Talks hit stalemate on Siachen demilitarisation

The sole encouraging sign is that both India and Pakistan agree to meet again in Islamabad.

Express June 01, 2011


Pakistan and India on Tuesday ended a 12th round of talks over the Siachen Glacier without a hint of agreement on the modalities of a proposed demilitarisation and other key issues related to their tense standoff.

The sole sign of optimism, if any, on the second day of the talks was that both Pakistan and India decided to meet again at a mutually convenient date in Islamabad. New Delhi insists that Islamabad must authenticate present troop position of the two sides.

While Pakistan insists on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions, as agreed in the Simla Agreement, India wants its neighbour to authenticate the Actual Ground Position Line both on the maps as well as on the ground.

Islamabad emerged as a strong proponent of demilitarisation, raising the issue of climate change due to the continued presence of troops from both sides and its impact on the environment.

An anodyne, neutral joint statement acknowledging cordiality in talks and an enhanced understanding of each other’s presence brought to a close the defence secretary-level talks on the Siachen Glacier.

“Both sides presented their positions and suggestions towards the resolution of Siachen,” it said following the two-day talks between Defence Secretary Syed Athar Ali and his Indian counterpart Pradeep Kumar. They also acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since November 2003.

They presented their positions and suggestions towards the resolution of Siachen. The Pakistan side presented a non-paper on Siachen. A non-paper, in government parlance, is an off-the-record, unofficial presentation of a stated policy.

The Indian side offered to “study” the non-paper and discuss it with their Pakistani counterparts when the both sides meet next time.

Apart from the delegation-level talks, the two defence secretaries met one-on-one, and the head of the Pakistani delegation also called on Defence Minister A.K. Antony. Both countries’ foreign secretaries, commerce secretaries and home secretaries have held meetings in the past three months.

The statement said both sides “welcomed” the ongoing dialogue process. “The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere, contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other’s position on Siachen,” it said.

Siachen is considered the “low-hanging fruit” of the India-Pakistan peace process. India and Pakistan will, sooner or later, find a way to bring their troops back down from Siachen. But when they do, the move will be of greater significance than clashing over icy wasteland. It will be a major move towards peace and trust. However, nothing seems to suggest that it is going to happen anytime soon, especially in the midst of conditions as disturbed internally as they are in Pakistan.

The meeting in New Delhi was part of the start-stop peace process aimed at bringing lasting stability to South Asia and Tuesday’s statement said the two countries “welcomed the ongoing dialogue process.”

New Delhi broke off all contact with Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were staged by Lashkar-e-Taiba according to Indian and Western intelligence.

With input from news wires

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2011.

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Anoop | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend Well, India's casualty rates now are negligible with all the Technological advancements it has made with respect to surviving on the Glacier. And, India holds a position 2000 ft above any Pakistani one. Why should it give up if Pakistan is not going to guarantee its not going to repeat Kargil? The Bills are high, but percentage-wise its is negligible, considering India's GDP and very high for Pakistan for the same reason. The Question is why shouldn't Pakistan give Iron Clad guarantees that it will not attempt another Kargil? Better safe than sorry, the Indians think. @Kamil Shah, Man, you guys are so brainwashed that you actually think Pakistan is more prosperous than India! So, I guess its a waste of time for me to provide you IMF and WB data. So, happy head in the sand!
S.R.H. Hashmi | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend It is not at all surprising that India and Pakistan failed to reach an agreement even in the twelfth round of their talks on the demilitarization of Siachin which is considered to be a relatively simpler of the issues between the two countries. The result has been the same in talks with India on other issues, and the end result – a desire to continue the talks, much the same way as Israel talks with Palestinians. Siachin is of great interest to India from another angle as well. The Indians once took an American general to Siachin from where a large part of China is visible. So Siachin has become of great interest to both who are becoming great buddies now. The US wants to contain China and India has ambitions to overtake and subdue China, with American help. Just shows how stupid some people and countries can get. India is not at all interested in solving issues and developing friendly ties with us. It has started this farce of negotiations perhaps at the insistence of Americans who want to convince us that India is not our enemy, hence we can safely transfer more troops from Indian border to start North Waziristan operation. Overcoming their past animosity, the Europeans have joined hands to form European Union and they are cooperating with Americans as well. And here we are, trying to befriend distant countries and cutting the throats of our immediate neighbours. The colonial powers which successfully set us against each other in the past in pursuance of their divide-and-rule policy, are doing the same once more and this time, US has also joined them. When will we wake up, if ever.
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