RAWALPINDI, June 12: India and Pakistan’s latest talks about whether to end decades of a military stand-off on the Siachen glacier ended with both sides failing to reach an agreement.
The two-day meeting ended Tuesday in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi with nothing more than a joint commitment to “serious, sustained and result-oriented efforts” for an amicable settlement on the issue. Indian Defense Secretary Shashikant Sharma and his Pakistani counterpart Nargis Sethi agreed to meet again on “mutually convenient dates” to be set through diplomatic channels.
This was the 13th round of talks and the first time both sides have met on the issue since April, when an avalanche buried 140 Pakistani troops and staff stationed at a Siachen base. The site is located at an altitude of 4,000 meters and is just a few kilometers away from Indian outposts and is known as the world’s highest battlefield.
The incident prompted calls for Pakistan and India to pull their troops from the disputed glacier, where more troops have lost their lives due to bad weather than fighting.
The standoff at Siachen began in 1984 when Indian troops occupied positions on the northern tip of the “Line of Control” dividing the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Pakistan responded by establishing posts on Siachen.
Analysts tell say that the glacier is completely meaningless from a strategic point of view. But despite this, the nearly three-decade conflict has cost billions of dollars and killed more than 8,000 soldiers on both sides, giving it the reputation as the world’s highest, coldest and most expensive battlefield.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, including two over the disputed Kashmir region. A peace process that was stalled by the 2008 terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, was restarted last year. Both countries have also recently taken significant steps to boost trade.