World’s highest battleground: Pakistan should lead Siachen troop pullout, says Nawaz

Published: April 18, 2012

PML-N chief arrived in Skardu to pay tribute to the soldiers defending the country’s frontiers. PHOTO: SANA

GILGIT: 

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has advised the Pakistani government to take the lead and withdraw its troops from Siachen Glacier where 138 troops and civilians were buried by a massive avalanche over a week ago.

On April 7, a giant wall of snow crashed down in the Giari sector, swamping the battalion headquarters of 6 Northern Light Infantry, where 124 soldiers and 14 civilians were stationed. Nine days on, rescuers have yet to pull out a single person, dead or alive.

The tragedy swung a spotlight onto the 65-year-old conflict between Pakistan and India, and ignited debates on the futility of the battle on ‘Earth’s ceiling’ for over two decades.

“Let’s not make it a matter of ego. Pakistan should take the initiative,” Sharif told journalists after surveying the Giari sector where a massive rescue operation is under way.

Senior leaders of his Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) – including Senator Mushahidullah, Marvi Memon, Mehtab Abbasi and Pervez Rasheed – accompanied Sharif.

Sharif advised both Pakistan and India to climb down from the icy battlefield, resolve the festering dispute and then spend the billions of rupees they would save on the welfare of their impoverished people.

He recalled that, during his stint as prime minister, he had launched a dialogue with then-Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee to resolve the Siachen issue. He called upon the incumbent governments in both countries to follow up on that in the “larger interest of humanity”.

In Skardu, the PML-N chief also spent time with the families of soldiers trapped under the snow and enquired about their issues.

He paid tribute to soldiers for defending the country’s frontiers. He also gave away cheques for Rs 500,000 to each aggrieved family.

He announced that the Punjab government will provide a job to each affected family and finance the education of their children.

Rescue operation

Meanwhile, toxic gases hampered the search for the trapped soldiers, as American and Norwegian experts reached the site to help the operations.

Rescuers have dug tunnels in the hard mass of snow and ice to try to reach the buried soldiers and civilians, but toxic gases have built up inside one of them, the military said in a statement.

A rise in the temperature has increased the risk of further snow slides, the statement said, forcing workers on the site to take extra precautions. Specialist teams from Norway and the United States arrived at Giari, while Swiss and German teams have returned home after helping the efforts.

Search teams are looking for the trapped soldiers and civilians at six different points.

More than 450 rescuers are working at the site, though experts have said there is virtually no chance of finding any survivors.

Gilgit unrest

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif also spoke about targeted attacks on the Shia community in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan and denounced the PPP-led government for its failure to stem the tide of sectarian violence in the country’s troubled spots.

The authorities had clamped a curfew in Gilgit town following a deadly bout of sectarian violence on April 3. But Sharif said curfew was not a solution to the problem. He said that the government should have brought the rival sects to the negotiating table to ensure durable peace in the region.

(Read : Siachen — the facts)

(with additional reporting by sumera khan in islamabad)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.

Reader Comments (53)

  • ashok
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:38AM

    There are no Pakistani troops in, at, on, within, above, below, adjacent, near or around Siachin.

    Pakistani troops at the most are on western side slopes of Saltoro ridge.

    Siachin is on the eastern side of Saltoro ridge.

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  • true_blue_pakistani
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:39AM

    Good call by Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan should take the lead to withdraw.
    If GHQ doesn’t want to withdraw, let GHQ be shifted to Siachen.

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  • sheikh
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:42AM

    The only leader who has the brains and courage to say this in public. PMLN Zindabad!

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  • Skin Taj
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:58AM

    Mr Sharif. is maturing and is talking sense !!!!!!!!!!

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  • Syed Ali
    Apr 18, 2012 - 4:00AM

    Good comments and sense expressed by Mian Sahib. i wish there was one single leader in India of his wisdom and suggest the same to his government and army. Unfortunately none. The hawkish nature of Indian Media and right wing there is so strong that it looks like adream to have peace between two neighbours.

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  • Faesal
    Apr 18, 2012 - 4:04AM

    Well Mr. Nawaz Sharif can keep his suggestion to himself. There is no way we are backing off from Siachen unilaterally.

    indians with their vicious opportunistic behavior, will occupy important peaks which the Pakistan currently holds.

