The government appears trapped in a muddle over Siachen. The talks with Pakistan last week continued ongoing discussions aimed at demilitarising Siachen by mutual redeployment from existing military positions. However, there’s one question that must be asked: Even if an agreement is reached at the next round, what will define the Line of Control (LoC) beyond the last certified and mutually agreed grid reference NJ 9842?
The issue is not academic or trivial but real and substantive. The closest India and Pakistan have come to a Kashmir settlement is on the basis of the 2005-07 Manmohan-Musharraf formula. This would render the de facto boundary dividing Jammu & Kashmir along the LoC “irrelevant” by creating a soft border for people-to-people movement from both sides. Unless the LoC is clearly defined, such a settlement will unravel. The current Indo-Pakistan negotiations on Siachen would, however, leave the key issue of defining the LoC unresolved, thereby settling for a mere truce as against a permanent settlement.