US and India preparing highest battle field of the world, Siachen. Are Hu, Karat squirming?
US Army chief visits Siachen
Shabir Ibn Yusuf
SRINAGAR, Oct 17: US Army Chief George W. Casey today visited the Siachen glacier, the highest battle field.The US army chief is on a three day visit to India that began on Thursday.
Pakistan has objected to the visit, terming Siachen as a disputed territory and has apprehensions that peace process might get derailed after his visit.
According to a senior army officer from Udhampur based Northern command, Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor accompanied Casey during the visit. “Casey was first flown over the 70 km glacier to have an aerial view and then landed there to acquaint himself about the ground realities,” the army officer said, adding that the Corps commander of Ladakh based 14 Core was already there. “He held an interaction with some army officers presently posted there,” the senior army officer added. The army officer said that his visit is for developing concept and medical aspect of fighting troopers in severe cold conditions and high altitudes, “Siachen is best for such concept developing as it is a unique battle field,” added the army officer.
He said that the US Army is presently dealing with rugged and high altitude terrain in Afghanistan. “US army wants to learn from the Indian army to fight on such inhospitable, rough and rugged terrain,” the army officer added.
Pakistani foreign Office spokesman has said about the visit of US army chief to Siachen “Any such visit to an area which is disputed and which is under discussion between Pakistan and India will certainly cast a shadow on the ongoing composite dialogue between the two neighbours,” a Foreign Office spokesman was quoted saying by the newsmen.
Here it needs to be mentioned that since September 2007, Siachen has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions by Indian army to the forbidding glacial heights for civilians. Earlier Israeli Army chief also visited valley and held threadbare discussions about the dealing of counterinsurgency in Jammu and Kashmir with senior army officers in Srinagar.
US army chief lands at Siachen
Srinagar, Oct 17: United States Army Chief of Staff General George William Casey on Friday visited Siachen, the world’s highest battle battle field, army sources said.
Sources said that Casey landed in Ladakh in a US aircraft and had an hour long interaction with the Indian army officials.
After the interaction, Casey alongwith Indian army chief General Deepak Kapoor visited Siachen, world’s highest battle field at an altitude of above 20000 ft above the sea level. “He was first flown over the 70 km glacier to have an aerial view and then landed there to acquaint himself about the ground realities,” sources said.
They said that US army chief was briefed about the situation in the glacier by the local army officials. “Later he conducted geographical inspection of the world’s highest battle field,” they said, adding, “He visited the Siachen for developing concept and medical aspect of fighting in severe cold conditions and high altitudes”.
The US Army has to deal with rugged and high altitude terrain in Afghanistan and "they want to learn from the Indian army to fight on such inhospitable, rough and rugged terrain".
After staying in the glacier for few hours, Casey returned to New Delhi.
Army sources said that US army chief appreciated the role of Indian army for operating in tough weather conditions in Siachen. They said that during the interaction with Indian army officials in Ladakh and Siachen, Casey deliberated upon the need to improve the cooperation between the armies of two countries.
Earlier, few months back, a group of around 20 US army officials visited Kashmir. They later visited Ladakh, where they held deliberations with the Indian army officials.
In September Israel’s Army chief, Major General Avi Mizrahi secretly visited Kashmir and offered training programmes to Indian troops based on counter-insurgency operations.
Siachen is the highest battle field in the world where India and Pakistan have been fighting to claim control over the glacier.
Since September 2007, India has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the forbidding glacial heights for civilians.
Indian and Pakistani troops regularly traded fire along the Line of Actual Control on Siachen till a ceasefire was put in place along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir in late 2003.
However, more troops from both sides have lost their lives due to inclement weather condition than to bullets on Siachen.
Ignoring Pak protest, US general visits Siachen
18 Oct 2008, 1304 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
WASHINGTON: Washington's response to Pakistan's complaint about the visit to Siachen Glacier in India by the US Army Chief General George Casey? Cold.
Hours after Islamabad loudly remonstrated about General Casey's reported programme to the highest battlefield in the world, which Pakistan considers a disputed territory, a senior US official in Washington confirmed the outing, while pointedly ignoring the Pakistani protest.
"As you all know, Gen Casey is in India and he was up in Siachen today," Evan Feigenbaum, deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs, told an Indian media round table on Friday on US-India relations. "Exciting things are happening in defense."
The remarks followed an unexpected protest from Islamabad over Casey's journey to the region to study Indian expertise and tactics in high-altitude battlefield conditions which could come in handy for US troops in Afghanistan's front with Pakistan.
A Pakistani foreign office spokesman said on Thursday that "any such visit to an area which is disputed and which is under discussion between Pakistan and India will certainly cast a shadow on the ongoing composite dialogue between the two neighbours."
The Pakistan objection seems to be more pro-forma than a meaningful one considering India has taken several foreign diplomats and generals to Kashmir, and even conducted military exercises in the region. It is now widely accepted in Washington that the boundaries between India and Pakistan, including the Line of Control, will not be redrawn, and any solution to the Kashmir issue will be within the ambit of the current boundaries.
While the Kashmir issue as a "dispute" has gradually receded into the background, saner voices are suggesting that the time is ripe for India and Pakistan to settle the matter broadly along existing lines.
"The Government of India has stated that maps cannot be redrawn. The Government of Pakistan has stated that the status quo is unacceptable. One way to proceed toward a settlement would be to accept both positions and devise new regional bodies that would overlay the current map of a divided Kashmir. These regional bodies could deal with trade, tourism, power generation, pilgrimages, and other matters," the Washington think-tank Stimson Center said in a recent paper on confidence building measures between the two sides.
For a section of the Pakistani establishment though, not redrawing the maps would amount to a status quo. But under pressure from Washington and the international community, Islamabad is being persuaded to move towards a solution on the existing lines, particularly in view of Pakistan's parlous situation that makes continued confrontation with India untenable.
The Stimson paper approvingly noted that a delegation of business leaders from Muzaffarabad recently has crossed the Line of Control dividing Kashmir to discuss the modalities of expanded trade. Pakistan's top peacenik rock band, Junoon, which arguably has a larger fan following in India than in its own home, was allowed by the Indian government to perform at Srinagar in the biggest musical event in the disputed valley in decades.
The objection to Gen Casey's Siachen visit is seen here as part of a series of confused responses from the out-of-kilter Pakistani establishment that seems to be working at cross purposes. While Pakistan's newly elected president Asif Ali Zardari has been pushing for peace with New Delhi, going to the extent of saying India has never been a threat to Pakistan, the military establishment, whose budgets depend on a confrontational posture with India, had been chafing at the bit.