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  • Babloo
    Apr 18, 2012 - 4:10AM

    If Pakistan can actually do that
    ““Let’s not make it a matter of ego. Pakistan should take the initiative,” Sharif told journalists after surveying the Giari sector where a massive rescue operation is under way.”
    It will in a single stroke change the dynamics of the relationship, without losing an inch of territory. Pakistan , for the first time ever in its history with India, perhaps enjoy the higher, saner ground. You have to know, India wont take an inch of territory accros the agreed and signed international border and LoC, even if you dont have any army. India does not have the same trust about Pakistan.

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  • Disco
    Apr 18, 2012 - 4:12AM

    Shame on Nawaz for using a tragedy as a political tool.

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  • Max
    Apr 18, 2012 - 4:14AM

    He is there to get some electoral mileage. So should be ashamed of his political tactics since it is a national tragedy.

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  • gunjan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 4:59AM

    Those who have their identity and ideology messed up can’t be trusted with ethos. We don’t care about ego. Bring it up or bring it down, useless and immaterial.

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  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Apr 18, 2012 - 5:01AM

    There is a Musharraf somewhere who will do another Kargil. How can India trust Pakistan?

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  • Plal
    Apr 18, 2012 - 5:33AM

    Nawaz Shariff makes sense that Pakistan should take the initiative to vacate Siachin from its present deployment – as it is in better position to redeploy force, if required than India.Pakistan is on lower ridges, which are well connected by road, while Indian forces are on higher ridges and they need to be air lifted to their position and so quick redeployment will not be possible.Pakistan’s initiative will also force India to rethink their position- as international pressure will also increase on India,It will be strategic gain for Pakistan ultimately.

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  • yamaha
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:03AM

    now that comment makes sense.

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  • Hasan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:03AM

    Another political gimmick to gain the cheap popularity. What unilateral withdraw N.S is talking about ? He knows very well that both countries are already agreed to withdraw forces provided Pakistan acknowledge the present position of Indian troops, in black and white.

    Will PML-N take the initative to share the responsibilty and support the government & PA
    for unlateral withdraw of forces ? Remember Indian army is insisting to record the present position of its forces in Siachen to establish Indians claim in case of any settlement of J&K dispute, in future.

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  • geeko
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:15AM

    Sher-e-Alam Chirag-e-Haqeeqat Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif talking politics, and not selling some bottle-water deceitfully entitled “Tsunami”.

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  • Cheema
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:29AM

    @Skin Taj

    Hmmmm I do not think so, since he says things which have no basis in reality. They are good soundbites though, for gullible folks who have shallow understanding of realpolitik

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  • Lala Gee
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:33AM

    What a genius he is?

    So the Indian have no hindrance in occupying the rest.

    What a joke?

    Instead of proposing both do the same simultaneously, he said what only a dumb, self serving politician can say. A desperate attempt to please India and keep Pak Army under pressure.
    Don’t know when Pakistan will get rid of such fake leaders, though much blame goes back to Pak Army who made him a leader in the first place.

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  • punekar
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:34AM

    Pakistan can sign the AGPL and everyone can go home. This is something India has been proposing for a long time. We are ready if you are.Recommend

  • A.Raja Rao
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:41AM

    What a sham and what words of wisdom. He wants both governments to spend money on the people. This is Pakistan which is spending money on terrorists so that they can wage an assymmetric war on India. How can India believe such ‘leaders’. Nawaz was responsible for Kargil.

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  • tariq
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:45AM

    Nawaz is only playing point scoring.Idiot even dont understand the strategic value of siachin. what will happen if he becomes a PM again.GOD Bless Pakistan.

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  • khan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:51AM

    Best suggestion so far. We can accept the AGPL and what is written in the treaty, which says that border runs North towards glaciers. Except for our army, North magically means North East towards India, which is causing so much problem as usual. Thats the reason, no international community backed us. Further, India can well afford to maintain troops with its booming economy. We are getting broke maintaining our ego at such heights. Unilateral withdrawl after accepting the AGPL line as border is the best solution.

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  • ckb
    Apr 18, 2012 - 7:11AM

    Pakistan has no troops to pull out, they are all several hundred feet under the snow, what Mr. Sharif is talking about? Everyone knows India won’t pull out. End this discussion, stop blowing hot air.

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  • Asif
    Apr 18, 2012 - 7:19AM

    That will be the best & most sensible decision ever!! No country is gaining anything by stationing their troops there.
    But will the army agree to it??

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  • Raven
    Apr 18, 2012 - 7:52AM

    India will not withdraw. The best outcome for India is to have Pakistan continue the present strategy- India is ready to spend xxx amount a year – but that is only worth if pakistan is spending xx. The worst outcome will be for Pakistan to unilaterally withdraw- then what? That will be indeed a very very difficult position for India- but again that will never happen- Pakistan will not be withdrawing.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 7:53AM

    @Syed Ali:

    After Kargil, Indian media and its politicians learned their lessons.

