|Kashmir (Disputed between India and Pakistan; portion controlled by India shown above in yellow)123|
|Length||70 km (43 mi)|
The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains at about , just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends.4 At 70 km (43 mi) long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas.5 It falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its head at Indira Col on the China border down to 3,620 m (11,875 ft) at its terminus.
The Siachen Glacier lies immediately south of the great watershed that separates the Eurasian Plate from the Indian subcontinent in the extensively glaciated portion of the Karakoram sometimes called the "Third Pole". The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east. The Saltoro Ridge originates in the north from the Sia Kangri peak on the China border in the Karakoram range. The crest of the Saltoro Ridge's altitudes range from 5,450 to 7,720 m (17,880 to 25,330 feet). The major passes on this ridge are, from north to south, Sia La at 5,589 m (18,336 ft), Bilafond La at 5,450 m (17,880 ft), and Gyong La at 5,689 m (18,665 ft). The average winter snowfall is 10.5 m (35 ft) and temperatures can dip to −50 °C (−58 °F). Including all tributary glaciers, the Siachen Glacier system covers about 700 km2 (270 sq mi).
Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the entire Siachen region.4 In 1984, India launched a successful military operation and has since maintained control over all of the Siachen Glacier and its tributaries.46 Between 1984 and 1999, frequent skirmishes took place between India and Pakistan.7 However, more soldiers have died in Siachen from harsh weather conditions than from combat.8 Both India and Pakistan continue to deploy thousands of troops in the vicinity of Siachen and attempts to demilitarize the region have been so far unsuccessful. Prior to 1984, neither country had any military forces in this area.910 Aside from the Indian and Pakistani military presence, the glacier region is unpopulated. The nearest civilian settlement is the village of Warshi, 10 miles downstream from the Indian base camp.11 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 at , 72 km from the top of the glacier.12 The Indian Army has developed various means to reach the Siachen region, including the Delhi-Manali-Leh-Siachen route.
"Sia" in the Balti language refers to the rose family plant widely dispersed in the region. "Chun" references any object found in abundance. Thus the name Siachen refers to a land with an abundance of roses. The naming of the glacier itself, or at least its currency, is attributed to Tom Longstaff.
The glacier's melting waters are the main source of the Nubra River in the Indian region of Ladakh, which drains into the Shyok River. The Shyok in turn joins the 3000 kilometer-long Indus River which flows through Pakistan. Thus, the glacier is a major source of the Indus13 and feeds the largest irrigation system in the world.14
The glacier was uninhabited before 1984, and the presence of thousands of troops since then has introduced pollution and melting on the glacier. To support the troops, glacial ice has been cut and melted with chemicals.citation needed
Preliminary findings of a survey by Pakistan Meteorological Department in 2007 revealed that the Siachen glacier has been retreating for the past 30 years and is melting at an alarming rate.16 The study of satellite images of the glacier showed that the glacier is retreating at a rate of about 110 meters a year and that the glacier size has decreased by almost 35 percent.1317 In an eleven-year period, the glacier had receded nearly 800 meters,18 and in seventeen years about 1700 meters. It is predicted that the glaciers of the Siachen region will be reduced to about one-fifth of their current size by 2035.19 In the twenty-nine-year period 1929–1958, well before the military occupation, the glacial retreat was recorded to be about 914 meters.20 One of the reasons cited for the recent glacial retreat is chemical blasting, done for constructing camps and posts.21 In 2001 India laid oil pipelines (about 250 kilometers long) inside the glacier to supply kerosene and aviation fuel to the outposts from base camps.2122 As of 2007, the temperature rise at Siachen was estimated at 0.2 degree Celsius annually, causing melting, avalanches, and crevasses in the glacier.23
