Friday, 24 September, 2021

Siachen: World’s highest battlefield

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 19th February, 2017 12:22:33 PM
  • Print news
Siachen: World’s highest battlefield


Siachen glacier, located in the eastern Karakoram Range in the Himalayas, is one of the five largest glaciers in the Karakoram, situated at an average altitude of 18,000 ft above sea level.


 At 78 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second longest in the world's non-polar areas. Most of Siachen Glacier falls under the LoC (Line of Control), a hotly contested territory between Pakistan and India. Since 1984, both countries have been fighting intermittently for sovereignty over this region, because of which Siachen Glacier is sometimes called the highest battleground on earth.


After the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971, an agreement was signed between the two countries in 1972, which came to be known as the Shimla Agreement, but it failed to clearly mention who controlled the glacier.


UN officials presumed there would be no dispute between India and Pakistan over such a cold and barren region.


In 1984, when the Pakistan army attempted to move into the region, India launched a successful military operation and has since maintained control over all of Siachen Glacier and its tributaries.


Although a cease-fire went into effect in 2003, by then the two sides had lost an estimated 2,000 personnel primarily due to frostbite, avalanches and other complications.


Together, the nations have about 150 manned outposts along the glacier, with some 3,000 troops each. Official figures for maintaining these outposts are put at $300 and $200 million for India and Pakistan, respectively.


Siachen Glacier also boasts of the world's highest helipad built by India at Point Sonam, 21,000 ft (6,400 m) above the sea level, to supply its troops. India also installed the world's highest telephone booth on the glacier.


The region is also highly remote with limited road connectivity. On the Indian side, roads go only as far as the military base camp at Dzingrulma 72 km from the top of the glacier.