During his third visit to avalanche-hit Giari, the army chief termed India’s current stance over Siachen even harsher than in 1989, with its demand for the demarcation of the Line of Control.
Pointing out a regression in talks, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that India is now talking about redefining the bordaerlines. He was talking to the media following his visit on Thursday.
He said that whereas in the past, India would demand an acceptance of the status of Siachen, its stance has changed following the Giari tragedy
He reiterated his call for a peaceful solution over the issue and said both India and Pakistan need to sit and resolve all the issues through dialogue.
“I fully support a peaceful move towards resolving this issue instead of stiffness and deadlock,” he said.
The army chief further said both countries would mutually benefit from a pullout from the area. India is also a stakeholder in the region, he said.
According to Indian daily The Hindu, asked if he had seen any willingness by India to engage with Pakistan following the avalanche and his own call for demilitarisation of Siachen, the army chief said: “In Pakistan, it has got across-the-board support. It has been received positively in India, except with some ifs and buts. Let’s hope we can move forward.”
According to an ISPR statement released earlier, the army chief was briefed over the progress of the ongoing work, including efforts to create a watercourse to safely drain a lake formed by the blockage of River Giari due to the avalanche.
The army chief remained with the troops for some time and lauded their motivation in the face of tough conditions and extreme weather. He appreciated their resolve in upholding the army’s proud tradition of not leaving any man behind, regardless of cost.
Thursday was the 27th consecutive day of the rescue and search operation, which is still striving to recover over 140 soldiers and civilians trapped underneath an avalanche that hit the sixth Northern Light Infantry headquarters on April 7 in the Giari sector of Siachen.
According to sources and an operational team available on helplines, over 500 soldiers and civilians are taking part in the operation.
An officer told The Express Tribune that continuous snow slides and blizzards are the main hurdle in removing the heavy layers of snowpack and the equipment is also being affected.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.