the Govt. of India is has cautiously tread the path towards peace on the glacier. At the present time a virtual ceasefire exists. Hostile shelling is down to minimum and aggressive patrolling is no longer carried out. The posture however continues to post a high cost in terms of resupply operations, though weapons resupply flights and patrols are operating at about a third of their usual capacity. From available information it seems that the Pakistanis are following in suit.

This apparent cooling of the conflict actually still retains a potential for a local escalation.

Though Pakistani soldiers once withdrawn from their positions on the Saltoro ridge would (like their Indian counterparts) be unable to deploy across the region without careful acclimation, the possibility of a small aggressive patrol by their units in the Gyong La area remains a possibility. Though the military effectiveness of such a venture is questionable, that is usually never a question asked by Generals at GHQ-Pindi.

The Siachen conflict consumed large quantities of ammunition. Today this ammunition is piling up at places like Dansam and Khaplu. It is possble that this ammunition could be used to reinforce Pakistani positions in the Piun/Siari area or perhaps even in the positions across the Batallik sector. Generally speaking the presence of higher amounts of ammunition in Pakistani posts usually encourages adventurism among its local commanders.

Musharraf's refusal to accept the AGPL is simply a reflection of the Pakistan Army's unwillingness to admit to defeat on the Glacier. A demarcation would doubtlessly bring involve the Pakistan Army admitting that it no longer control Qamar and Bilafond sectors. Perhaps the lies told in Pakistan in the name of Operation Ibex would also have to be exposed. While I am all for making Capt. Chahal atleast as much of a household name as Subedar Bana Singh, I can't imagine how the Pakistanis would agree to that. The Pakistanis are still addicted to a culture of military escalation. This is the prevalent definition of manhood in Rawalpindi.

Disentangling from the glacier remains a difficult affair and it is perhaps improper to close ones' mind to the possibility of a local flare up.

Our soldiers have done their bit protecting the Saltoro Ridge from Pakistan. Building a lasting degree of security from their sacrifices represents the challenge that confronts the peace initiative right now. This is not simply a matter of facing down a few local hotspots and unpleasantries - a far greater task lies ahead.


At 12:23 PM, Blogger interestedonlooker said...


I have a sense of foreboding about this issue. I have posted on my blog - your comments are welcome.


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