India should take bold initiative on Siachen dispute

Lahore: India should take a "bold initiative" to resolve the Siachen dispute that has been lingering for 23 years on the world`s highest battleground, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said. Khar called on India to show "flexibility" and meet Pakistan "half way" in normalising relations and resolving "core issues" like the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan wants the amicable solution to all disputes with India, including the Kashmir issue, through dialogue, Khar said told reporters after addressing a conference of Indian and Pakistani businessmen here. Khar referred to the avalanche that hit a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp in the Siachen sector and buried 139 people under snow last month and said the two countries had "23 years of lost opportunities" to resolve the standoff on the Himalayan glacier.

She said Pakistan had suffered heavy human losses in Siachen and it wants India to take a "bold initiative" to resolve the issue along with other outstanding issues between the two countries. "Kashmir is the core issue. However, Pakistan was willing to solve the Siachen dispute back in 1989 when (then premiers) Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi met. Today there has been no change in our stance on Siachen. There cannot be a military solution to any of our problems," Khar said.

"We welcome India to meet us half-way," Khar said in a speech that dwelt on the reasons why the approach adopted by the two countries over the past six decades had not worked. Her comments came after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during his recent visit to New Delhi requested India for mutual withdrawal of troops from the Siachen area after it suffered heavy casualties in the avalanche.