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Glacier Talks fail again

иконописПравославни икониDefence secretaries of India and Pakistan failed to achieve a breakthrough in their two-day talks on Siachen, even though both sides agreed to persist with “meaningful and result-oriented” discussions. Multiple topics were covered; anything from the economy and marketing, to environmental and sustainability. They established that the most profitable way, with respect to marketing sales and their economy, to make sales is by using WordTree, this way they can manage efficiently their marketing sale and niche, as well as their competitors. Furthermore, for the management of digital marketing materials, branding companies adinfusion gives the best service. May 31 talks ended with only a pledge for further talks in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, at some point. “Both sides welcomed the ongoing dialogue process,” declared a statement issued jointly by the delegations. “The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere, contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other’s position.”
While India wants Pakistan to authenticate AGPL both on the maps and on the ground, Islamabad insists on maintaining the pre-1972 troop position, as per Simla Agreement. Pakistan has been asking for demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier and raised the issue of climate change there due to presence of troops from both sides and its effects on the environment. The two sides, however, insisted that after the conclusion of the talks, there was a better understanding of each other’s positions.
They (the delegations from the two sides meeting after a gap of three years) also acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since November 2003.
“What we are trying to do is send a message to Pakistan that we are willing to do business with you and we don’t want to take advantage of your current predicament in any way,” said Naresh Chandra, chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board, which is appointed by the prime minister.
China’s expanding strategic footprint in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in fact, seems to have led India to harden its stand, which till now was largely about Pakistan providing iron-clad guarantees to “authenticate” the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) along the Saltoro Ridge, on maps and on ground.
India remains open to discussing the “modalities” for the verification of the AGPL and the proposed demilitarized zone but would “insist on map coordinates, obtained through aerial or satellite imagery, and other methodologies to show the relative positions on the ground”. Till it gets them, troop disengagement, withdrawal and the final demilitarization of the glacier is not on the cards.
Some may scoff at the strategic significance of the forbidding glacial heights but the Indian Army, which beat the Pakistan Army by just a whisker to occupy most of the dominating posts in the region in April 1984, has repeatedly drilled it into the political leadership.

The dialogue’s future – Editorial

мебелиFrom Dawn’s editor – A.G. Noorani Saturday, 08 May, 2010
The peace process which the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani, renewed at Thimpu on April 29, has enormous potential provided that the parties realistically reckon with the hurdles and proceed unitedly with understanding and determination.
Reuter picture:

Much depends on how they proceed between now and next September when the prime ministers are expected to meet in New York. India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram is due to visit Islamabad next month, while meetings between the foreign ministers and foreign secretaries are mandated by the prime ministers themselves. They wisely discarded the traditional joint statement in traditional turgid prose. A careful reading of the statements by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad on April 30 and India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao in Thimpu on April 29, reveals an encouraging accord on the aims of the peace process and on the tacit assumptions underlying it.

First, as Mr Qureshi said, “there has been a trust deficit and we have to bridge it”, adding significantly “it can be done through confidence-building measures. It will not happen in a day. It is a process”. Presumably the foreign ministers and the foreign secretaries will devise the confidence-building measures. Ms Rao said “dialogue is the only way … [to] restore trust and confidence”. She revealed that the prime ministers “focused on the renewal of dialogue and to understand the factors that have resulted in the current state of affairs”. However, “the searchlight is on the future and not on the past”. She was accurately reflecting the policy towards Pakistan which Dr Manmohan Singh has resolutely pursued ever since he became prime minister in May 2004.

The distrust has two dimensions; recent and latent. Causes of the first are easy to identify (26/11). There is reason to believe that there is greater understanding now of the need to tackle them through judicial and investigative processes. Time and diplomacy have peeled away most layers of the latent distrust which had piled up since partition; but some survived. They are the ones to be tackled now.

