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Rediff.com  » News » Time has come to demilitarise Siachen: Zardari

Time has come to demilitarise Siachen: Zardari

July 24, 2010 01:43 IST

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday said Pakistan and India should withdraw their troops from Siachen as the military deployment on the glacier has become a burden on the national exchequers of the two countries.

Zardari made the remarks while addressing mediapersons during a gathering at the chief minister's house in the southern city of Karachi.

The time has come to demilitarise the Siachen glacier because of the high cost of the troop deployments, he said. He claimed that the Indian Army's expenditure on troops deployed on Siachen was more than that of Pakistan.

Despite this, Pakistan had suggested to India that both countries should withdraw their forces from the region, he said. Referring to the lack of headway in the foreign minister-level talks between the two countries on July 15, Zardari contended that India's domestic politics were responsible for glitches in the parleys.

However, Zardari said Pakistan was hopeful about the resumption of "meaningful dialogue" with India. Addressing another gathering at the same venue, Zardari said Pakistan had hired an international firm to work as arbitrator to resolve differences with India on the sharing of river waters.

Since India had not come up with a viable solution to the water issue, Pakistan opted for international arbitration, he said.

"The first time I met (Indian Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh, the first thing I spoke to him about was water. I am talking about the time almost two years ago, when I had just become President and I was at a United Nations programme where I met Manmohan Singh," he told the gathering.

"When (Singh) met me again, he said if there is a dispute on water, then you can go to the World Bank, you can go to the adjudicating authorities with your problem and we will not mind that," he added.

Zardari said he had then consulted the water and power ministry and the federal government and Pakistan hired an international firm as an arbitrator to negotiate with the World Bank and the Indian government on the water problem.

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