Thursday, June 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

No agreement likely on Siachen: Pak

Islamabad, June 27
Pakistan today dismissed as “total conjecture” a report in a local daily stating the forthcoming Indo-Pak summit could result in an agreement between both sides on pulling out their forces from the Siachen Glacier.

Pakistani Defence spokesman Maj Gen Rashid Quereshi said here today the report was a “total conjecture” and that he was not aware of any such agenda to be included in the forthcoming summit between Gen Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“As far as I know, no such discussion took place between both the countries”, he said.

The Dawn newspaper report speculated that two sides had decided on a pullout after realising that the Siachen engagement was contributing significantly to the tension between the two countries as well as costing them a huge amount in terms of men, money and material.

In yet another report today, Dawn said both General Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee would aim to reach agreements on defusing tension over a host of issues.

The measures, according to the report, included demobilisation of troops on either side of the LoC, controlling infiltration, reduction of violence, facilitating greater interaction between Kashmiri leaders on both sides, and a fully functional communication system to avoid misunderstanding in a conflict situation besides Kashmir.

Reacting to the story, Gen Quereshi said he had not yet read it and wanted time to crosscheck the facts.

The Dawn quoted diplomatic sources as saying “to the extent that there is no set of final proposal that either side is bringing to the table on Kashmir, the summit has an unspecific agenda, but both sides have communicated in some detail on how to make a positive start on Kashmir. We are expecting many confidence-building measures on Kashmir to be agreed upon”.

On the likely understandings to be reached between the two leaders, the source told the paper that some meeting ground was already visible through initial interaction.

“There is appreciation on both sides that the live-wire status of the Line of Control has to be turned into something less dangerous and more secure. There is likely to be some movement towards de-militarising the Line,” it said.

The report said depending on the environment of the summit, there could also be an agreement that the Kashmiri leaders be allowed to freely interact with each other so that they provided a buffer between the hard-end positions of both India and Pakistan.

It said there was a lot of goodwill and momentum at the official level in both countries for the normalisation of ties. “This in a way is good because the level of expectations is quite low. So any forward movement will then look substantive”. PTI

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