Back to Si­achen

Southasia - - Briefing -

In­dian De­fense Sec­re­tary Pradeep Ku­mar and his Pak­istani coun­ter­part Lt. Gen­eral (Retd) Syed Ather Ali met in New Delhi on May 31 to dis­cuss a wide range of is­sues in­clud­ing the demil­i­ta­riza­tion of Si­achen, pick­ing up the threads of the is­sue af­ter a gap of three years.

Both sides be­gan two days of closed-door talks on with­draw­ing forces from the moun­tain­ous Si­achen glacier in dis­puted Hi­malayan ter­ri­tory, where they have faced off since 1984.

How­ever, the two sides were un­able to come to a res­o­lu­tion. In­dia wants Pak­istan to au­then­ti­cate the Ac­tual Ground Pos­ses­sion Land, both on the maps and 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.

At a joint state­ment is­sued in the In­dian cap­i­tal, the two sides agreed to meet again on an un­spec­i­fied date in Islamabad to re­sume what will be the 13th round of talks that have re­mained sus­pended since the 2008 Mum­bai mas­sacre.

The de­ci­sion to take the di­a­logue process for­ward be­tween the two coun­tries was taken last year dur­ing the meet­ing of Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh and his Pak­istani coun­ter­part Yousaf Raza Gi­lani in Thimpu.

Both coun­tries have long ac­cepted the need to de­mil­i­ta­rize Si­achen, lo­cated as high as 20,000 feet (6,000 me­ters) above sea level, where, mil­i­tary ex­perts say the in­hos­pitable cli­mate and avalanche-prone ter­rain has claimed more lives than gun­fire.

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