The contentious issue of the Siachen glacier region will be on the table when the Defence Secretaries of India and Pakistan hold talks here on May 30 and 31. The 12th round of talks, being held after a gap of four years, is part of the larger effort by the two sides to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries.
Describing the historical nature of the issue, the Defence Ministry said the Cease Fire Line (CFL) and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir were delineated, by the Karachi agreement 1949 and the Shimla agreement 1972, up to point NJ 9842.
“The area beyond this point has remained un-delineated. This has led to different interpretations. The Karachi agreement describes the CFL as being up to point NJ 9842 and mentions that ‘it thereafter lies northwards towards the glaciers.' Similarly, the Shimla agreement is also silent on the delineation beyond NJ 9842,” it said.
Pakistan claims that the line joins NJ 9842 with Karakoram Pass, which is north-west of NJ 9842. The Indian position is that the line runs towards the glaciers, along the watersheds formed by the Saltoro Range, as per the internationally accepted principle of border delineation.
The Indian delegation will be led by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and include Special Secretary R.K. Mathur, Director-General, Military Operations, Lt. Gen. A.M. Verma and the Surveyor-General S. Subba Rao.
The Pakistani delegation will be led by Defence Secretary Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Syed Athar Ali. The other members include Major-General Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Major-General Munwar Ahmed Solehri and Major-General (Retd.) Mir Haider Ali Khan.
This is the second time in a month that service personnel from Pakistan will engage with interlocutors from India. The Pakistani delegation for the Sir Creek talks also included service personnel from the Navy.
The Defence-Secretary-level talks between the two countries to resolve the Siachen issue date back to 1985, following discussions between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistan President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in Oman and New Delhi. The talks became a part of the composite dialogue with Pakistan on all issues, including Kashmir, from the eighth round of talks in August 2004 in New Delhi.