After a gap of three years, defence secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan on the long-pending Siachen issue will kick off in New Delhi on Monday. Defence secretary Pradeep Kumar will lead the Indian delegation during the two-day talks with his Pakistani counterpart Lt General (Retd) Syed Ather Ali. India and Pakistan have decided to resume their dialogue, which was put on hold after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, following meetings between their prime ministers in Thimpu in April 2010.
Pakistan’s defence secretary Lt General (retd) Syed Ather Ali arrived in New Delhi on Saturday for the 12th round of talks, which will conclude on Tuesday.
While the Pakistani delegation has two civilian officials and four military officers, the Indian side includes special secretary RK Mathur, director general of military operations (DGMO) Lt General AM Verma and surveyor general S Subha Rao, defence officials said.
Siachen, the world’s highest militarised zone, has been a long pending issue between India and Pakistan over differences on the location of the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which passes through the Soltoro Ridge and Siachen glacier.
“The AGPL is not clearly marked beyond the grid reference point of NJ-9842. The two countries have decided to de-militarise the Siachen glacier, but the matter is stuck as there are apprehensions on both sides,” officials said.
India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on the maps and the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge, they said.
Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement. Retaliating to Pakistan Army’s advances in the glacier in 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot and deployed its troops in most of the dominating features in the area.
The defence secretary-level talks between the two countries on Siachen dates back to 1985. The decision to hold joint talks was taken by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq.