No forward movement on Siachen standoff between India-Pak
Islamabad: Indian and Pakistani officials have made no forward movement on resolving the military standoff on the Siachen glacier, with both sides sticking to their stated positions in two-day talks, diplomatic and official sources said today.
During talks yesterday between an Indian delegation led by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and a Pakistani team led by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, the two sides "explained their respective stances" and reiterated stated positions, sources from both sides told PTI. The second day of the talks today was largely devoted to working out a joint statement to be issued to the media, official sources said.
According to Pakistani media reports, the Pakistani side reiterated its call for demilitarising the Siachen glacier and pulling back troops to the positions in 1984. The Pakistani side further called for the resolution of the issue in the light of arrangements discussed in 1989 and 1992.
The Indian government has made it clear that any settlement must include the authentication and demarcation of current military positions on Siachen. The move is aimed at thwarting the possible re-induction of troops by Pakistan after any demilitarisation of the glacier.
Pakistan`s Defence Minister Naveed Qamar told The Nation daily: "There is a realisation among both the sides that confrontation would lead to very negative implications that hinder economic and social development.
"Peace is the ultimate solution to bring prosperity to the region. Pakistan and India need to keep peace measures intact so as to eradicate misgivings and move on. Cooperation is the key to success," he added.
During a meeting with the Indian delegation yesterday, Qamar called for the amicable resolution of all issues between India and Pakistan. He said it was in the interest of both countries to "seek the amicable resolution of all the outstanding issues, including Siachen, as it would tremendously contribute" to peace and prosperity in South Asia.
Islamabad has stepped up calls to demilitarise the Siachen glacier in the wake of an avalanche that killed 139 people at a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp on April 7. The two-day talks on Siachen, part of the resumed dialogue process between India and Pakistan, were held at the Defence Ministry in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Despite Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani`s call for the resolution of the Siachen issue after the avalanche, analysts had said the two sides were unlikely to make progress on ending the standoff that began in 1984.
Ahead of the talks, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony too cautioned against expecting any "dramatic announcement or decision" at the meeting of the Defence Secretaries. Stung by the occupation of strategic heights in the Kargil sector in 1999, India has insisted on the authentication and demarcation of current positions on Siachen.
Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen, described as the worlds highest and coldest battlefield, since 1984.
The guns have largely been silent since late 2003, when the two countries put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and more troops have died on the glacier due to the adverse weather than combat.