South Asia and Beyond

‘India Cannot Trust Pak Or China, Should Not Vacate Saltoro Ridge’

NEW DELHI: Not a single shot has been fired on the Siachen Glacier after India took control of it through ‘Operation Meghdoot’ in 1984 by foiling Pakistani designs. Recently, responding to a question on whether the glacier can be demilitarised, Army chief General MM Naravane said India wasn’t averse to the idea but the precondition would be Pakistan accepting the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) that divides the positions of the two countries. Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni (Retd), was one of the pioneers of the operation, says given the hostile neighbours—Pakistan and China—India should not vacate the Saltoro Ridge to the western flank of the glacier. He was speaking to StratNews Global Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale on ‘The Gist’.

Given below is the transcript:

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

Let’s for a change believe that we have vacated and there’s nobody on Siachen. Neither the Pakistanis are there nor the Indians. But the Chinese are very much in Shaksgam Valley. And the Kunjerab Pass, complete construction that is going on there, you have drones, UAVs, free access of things going from one end to the other end without anybody knowing what’s going on. The very presence of us deters them from doing so. That’s No. 1. No. 2 It’s our area, no question. And No. 3, I would put it this way. The occupation of Siachen glacier for almost three decades now has come as a blessing in disguise. Whatever is happening today in Eastern Ladakh, the very fact that our troops are very acclimatized and can take on anybody and everybody at any given point of time because everybody knows what it is to fight at those heights, how it is to be able to fight the weather so to be able to take care of themselves and also to be able to take care of the enemy. This kind of training that has come to all our boys by the way of Siachen is commendable. We never expected what the Chinese would do. I never expected what China would do. They were so good to us till April 2020. Intentions can change overnight. And the collusivity between China and Pakistan in PoK, the kind of interests that they have, the CPEC project that they are undertaking, the kind of minerals they would be mining in that area, it would be free-for-all between China and Pakistan in that entire area should we vacate Saltoro. Saltoro must not be vacated. Definitely, not as of now because you cannot trust China, you cannot trust Pakistan.