'Troops withdrawal from Siachen if India agrees'
Speaking almost a fortnight after an avalanche slammed into a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp in Siachen and buried 138 people, Zardari said he was worried by the problems of Pak soldiers and India too would be concerned for its troops on Siachen.India, Pak back on negotiating table: Kharworld Updated: Apr 21, 2012 19:54 IST
President Asif Ali Zardari has ruled out any unilateral withdrawal of Pakistani soldiers from Siachen, saying troops could be called back from the Himalayan glacier only if India agrees to do the same.
"The withdrawal of Pakistani troops is possible provided India also agrees. It will not be a unilateral decision," he said while addressing a convention of workers of his Pakistan People's Party in Okara district, 100 km from Lahore, on Friday.
Speaking almost a fortnight after an avalanche slammed into a high-altitude Pakistan Army camp in Siachen sector and buried 138 people, Zardari said he was worried by the problems of Pakistani soldiers and India too would be concerned for its troops on Siachen.
"There is no doubt that Siachen is the most difficult battlefield in the world... We are aware of the extreme climate and other difficulties at one of the world's most difficult terrains but the withdrawal can only take place if the two governments decide to pull out from the area jointly," he said.
"Pakistan wants to solve its issues with India through talks," Zardari said.
Islamabad is willing to hold a dialogue with New Delhi on all subjects, he added.
The President, who is the supreme commander of Pakistan's armed forces, offered prayers for the soldiers buried by the avalanche that hit the battalion headquarters at Gyari on April 7.
Referring to the normalisation of relations with India, Zardari said the federal government would consider proposals for opening a crossing along the border at Head Sulemanki and constructing a road between Multan in Pakistan's Punjab province and New Delhi to boost trade and economic activities.
He said when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a daylong private visit to India on April 8, the first point which was discussed was bilateral trade.
"I believe trade will bring prosperity for the people of the two countries," he said.
Continuing his tirade against PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, Zardari said Shahbaz, the Chief Minister of Punjab, acted like a "Mughal prince".
The President said he and the PPP had delegated powers to the provinces but Shahbaz was not ready to hand over 17 provincial ministries to his legislators.
Zardari further said Shahbaz had no powers because his elder brother Nawaz controlled the PML-N.
He said Shahbaz always heaped slurs on the PPP and its leadership but the PPP talked about reconciliation.
He said that when he assumed office in 2008, all powers were concentrated in the office of the President but he had transferred these powers to the real representatives of the people to make parliament stronger and to empower the people.