Pakistan Army Chief criticizes Indian stance on the Siachin glacier

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The Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani criticized India for the continuing stalemate in the disputed Siachin glacier. He said that the dispute worsened after the 1989 talks, when the two sides were close to a resolution.

Gen. Kayani was addressing the media during his visit to the Pakistani controlled part of the glacier. He assessed the situation prevailing there, after the April 7 avalanche, which killed more than 135 people. The avalanche which occurred at 2:00 am on April 7 had destroyed the Gayari military base, located within the Siachin glacier. It was the worst natural catastrophe the Pakistani army ever faced in the disputed region.

The General blamed India for the “regression” in the progress, which was made during the late 1980s. He claimed that both the nations were about to resolve the issue in 1989, when the then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi visited Pakistan during an official trip. Kayani said that after the 1989 events, there were several rounds of talks in the two decades which followed it, but somehow, the two sides didn’t agree on the technicalities.

He said that, during the last round of talks between the two nations, the dialogue fell apart because the Indian side insisted that the demarcation of the Line of Control (LoC) should be taken up first, before the demilitarization of the glacier region. However, he said that he is still hopeful of a resolution on this regard and claimed that Pakistan is ready to hold further discussions with India to resolve the Siachin issue.

Talking about the response from the Indian Minister of state for defence M M Pallam Raju and other officials on his remarks about the demilitarization of Siachin, Gen. Kayani said that so far, the response from the Indian officials have been overwhelmingly positive, with some reservations.

A total of 124 Pakistani soldiers belonging to the 6th Northern Light Infantry battalion and 11 civilian contracts died during the avalanche of April 7. The dead includes a Colonel and a Commander. The Gayari army base is located 30 km west of the Siachen Glacier terminus. It is located at an elevation of 3,775 meters above the sea level.

The Siachin dispute first came to prominence in 1984, when troops from India and Pakistan fought each other on April 13, 1984 during the Operation Meghdoot. In 1989, the then Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto held a series of talks with her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi. However after Rajiv lost power in 1989, the talks were stalled no further progress could be made on the issue.

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