Siachen demilitarisation focus of Pak-India talks

Published: May 31, 2011
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India's Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar (R) poses for pictures with his Pakistani counterpart Lieutenant-General (retired) Syed Athar Ali before their meeting in New Delhi May 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

India's Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar (R) poses for pictures with his Pakistani counterpart Lieutenant-General (retired) Syed Athar Ali before their meeting in New Delhi May 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: 

Amiable talks but little movement forward was the result of the first day of talks between India and Pakistan about demilitarisation of Siachen, a mountainous region where borderline is not demarcated, in a “constructive framework”, picking up the threads of the issue after a gap of three years.

Defence secretaries from both countries began two days of closed-door talks in New Delhi on Monday on withdrawing forces from the mountainous no-man’s land above the Siachen glacier in disputed Himalayan territory , where they have faced off since 1984.

“The talks were held in a constructive framework. Both sides apprised each other of their perception about the Siachen issue and also discussed the surrounding issues,” Defence Ministry officials said, The Hindu reported.

Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar led the Indian delegation at the talks with his Pakistani counterpart Lt. General (Retd) Syed Ather Ali.

The decision to take the dialogue process forward between the two countries was taken last year during the meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in Thimpu.

While the Pakistani delegation has two civilian officials and four military officers, the Indian side includes Special Secretary R K Mathur, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. General A M Verma and Surveyor General S Subha Rao.

The Pakistani Defence Secretary met Defence Minister A K Antony in the afternoon for over 20 minutes. The two sides may come up with a joint statement tomorrow after the talks, the officials said.

Point of disagreement

“The AGPL is not clearly marked beyond the grid reference point of NJ—9842. The two countries have decided to demilitarise the Siachen Glacier, but the matter is stuck as there are apprehensions on both sides,” officials said.

India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on the maps and the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge, they said. Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement.

During the talks, the two sides are also expected to take up the issue of the existing ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and the AGPL, sources said.

Both countries have long accepted the need to demilitarise Siachen, located as high as 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) above sea level, and military experts say the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain has claimed more lives than gunfire.

“Success could be measured in various terms but I would say the real barometer would be any progress over Siachen,” a senior Indian government official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • muhammad nisar
    May 31, 2011 - 10:18AM

    Our India phobia should end.We’ve spent billions of our taxpayer’s money on buying weapons & devising strategies to counter India but the real threat facing us today is Islamic fundamentalism.the indians or jews aren’t attacking us,it’s our own homegrown radical muslims who are blowing up our women & children.
    we need to get rid of our fear of india & israel & focus our energies in fighting the cancer of radical islam.If not ,then we’ll lose our freedoms & the savages will take us back to the stone age.Recommend

  • Saleem Khan
    May 31, 2011 - 11:52AM

    Both countries should fix these long prevailing issues and same savings on the betterment of civil population. Military is snatching their share of big budget from Govt (by hook and crook)… sufferers are simply poor civilians.

    If military once share true cost of keeping their forces on SIACHIN…literally, civil population will beg that “We don’t need Kashmir or War”…we need peace so same taxes spend on our development, not on piling up nukes and missiles.Recommend

  • Who cares
    May 31, 2011 - 2:11PM

    I have an idea: How about India gives us Kashmir and ends this spat once and for all?Recommend

  • AnIndian
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:53AM

    @Who cares

    NO! NO! NO!Recommend

  • Vivek
    Jun 1, 2011 - 7:11AM

    Being an Indian, it is very pleasing to note the changing midset of Pakistanis. I fully agree with other comments that Pakistanis need to shed their hatred for India.

    Though we’ve had bitter animosity, however, it is a heart rending sight to see innocent civilians being killed in Pakistan almost everyday. The day India and Pakistan start taking decisions on their own rather than being mentored by the Americans, Saudis, Russians etc, we could achieve genuine friendship someday.Inshallah ! Recommend

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