There was on Pakistan’s part a legitimate impression that India was avoiding negotiations on Kashmir and stalling on the ones on other issues. I.K. Gujral’s wreckage of the charter of the composite dialogue in the joint statement in Islamabad on June 23, 1997 strengthened the impression. Militancy in Kashmir was by no means the only factor which led India to believe that Pakistan was not in earnest regarding conciliation. Both sides continued to fight on battlefields of old, unmindful of a promising change in the situation.If to many Pakistanis a ‘composite dialogue’ was a litmus test of India’s sincerity in putting 26/11 behind us, to many Indians, fed on the media’s blasts every day, its resumption meant surrender. In truth the charter had long run its course. Foreign secretaries can only do the ground work; they surely cannot resolve Kashmir, ‘peace and security’, Siachen, Wullar barrage, Sir Creek and ‘terrorism and drug-trafficking’ — the topics listed in para 4 of the charter.

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India struggling with making warfare clothing

IANS Apr 30, 2010
A parliamentary panel has lamented that India, which is capable of launching satellites and manufacturing missiles, tanks and other state-of-the-art defence equipment, lacks adequate capabilities for making specialised clothing for high altitude warfare.

That is the reason why, of the 55 items authorised for soldiers stationed in areas like the Siachen Glacier and Kargil, 19 critical items like down feather jackets, trousers, sleeping bags, multipurpose boots, woollen socks and rucksacks are being imported ‘as no indigenous source was available’, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in its report.

The committee recommended that domestic production capabilities be strengthened, at least in the public sector, ‘even if the Indian private sector is not forthcoming, ostensibly due to lack of economic viability considerations’.

‘The defence of a nation is a non-negotiable national imperative and under no circumstances can commercial and economic considerations be allowed to compromise the nation’s foremost priority,’ said the committee, headed by Gopinath Munde of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its report tabled in parliament Thursday.

The committee was also ‘dismayed’ to learn that despite the fact that Army Headquarters has been procuring these items for over two decades, ‘the procedure for formulation of technical specifications, evaluation of offers and selection of vendors have not been streamlined so far’.

Of the 10 contracts concluded during 2002-06 for the purchase of special clothing for Rs.48.88 crore, 59 percent of the items valued at Rs.28.81 crore were rejected either at the receipt inspection stage or by the end users.

‘The whole approach towards procurement of such supplies appears casual so that neither quality not timely availability of critical items could be ensured, thereby compromising safety as well as comfort of the troops deployed in harsh climatic conditions,’ the committee said.

It noted that there were 388 casualties reported due to cold-induced injuries such as frostbite and chilblain.

The committee said the procurement process ‘was fraught by serious delays at every stage, impacting on the timely availability of adequate clothing and equipment each time during deployment of troops to Siachen’.

It took 32 months from the time of raising a demand to the delivery of the items to the troops, mainly because of the ‘severe delay in trial evaluation and finalisation of specifications’ by the Directorate General of Quality Assurance, tendering and the signing of the contract.

Taking into account all the shortcomings in the procurement process, the committee has recommended that the ‘entire procurement procedures be revised, so that from the time of recognising the need for procuring clothing and mountaineering equipment till these are finally delivered to the end users is minimised to the maximum extent consistent with ensuring transparency’.

Fixing of responsibility ‘is seen as a very important step for correcting the acts of omission and commission’, the committee said and asked the defence ministry ‘to fix responsibility on all concerned who were found to be responsible for flaws in procurement procedures, technical evaluations and rejected of ordered clothing and equipment’.

