The Times of India – Stop cross-LoC trade if it is a threat, but don’t harass us: Traders

Hakeem Irfan Rashid

Srinagar-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 19 September 2017. Traders engaged in business across the Line of Control in J&K have asked the government to stop the barter trade if it is a threat to national security and put an end to the harassment of the traders who they said are repeatedly summoned and questioned by the National Investigation Agency.

The NIA has sent notices to around 40 cross LoC traders and raided houses, offices and businesses of 15 traders, seized documents, electronic gadgets and called many of them for questioning to New Delhi, Lucknow and Nagpur.

The traders stated that the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his recent visit to J&K assured them that they won’t be summoned to New Delhi or any other place, but despite his intervention some of the traders have again been summoned to New Delhi and Lucknow.

“We are traders not terrorists. If government and its agencies believe than this trade is a threat to national security let them stop it. We are not scared of any investigation, but let the investigators should question us here in the state. We can’t afford to go to New Delhi, Nagpur or Lucknow every now and then,” one of the traders Samiullah told ET.

A delegation of the cross LoC traders also met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led Congress policy planning group here in Srinagar to convey their concerns and urged them to raise the issue in New Delhi. The traders have threatened to stop the trade themselves from October, if the government didn’t pay heed to their concerns.

The NIA while investigating a case registered in May this year regarding illegal transfer of money to Hurriyat leaders has questioned many cross LoC traders and the trade has also intermittently halted due to various reasons.

“We have been made the sacrificial lambs of this confidence building measure between India and Pakistan,” Showkat Ahmad Kaloo, another cross LoC trader, told ET. The traders blamed the PDP-BJP government’s internal differences for their plight, claiming that PDP wants to continue the trade while as BJP opposes it.

“In the fight between two elephants, grass is trampled,” another trader added.

The cross LoC zero tariff barter trade with no custom duty was started in October 2008 as a biggest CBM between India and Pakistan and is conducted from Chakan-da-bagh-Rawalakote route in Jammu and Salamabad-Chokoti in Kashmir. The government has made list of 21 items that can be traded.

“Now we have to pay double tax after GST regime was implemented and cannot even do trade on credit as it is barter trade. Only 35 traders are presently doing the trade out of more than 750 registered traders,” said another trader Rashid Ali.

The trade is vulnerable due to shaky relations between the two countries and is stopped even on a minor ceasefire violation or any political confrontation. Besides, increasing intervention of investigating agencies accusing the traders of their involvement in drug trafficking and hawala transactions.

During the NIA raids, the traders claimed that their wallets, ATM cards, property documents, medical reports, mobile phones and even the registers documenting gifts received on given during functions have been seized.

“They make us feel like criminals and the electronic media without any proof only amplifies the accusations which have not even been proven till now,” said another trader.


The News – Asif says USA pursuing failed strategy in Afghanistan

New York, 17 September 2017. Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that the Trump administration’s “militaristic approach” in Afghanistan represented a failed policy, and he called for talks with the Taliban to bring peace to the war-torn country.

Asif, who is heading to New York to participate in the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, told The Wall Street Journal newspaper in Islamabad that he could not understand how the American military could succeed now in Afghanistan when it had not during the “surge” under the Obama administration with a force eight times as large as the one now planned.

The foreign minister instead called for peace talks with the Taliban, which, he said, could be arranged if Washington worked with countries in the region that have influence over the Taliban militant group.

“They are pursuing a folly, a strategy that has already failed,” the foreign minister said in an interview with the Journal.

“Force will not solve any problem; it has not solved problems in the past.”

Asif said he would tell UN members that “peace should return to this area and force is not the solution”.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also said that there could be no military solution to the Afghan conflict and called for efforts towards creating a political solution.

“I believe it is important in Afghanistan to invest in the conditions to create a political solution. I believe that is possible,” Guterres told reporters at the UN at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

In his dispatch the newspaper’s correspondent, Saeed Shah, underscored that Pakistan’s cooperation was vital to the effort to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan and extricating America from its longest war.

“The US and Pakistan are ostensible allies, but have long suffered strained ties.

Relations turned more confrontational after President Donald Trump accused Pakistan in August of providing a haven for terrorists and then threatening to withhold aid if there wasn’t better cooperation,” the dispatch said.

Trump had said that a political settlement with elements of the Taliban was “perhaps” possible, but only after an effective US military campaign.

The foreign minister subsequently cancelled a trip to the US for talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Islamabad also rejected a planned visit to Pakistan by the senior US official dealing with the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, Alice Wells.

Instead, the foreign minister toured the region, visiting US adversaries in China, Iran and Turkey, saying afterward that they agreed that a political solution was needed.

“I think Americans should be more realistic and more pragmatic about their approach in Afghanistan,” Asif was quoted as saying.

