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Pak expected to respond to Indian proposal on Siachen
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Pakistan is expected to respond to an Indian proposal on resolving the Siachen dispute when the two neighbours sit across the table here nine days later. India and Pakistan are going to have expert-level talks under the Composite Dialogue Process on two long-standing bilateral disputes: Siachen (May 23-24) and Sir Creek (May 25-26).

India had recently sent a proposal to the Pakistanis through Track II channels that it was willing to consider the withdrawal of its troops from Siachen provided Islamabad agreed to authentication of the actual ground position line (AGPL).

The Indian Army is learnt to have taken a hard stand on the issue and the Army chief has already apprised the government of its concerns on the premature withdrawal from positions of immense strategic importance. It will be difficult for the government in New Delhi to ignore the Army's opinion.

This will be the 10th round of talks between India and Pakistan on Siachen.

It has been India's consistent position that Pakistan should first agree to a cartographic delineation of the current position of Indian and Pakistani troops on Siachen glacier before the two countries could begin negotiations for the withdrawal of troops.

Pakistan's position has been that India acted as an aggressor when it moved its troops and occupied Siachen in 1984 and by agreeing to the authentication of ground position of troops, Islamabad would only be certifying Indian aggression.

The two-fold Indian response to this has been unequivocal and categoric. One, it was the "cartographic aggression" of Pakistan over Siachen which led to the 1984 situation. Pakistan had started showing Siachen as part of its territory in official Pakistani maps and had conducted several international mountaineering expeditions in Siachen, despite protests from New Delhi.

Secondly, India considered the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas, as part of Indian territory and, therefore, it was well within its rights to deploy troops anywhere it deemed necessary.

The Pakistani response to Indian proposal on Siachen will be interesting to watch as the forthcoming round of talks on Siachen and Sir Creek would determine to a large extent whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertakes his maiden visit to Pakistan or puts it onback-burner.

If the two sides agree in principle during these expert-level talks to ink an agreement on Siachen and Sir Creek, Dr Manmohan Singh's Pakistan visit would be a certainty.


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