The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Healing touch for Pak soldier

New Delhi, Feb. 10: India has allowed the evacuation of a Pakistani soldier in the heights of Siachen after he fell from his position and Pakistani troops requested assistance.

The incident took place in December — peak winter in the forbidding heights — but was confirmed only today by a highly-placed defence ministry source.

The source added that the evacuation was possible because of the thaw since India and Pakistan began serious discussions on confidence-building measures.

But the source said New Delhi had not received any formal request from Islamabad on a meeting of the directors general of military operations (DGMOs) to discuss steps for demilitarisation. The Pakistani press had reported such a move last month.

It is understood that the Pakistani soldier had strayed or had fallen from his position. He was not behind Indian Army positions but within sight of them. The Pakistanis signalled both at Siachen and at a regular weekly communication between the DGMOs that they had to rescue one of their men.

“At the moment, the situation on the borders is somewhat better. We are continuing to make efforts with all our neighbours, including Pakistan and China. But statements are not enough. Actions are more important,” defence minister A.K. Antony said on the sidelines of a conference at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis today in answer to a question on the status of talks on Siachen.

This is not the first time that such an incident has happened along the Saltoro heights that flank the Siachen glacier and along which the military positions are ranged.

But this is certainly the first acknowledgement from a high official quarter that the ceasefire could be flowing into a newfound climate of confidence at Siachen.

In May last year, Indian troops aided a similar rescue. Similar incidents were reported from other parts of the Line of Control immediately after the October 8 Kashmir earthquake of 2005.

But the official acknowledgement that troops have extended a helping hand in Siachen gives it a significance of an altogether different scale.

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