There has been repeated failure to reach a solution on the Siachen dispute due to the Indian army’s resistance to giving up its territory under any condition, according to latest cables released by Wikileaks.
According to the 2006 cable classified by the Deputy Chief of Mission Geoff Pyatt, the reasons for the Indian army’s resistance are its strategic advantage over China, internal army corruption, distrust of Pakistan and a desire to keep hold of advantageous territory that thousands of Indian soldiers have died protecting.
The cable stated that every time India and Pakistan came “very close” to an agreement on the Siachen issue, the prime minister of the day would be forced to back out by the Indian defence establishment, the Congress Party hardline and opposition leaders.
When the 2006 India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary talks set up a joint mechanism for discussing counter-terrorism issues ended with rumours that Pakistan had made a concession on Siachen, observers had said that the prime minister will be significantly constrained in any part of his agenda with Pakistan in the coming months, especially in the face of significant opposition from within his own party and an emboldened BJP that viewed the joint mechanism as an opportunity to portray the Congress Party as soft on terrorism.
The cable stated that former Indian Ambassador Parthasarthy, who personally dissuaded Rajiv Gandhi from making a similar deal on Siachen in 1989, said this concession does not satisfy India’s underlying concern — that points be agreed to in advance so the Pakistani Army would be unable to simply march back in to the area and take the high peaks around the Siachen glacier that India currently controls. The cable further said:
Parthasarthy further remarked that he had discussed the issue with senior Congress Party members, who have significant sway over Sonia Gandhi and Congress Party politics, and there is “no way in hell” that they would allow India to withdraw under disadvantageous conditions. He added that the “Prime Minister won’t get away with what he is trying to do.” He said Musharraf’s book had convinced many in the Indian army that they cannot trust Pakistan, especially when he could blame an invasion of Indian territory on “mujahideen.”
In another cable, Ambassador David Mulford citing various obstacles to an agreement on Siachen wrote about the first obstacle:
Army Chief JJ Singh appears on the front page of the “Indian Express” seemingly fortnightly to tell readers the Army cannot support a withdrawal from Siachen. Given India’s high degree of civilian control over the armed forces, it is improbable that Gen. Singh could repeatedly make such statements without MoD civilians giving at least tacit approval. Whether or not this is the case, a Siachen deal is improbable while his — and the Army’s — opposition continues to circulate publicly.
On Tuesday, Pakistan and India ended a 12th round of talks over the Siachen Glacier without a hint of agreement on the modalities of a proposed demilitarisation and other key issues related to their tense standoff.
Pakistan and India decided to meet again at a mutually convenient date in Islamabad. New Delhi insisted that Islamabad must authenticate present troop position of the two sides.
While Pakistan insists on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions, as agreed in the Simla Agreement, India wants its neighbour to authenticate the Actual Ground Position Line both on the maps as well as on the ground. Siachen is considered the “low-hanging fruit” of the India-Pakistan peace process.