India to consider end to Siachen stand-off

Himalayan News Service

Leh, June 12:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India will have to consider options to end the military stand-off with Pakistan in Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield. Asked earlier in the day how long the Indian troops could remain deployed on Siachen in Jammu and Kashmir, Manmohan Singh said: “We have to think on this.” He was speaking to reporters at the airport

here on his return from Siachen, where he interacted with troops and addressed them.

Manmohan Singh is the first Indian prime minister to visit Siachen. “I was privileged to go to Siachen where our brave soldiers are defending our frontiers so gallantly,” Singh said before leaving for New Delhi at the end of a three-day visit to the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. “The visit to Siachen was a great emotional experience.” Earlier, addressing the troops at Siachen, he indicated that India would not lower its guard as it pushed forward with talks to demilitarise Siachen.

He said India wanted to make Siachen a region of peace. “On this barrel land, there are many difficulties. But for how long can this situation continue?” Singh asked soldiers at Partapur, the Indian Army base camp for operations in the Siachen mountain range. “There should be an atmosphere of peace so that this area becomes a symbol of total peace,” said Singh, who flew to Partapur in an Indian Air Force helicopter with army chief General JJ Singh and Lieutenant General Hari Prasad, chief of the army’s Northern Command. Singh announced that two home theatre systems and a CT scan machine would be provided for the troops at Siachen. “The country is proud of your sacrifices and discipline which should be a source of inspiration for all the people,” he said. On China, he said: “Our relations with China are improving.”