Pakistan asks India to resolve Siachen row

Pakistan on Thursday called for early resolution of its dispute with India on Siachen Glacier. The recent death of 10 Indian Army soldiers in the highest battlefield of the world rekindled the debate on the rationale of keeping it militarized.

“We hope Siachen issue is treated in an urgent manner between the two countries so more lives are not lost,” Abdul Basit, High Commissioner to India, told journalists in New Delhi, soon after the demise of Indian Army soldier Lance Naik Koppad Hanmanthappa, who was rescued alive from under 35 feet of ice and snow in Siachen Glacier last Monday.

The dispute over Siachen Glacier is one of the subjects likely to be discussed by India and Pakistan after resumption of engagements between the two nations.   

“We strongly feel that the time has come to ensure that more lives are not lost under harsh conditions in Siachen,” said Basit. Hanmanthappa and nine other soldiers of 19 Madras Regiment were trapped under snow and ice after a post of the Indian Army on Siachen Glacier was hit by an avalanche on February 3 last. While all of his nine colleagues were found dead, Hanmanthappa was rescued alive on Monday and airlifted to New Delhi in a very critical condition. He, however, breathed his last at Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi on Thursday.

New Delhi and Islamabad discussed the dispute over Siachen Glacier last in June 2012, when defence secretaries of the two governments met at Rawalpindi in Pakistan. Though both sides reaffirmed “their resolve to make serious, sustained and result-oriented efforts for seeking an amicable resolution” of the dispute, not much progress could be achieved.

The two defence secretaries, however, acknowledged that the ceasefire between the two nations in Siachen Glacier was holding since 2003.

In an earlier meeting in May 2011, Pakistan gave India a “non-paper” – unofficial negotiating text – on possible ways to resolve the dispute.

Though Islamabad has since long been seeking de-militarization of Siachen Glacier, New Delhi maintained that withdrawal of forces could be considered only after authenticating the Actual Ground Position Line or AGPL marking physical control of territory by both India and Pakistan.

Pakistan had earlier called for an early resolution of its dispute with India over Siachen in April-May 2012, after its 124 soldiers were buried under an avalanche in the glacier.

New Delhi and Islamabad on December 9 last agreed to restart the stalled dialogue after a two-year-long hiatus, but the recent terror attacks on Indian Air Force Base at Pathankot in Punjab and the Consulate General of India at Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan cast a shadow over the process.

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