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Pak protests opening Siachen for tourism

world Updated: Sep 17, 2007 19:22 IST
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Pakistan on Monday protested India's decision to open the Siachen Glacier - the world's highest battleground - to tourists.

India's deputy high commissioner was summoned to the foreign office and a protest was lodged with him, said foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam during the weekly press briefing.

India and Pakistan are currently engaged in talks to resolve their 20-year-old-conflict over the 72-km-long frozen battlefield.

Online news agency quoted Aslam as alleging that India illegally took control of Siachen in 1984, and stressed that the issue (of Siachen) is under a debate at present.

The two countries agreed to a ceasefire in November, 2003, but did not withdraw their troops from their respective positions on the Himalayan glacier.

Indian Army chief General JJ Singh last week announced that Siachen would be opened for "adventure tourism".

"Tourists, especially trekkers, will enjoy the snow-covered Siachen and its natural beauty. Let the world see it as a part of our country's heritage and beauty," Singh said.

However, Pakistan has maintained that Siachen is a restricted area and conflict over it has not yet been resolved, and therefore it could not be opened for civilians.

Aslam said the Indian move to open the Siachen glacier for tourists could have negative implications for the India-Pakistan peace process.

Replying to a question, she said Pakistan's foreign policy has not failed regarding relations with India. "We have gained a lot of positives out of it according to a true frame-work," she said.