Asia

Pakistan army chief urges India on glacier withdrawal

  • 18 April 2012
  • From the section Asia
A Pakistan Army helicopter flies over the site of the avalanche (April 18, 2012)
The president was flown over the site of the avalanche in a helicopter

Pakistan's army chief, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, has suggested that India and Pakistan should withdraw troops from the contested Siachen glacier.

Earlier this month 139 people, including 125 Pakistani soldiers, were buried by an avalanche in the region.

It is claimed by both Pakistan and India, and the two countries each have thousands of troops stationed there.

During a visit to the area with President Asif Zardari, Gen Kiyani said the issue "should be resolved".

But he added "how it is resolved the two countries have to talk about" - a recognition that there have been many unsuccessful attempts to tackle the issue in the past.

The president and the general were flown to the site of the avalanche which struck a battalion headquarters on 7 April.

Bad weather and difficult terrain have hampered rescue efforts and no survivors or bodies have been recovered so far.

The area around the camp is surrounded by some of the world's highest mountains and is located 15,000ft (4,570m) above sea level in Kashmir's Gayari district, near the border with India.

Kashmir has been partitioned between India and Pakistan since 1947.

Failure to agree on the status of the territory by diplomatic means has twice brought India and Pakistan to war.

The Siachen glacier is known as the world's highest battlefield, and soldiers have been deployed at heights of up to 22,000 ft (6,700m) above sea level.

More soldiers have died from the harsh weather conditions there than in combat.

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