New Delhi: A standing committee on defence of the Pakistan Senate has stated that the Pakistan army is working in “deplorable” conditions in the Siachen glacier. The committee report was released in September this year.
Of the 14 Senators in this committee, 11 attended an in-camera meeting in June 2019 to discuss the situation in which Pakistani army personnel are surviving in Siachen.
One of the committee members, Muhammad Ali Khan Said, who visited Siachen himself, said that he found the conditions in which the army personnel were deployed, in what was called the most inhospitable war terrain of the world, as “deplorable”.
Keeping in view the “sensitivity” of the matter, the rest of the detailed findings of the committee were shared only with the army.
These findings of the committee have come even after Pakistan army, post the 2012 Gayatri sector avalanche in which it lost almost 140 men, promised that it would improve the situation for its men in Siachen.
Sources said that Pakistani army personnel who were posted there, were facing problems such as lack of proper communication system to send and receive messages frequently, massive problems relating to movement of small groups of troops from one place to another in times of need, and psychological issues due to an extended stay, which was against medical norms.
In high altitude areas of Siachen, personnel should not be deployed for more than 30 days because of the physical and psychological hardships, which include acute depression, a soldier faces. However, in many cases, sources familiar with the developments said that the Pakistani army was deploying their men for even 60-75 days.
Experts state that Pakistan has deployed close to 5,000 men in the region.
As per assessment by Indian agencies, the Pakistan army is losing close to 30-35 army personnel in the 71-km-long Siachen glacier every year despite not a single shot being fired by the either side. This number does not include the 140 who died in the Gayatri sector avalanche of April 2012.
In comparison, India has lost almost 16 soldiers every year in the last 10 years (163 from 2008-2017).
The Siachen glacier in the Karakoram range is known as the highest militarised zone in the world where soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds. Temperatures in this region—where the troops are stationed at heights of 20,000 feet—drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.