In a bid to resolve the three-decade-old dispute over Siachen Glacier, senior officials from Pakistan and India began talks on Monday — with little prospect of making any major breakthrough.
The fresh round of talks – taking place against the backdrop of a recent deadly avalanche that killed around 140 men at Giari sector – are being led by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi and her Indian counterpart Shashikant Sharma.
However, hopes of a breakthrough on the dispute which, analysts believe, is nothing but an issue of ‘false egos’, were shattered well before the talks when Indian Defence Minister AK Antony ruled out the possibility of any deal on the issue at the talks.
However, the Pakistani side is reluctant to jump to the conclusion. “Talks are still going on, and frankly we don’t want to pre-empt their outcome,” said a Pakistani official when asked to comment on Antony’s remarks.
On the first day of the talks – which are part of the overall peace process between the two neighbours – officials said that both sides discussed various proposals, including a Pakistani ‘non-paper’ seeking a negotiated settlement of the dispute over what is known as the ‘world’s highest battlefield’.
The non-paper was handed over to India at the last round of talks held in New Delhi last year. The proposal seeks immediate withdrawal of troops to the pre-1984 position when the Siachen conflict had begun.
However, India has resisted the idea that proposes its forces pull back from the commanding peaks they have been occupying since 1984.
The two neighbours have reached a deadlock over differences on the location of the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which passes through the Saltoro Ridge and Siachen Glacier.
India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on the maps and on the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge. Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement.
The talks will continue today (Tuesday) after which a joint statement is expected to be released.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2012.
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