Lingering dispute: India, Pakistan open Siachen talks today

Meeting may provide ‘movement’ but no ‘breakthrough’: Officials.


Kamran Yousaf May 30, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


Senior defence officials from Pakistan and India are set to open two-day talks in New Delhi today, marking the latest efforts by the two nuclear-armed neighbours to push for the settlement of the Siachen – world’s highest battlefield – dispute.


However, the talks – first of their kind in four-years – are unlikely to produce any major breakthrough, a Pakistani defence official told The Express Tribune.

The negotiations on Siachen between Pakistan Defence Secretary Lt. General (retd) Syed Athar Ali and his Indian counterpart Pradeep Kumar are part of the composite dialogue the two countries had agreed to resume in April this year.

The peace process remained suspended for almost two and a half years following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, which India blamed on Laskhar-e-Taiba which is allegedly based in Pakistan.

However, the two neighbours revived the process when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, visited Mohali to watch the 2011 World Cup cricket semi-final between the two archrivals.

Indian media has reported that New Delhi is expected to press Pakistan to authenticate the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) along the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro ridge in Jammu and Kashmir when the defence secretaries meet.

However, a Pakistani official says this will be the most contentious debate between the two countries’ negotiators.

“Pakistan cannot authentic AGPL along the Siachen Glacier,” said the official.

The conflict began in 1984 when Indian forces launched a successful operation to force Pakistani troops to retreat west of the Saltoro ridge. Since then the two countries fought intermittently in the region, as high as 20,000 feet, until it ended in a ceasefire in 2003.

Former president Pervez Musharraf once stated that Pakistan lost almost 900 square miles of territory in Siachen due to the Indian operation. Over 2,000 troops have died from both sides, majority of them not because of clashes but due to harsh weather.

“It is a false ego that prevents the two countries from the resolution of the Siachen dispute,” commented defence analyst Lt. General (retd) Talat Masood.

“We have agreements on the table on Siachen and it’s just a question of political parties to make the next decisive move,” he added. But, given the history, he said he expected “some movement” in the talks but not any major breakthrough.

History shows that apart from the Indus Water Treaty signed in 1960, Pakistan and India have yet to resolve a single issue bilaterally.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.

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COMMENTS (16)

Reignbeau | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend Waklnig in the presence of giants here. Cool thinking all around!
Sobriquet | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend @Adnan Khan: Where have I mentioned Germany or independence from India? Again: A third of Pakistan is in earthquake-prone regions—where some of the nuclear plants are also located. Despite international aid, Pakistan still hasn't been able to rebuild what collapsed in the last earthquake, so what will it do when there is seismic damage in its nuclear facilities? "At the time of independence" implies independence from Britain. But if you want to be pedantic, it was also independence from India because Pakistan was formed one day before India got its independence. So technically Pakistan was given independence from the 'Union of India'—the official definition of pre-independence India. 'Union of India' is still the official term for the Indian government in the Indian legal system. The use of 'kid' in your post just shows your desire to try and disparage those you do not even know. Try fixing your attitude and your persecutory delusions; perhaps then you can have a civic and logical exchange.
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