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Siachen is disputed area being part of Kashmir: Pak

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
November 24, 2006 16:36 IST
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Giving a new twist to the Siachen issue, the Pakistan Army has claimed the glacier is a disputed area as it is part of Kashmir and thus India is not justified in asking 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 (the takeover) was not justified," Pakistan Army's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General 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 Siachen without the authentication of troop positions by Pakistan, Haq said such a stand may have been taken on the presumption that questions may be asked why the army marched into Siachen in 1984 and the criticism over why they have "occupied" it.

"That could be at the back of their mind. To ask Pakistan to authenticate positions (positions held by Indians) is not justified because the full area is disputed and to insist for such a thing is incorrect," he said.

India, while favouring demilitarisation of Siachen, has maintained that it cannot take place till Pakistan agrees to an "iron-clad" authentication of the 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.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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