Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Thursday contended that India had hardened its position on the Siachen issue as compared to the 1989 stance it had adopted, saying that it "takes two hands to clap".

Speaking to the media during a visit to a high-altitude army camp in Siachen sector that was hit by an avalanche on April 7, Kayani said India had "toughened its stance" on the issue.

India had earlier been demanding the approval of the boundary but now it had begun asking for the re-determination of positions, Kayani was quoted as saying by TV news channels. "It takes two hands to clap," he said.

During an earlier visit to the site of the avalanche at Gyari on April 18, Kayani had called for all issues between India and Pakistan to be resolved to ensure "peaceful co-existence" which would allow the two sides to focus on development and the welfare of the people.

The powerful army chief had also said at the time that Pakistan hoped that the Siachen issue is "resolved so that both the countries don't have to pay the cost".

"There will be a resolution and we want that there should be a resolution (of the Siachen issue). There should be a resolution of Siachen and other issues," he had added.

Pakistani officials have for long contended that the two countries came close to an agreement on Siachen in 1989 during a meeting between then Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto. In recent days, senior Pakistani officials have called for the implementation of that "agreement".

Kayani travelled to the Gyari sector for the third time today to review the search for the 139 people, including 127 soldiers, who were buried under dozens of feet of snow by the avalanche. Search teams are yet to find any trace of the buried men.

The army chief was briefed about progress in the search operation, including efforts to create a water course to safely drain a lake that was formed after the avalanche blocked Gyari river.

Officials told him that a satellite data link, made operational on Thursday, would allow real time video monitoring of the operation from the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Kayani spent time with the troops and lauded their motivation in face of tough conditions and extreme weather, a military statement said.

He appreciated their resolve to uphold the army's tradition of "not leaving a man behind, until humanly possible, regardless of the cost".

The avalanche has raised questions in Pakistan over the troop deployment in the hazardous terrain. Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen 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 on the glacier due to the adverse weather than combat.


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