Model Question and Answers for APSC | Why is Siachen important? (APSC 2006)
Ans : The Siachen Glacier was occupied in the ‘race to the top’ in 1984. The Glacier region is not just the glacier per se but includes the Saltoro Ridge, a crucial mountainous stretch which acts as a watershed, and the area shown in dark brown on the map below.
Pakistan believes that the alignment of the boundary runs in a north-easterly direction (see dotted red line) to the Karakoram Pass. In effect, Pakistan views the entire area within the triangle shaded in brown on the map as its territory.
The strategic importance of the region from an Indian point of view can be seen from the map. Firstly, the Saltoro Ridge overlooks the area of Gilgit–Baltistan of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) that is under dispute with Pakistan. Secondly, it guards the routes leading to Leh, the principal town and capital of Ladakh. Thirdly, it overlooks and dominates the Shaksgam Valley, which was illegally ceded to China by Pakistan. Fourthly, it is close to the Karakoram Pass through which the Karakoram Highway passes connecting Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang Province of China.