[Opinion] Hope for ‘peaceful coexistence’ with resolution of Siachen issue

Friday, May 11, 2012
By Subodh Kumar*

With the loss of 139 soldiers and civilians in the recent avalanche tragedy in Siachen has intensified a debate in the Pakistan about a “peaceful coexistence” and resolution of long-disputed issue of Siachen between two neighbours. It is important in the sense that both the nations could focus on the well being of their civilians.

The issue comes close on the heels of General Asfaq Parvez Kayani’s visit to Gayari sector of glacier in the last month. Maintaining that Pakistani had never initiated any dispute in the history, he stressed the need for demilitaristation of the glacier.

India occupied the disputed Siachaen heights in 1984. Since then Pakistan has been trying to push India back through military force, and has failed. Pakistan offered a ceasefire in Siachen in 2003, which is still holding.

It is required to review the negotiations, especially the last rounds of the talks on 30-31 May 2011,  will help put Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts in perspective. However the previous rounds talks could not able to melt diplomatic ice on Siachen. The fifth round of talks in June 1989 produced agreement on the elements of a comprehensive settlement. This involved the redeployment of forces and determination of future positions on the ground in conformity with the Shimla Agreement. There was no mention of “present” positions. Negotiations then stalled. India refused to withdraw troops until Pakistan committed to authenticate “existing” positions, which Islamabad was not prepared to do. But in 1992 and after Pakistan offered to record “present” positions on the annexure subject to the caveat stated in the main text that this would be grounds for a legal claim later to area.

India demanded verification of the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). Pakistan rejected this as a pre-condition to demilitarisation.

Pakistan in 1989 reiterated the principles for a settlement in a proposed that once a schedule of withdrawal of “present” and “future” positions subject to two stipulations. The outcome of the 2011 talks was far from encouraging amid indications that India’s notion of normalising relation with Pakistan rested on promoting trade and people-to-people contacts not resolution of outstanding disputes.     

The guns have largely been silent since late 2003, when the two countries put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and more troops have died on the glacier due to the adverse weather than combat.   

During the last five years, Pakistan has realised that what it could not win by war rather it can be resolved through diplomacy as long as Dr.Manmohan Singh is Prime Minister.

The Pakistan Army also sees the wisdom of forcing India back from its present line without possibility of any conflict. Indian PM has picked Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh who is expected to lead the reversal of the Army’s position in order to ensure that Dr. Singh can leave his ‘peace mark’ on Indo-Pak relations.  With the progressive initiative, both the nation can hope about a diplomatic consensus which can lead to resolve the Siachen issue.

(*Subodh Kumar is a TV Journalist. He can be reached  at abcsubodhk@gmail.com. Views expressed are his own.)

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Write comments
10 May 2012 at 17:25 delete

Nice write-up.

10 May 2012 at 18:26 delete

we can only 'hope'!

11 May 2012 at 14:28 delete

Hopefully the diplomatic ice could melt....!

14 May 2012 at 23:36 delete

lets hope that it can be solved as soon as possible...........