Islamabad, Apr 19: Interior Minister Rehman Malik yesterday criticised PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif for suggesting that Pakistan should take the initiative to resolve the Siachen issue with India, saying Islamabad would never unilaterally withdraw its troops from the Himalayan region.
“Every inch of the country is sacred and Pakistan will never withdraw its army from Siachen unilaterally,” Malik told reporters in Islamabad.
Pakistan will not initiate the withdrawal process though it is in favour of resolving the Siachen issue through negotiations, he said.
Following a visit to the region in Siachen sector where 138 people were buried by an avalanche that hit an army camp, Sharif called on the Pakistan government to take the initiative to end the military standoff with India so that troops of both countries could be withdrawn from the Himalayan glacier.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.
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.