The next round of talks between India and Pakistan on Siachen within the resumed composite dialogue framework will be held in Islamabad on June 11 and 12.
An announcement to this effect was made by the Foreign Office on Thursday amid reports that the talks on Sir Creek – scheduled for early next week – had been rescheduled at Pakistan's request.
Though these talks are seen as routine exercises given that not much headway has been made in any matter relating to territorial disputes, the Siachen discussion this time round assumes significance in view of the avalanche that buried alive 140 soldiers of a Pakistan Army battalion in the glacier area a month ago.
Since the avalanche, the Pakistani civil and military leadership have called for demilitarisation of the glacier – billed as the world's highest battlefield – with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif even suggesting that Pakistan take the initiative in withdrawing troops as that would take away the rationale in India keeping its soldiers on those treacherous heights.
While President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani have ruled out unilateral withdrawal, both have advocated demilitarisation. However, General Kayani said there had been a toughening in India's stance on Siachen.
Speaking to reporters in Gayari on May 3, he said New Delhi shifted its goalpost as at the last talks on Siachen, India asked for demarcation of the Line of Control (LoC). This, according to him, was a shift in the Indian position as earlier the term being used was authentication [of the ground positions] in the area north of NJ 9842 – the northern most point of the LoC.
Keywords: India-Pak Siachen talks