Siachen issues needs to be solved by Pak, India

Islamabad: Noting that withdrawal of troops from Siachen is necessary to improve `atmosphere`, Pakistani army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today said the issue needs to be resolved by Pakistan and India. Kayani made the remarks while interacting with reporters in the northern town of Skardu after reviewing the search operation for 138 people buried by an avalanche in Gyari sector of Siachen.

He travelled to Gyari with President Asif Ali Zardari. The army chief said the issue of Siachen needs to be resolved by Pakistan and India. Kayani contended that Pakistan had stationed its troops in Siachen in response to a move by India. "The world knows why we are in Siachen," he said. The withdrawal of troops from the glacier is necessary to improve the atmosphere, Kayani was quoted as saying by Geo News channel.

His remarks came a day after, the main opposition party PML-N`s chief Nawaz Sharif called on the Pakistan government to take the initiative for resolving the Siachen issue with India. Referring to the search operation in Gyari sector, Kayani said all efforts were being made to trace the people hit by the avalanche on April 7. The avalanche, which covered an area of one square kilometre, hit a battalion headquarters at Gyari.

Search teams have focussed on several "priority points" and excavated over 100 feet at two sites in their search for 127 soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry and 11 civilians who were buried under dozens of feet of snow. The avalanche has raised questions in Pakistan over the troop deployment in the hazardous terrain.

Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen 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 due to the adverse weather than combat.