New Delhi: At the end
of two days of talks on Siachen Tuesday, India and Pakistan failed
to arrive at any common ground on the lingering 27-year-old
dispute over the ownership of the world's highest battlefield or
on demilitarising the 70-km-long glacier in the Ladakh region of
Jammu and Kashmir.
But they expressed their disagreements without the acrimony
witnessed on certain occasions in the past, and agreed to meet
again for the 13th round of talks in Islamabad "at a mutually
convenient date" to discuss the issues.
Pakistan, in fact, presented a "non-paper" -- an unofficial
presentation of government policy -- to India on what it thinks
about the Siachen dispute. India would respond to the non-paper
only after studying it, as the document was handed over by the
Pakistan delegation only at the end of the two-day meeting, a
defence ministry official said.
"Both sides presented their positions and suggestions towards the
resolution of Siachen," a joint statement issued at the end of the
In effect, the defence ministry official said, there was "status
quo" on the stated positions of both countries on the Siachen
dispute. "It is a good meeting. But there has been no change in
both our positions," the official added.
The joint statement was the fourth between India and Pakistan
since February this year, the earlier ones being issued after the
meetings of their foreign, commerce and home secretaries to
discuss bilateral relations.
The talks between Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and his
Pakistani counterpart, Lt. Gen. (retd) Syed Athar Ali, held after
nearly four years, was the 12th round of discussions on Siachen.
Both sides, the joint statement said, "welcomed" the ongoing
dialogue process. Acknowledging that the ceasefire on the Glacier
was "holding" since November 2003, the discussions between the
defence secretaries were held in "a frank and cordial atmosphere,
contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other's position
Apart from the delegation-level talks, the two defence secretaries
met one-on-one, and the Pakistani delegation also called on
Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday.
The talks were part of the two nations' larger efforts to resolve
the outstanding issues between them. The two countries decided to
resume their dialogue, which was put on hold after the November
2008 Mumbai terror attack, following meetings between their prime
ministers in Bhutan's capital Thimpu in April 2010.
The Siachen Glacier is under India's control since April 1984 when
its troops beat the Pakistani Army by a day to occupy the icy
heights, ranging from 16,000 to 22,000 feet, along the Saltoro
Ridge in Jammu and Kashmir.
Since the ceasefire between the two sides began in November 2003,
Pakistan has wanted India to demilitarise the glacial heights, but
New Delhi has asked Islamabad to first authenticate the 110-km
Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) before any talks can begin on
withdrawing troops from the glacier.