“They have already lost more than 40% of the territory to the Taliban. How do you keep on fighting with them?”

The Trump administration plan would add up to 3,900 USA soldiers to the 8,400 that the Pentagon says are already there, and allow them to fight the Taliban with freer rules of engagement.

At its peak, under President Barack Obama, the USA had over 100,000 soldiers there.

Tillerson said last month that the US strategy was to convince the Taliban to understand that they cannot win on the battlefield and “at some point, we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way to bring this to an end.”

Asif said now was the time for talks and that neighbours were willing to help.

A four-country group intended to promote such talks, Pakistan, China, the US and Afghanistan, which has not met for over a year, could be expanded to include other countries with influence over the Taliban, he said.

Khawaja Asif also questioned the US assertion that Pakistan allowed sanctuaries for Afghan militants.

“They don’t need sanctuaries on our territory. They have plenty of territories which Americans have lost to them in Afghanistan during the last 15 years,” Asif said.

“This is scapegoating you know, nothing else.”

The foreign minister said it was America’s militaristic policy across the Muslim world that had inflamed much of the violence.

“There is chaos from Afghanistan to Libya, you tell what is the common denominator in this whole chaos,” Asif said.”Has American policy in this whole region, the Middle East and our region, brought peace dividends to anywhere?”

Dawn – NA-120 by-polls: Kulsoom Nawaz victorious according to unofficial results

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 17 September 2017. The compilation of polling results in the NA-120 by-elections started right after voting ended on Sunday evening for the National Assembly seat which was left vacant by Nawaz Sharif’s ouster in the Panama case verdict.

According to the unverified and unofficial results being shared by DawnNews, PML-N’s candidate Kulsoom Nawaz received 61,254 votes while Dr Yasmin Rashid got 47,066 votes from the 220 polling stations in the constituency.

Yaqoob Sheikh, an independent candidate backed by the newly formed Milli Muslim League (MML), stood third according to the provisional results while PPP’s Faisal Mir was fourth.

A close contest was observed between PTI’s candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid and Kulsoom Nawaz.

“Not only have NA-120 voters rejected the Supreme Court’s decision [disqualifying Nawaz Sharif], but also rejected the court’s spokesmen,” Maryam Nawaz Sharif said while speaking to supporters after provisional results showed decisive victory for PML-N.

Speaking from the same balcony in Model Town from which Nawaz Sharif had given his victory speech in 2013, Maryam said: “Voters have given a decision on a decision, which is that our prime minister is still Nawaz Sharif.”
Maryam Nawaz thanks supporters for voting for PML-N as results pour in.

She also alleged that PML-N workers, including a union council (UC) chairman, were picked up and threatened by unknown persons before the elections. However, she said that all UC chairmen remained steadfast and gave her hope when she called them last night.

“You cannot stop people’s power with these tactics,” Maryam warned “those conspiring against the PML-N” without naming anyone. She also thanked the supporters on behalf of Kulsoom and Nawaz Sharif.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan thanked party workers, especially women, “who worked tirelessly in the election campaign,” in a Twitter message. “Applaud courage and determination with which Dr Yasmin Rashid fought NA-120 election against federal, provincial and local government backed PML-N with their massive funds.”

The Times of India – ‘Nanakpanthis’ in Sindh face hate campaign

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 17 September 2017. Pakistan’s minority leadership has urged the government to take strict action against hatemongers following the recent spate in the vicious propaganda against ‘Nanakpanthis’ (Sindhi Hindus) in Tharparkar district of Sindh province.

Most of the Hindus living in Sindh follow teachings of Sikhism and are also called ‘Nanakpanthis’.

“Not only the social media is being used to propagate hatred against the minority community, but pamphlets are also being distributed in Tharparkar,” Pakistan’s member of national assembly (MNA) Ramesh Kumar Vankwani told TOI over phone on Saturday.

He said extremist elements were trying to create unrest in the peaceful society of Hindu-majority Mithi and Umarkot areas using anonymous social media accounts.

“The hate pamphlets are written in Sindhi language and are being distributed on a large scale,” he said, adding that these had the name of controversial Islamic cleric Pir Ayub Jan Sarhindi, believed to be involved in most cases related to forced conversions of minor Hindu and Sikh girls.

Stating that minority communities in Pakistan were facing a lot of problems, Vankwani, who is also the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said that, “Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah during his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, had defined the state policy that one may belong to any religion or caste or creed, it had nothing to do with the business of the state.”

He, however, regretted that minorities were continuously being discriminated against.

Vankwani said he, along with another minority MNA from Umarkot, Lal Chand Malhi, had asked the higher authorities to take immediate action before the extremist elements succeed in exploiting the religious sentiments of innocent people.

