RAWALPINDI - Pakistan and India on Tuesday ‘reaffirmed’ the resolve for seeking an amicable resolution of the Siachen dispute with the continuity of dialogue process, as the two-day defence secretaries-level talks ended without any breakthrough.
As reported in this newspaper on Tuesday, the joint statement issued after the talks did not contain any recommendations on the resolution of outstanding disputes between India and Pakistan. Instead, the brief statement looked to have suggested the continuing the negotiation on a formal note as both the sides reiterated to make result-oriented efforts to normalise the bilateral relations.
“The talks were held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to make serious, sustained and result-oriented efforts for seeking an amicable resolution of Siachen. It was agreed to continue the dialogue on Siachen in keeping with the desire of the leaders of both countries for early resolution of all outstanding issues. Both sides acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since 2003,” the joint statement said.
Talking to TheNation at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after the talks, Indian Secretary Defence Sashi Kant Sharma believed the talks had opened doors for the solution of unresolved issues through amicable means.
“I’m very encouraged to see the demonstration of a very positive attitude coming from both the sides. We engaged in what I believe were very productive negotiations that would help guide the two countries to a cordial, result-oriented, amicable, consultative and conclusive process for the resolution of disputes. The delegates have manifested a strong resolve and determination to identify, debate and sort out the conflicting issues.”
When asked about the absence of recommendations in the joint statement, the secretary said the defence ministries representatives of India and Pakistan had finalised separate recommendations that would be presented to the respective governments and to be exchanged in the future round of talks.
He hoped that the recommendations would be officially issued during foreign ministers-level negotiations next month. “We’ve drafted our respective sets of recommendations that would be shared at the government-level. I hope this would strengthen the dialogue process.”
Earlier, the Indian secretary defence told a selected group of journalists that the talks had witnessed progress. He said the schedule of the next month’s foreign ministers meeting would be finalised in the coming days.
On Monday, Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar had informed this scribe that he was expected to meet Indian Defence Minister AK Anthony in the coming months, while hoping that the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India would be resolved through dialogue.
"There is a realisation among both the sides that confrontation would lead to very negative implications that hinder economic and social development. Peace is the ultimate solution to bring prosperity in the region. Pakistan and India need to keep peace measures intact so as to eradicate misgivings and move on. Cooperation is the key to success," the minister had said.
Sources says the five of the eight-member Indian defence delegation, who accompanied Sashi Kant Sharma during the talks, were Shankar Aggarwal, Depak Anurag, Ranjan Kumar, Ram Singh and Subhash Sharma.
The Pakistani delegation led by Secretary Defence Nargis Sethi reportedly included Pakistan’s Defence Attache to India Brigadier Sarfraz Chaudhry, Defence Ministry’s Spokesperson Rear Admiral Farrukh Ahmed, Major-General Arif Raja, Air Vice Marshal Najam-ul-Asar, Amjad Toor and Chaudhry Yaqoob.
The Indian delegation, sources said, was likely to visit Murree on Tuesday evening as some of the delegates were said to have shown interest in visiting the hilly area.
The renewed efforts of negotiated settlement of Siachen issue came afoot in the aftermath of the deadly avalanche incident in Gayari sector (Siachen) that fatally targeted Pakistan’s 139 defence personnel including soldiers and some civilians. During the latest talks, Pakistan reportedly called for the resolution of Siachen issue in the light of 1989 and 1992 Indo-Pak agreements, while India said to have supported phase-wise and proportional troops withdrawal from both the sides with the eviction of base posts and evacuating the forward posts at later stages.