Troops from India and Pakistan have faced off on the glacier in the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan since the 1980s but calls for the standoff to end have been growing after an avalanche on April 7 buried 140 people at a Pakistan Army camp. “Siachen is part of the dialogue process between India and Pakistan and defence secretary level talks on Siachen will be held on June 11 and 12 in Islamabad,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan said.
“We want to resolve all issues through meaningful and result-oriented dialogue, and Siachen is an issue which is a source of concern for both the countries,” Khan added.
Last month, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani called for a negotiated end to the confrontation.
Previous rounds of negotiations on Siachen have ended in stalemate. Pakistan has said a redeployment of forces is one of “several proposals” made during the dialogue process.
India’s Defence Minister AK Antony told parliament this week that Pakistan would have to reveal its troop positions before any disengagement could be undertaken and he cautioned against high expectations.
“Don’t expect dramatic results (from the next round of talks). It is a complicated issue,” he said.
Sections of the Indian media have also raised doubts about the talks and any suggestion that India should relinquish a strategically important territory where hundreds of troops have lost their lives.
“Could PM gift away to Pakistan what army has won?” read a headline for a front-page article in this week’s India Today current affairs magazine which detailed the opposition from within the Indian Army.
An editorial said an agreement on Siachen would be an achievement for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who yearns for a peace deal with Pakistan, but “for the country it may however amount to surrender for very little gain”.