ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday said there was no change in its policy on the conflict with India over Siachen glacier, the world highest battlefield, and it had no plan to redeploy its troops from there.
Addressing his weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said, “There is no change as far as Pakistan’s policy on Siachen is concerned. We are not thinking in terms of redeployment of our troops.”
Khan was answering a volley of queries on Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani’s statement on Wednesday that Pakistan and India should resolve all bilateral issues, including Siachen, and that the two states must ensure peaceful co-existence. Khan said, “The Pakistani side has made several proposals to resolve the military standoff over Siachen, including a proposal for re-deployment of forces. The proposals that we have made regarding Siachen, however, includes mutual redeployment of troops.” He said, “We are not thinking of any unilateral redeployment of troops.” He said Siachen conflict was part of the ongoing peace dialogue between Pakistan and India and it was being discussed by the defense secretaries.
Khan said the next meeting on Siachen issue was scheduled to be held in Pakistan and both sides were working on the finalization of a date for the purpose. He said, “It is in the mutual interest of Pakistan and India that we address all these issues in a meaningful and result-oriented manner. In fact, I would like to refer to the meeting between the President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recently in which both leaders had underlined the importance of finding pragmatic and practical solutions to all issues.”
He said the two sides would continue discussing all issues in order to find some mutually acceptable solutions to their conflicting matters. On the test of the Agni-V ballistic missile by India, Khan said, “Pakistan was informed about this test in advance. This is as per the agreement that we have with India which was signed in May 2005 regarding the pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles.” Nonetheless, he said Pakistan had already made clear and known its concerns about an arms race in the region.
To another question on a petition filed by Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed in the Lahore High Court seeking protection from the government following the announcement of a $10 million US bounty for him, he said Pakistan had a very clear position on that matter.
“We have a functional democracy and a very independent judiciary in Pakistan. If somebody has any proof against anybody, he is most welcome to take it to the court.” Answering a question, he said no final decision had been made yet on Pakistan’s participation in the NATO Summit to be held in Chicago during May 20-21 or on a visit to Islamabad by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman. However, he said that at the same time, the government was developing a ‘work plan’ for new terms of engagement with the US in line with guidelines that were recently approved by a joint session of parliament. He said the Defense Committee of the cabinet had discussed the matter and a work plan was being developed to make sure of the effective implementation of the guidelines which had been provided by the parliament. He said, “Pakistan’s relation with the US is an important relationship. We want to address all issues in a way that both countries show respect for their mutual interests as well as the red lines that we have.” He said Pakistan had made it clear to the US that drone attacks in the Tribal Areas were a violation of our territorial integrity. He said, “They do understand our red lines and we also appreciate their concerns. At the end of the day, the two countries will have to find some middle ground as to how we want to move further.” “Developing the work plan for resetting the ties with the US is Pakistan’s own internal process and it will not take instructions from anyone. This will be a comprehensive exercise covering economic, security and political issues and will involve all stakeholders,” Khan said.