As the political slugfest is on between political parties as to who ceded what to China more skeletons are tumbling out of the Congress cupboard with startling revelations by former Chief of Army Staff J J Singh & his peers on Siachen.
Bharat won the glacial heights in 1984 after launching operation Meghdoot. Naib Subedar Bana Singh’s heroics are etched in golden letters as he captured the Qaid post in a daring operation (operation Rajiv named after 2nd lieutenant Rajiv Pande who lost his life in an earlier attempt to capture the post) in broad daylight when all weapons froze in sub-zero temperatures.
Bana Singh was awarded the highest gallantry award, ‘The Paramvir Chakra’ for his bravery & valour and the post was renamed Bana Post. The strategic importance of the 76 km long glacier can be gauged from the fact that it drives a wedge between Bharat’s two known enemies in the region Pakistan & China by keeping the the Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan away from the Chinese occupied Shaksam valley.
The strategic Saltoro ridge & the 3 main passes of the ridge immediately west of the glacier Sia La, Bilafond La & Gyong La are under Bharat’s control. Unsuccessful attempts have been made by Pakistan to recapture the glacier in 1987 & 1989 once under the then Brigade Commander Parvez Musharraf who was to later betray Bharat by occupying Kargil heights in his capacity as the Pakistan President.
Siachen provides the Bharatiya army with the much needed watch tower to monitor the activities of it’s two arch enemies on both sides of the northern range. But as the former Chief of Staff revealed their was an attempt during UPA -1 to step down from the strategic glacier & gift it to Pakistan like PoK & Aksai Chin.
The absurd proposal mooted by the Congress allegedly under American pressure was submitted to the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) & it took the timely intervention of the then NSA (National Security Advisor) M K Naranyan along with Gen. J J Singh to shoot down the proposal.
The then foreign secretary Shyam Saran in his book “How India sees the world : Kautilya to the 21st century”, recalls the meeting of the CCS on the eve of the Defence Secretary level talks in May 2006 where the draft agreement was to be discussed when the NSA Mr. M K Naranyan launched into a bitter offensive against the proposal saying that Islamabad could not be trusted & that there would be political & public opposition to any such initiative.
Moreover, Bharat’s military position in the northern sector vis – a – vis both Pak & China would be compromised. According to Shyam Saran, Gen. J J Singh, who had happily gone on with the proposal in its earlier iterations, now decided to join Naranyan in rubbishing it. Dr. Manmohan Singh’s former media advisor Sanjaya Baru has claimed in his book “The Accidental Prime Minister,” that Gen. Singh would privately say that a deal with Pakistan on Siachen was doable but in public he would support a contrary view.
Rubbishing Baru’s claim, Gen. Singh said that the Army’s position had been consistent that their could be no action on disengagement until Pakistan agreed to authenticate troop positions on the ground and on the maps. The then Prime Minister wanted to convert the Siachen glacier into a “mountain of peace,” with an adversary which had treachery & deceit written all over it since 1947.
A cover story in India Today magazine in May 2012 titled “Could PM gift away to Pakistan what army has won?” further vindicated the widely held view that the UPA-1 & 2 under Manmohan & Sonia were on the verge of compromising Bharat’s security. The military think tank strongly believed that the then Prime minister was on the verge of disengaging from Siachen & committing strategic Hara-kiri leaving the heights open for enemies like Pakistan & China to collude & launch a joint attack on Bharat as & when desired.
The India Today story further said that the Army under its then Chief V K Singh sensing the government’s mood to demilitarize Siachen was very clear in his mind that he would demand an order in writing from the government & oppose it in writing in national interest. Similar strategic objections were raised in the article by Maj Gen (Retd) former Divisional Commander & defence analyst G D Bakshi saying that “Dr. Manmohan Singh would do grave injustice to the nation if he ignores Army’s sincere advice on Siachen.”
That this preposterous idea of climbing down from the glacial heights, even if under American pressure was sought to be implemented against a country like Pakistan which had back stabbed Bharat after the Lahore declaration by occupying the Kargil heights, defied logic. Lt. Gen. (Retd) & former DG of military intelligence had questioned the same logic “Why does our PM want to close his eyes & trust Pakistan blindly. What our the guarantees that Pakistan will not occupy the heights vacated by India,” he said.
Across the board the strategic thinkers were of the view that demilitarisation of the glacier & then reclaiming it in the event of a betrayal by the enemy would be costlier than staying put at the Saltoro ridge & maintaining the current commanding positions enjoyed by the army. As things stand today with both the tiger & the dragon engaged in a bloody standoff in Galwan & Pakistan lurking in the background like a wily wolf any compromise on the Siachen glacier would have put paid to Bharat’s chances of winning a two pronged war against its nefarious treacherous & untrustworthy neighbours.
But the former Prime Minister until he was spooked by saner advice was bitten by the peace bug or was it the trophy of the Noble Peace Prize that obscured his thinking & lured him.
This article that appeared on Sunday Guardian recently sheds more light on the almost-successful UPA attempt at “Siachen Sellout”, and how this national security disaster was averted.
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