    What we are doing is essentially is making a bankrupt Country spend Billions of Rupees, that it can ill afford, on Siachen. India with its big economy can.

    All India asks is for Pakistan to point out exact co-ordinates on a map where the Actual Ground Position lies and everything will be over.

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  • Bilal
    Apr 18, 2012 - 7:56AM

    @ashok
    what are you trying to say?
    Siachen belongs to Pakistan…one day India HAS to vacate it.

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  • Mirza
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:02AM

    How one wishes that Sharif would have done this when he was in power. Or he would have demanded it earlier soon after the elections when his party was in the current govt. Of course both Pakistan and India should disarm the area ASAP without more loss of life and money hemorrhage. It is ironic that each leader makes sense only when they are out of power, when in power they have to follow the deep state.

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  • Thinktank
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:03AM

    @Syed Ali:
    Buddy, this is the same nawaz sharif who signed Lahore declaration with vajpayee and then planned the kargil misadventure with Musharraf. stabbed on the back…

    He is the most distrustful guy in pakistan!!

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  • Lala Gee
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:08AM

    @Babloo:

    “India wont take an inch of territory accros the agreed and signed international border and LoC, even if you dont have any army. India does not have the same trust about Pakistan.”

    Like you honored the Simla Accord in case of Siachen in 1984, and LOC in case of Kargil in 1970, and International Boundary in case of East Pakistan in 1971, and still we are stupid enough to trust India. What a twisted mindset.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 8:09AM

    No it will be a wrong step to withdraw troops by Pakistan at this stage. It will be coward step and will amount to showing white flag to India on the pretext of harsh weather and inhospitable terrain. Indian troops are also deployed on the same type of terrain and under same weather conditions for the last 30 years but they haven’t complained. It was just a chance and bad luck that avalanche hit the Pakistani side and Pakistani troops are facing it boldly. I would request our politicians to keep away and should not use Siachen tragedy as their political tool in their vested interest.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 8:19AM

    @Faesal:

    If India was so opportunistic why didn’t it take all the key positions in 1965 and 1971?

    India is a status quo country.

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  • Hassan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:34AM

    A joke by Nawaz sharif. He has no sense of what happened in history. It was indian army who first took places and occupied areas of Siachen. Pakistan sent their troops in self defence. If pakistan withdraws, india will start occupying one mountain after another and one day gilgit and skardu will be in their hands.

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  • Lala Gee
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:42AM

    @punekar:

    “Pakistan can sign the AGPL and everyone can go home. This is something India has been proposing for a long time. We are ready if you are.”

    So that your totally illegal occupation, which is an open violation of Simla Accord, get legitimized. You think Pakistani nation is so naive, though no doubt Pakistani leaders are, and can be fooled with propaganda and lies.

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  • azhar saleem
    Apr 18, 2012 - 8:50AM

    well done Nawaz sharif.i think it time to pull outout troops from these heights and starts talks with india.its totally madness to be there for nothing except loss of liives of our troops.Nawaz sharif seems to be sincere leader. he has learent lesson from past.

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  • ayesha khan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:06AM

    @Syed Ali: “Good comments and sense expressed by Mian Sahib. i wish there was one single leader in India of his wisdom and suggest the same to his government and army. Unfortunately none.”

    India has already presented a solution tha is honorable for India and Pakistan. Both countries sign off on AGPL (Actual ground position line) and then retreat to the 1971 positions thereby demilitarizing the region. It is a reality whether Pak signs it or not. If Pak signs it both countries can withdraw honorably.But Pakistan chooses not to do so.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 9:27AM

    what has he done during his ‘RAJ’ – prince of lahore must say something else, to please masses…..

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  • Shyam
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:33AM

    @ Lala Gee

    So the Indian have no hindrance in occupying the rest.

    Genius, Indians already occupy all the peaks. Pakistan is trying to dislodge Indians from Siachen and not trying to hold on to territory.

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  • MarkH
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:37AM

    @Plal:
    There won’t be any international pressure on India. They can place troops wherever they want within their own territory. Maybe some from inside India, though. If pressure from outside hasn’t come with both there, one leaving won’t change anything in that regard. Internationally it’s probably more along the line of “…if you think it’s worth it.”