The waste produced by the troops stationed there is dumped in the crevasses of the glacier. Mountaineers who visited the area while on climbing expeditions witnessed large amount of garbage, empty ammunition shells, parachutes etc. dumped on the glacier, that neither decomposes nor can be burned because of the extreme climatic conditions.24 About 1000 kilograms of waste is produced and dumped in glacial crevasses daily by the Indian forces.16 The Indian army is said to have planned a "Green Siachen, Clean Siachen" campaign to airlift the garbage from the glacier, and to use biodigestors for biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen and freezing temperatures.25 Almost forty percent (40%) of the waste left at the glacier is of plastic and metal composition, including toxins such as cobalt, cadmium and chromium that eventually affect the water of the Shyok River (which ultimately enters the Indus River near Skardu.) The Indus is used for drinking and irrigation.2627 Research is being done by scientists of The Energy and Resources Institute, to find ways for successfully disposing the garbage generated at the glacier using scientific means.28 Some scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation who went on an expedition to Antarctica are also working to produce a bacterium that can thrive in extreme weather conditions and can be helpful in decomposing the biodegradable waste naturally.29
The flora and fauna of the Siachen region are also affected by the huge military presence.26 The region is home to rare species including snow leopard, brown bear and ibex that are at risk because of the huge military presence.2830
The glacier's region is the highest battleground on Earth, where India and Pakistan have fought intermittently since April 1984. Both countries maintain a permanent military presence in the region at a height of over 6,000 m (20,000 ft).
Both India and Pakistan have wished to disengage from the costly military outposts. However, after the Pakistani incursions during the Kargil War in 1999, India abandoned plans to withdraw from Siachen without official recognition of the current line of control by Pakistan, wary of further Pakistani incursions if they vacate the Siachen Glacier posts without such recognition.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the area, during which he called for a peaceful resolution of the problem. President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari also visited the area during 2012 with Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.31 Both of them showed their commitment to resolve Siachen conflict as early as possible. In the previous year, the President of India, Abdul Kalam became the first head of state to visit the area.
Since September 2007, India has opened up limited mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the area. The first group included cadets from Chail Military School, National Defence Academy, National Cadet Corps, Indian Military Academy, Rashtriya Indian Military College and family members of armed forces officers. The expeditions are also meant to show to the international audience that Indian troops hold "almost all dominating heights" on the key Saltoro Ridge and to show that Pakistani troops are not within 15 km of the main 70 km-long Siachen Glacier.32 Ignoring protests from Pakistan, India maintains that it does not need anyone's approval to send trekkers to Siachen, in what it says is essentially its own territory.33 In addition, the Indian Army's Army Mountaineering Institute (AMI) functions out of the region.
On 7 April 2012, an avalanche hit a Pakistani military camp situated at Giyari Sector in the Siachen region, 30 km west of the Siachen Glacier terminus, burying 129 Pakistani soldiers and 11 civilians.
The idea of declaring the Siachen region a "Peace Park" was presented by environmentalists and peace activists in part to preserve the ecosystem of the region badly affected by the military presence.34 In September 2003, the governments of India and Pakistan were urged by the participants of 5th World Parks Congress held at Durban, to establish a peace park in the Siachen region to restore the natural biological system and protect species whose lives are at risk.23 An Italian ecologist Giuliano Tallone terming the ecological life at serious risk, proposed setting up of Siachen Peace Park at the conference.35 After a proposal of a transboundary Peace Park was floated, the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) organized a conference at Geneva and invited Indian and Pakistani mountaineers (Mandip Singh Soin, Harish Kapadia, Nazir Sabir and Sher Khan).36 The region was nominated for inclusion in the United Nations' World Heritage List as a part of the Karakoram range, but was deferred by the World Heritage Committee.37 The area to the east and west of the Siachen region have already been declared national parks: the Karakoram Wildlife Sanctuary in India and the Central Karakoram National Park in Pakistan.38
