ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has turned down an Indian proposal regarding exchange of ‘delegations of military officials’ on Siachen conflict, a move New Delhi believes would help facilitate the settlement of the outstanding issue between the two neighbors.
Pakistan believes that a lot of effort has already been put into resolving the conflict over Siachen glacier, the world highest battlefield, and both sides could settle the matter anytime provided there was a political will without wasting any more time on exchange of delegations of army officials and military experts. “India has conveyed to Pakistan that the interaction between the military officials would facilitate the settlement of Siachen conflict and it would help in doing away with the mistrust and misgivings that the defense authorities have about each other,” said a diplomatic source, seeking anonymity.
Nonetheless, he said Pakistan was of the view that more than enough work had been done to resolve the Siachen issue and there was no need of wasting more time by opting for new proposals and involving more people as senior defense officials had already held talks on the contentious matter on a number of occasion. Pakistan and India have held 13 rounds of talks on the demilitarization of Siachen glacier so far with last of such negotiations held this year in June between the two defense secretaries, though without any breakthrough or settlement of the issue. The reason of the failure of these talks is that India wants Pakistan to agree to authenticate the troops’ current positions and demarcate the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on the map before taking steps to demilitarize Siachen. However, Pakistan has refused to do so and always asked for an unconditional withdrawal of both armies.
The conflict began when India captured the highest peaks on the glacier in 1984 believing it would help to monitor Pakistani positions below. Since 1984, armies of both countries have engaged in battles at altitudes as high as 22,000 feet above the sea level and at temperatures that plunge below – 60 degrees centigrade.
However, a ceasefire was agreed upon in 2003, but the conflict continues to this day and still forces both countries to deploy troops and run manned military camps in the completely inhospitable terrain of Siachen.
A Pakistani official said Pakistan was willing to resolve the matter without any further delay, but the Indians wanted authentication of troops’ positions before any further progress.
He said Pakistan had offered to record or indicate the current positions of both armies in an annexure but it would not authenticate them as a part of any written deal as that would tantamount to accepting the aggression done by New Delhi in 1984.