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 10:20AM

    @Syed Ali:
    Indian leaders may be as corrupt as Pakistani leaders but they dont sell their country. Musharraf was right about Nawaz Shareef that he is a pea brain and his vision is not beyond his nose. Nawaz Shareef tell us how much you get from India? only one sugar mills, you cheap sh@t.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 10:43AM

    @Raven:

    Nice try!. Dont worry we are not withdrawing. Nawaz dont have power in the centre so he has no authority to do anything. Remember this is an election year. Politicians will try to please everybody. I will not believe this Nawaz liar one bit. Once a liar always a liar. He lied about the deal with Mushy when he left from jail to Saudia on a ten year plan.

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  • Apr 18, 2012 - 10:51AM

    @Hassan:

    Let me add this to your comment. It can then block the way to China by Pakistan. It can control Gilgit and Baltistan.

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  • Lala Gee
    Apr 18, 2012 - 11:04AM

    @Shyam:

    So the Indian have no hindrance in occupying the rest.

    “Genius, Indians already occupy all the peaks. Pakistan is trying to dislodge Indians from Siachen and not trying to hold on to territory.”

    I thought you have a claim over all the rest of Gilgit and Baltistan as well. My mistake.

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  • tfsindhu
    Apr 18, 2012 - 12:32PM

    Its a good suggestion, but is India ready for this: Please see their unwillingness at: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.asp?get=new&id=1145
    Pakistan is in fact unfortunate in this regard to have India as her neighbour.

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  • Lord
    Apr 18, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Well said i didnt expected it from you but good sign for democracy in pakistan. Hopefully a day will come that they will start giving chances of leadership in there parties.

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  • ashok
    Apr 18, 2012 - 1:01PM

    @Bilal:

    What makes you think that Siachin belongs to Pakistan?

    Go and read Pakistan constitution; you will not find Kashmir in it. Pakistan has only four states and FATA. period.

    If Kashmir is not a part of Pakistan, how can you think of Siachin as a part of Pakistan.

    Keep dreaming….

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  • Vigilant
    Apr 18, 2012 - 2:07PM

    Who will trust india??? Indians have violated all the accords with Pakistan

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  • Shyam
    Apr 18, 2012 - 2:19PM

    @Lala Gee

    I thought you have a claim over all the rest of Gilgit and Baltistan as well. My mistake.

    Thats why your army stays in Gilgit and Baltistan so that Indian army does not come in.??? Your army tries to claim Siachen and has repeatedly failed to take it and thats why Indian army is there. Got it?

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  • Lala Gee
    Apr 18, 2012 - 6:57PM

    @Shyam:

    “Thats why your army stays in Gilgit and Baltistan so that Indian army does not come in.??? Your army tries to claim Siachen and has repeatedly failed to take it and thats why Indian army is there. Got it?”

    Siachen and the area adjacent to the glacier towards east upto Karakuram Pass is all part of Baltistan valley out of which you grabbed some including Siachen glacier due to the absence of Pakistani Army there. You also need to get it.

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  • RR Iyer
    Apr 18, 2012 - 9:33PM

    Dear Editor:
    I had written 2 comments to ET-very detailed ones that required thorough analysis-and I find that ET has censored them.
    Since you have chosen to censor them, I will not comment further in ET.
    By the way, I did read your FAQ on comment guidelines and I have followed them to the letter!
    Nobody was offended by my letter advocating peace!
    Cheers.

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  • OldPak
    Apr 19, 2012 - 1:03AM

    @Sqn Ldr S.Ausaf Husain (Retd):
    Well, he usually follow the News Media and their Camera Crew, this time they were reporting on GB & Siachen. Shameful though, but by calling back the Army from the Front he only tried to look sympathetic to the families of the lost soldiers. What should he have done?
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  • Apr 19, 2012 - 7:59AM

    If they done vacate the FATA after the killings of thousands of Pakisani soldiers, then why vacate the Siachin after the killing of 150 soldiers ?Recommend

  • Shyam
    Apr 19, 2012 - 11:28AM

    @Lala Gee

    Siachen and the area adjacent to the glacier towards east upto Karakuram Pass is all part of Baltistan valley out of which you grabbed some including Siachen glacier due to the absence of Pakistani Army there

    Says you, but statements without any basis are not worth discussing. So Genius, how does Pakistani army withdrawing help india “occupy” something we have already “occupied”??

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  • MAD
    Apr 19, 2012 - 2:15PM

    Okay did MIan Sb just bring politics into Siachen at this time when we should be grieving our martyrs.

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