Conflict & Justice

Indo-Pak talks on Siachen fail to make headway


Indian Army soldiers attend a wreath-laying ceremony at a war memorial during "Vijay Diwas" or 'Victory Day' celebrations in Drass, about 160 kms east of Srinagar, 26 July 2007. The Indian Army commemorates "Vijay Diwas" annually in memory of more than 500 fellow soldiers who were killed in in 1999 during a war with Pakistan in the mountains of Kargil and Drass sectors, at the Line of Control, or a military ceasefire line, which divided Kashmir between the two South Asian nuclear rivals.

High level talks between the defense secretaries of India and Pakistan adjourned Tuesday after failing to agree on the battle lines separating troops on the Siachen glacier, located in the disputed region of Kashmir, reports India Today.

While Pakistan is dragging its feet on providing clear-cut guarantees for authentication of the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in the Saltoro Ridge-Siachen region, India wants Pakistan to authenticate AGPL both on the map and ground, the paper said.

The defence secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan on Siachen began on May 30 after a gap of three years.

While the Cease Fire Line (CFL) and the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu & Kashmir were delineated by the Karachi agreement 1949 and the Shimla agreement 1972, the Siachen area lies beyond the endpoint of either of those demarcations, where no lines have been drawn.

The northernmost point of the agreed line lies at coordinates defined as "NJ 9842," after which Pakistan claims that the line should snake northwest to join the Karakoram Pass and India claims it should run along the watersheds formed by the Saltoro Range.

The invisible (and disputed) line through the snowy wasteland wouldn't matter much -- nobody lives there -- apart from the fact that the two nations have been fighting the world's coldest war on this block of ice since the 1980s, including the world's highest tank battle during the 1999 Kargil conflict.  If that's your thing, check out Kevin Fedarko's amazing piece on his trips to both the Pakistani and Indian encampments in Outside here.