Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Thursday made out a case for Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with India as a way forward to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries. On Siachen issue, he said a peaceful resolution would be the best way out but “short of that we will do what we are supposed to do.”
On his third visit to the Gayari sector in the Siachen glacier area, where 139 men of the 6 Northern Light Infantry were buried alive in an avalanche on April 7, the COAS referred to peaceful resolution of the issue at least thrice in his interaction with the media but pointed out that there had been a regression in the talks after India shifted its goalpost.
Gen. Kayani said India had asked for demarcation of the Line of Control (LoC) during the last Defence-Secretary-level talks on Siachen, which are held as part of the composite dialogue process. This, according to him, was a shift in the New Delhi's position, as earlier the term being used was “authentication [of the ground positions] in the area north of NJ 9842” — the northernmost point of the LoC.
Asked if he had seen any willingness on the Indian side to engage with Pakistan following the avalanche and his own call for demilitarisation of Siachen, he said: “In Pakistan, it has got across-the-board support. It has been received positively in India also, except with some ifs and buts. That is understandable because there have to be CBMs between the two countries and then we have to move forward. Let's hope we can move forward.”
Gen. Kayani remained non-committal when asked whether there would be any discussion on Siachen between the civil and military leadership of the country after the avalanche and if there was a revision in Pakistan's policy on the issue.
Gen. Kayani said the rescue operations would not be called off though nearly a month since the avalanche not a single person has been recovered dead or alive. “The minimum we can do is to recover the bodies.”
As for declaring them dead as suggested by the father of one of the victims, he said that was a separate issue that has to be decided in consultation with family members and others, keeping in mind people's sentiments.