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Sandeep Madkar asked: What is the strategic and military significance of Siachen glacier for India?

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  • P.K. Gautam replies: Siachen glacier is a part of India. The State of Jammu and Kashmir has two illegal encroachments. One is of that of Aksai Chin by the PRC together with part of Shaksgam region handed over by Pakistan to the PRC in 1963, and the other is the well known Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas. Ensuring territorial integrity is a duty of a sovereign state. Thus, to thwart the Pakistani designs to occupy the undemarcated region, India troops had to occupy the heights and passes in 1984. Although the terrain is extremely difficult and not an avenue of approach for armies to march in and invade a country, the region has ideational strategic significance based on cartography and historical reasoning. Since 2003, though the firings have stopped by either side based on peace agreement, troops still need to man the region. If the region is not held then it can be occupied by an adversary and later it will become very difficult to dislodge them. This is its military significance. Till trust is built up, no withdrawal seems in sight. Another complication is unwarranted entry of the PLA in the garb of road builders, and the administration in the Northern Areas and the POK.