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Defence secretary level talks - a replay of zero sum game of the past

india Updated: May 31, 2011 23:23 IST
Arun Joshi

It was a replay of zero sum game at the 12th round of the defence secretary level talks between India and Pakistan on demilitarization of Siachen glacier that concluded in New Delhi on Tuesday.

This was a result on the expected lines. These talks were held for the sake of an illusory diplomatic thaw at a time when the wounds of 26/11 reopened with the trial of David Headley in Chicago, US, and the threatening posturing by ISI chief Lt. Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha toward India while deposing before the Pakistan National Assembly early this month.

A statement issued at the end of the talks, said: "The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere, contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other's position on Siachen. They also acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since November 2003. Both sides presented their positions and suggestions towards the resolution of Siachen."

Not that any miracles were expected out of this meeting, but "enhanced understanding" should have been reflected in some movement forward in scaling down the tensions on the glacier. Pakistan should look at the maps of the marking of the LoC in 1972 that would made things clear to it as to where did the line stand on the ground. It has to accept the AGPL and exchange maps.

This is not being done. Instead Pakistan is escalating tensions on borders. There have been three incidents of ceasefire violation on the Line of Control (LoC) and two on the international border this year alone. One infiltration bid was foiled on the international border in Samba sector of Jammu region and one of the intruders was killed by Border Security Force.

Only good news that has emanated from the meeting, which is underscored in the statement is that " both sides agreed to continue the discussions in a meaningful and result oriented manner. They agreed to meet again at a mutually convenient date in Islamabad."

It is a positive sign for Jammu and Kashmir that is the home to Siachen glacier, LoC, international border and a victim of three and a half wars - 1947, 1965, 1971 and a mini war in Kargil in 1999 and Pakistan sponsored terrorism for the past over two decades, because the prospects of continued dialogue generate hope among the masses.

In an interview to First Post, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah noted: "Talks between the two countries should continue not just because they are crucial to the quest for finding a solution to the Kashmir problem and for lasting peace in the region but also from a psychological point of view as far as the Kashmiri people are concerned.

In the valley people feel more secure and comfortable whenever the two countries are talking to each other. As soon as they (India and Pakistan) walk away from discussions, the mood in the valley changes for the worse." But, given the situation in Pakistan where daily bombings are wreaking havoc, the spill over effect is feared by the security agencies. "It is because there is no change of heart in Pakistan as far as Kashmir is concerned," said a senior official and pointed out that 42 terror camps were functional across the border and nearly 500 militants were waiting to cross the border.

This, according to security officials, negates even the small steps that are taken at the talks across the table.