Pakistan, India should withdraw troops: Sharif

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 00:24

Islamabad: Former premier Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday called on the Pakistan government to take the initiative to end the military standoff with India on Siachen so that troops of both countries could be withdrawn from the Himalayan glacier.

"The (Pakistan) government should give it (the Siachen issue) top priority. The Pakistan government should take the initiative. It should not wait for an initiative from India. This is not a problem of ego," Sharif said.

"The two governments should sit together and think about a lasting solution to this problem," he said.
It is "not proper" for troops of both countries to be deployed at heights of 23,000 to 24,000 feet and the two sides should withdraw their soldiers from Siachen, he added.

The PML-N chief made the remarks while speaking to reporters in the northern town of Skardu after making an aerial survey of a Pakistan Army camp in Siachen sector that was hit by an avalanche on April 7.

A total of 138 people, including 127 soldiers and 11 civilians, were buried under 80 feet of snow at the battalion headquarters at Gyari.

Sharif noted that India and Pakistan were spending crores of rupees every year on the troops deployed at Siachen.

If the two countries settled the issue, these funds could be spent on the people, he said.
The former premier travelled to Skardu this morning and then flew over the Gyari sector in a helicopter to review the search operation mounted by the Pakistani military.

Senior army officials briefed Sharif on the operation.
Sharif also met families of soldiers from Skardu who were buried by the avalanche.
He was the first senior political leader to visit the area after the avalanche.

President Asif Ali Zardari called off a planned visit to Gyari yesterday due to bad weather.
Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on the Siachen glacier since 1984.
The guns have largely been silent since late 2003, when the two countries put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and more troops have died due to the adverse weather than combat.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 00:24

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