Pak army stakes claim to Siachen

November 24, 2006 Islamabad: Giving a new twist to the Siachen issue, Pakistan Army has claimed the glacier is a disputed area as it is part of Kashmir and thus India has no justification to ask Islamabad to authenticate troop positions there.”Siachen is also part of Kashmir. We think the Indian army went there when there was no military presence and it (take over) was not justified,” Pakistan Army’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Ehsan-ul-Haq said in an interview to Geo TV on Thursday night.

Reacting to the Indian Army officials’ statement expressing reservations over pulling out troops from Siachan without the authentication of troop positions by Pakistan, Haq said such stand may have been taken on presumption that questions may be asked why the army marched into Siachen in 1984 and the criticism that why they have “occupied” it.

“That could be at the back of their mind. To ask Pakistan to authenticate, (positions held by Indians) it is not justified because the full area is disputed and to insist for such things, I do not think it is correct,” he said.

India, while favouring demilitarisation of Siachen, has maintained that it cannot take place till Pakistan agrees to “iron-clad” authentication of present deployment of troops of the two countries.
New Delhi is insisting on authentication because of the experience in Kargil in 1999.

As part of the Indo-Pak dialogue process, both sides have been treating Siachen and Kashmir as separate issues.

Haq said Pakistan wants to have normal ties with India for mutual benefit. “We want to have normal relations with India which is mutually beneficial” and it is the wish of the people of the region also, he said.

Pakistan has taken lot of initiatives and lot of CBMs have been agreed upon by both governments which are being implemented. “The most important issue from Pakistan’s point of view is Kashmir,” he said adding that Pakistan leadership has made it clear that unless there is progress on Kashmir tthe CBMs will fall apart.

“The biggest CBM is to resolve Kashmir. These is complex issue but with a sincere approach and direction it can be resolved,” he said.

Denying that Pakistan army was in arms race with India he claimed New Delhi was now rated as the highest procurer of defence equipment in the world and Pakistan was only matching to reach the deterrence level.

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