Why Siachen Glacier is Strategically Very Important


May be it’s a hard fact that the operational cost of Siachen is at around 5 crore rupees per day and there are people who believe that India should not have troops in Siachen. Whenever Pakistan asks for a peace treaty, he keeps Siachen for the question.

No matter how high the cost, and some priceless asset of lives being lost and the climate change. That being true, there are other truths as well which can have drastic results. Siachen is strategically very important post for Indian army. Pakistan lost it and tried to attack Siachen again and again but sent back every time.

Former Chief of Indian army Gen Bikram Singh stated regarding Siachen-

As long as the glacier is under India’s control, the Pakistani army can’t link up with the Chinese and pose threat to Ladakh. It acts as a wedge between the Shaksgam valley under Chinese control and Baltistan, which is occupied by Pakistan.

Strategic position of Siachen Glacier

The trans-Karakoram tract is the pact where is an area of nearly 9,900 kmwas transferred to China from Pakistan in 1963 and hence made easier for Pakistan and China to trade, and they have even traded all sorts of arms and missiles. It shows how important is a strategic place.

According to Wikipedia, trans Karakoram tract is-

The Trans-Karakoram Tract also known as Shaksgam or the Shaksgam Tract, is an area of more than 9,900 km2 along both sides of the Shaksgam River and extending from the Karakoram to the Kunlun range. The tract is entirely administered by the People’s Republic of China as a part of Kargilik County and Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in the Kashgar Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but claimed by Pakistan until 1963.

Karakoram highway- Source

Most of the tract is composed of the Shaksgam Valley and was formerly administered as a part of Shigar, a valley in the Baltistan region. The Raja of Shigar controlled most of this land until 1971, when Pakistan abolished the Raja government system.

A polo ground in Shaksgam was built by the Amacha Royal family of Shigar, and the Rajas of Shigar used to invite the Amirs of Yarkand to play polo there. Most of the names of the mountains, lakes, rivers and passes are in Balti/Ladakhi, suggesting that this land had been part of Baltistan/Ladakh region for a long time.

The tract is one of the most inhospitable areas of the world, with some of the highest mountains. Bounded by the Kun Lun Mountains in the north, and the Karakoram peaks to the south, including Broad Peak, K2 and Gasherbrum, on the southeast it is adjacent to the highest battlefield in the world on the Siachen Glacier region which is controlled by India.

As we can clearly read how Pakistan easily gave a huge chunk of land to Pakistan without even giving any challenge. It led to creating a weak border and a there is a big danger to northern front.

Col Narendra Kumar who led Operation Meghdoot

Siachen is the only piece that keeps Chinese and Pakistanis to openly attack India at it’s north. And also it stops the enemies from attacking Kashmir and Ladakh.

When the 1947-48 war happened between India and Pakistan, the Cease Fire Line was delineated under the Karachi Agreement of 1949 only up to a point on the map known as Point NJ 9842. The area to the north, being highly inaccessible and glaciated, was not delineated, but the direction of the CFL beyond NJ 9842 was unambiguously stated as ‘thence north to the glaciers.’ The same happened when the CFL was replaced by the LoC after the 1971 war.

In 1984, there was a confirmed report by intelligence of Pakistani army attacking Siachen. The army without any delay started Operation Meghdoot and before the Pakistani army reached Siachen, Indian troops covered all the posts. Indian army occupied the Saltoro Ridges which runs parallel to the Siachen glaciers on its western side. That have been the actual line of control since then.

After winning Siachen at Operation Meghdoot

Pakistan cannot actually attack it and win, hence they choose a much easier option of talking on the table and negotiating.

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