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India doesn't buy Pak 'promise' on Siachen

India doesn't buy Pak 'promise' on Siachen

Author: Rajat Pandit
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 11, 2007
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_doesnt_buy_Pak_promise_on_Siachen/articleshow/1590331.cms

The ice on the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region will take some more time to melt.

With the trust deficit with Islamabad yet to be bridged, India is not too impressed with Pakistan's "promise" that it will not grab positions vacated by Indian soldiers on the glacial heights.

India remains steadfast on its long-standing position that Pakistan will have to agree to "authenticate"relative troop positions on the strategic heights before their actual demilitarisation can figure on the bilateral radar screen.

Asked about reports emanating from Pakistan that "a breakthrough" on the Siachen imbroglio was "imminent", defence minister A K Antony on Saturday said, "We want to improve our relations with all our neighbours.

But statements are not enough, actions are more important."Sources also ruled out any meeting of the Indian and Pakistani director-generals of military operations specifically on the Siachen issue, as suggested by Pakistan, holding that the weekly hotline mechanism between the two was merely of "a procedural nature"rather than a "policy-making or deciding one".

As per the Indian position, Pakistan will have to accept a clear-cut mechanism to "authenticate"the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), the undelineated stretch between the last marked grid reference point NJ-9842 on the LoC and the Karakoram Pass, before any troop disengagement.

India wants the troop positions and withdrawal plan to be made a part of the proposed agreement. Pakistan, in turn, is only ready at the moment for what it calls the "major concession"of making it part of the annexures to the main agreement.

Antony, however, has made it clear even earlier that India's first pre-condition is that Pakistan must "accept"the "present realities"on the ground. Recent Pakistani media reports have held that Islamabad has given an assurance to New Delhi, through diplomatic channels, that it has no hidden motives and will not make any attempt to occupy the glacier.

Asked about Pakistani concerns that India's proposed acquisition of 126 multi-role fighter aircraft would generate an arms race, Antony said, "We are procuring military equipment not to confront anybody but for minimum deterrence. We don't want any kind of arms race."

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