No headway: Siachen talks end, status quo remains
ISLAMABAD: Senior officials from Pakistan and India were unable to make any headway in their fresh round of talks to resolve the longstanding dispute over Siachen, ‘the world’s highest battlefield’.
The two-day talks between the defence secretaries of the nuclear-armed neighbours ended here on Tuesday with mere reaffirmation to “make serious, sustained and result-oriented efforts for seeking an amicable resolution of the Siachen dispute.”
Sources said on the second day of talks, the two defence secretaries met only to discuss a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the parleys.
It is believed that the two countries did not discuss any new proposals and instead stuck to their stated positions on the dispute, which, many analysts believe, could be resolved speedily if the arch-rivals showed some political will.
However, a Pakistani official blamed the Indian side for the stalemate over the dispute.
“We want an immediate resolution of this dispute,” said the official, insisting that India appears to maintain the status quo.
Discussions took place against the backdrop of a catastrophic avalanche on the Pakistani side of Siachen which killed 140 people.
The tragic incident led to renewed calls for the demilitarisation of Siachen, where more people from both sides have died because of the harsh weather rather than in combat.
Talks are currently in deadlock over differences on the location of the 110-kilometre 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.
A joint statement issued by the foreign office said talks were held in a “cordial and friendly atmosphere”.
“It was agreed to continue the dialogue on Siachen in keeping with the desire of the leaders of both countries for an early resolution of all outstanding issues. Both sides acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since 2003,” it added.
The next round of talks on Siachen will be held in New Delhi on mutually convenient dates, to be fixed through diplomatic channels.
The latest talks are part of the overall peace process which has picked up momentum in recent months. Despite the easing of tensions, the two countries have yet to achieve any major breakthrough on contentious issues.