NEW DELHI: Keeping up with the bonhomie generated by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s India visit, the Indian Army on Sunday offered help in operations to rescue about 130 Pakistani soldiers trapped in snow in Siachen Glacier for over 24 hours.
The Director General of Military Operations of the Indian Army contacted his counterpart in Pakistan Army to support the rescue efforts, which are constrained by the frigid heights, sub-zero temperatures and thick snow cover. Pakistan Army is yet to revert with any requirement.
According to Radio Pakistan, about 180 army personnel and 60 civilians along with helicopters and sniffer dogs were trying to locate the 125 soldiers of the Sixth Northern Light Infantry Battalion and 10 civilians buried under the 80 feet snow at a height of 15,000 feet in Gayari sector near Skardu.
Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the area on Sunday.
The issue also figured during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Zardari. “The Prime Minister mentioned that he had heard the news about the avalanche, which caused the feared death of a very large number of soldiers, and said if there was something humanitarian that was required of us, we would be happy to be of assistance. The Pakistan President thanked him for this and said they would check and if there was any requirement, they would get back to us,” Foreign Secretary Rajan Mathai told reporters on Sunday.
The Indian Army had forgone 28 years of stand-off over Siachen Glacier with Pakistan Army, while offering help. Since 1984, both the forces have been in a direct combat mode on the treacherous heights of the glacier, often termed as the world’s highest battleground. In fact, weather has claimed more lives than bullets there. The Saturday’s avalanche that hit a Pakistani battalion headquarters in the Gayari sector -- it served as the gateway for the forward posts along the 76-km-long glacier -- had been the worst natural calamity in the Pakistan Army’s deployment in the inhospitable region.