Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit on Thursday called for the speedy resolution of the standoff on Siachen against the backdrop of the death of an Indian soldier who survived an avalanche, saying both countries must ensure no more lives are lost on the glacier.
“It is very sad and unfortunate that human lives are being lost on Siachen due to very harsh weather conditions,” Basit told a TV news channel soon after the death of Hanamanthappa Koppad, the soldier who survived for six days under 35 feet of snow.
“Such incidents only reinforce the need to settle this issue peacefully, amicably and urgently,” he added.
Basit noted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the UN General Assembly last year, had made a “specific proposal that our two countries agree to mutually withdraw from Siachen”.
“We hope that both the countries take this issue seriously and engage with each other to settle this issue as quickly as possible, ensuring that further human lives are not lost in Siachen,” he said.
Basit also told the media that it was “sad that solders of both countries are dying” on Siachen. He hoped the two sides would be able to resolve the issue through dialogue.
Indian and Pakistani troops have been locked in a standoff on the world’s highest battleground since 1984. Nearly 2,000 soldiers from both sides have died in the region, mostly due to the extreme weather.
India has linked the withdrawal of troops to Pakistan authenticating positions along the Actual Ground Position Line but Islamabad has persistently rejected this proposal. Indian officials say this is necessary to ensure that Pakistan does not occupy any positions after they have been vacated.