Kayani calls for talks with India
ISLAMABAD — President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Gayari sector on Wednesday and were briefed about rescue operations for 138 troops and civilians who were buried by a massive avalanche over a week ago.
Zardari and Kayani were also accompanied by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Zardari was received by Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Pir Karam Ali Shah, Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, Gen. Kayani and the area Corp Commander.
The president during his visit had an aerial view of the search and rescue activities being undertaken by the army personnel. Later he was given a detailed briefing about the activities under way by Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA) Commander Maj-Gen. Ikramul Haq.
He directed that all available resources be utilised to further expedite the operation in view of any possible snow slides due to a rise in temperature and that the Presidency be kept informed about the progress.
On April 7, a giant wall of snow crashed down in the Gayari sector, swamping the battalion headquarters of 6 Northern Light Infantry, where 124 soldiers and 14 civilians were stationed. Rescuers have yet to pull out a single person, dead or alive.
Gen. Kayani also endorsed demand for early negotiations between Pakistan and India to facilitate withdrawal of troops from high altitude to the level of 1984.
Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif had visited the site on Tuesday and had called on both Pakistan and India to climb down from the icy battlefield. He had advised the Pakistani government to take the lead and unilaterally withdraw its troops from Siachen Glacier.
He also gave away cheques for Rs500,000 to each aggrieved family and announced that the Punjab government will provide a job to each affected family and finance the education of their children.
Slain premiers Benazir Bhutto and her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi had reached an agreement on withdrawal in December 1988 but later the agreement hit snags over Indian army’s insistence that both countries should sign a document recognising the existing positions of their armies before they withdraw.