Sandia National Laboratories taking keen interest in the Siachen issue organized conferences where military experts and environmentalists from both India and Pakistan and also from other countries were invited to present joint papers. Kent L. Bringer, a researcher at Cooperative Monitoring Center of Sandia Labs suggested setting up Siachen Science Center, a high-altitude research center where scientists and researchers from both the countries can carry out research activities35 related to glaciology, geology, atmospheric sciences and other related fields.39
- See http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE6-1/Siachen.html for perhaps the most detailed treatment of the geography of the conflict, including its early days, and under section "3." the current status of Indian control of Gyong La, contrary to the oft-copied misstatement in the old error-plagued summary at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/siachen.htm
- "India has been able to hold on to the tactical advantage of the high ground… Most of India's many outposts are west of the Siachen Glacier along the Saltoro Ridge." Bearak, Barry (23 May 1999). "THE COLDEST WAR; Frozen in Fury on the Roof of the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
- In an academic study with detailed maps and satellite images, co-authored by brigadiers from both the Pakistani and Indian military, pages 16 and 27: "Since 1984, the Indian army has been in physical possession of most of the heights on the Saltoro Range west of the Siachen Glacier, while the Pakistan army has held posts at lower elevations of western slopes of the spurs emanating from the Saltoro ridgeline. The Indian army has secured its position on the ridge-line". Hakeem, Asad; Gurmeet Kanwal, Michael Vannoni, Gaurav Rajen (1 September 2007). "Demilitarization of the Siachen Conflict Zone". Sandia Report. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, USA. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
- Lyon, Peter. Conflict Between India and Pakistan: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2008. ISBN 1576077128, 9781576077122 Check
- Siachen Glacier is 70 km (43 mi) long; Tajikistan's Fedchenko Glacier is 77 km (48 mi) long. The second longest in the Karakoram Mountains is the Biafo Glacier at 63 km (39 mi). Measurements are from recent imagery, supplemented with Russian 1:200,000 scale topographic mapping as well as the 1990 "Orographic Sketch Map: Karakoram: Sheet 2", Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich.
- Wirsing, Robert. War Or Peace on the Line of Control?: The India-Pakistan Dispute Over Kashmir Turns Fifty. IBRU, 1998. ISBN 1897643314, 9781897643310 Check
- Dettman, Paul. India Changes Course: Golden Jubilee to Millennium. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 0275973085, 9780275973087 Check
- Rodriguez, Alex (8 April 2012). "Avalanche buries Pakistan base; 117 soldiers feared dead". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- CBC Canada. 7 April 2012 http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/04/07/f-siachen-glacier-kashmir.html
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Eur. Far East and Australasia 2003. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 1857431332, 9781857431339 Check
- "World’s highest, biggest junkyard". Tribune India. 29 August 1998. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- "Demilitarization of the Siachen Conflict Zone: Concepts for Implementation and Monitoring".
- H.C. Sadangi (31 March 2007). India's Relations with Her Neighbours. Isha Books. p. 219. ISBN 978-8182054387. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- Rashid Faruqee (November 1999). Strategic Reforms for Agricultural Growth in Pakistan. World Bank Publications. p. 87. ISBN 978-0821343364. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- ActionAid (2010). Natural Resource Management In South Asia. Pearson Education. p. 58. ISBN 978-8131729434. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- K.R. Gupta (2008). Global Warming (Encyclopaedia of Environment). Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. pp. 105–112. ISBN 978-8126908813. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Y. S. Rao (3 November 2011). "Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry for Glacier Movement Studies". In Vijay P. Singh. Encyclopedia of Snow, Ice and Glaciers. Springer. pp. 1138–1142. ISBN 978-9048126415. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Harish Kapadia (March 1998). Meeting the Mountains (1st ed.). Indus Publishing Company. p. 275. ISBN 978-8173870859. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Daniel Moran (22 March 2011). Climate Change and National Security: A Country-Level Analysis. Georgetown University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-1589017412. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
