Pakistan favours demilitarization of Siachen: Kayani

Islamabad, April 18: Pakistani Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said Wednesday that his country favoured talks with India to demilitarize the Siachen Glacier — dubbed as the world’s highest battleground.

“Peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours is very important so that everybody can concentrate on the well-being of the people,” he told reporters.

The general was speaking at Skardu airport in northern Pakistan after visiting the Gayari army base in Pakistani Kashmir, which was hit by a massive avalanche April 7.

Rescuers are still searching for nearly 140 people buried under snow and rock at the camp, some 13,000 feet above sea level, Geo TV reported.

He said Pakistan was open to talks with India to demilitarize Siachen.

“Both countries should sit together to resolve all the issues including Siachen.”

He added that Pakistan’s pursuit for peace should not be mistaken for its weakness.

The general said the reason why Pakistan Army was maintaining its forces in extreme weather condition such as in the Siachen region was no secret to the world.

“It were Indians who carried the war onto Siachen forcing us to get up there and stop them in their tracks, we only mounted a natural tactical response,” Kayani said.

“We are only manning the border on this frigid outpost 22,000 feet above the sea-level in the line of duty.”

Pakistan and India invest significant resources in maintaining a military presence on the Siachen Glacier.

Earlier, former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif had said that both countries must immediately pull out their troops from Siachen.

Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, urged Pakistan and India to immediately start negotiations to resolve the Siachen issue and pull their troops out of the region, the Dawn reported.

He suggested that Pakistan should take the initiative in this regard and urge India to hold talks.

Gen Kayani refused to comment on Sharif’s remarks.

IANS