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No change in stand on Siachen issue: Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan today said there was no change in its policy on the Siachen issue with India and that it had no plans to redeploy its troops from the glacier described as the world`s highest and coldest battlefield.

"There is no change as far as Pakistan`s policy or position on Siachen is concerned," Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan told a weekly news briefing. He was responding to questions about army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani`s remarks on Wednesday that Pakistan and India should resolve all issues, including Siachen, to ensure "peaceful co-existence".

"We are not thinking in terms of redeployment of our troops," Khan said. The Pakistani side has made several proposals to resolve the military standoff on Siachen, including a proposal for "re-deployment of forces", he said.

"I said that the proposals that we have made regarding Siachen includes mutual redeployment of troops. We are not thinking of (any unilateral redeployment of troops)," he added.

The dispute over Siachen, which dates back to 1984, has been in focus since an avalanche slammed into a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp on April 7, burying 127 soldiers and 11 civilians under dozens of feet of snow. After visiting the site of the avalanche on Wednesday, Kayani had said that there "should be a resolution of Siachen and other issues".

Khan said the Siachen issue was part of the ongoing dialogue between the two countries and is being discussed by the Defence Secretaries.  The next meeting on the Siachen issue is scheduled to be held in Pakistan and both sides are working to finalise a date.

"It is in the mutual interest of Pakistan and India that we address all these issues in a meaningful and result-oriented manner. In fact, I would like to refer to the meeting that President (Asif Ali) Zardari had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (in New Delhi on April 8) and both leaders underlined the importance of finding pragmatic and practical solutions to all issues," Khan said. The two sides would continue discussing all issues in order to "find some mutually acceptable solutions", he said.

Responding to a question about the test of the Agni-V ballistic missile by India, Khan said: "We were informed about this test in advance. This is as per the agreement that we have with India which was signed in May 2005 regarding the pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles".

However, he said Pakistan had already made clear its "concerns" about an arms race in the region. Asked about a petition filed by Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed in the Lahore High Court yesterday seeking protection from the government following the announcement of a 10 million dollar US bounty for him, Khan said Pakistan had "a very clear position" on the issue.

"Basically, we have a functional democracy and a very independent judiciary in Pakistan. If somebody has any proof against anybody, he is most welcome to take it to the court," he said without giving details. Pakistan had earlier asked the US to provide "concrete evidence" against Saeed, who has been accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

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