NEW DELHI (TIP): Any hope Pakistan may have nurtured that a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could open the door for a “deal” on Siachen has been dashed, with Army chief Gen Bikram Singh being as opposed to the idea as all his predecessors before him.
In his maiden interaction with the press, Gen Singh clearly stated the ground rules on a border agreement. And they don’t include any troop withdrawal from the Siachen heights. “There is no change in our view at all. We must continue to hold that area…We have lost lot of lives and shed a lot of blood there. The positions are of strategic importance to us. We have conveyed our concerns to the government,” he said. It will be difficult for the Indian government to accept anything less. Pakistan is hopeful of Singh’s visit before it goes to the polls. Singh himself is keen to visit Pakistan, and has not shied away from making his interest known. With this in mind, Islamabad has pushed New Delhi hard this year to do a deal on Siachen. Pakistan has even delayed talks on the Sir Creek issue in order to mount pressure on India for a Siachen pact.