- K.S. Gulia (2 September 2007). Discovering Himalaya : Tourism of Himalaya Region. Isha Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-8182054103. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "Snow white coffins of Siachen". News Today. 22 April 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Asad Hakeem, Gurmeet Kanwal; Michael Vannoni, Gaurav Rajen (September 2007). "Demilitarization of the Siachen Conflict Zone: Concepts for Implementation and Monitoring" (PDF). Albuquerque, New Mexico: Sandia National Laboratories. p. 28. SAND2007-5670. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Isa Daudpota; Arshad H. Abbasi (16 February 2007). "Exchange Siachen confrontation for peace". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Harish Kapadia (30 November 1999). Across Peaks & Passes in Ladakh, Zanskar & East Karakoram. Indus Publishing Company. pp. 189–190. ISBN 978-8173871009. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- "Military activity leads to melting of Siachen glaciers". Dawn. 24 March 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Neal A. Kemkar (2006). "Environmental peacemaking: Ending conflict between India and Pakistan on the Siachen Glacier through the creation of a transboundary peace park" (PDF). Stanford Environmental Law Journal (Stanford, California: Stanford University School of Law) 25 (1): 67–121. ANA-074909. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Kevin Fedarko (1 February 2003). "The Coldest War". In Jackson, Nicholas. Outside (Mariah Media Network). ASIN B001OTEIG8. ISSN 0278-1433. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Supriya Bezbaruah (1 November 2004). "Siachen Snow Under Fire". India Today. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Mahendra Gaur (8 August 2006). Indian Affairs Annual 2006. Kalpaz Publications. p. 84. ISBN 978-8178355290. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Emmanuel Duparcq (11 April 2012). "Siachen tragedy – day 5: Bad weather dogs avalanche search efforts". The Express Tribune. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- India opens Siachen to trekkers Times of India 13 September 2007
- India hits back at Pak over Siachen issue Times of India 17 September 2007
- Teresita C. Schaffer (20 December 2005). Kashmir: The Economics of Peace Building. Center for Strategic & International Studies. p. 57. ISBN 978-0892064809. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Sujan Dutta (14 June 2005). "Out of the box ideas for glacier: Siachen could become bio reserve or peace park". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Harish Kapadia (1 December 2005). "Chapter 34: Siachen: A Peace Proposal". In Yogendra Bali, R. S. Somi. Incredible Himalayas. Indus Books. pp. 213–217. ISBN 978-8173871795. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Jim Thorsell; Larry Hamilton (September 2002). "Sites deferred by the Committee which may merit re-nomination" (PDF). A Global Overview of Mountain Protected Areas on the World Heritage List. International Union for Conservation of Nature. p. 15. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- G. Tamburelli (1 January 2007). Biodiversity conservation and protected areas. Giuffrè. p. 6. ISBN 978-8814133657. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Wajahat Ali (20 August 2004). "US expert at Sandia wants Siachen converted into Science Centre". Daily Times. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Myra MacDonald (2008) Heights of Madness: One Woman's Journey in Pursuit of a Secret War, Rupa, New Delhi ISBN 8129112922. The first full account of the Siachen war to be told from the Indian and Pakistani sides.
- V. R. Raghavan, Siachen: Conflict Without End, Viking, New Delhi, 2002
- TIME Asia's cover story on Siachen Glacier (July 11, 2005)
- Kunal Verma / Rajiv Williams, The Long Road to Siachen: the Question Why, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2010
- Analysis: Peace may return to Siachen – The Washington Times
- Siachen by Arshad H Abbasi
- Names of persons buried under snow slide in Gayari sector near Skardu
- Video about the Conflict in the Siachen area and its consequences
- Siachen Peace Park Initiative
- Blankonthemap The Northern Kashmir WebSite
- Outside magazine article about Siachen battleground
- BBC News report: Nuclear rivals in Siachen talks; 26 May 2005
- Siachen – A War for ice – An awarded documentary on the Siachen War
- Bharat Rakshak
- National Geographic article: Siachen Glacier Tragedy