Yet another round of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad on demilitarising the Siachen glacier — the world’s highest battleground and an old sore in bilateral ties — has yielded no results.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the two-day defence secretary-level talks in Rawalpindi, both sides agreed to “continue dialogue” on Siachen in keeping with the top leadership in both countries seeking “early resolution of all outstanding issues.”
The development, however, comes as no surprise. Defence minister AK Antony had last week said there would be “no dramatic announcement” on the glacier issue. A defence ministry release said India and Pakistan reaffirmed their resolve “to make serious, sustained and result oriented efforts” for an amicable resolution of Siachen.
Several rounds of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad on Siachen have failed because Islamabad refuses to authenticate troop positions on the ground —a precondition laid down by India.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had made an appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April asking India to demilitarise the glacier.
He had requested the withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani troops in the wake of casualties suffered by the Pakistani army in an avalanche at a military camp near Siachen on April 7.
Army sources, however, said India could not risk withdrawing from those heights until Pakistan authenticated troop positions, as it would be a formidable task to reclaim the glacier.
Nature’s fury has killed more soldiers than hostile fire on the glacier — India lost 26 soldiers deployed there during the last one year.
The guns have been silent since the November 2003 ceasefire with Pakistan on the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line. The daily cost of holding on to the glacier is around Rs 5 crore.