India has agreed to discuss the sensitive Siachen issue at the June 11-12 secretary-level meeting with Pakistan, pushing the Sir Creek issue – another flashpoint – way down the agenda.Observers say the reason for resetting the priorities is that Siachen being a far more complex issue than Sir Creek, any leeway on that front may give Pakistan the domestic leverage necessary to push ahead with the peace process.
The Siachen glacier is known as the world's highest battlefield where troops have been deployed at elevations of up to 22,000 feet. Sir Creek, a 96 km disputed strip of water in the Rann of Kutch, divides the Kutch region between Gujarat and Sindh province of Pakistan.
Pakistan wants to know how far India will be flexible on the Siachen issue before revealing its cards on Sir Creek. It was at the insistence of Pakistan that the talks on Sir Creek scheduled in May had to be postponed and the new dates have not yet been decided.
Also, New Delhi is deciphering the confusing signals from across the border, including that of the neighbour backing out of signing the new visa agreement at the last moment.
The Siachen troop withdrawal issue gained prominence in Pakistan following a massive avalanche burying a Pakistan army camp in Siachen on April 7, resulting in the death of 129 soldiers and 11 civilians.
Just after the incident, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari advocated for troop withdrawal from Siachen during his informal meeting with PM Manmohan Singh in April.
The foreign secretary-level meeting is expected to prepare the ground for external affairs minister SM Krishna’s Pakistan tour probably in the third week of July to review the peace process.