Pakistan, India were inches away from Siachen accord: WikiLeaks


According to the leaked US diplomatic cables released by the Wikileaks, Pakistan and India were just ‘inches away’ from signing a historic deal over word’s highest battlefield, Siachen glacier in 1992.
“During a June 3, 2006 farewell call that GoI Kashmir Interlocutor N N Vohra requested with soon-to-depart D/Polcouns (US Deputy Political Counselor), the senior official focused on two unprecedented events: the ground-breaking visit of what he termed “so-called moderate separatists” to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan proper, and the planned June 12 (2006) first-ever visit of an Indian PM to the Siachen Glacier,” the US leaked cable dated June 3, 2006 said.
Under sub-title, “PM visit may herald Siachen Shift”, the cable which originated from US’s New Delhi embassy further said, “Turning to Siachen, Vohra agreed with D/Polcouns and Indian strategists that demilitarization of the glacier could be a relatively easy deliverable out of the Composite Dialogue”.
“Vohra recalled that in 1992, when he led the Indian delegation as Defense Secretary in the Siachen talks, the two sides were ‘inches away’ from signing an agreement on Siachen”, it said.
“But that was not the case after the Kargil war”, the cable quotes Vohra (now Governor of J&K) as saying to US officials.
Further quoting from the conversation, the US officials had with Vohra over Siachen, the cable further states, “Vohra was of the views that the environmental degradation caused by prolonged stationing of troops on the glacier and the non-combat hazards faced by soldiers of two country on a daily basis were further arguments for a speedy agreement”.
However, he did not promise any new GoI initiatives to follow up what appears to have been a fairly sterile round of talks in Islamabad.
Besides, he also told US officials that he had to cut short his vacation to meet with the PM upon the latter’s return from his planned Siachen tour.
“Vohra offered that making the journey (by two-seater light helicopter) would give the PM additional political muscle to shift the Indian position on requiring the verification of the Actual Ground Position Line, or to propose any unilateral moves there, should he choose to do so”, the cable said.
Commenting on Vohra, the US official who appears to have drafted cable, said his comments on Siachen are noteworthy, given his earlier and continuing role on this issue.
“While we (US) remain cautious about any breakthrough, the fact that Manmohan Singh will be the first PM to visit the glacier could foreshadow a move by New Delhi to resolve this issue, possibly by removing New Delhi’s insistence on joint verification of troop positions prior to a pull-back, or perhaps a partial, unilateral redeployment of Indian forces to break the deadlock”, the cable with initials ‘Blake’ ends, apparently referring to the then US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert O Blake.