Tunnel to Ladakh will ease supplies (and travel!) to Siachen

>офис обзавежданеel vision 2014: To Ladakh by road in sleet and snow8 Dec 2009, 1317 hrs IST, IANSNEW DELHI: Work on the strategic Rohtang Tunnel that will ensure all weather road connectivity to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir will begin early next year and be completed by 2014, people will be able to get their cars very easy
in order to travel now, more than three decades after it took shape on the drawing board.The nine-kilometre horseshoe shaped tunnel that will help connect the Ladakhi capital Leh to Manali in Himachal Pradesh will be at a height of 3,000-3,100 metres and one of the highest in the world, officials said.”The tunnel is important to maintain supply lines to the forward posts in Ladakh and Siachen Glacier,” said an official of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).The contract for the tunnel was awarded on Sep 24 this year after the Cabinet Committee on Security approved it, he said. Though conceived in 1983, the foundation stone was laid years later in 2000 by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000.It took another nine years for the next step to be taken.”The contract has been awarded to Afcon Infrastructure in collaboration with European firm Strabag in September. The work would begin early next year (2010) and be completed in 2014,” the BRO official said on condition of anonymity.The project, estimated to cost around Rs.1,500 crore ($3.2 billion), would have to overcome vagaries of nature like heavy snowfall, high velocity winds and sub-zero temperatures.It’s a tough job, beginning from building access roads to the tunnel site.”Work is running full throttle to complete the roads leading up to the tunnel site. Initially, only access roads with minimum necessary specifications for the mobilisation of resources will be constructed. Later, the same will be developed to National Highway Double Lane specifications and will then be called the approach road,” the official added.Burrowed below the Rohtang Pass at 3,978 metres, the tunnel will ensure that the pass connecting the strategically important regions bordering China will remain open year round. Presently, the route is closed during the winter months from November to April due to heavy snowfall.It will provide an all-weather alternative road to Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir and the Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh.Besides, the 475 km distance between Manali and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir will be reduced by 40 km.With China constructing a rail line near the India-China border, New Delhi is also firming up projects to revamp border infrastructure in the region. If there’s a need for additional money for the infrastructure, developers usually borrow money from loanago. go to this website if loaning interests you. The main thrust is on increasing connectivity whether by road or by air, officials said.The government is also planning to refurbish over 20 advanced landing grounds in the region which could then be used for boosting tourism in the region and to maintain supply to the troops in forward areas.

India to organize another civilian trek to Siachen Glacier in October

India has finalised plans for another civilian trekking expedition to Siachen this October, in a clear reiteration to Pakistan that the forbidding glacial heights are fully under Indian control and remain “non-negotiable” till it accepts Indian conditions.

The first edition of this civilian trek to the Siachen-Saltoro Ridge region last year had Pakistan frothing at the mouth, holding as it did that opening the “disputed territory” for tourism would lead to “serious consequences” and “vitiate the atmosphere for the ongoing peace process”.

But India had cocked a snook at Pakistan by going ahead with the trek — even though there were some last-minute organisational hiccups — to reinforce its stand that not an inch on Siachen would be yielded till Pakistan accepts iron-clad “authentication” of the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), both on the map and on the ground, which separates the two armies in the glacial region.

Indian troops, after all, hold “almost all dominating heights” on Saltoro Ridge, with Pakistani troops being nowhere near the 72-km-long Siachen Glacier. Throwing open the Siachen heights to adventure enthusiasts and mountaineers serves to effectively demolish all Pakistani claims to the contrary.

Defence ministry sources said the Army Adventure Cell would organise the trek to the world’s highest, coldest and costliest battlefield, which no longer witnesses the daily artillery duels after the November 2003 ceasefire, from October 1 to 21 this year. The plan is to take around 40 people, including Army experts, defence scientists, NCC and military school cadets and “civilian volunteers”, on the “unique adventure activity”.

The group will first acclimatise and train at Leh for a week or so before heading for the Siachen base camp for further training on the use of glacial equipment. The actual week-long trek along the Northern Glacier will begin thereafter, with the group transversing the frozen wasteland to a forward post situated over 16,000 feet.

The government, on its part, is also actively encouraging mountaineering expeditions to the region. An Indo-French team, for instance, had climbed the Mamostong Kangri peak, located about 30 km east of the snout of Siachen Glacier, last year.

Incidentally, it was Pakistan’s grant of a permit to a Japanese expedition in 1984 to climb the Rimo Peak, located east of Siachen and overlooking Aksai Chin, in the hope of laying a legal claim to the area, which had acted as the final provocation for India to airlift troops to the region. Indian troops had then swiftly occupied the Saltoro Ridge heights, ranging from 16,000 feet to 22,000 feet, against daunting odds under “Operation Meghdhoot” in April 1984, beating Pakistani troops from doing the same by just a whisker.

