Glacier Talks fail againon June 1st, 2011 at 1:04 am
иконописПравославни икониDefence secretaries of India and Pakistan failed to achieve a breakthrough in their two-day talks on Siachen, even though both sides agreed to persist with “meaningful and result-oriented” discussions. May 31 talks ended with only a pledge for further talks in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, at some point. “Both sides welcomed the ongoing dialogue process,” declared a statement issued jointly by the delegations. “The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere, contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other’s position.”
While India wants Pakistan to authenticate AGPL both on the maps and on the ground, Islamabad insists on maintaining the pre-1972 troop position, as per Simla Agreement. Pakistan has been asking for demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier and raised the issue of climate change there due to presence of troops from both sides and its effects on the environment. The two sides, however, insisted that after the conclusion of the talks, there was a better understanding of each other’s positions.
They (the delegations from the two sides meeting after a gap of three years) also acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since November 2003.
“What we are trying to do is send a message to Pakistan that we are willing to do business with you and we don’t want to take advantage of your current predicament in any way,” said Naresh Chandra, chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board, which is appointed by the prime minister.
China’s expanding strategic footprint in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in fact, seems to have led India to harden its stand, which till now was largely about Pakistan providing iron-clad guarantees to “authenticate” the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) along the Saltoro Ridge, on maps and on ground.
India remains open to discussing the “modalities” for the verification of the AGPL and the proposed demilitarized zone but would “insist on map coordinates, obtained through aerial or satellite imagery, and other methodologies to show the relative positions on the ground”. Till it gets them, troop disengagement, withdrawal and the final demilitarization of the glacier is not on the cards.
Some may scoff at the strategic significance of the forbidding glacial heights but the Indian Army, which beat the Pakistan Army by just a whisker to occupy most of the dominating posts in the region in April 1984, has repeatedly drilled it into the political leadership.