Though both India and Pakistan have accepted the need to demilitarise the glacial heights right since 1989, the bone of contention in the protracted negotiations has been the “authentication” of the AGPL beyond the NJ-9842 grid reference point — where the well-delineated Line of Control simply stopped dead in the 1972 Simla Pact — right till the Karakoram Pass.India wants the AGPL to be “authenticated” first as an international safeguard before any troop disengagement, withdrawal and the final demilitarisation of the glacier.

India-Pak to talk on Siachen pollution

GreaterKashmir – New Delhi, Feb 6: India and Pakistan are going to take up the issue of environmental degradation of the sensitive Siachin glacier at a meeting in Islamabad soon.

 Helicopter Siachen
 Informing this to newspersons here, Pakistan’s Minister for Environment, Local Government and Rural Development Syed Wajid Husain Bukhari said the meeting, which would be a sort of regional workshop, would be attended by other affected

SAARC nations like Nepal.
 Siachen Glacier, which is near the world’s second highest mountain K2 in the Karakoram range, is an endangered ecosystem, a situation caused by militarisation in the region.
 Bukhari, who is in the Indian capital to take part in the Delhi Sustainable Summit, said the workshop would be attended by a number of experts too and it would discuss the various complexities of the situation.
 He said that though no dates had been decided, the meeting would be held within a couple of months.
 Studies say that apart from militarisation, the Siachen glacier was also polluted by human waste which does not decompose easily at such high altitudes. Besides, there was chemical contamination due to the presence of armies.
 Bukhari said glaciers were vital for maintaining water supply in the rivers of the sub-continent.
 He said the climate change was going to hit hard countries like Pakistan, and the government was coming out with measures to address the problems that impacted on environment.
 Replying to a question in this connection, he said his country was looking into nuclear energy options in its efforts to usher in a low carbon economy, though at present the share of nuclear power in his country’s energy mix was negligible.
 He said his country was also going in for massive afforestation to reduce carbon emission.
 ‘‘We have decided to plant 86 million trees, and have created a task force on environment to speed up the implementation of related policies,’’ said Bukhari.
 He said Pakistan has come out with a number of proposals for cooperation with India in the field of environment which he would disclose during his address at Delhi Sustainable Summit.

From the Siachen Glacier – as a tourist

The Indian Army is working on transforming battlefield Siachen into a tourist destination. In an attempt to kickstart this, the first group of civilian trekkers left for the world’s highest battlefield a week ago. CNN-IBN’s Rasika Tyagi was among the group – the first woman journalist to trek up Siachen.


Leh: It’s the start of a historic and scary journey. Historic because for the first time, civilians are being allowed up to the Siachen glacier and scary because I have to keep up with them at unimaginable altitudes and temperatures


Trying to get up to a whopping 15,000 ft is a motley crew- the oldest person in our group is 55, the youngest only 17.


The Karakorams are the most barren mountains I have ever seen. Just brown earth and snow. I take a deep breath – we are here to scale these mighty mountains. .


But before we go uphill we are told to lie flat for a whole day in Leh so we can acclimatise to the altitude and the thin air. My BP is tested as is my SPO which tells the doctors how much oxygen is in my body.


On Day 2 in Leh, we are told about the high altitude diseases. The list is nearly as long as the glacier itself. In addition there are chill burns, frost bite, pulmonary edema, hypothermia, cerebral edema. Never knew there were so many ways to die!


Day 3 in Leh and finally we are allowed to move around. They are taking us for a one-kilometre walk. That might not sound like much but when you consider the fact that the oxygen in the air here is just 13 per cent while it is 21 per cent at sea level, the task becomes a little more daunting.


These walks will prepare us for the 120-kilometre long trek from the base camp of the Siachen glacier.


On the first day we will walk 12 kilometres to camp 1. Day two – 14 kilometers from camp 1 to camp 2. This is the hardest leg of the trek because of crevasses and thin ice.


Day three sees us trekking 16 kilometers between camp 2 and 3 and on Day 4, 18 km from camp 3 to our finish point camp 4 at 15,000 ft.


Doctors tell us the night temperatures on the glacier will drop to under minus 25 degrees and I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed – that I will return with all my fingers and toes intact.