He said both of them had also demanded an inquiry to expose the people behind distribution of the hate pamphlets. Vankwani said that the Federal Investigation Agency was the right forum to inquire against the misuse of social media. – SGPC Asks Pakistan To Not Shift Guru Nanak University’s Location

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 8 September 2017. Reacting to the news of Pakistant deciding to move Baba Guru Nanak University’s site from Sri Nankana Sahib to Muridke (Shekhupura, West Punjab), the SGPC President Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar has voiced to the Pakistani government that the University ought to be established in the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar has said that the move to establish a University by the Pakistani government was an appreciable step but by shifting its location, the Pakistan government has drawn sharp criticism by the local masses as well as the Sikh community.

He added that the move has hurt Sikh sentiments as the worldwide Sikh community was preparing to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of the first Sikh master Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji at Nankana Sahib.

Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar has also written a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj appealing them to rake up matter with their Pakistani counterparts.

He has written in the letter that the sentiments of entire Sikh community were attached to the Baba Guru Nanak University so the Indian government should ask the Pakistan government to rollback its decision of shifting University site.

Dawn – Hazara killings

Editorial, 12 September 2017. In the violence against civilians in the country, the repeated targeting of Hazaras in Balochistan stands out as a particularly grim failure of the state. On Sunday, yet another family of the Shia community was targeted in Kuchlak as they were travelling to Quetta.

Four individuals, including a child, were killed in the attack. What followed is also distressingly predictable: the assailants rode off on a motorcycle unimpeded; security forces arrived at the scene after the gunmen had fled; and hasty search operations in the immediate aftermath of the killing failed to lead to the attackers.

Meanwhile, the Hazara people have been left to mourn more deaths in a seemingly never-ending descent into fear and terror. To be sure, the vast physical expanse of Balochistan and the sparse population of the province mean that protecting all the people all the time would challenge even the best-resourced, most-committed security forces in the world.

But there have been several such incidents in Balochistan; they are clearly linked to a flawed security policy in the region and the failure of the political leadership. The Hazaras, as indeed the general population in Balochistan, will not be safe until the state changes its approach to security in the region.

Yet, delay in long-term changes should not stand in the way of short-term improvements where possible. The enemies of the Hazara people are a relatively narrow band of militants on the militancy spectrum. Among the groups likely to attack the Hazaras, active militants are estimated to be relatively small.

So while there is no possibility of physically protecting every Hazara, the state can use its significant intelligence and security apparatuses to identify and progressively shut down groups targeting the community.

Further, while the state has pointed repeatedly at external sponsors of militancy being responsible for terrorism in Balochistan, the networks used are invariably local. So is preventing violence against Hazaras not a priority for the state, or are lessons that ought to be learned not being learned because there is little accountability?

Finally, the Balochistan government, weak and sidelined as it may be in security matters, needs to take a stand. When it comes to the Hazaras, there has long been a suspicion that the political class is indifferent to their plight. The provincial government needs to demonstrate empathy and concern for all its people.

Hazaras are also targeted by terrorists in Afghanistan, and many Afghans look down upon them similar to the way many people in India still look down on Dalits. For better understanding of the Hqzaras I recommend reading ‘The Kite Runner’ by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini
Man in Blue

The News – How Dr Ruth Pfao changed life of a leper

Asna Nusrat

Karachi, 10 September 2017. The demise of Pakistan’s “Mother Teresa” Dr Ruth Katharina Martha Pfao has left the nation grieving over this immense loss that still battles with the remnants of humanity left in us.

But unlike most unfortunate souls who never got a chance to meet this exceptional woman, Shahnaz Ather’s spell-bounding story fully acknowledges the efforts Pfao put in changing the lives of those in need.

Her story not only gave life to the hollow silhouette of Pfao’s person that we had in our minds, but also created for us a living example of a life devoted to serve the needy.

On 8 March 1960, when Dr Ruth Pfao first came to Pakistan at the age of thirty the adversities of settling in a country where the native language was only the first of many struggles, she didn’t know that this would become her final abode.

During her early days in this country, she happened to visit McLeod Road Lepers’ Colony once with Berenice, a pharmacist from Mexico. That visit marked a turning point in Dr Ruth Pfao’s life and the lives to be served by her in future as well.

That was when she resolved to stay in Pakistan, as Zia Mutaher puts in his biography of Dr Ruth Pfao, “to serve the unserved and whom no one else would ever serve”.

A few of the survivors of leprosy, The News talked to at the central health facility in Karachi’s Saddar area, attested to the fact that she pledged to make conditions better for these unfortunate deformed individuals whose diseased hands and feet were left to rot at the mercy of rats.

Dr. Pfao treated and trained thousands of patients without any discrimination of race, colour, or religion and thus they evolved as human beings who rose from an abyss of misery to great heights of self-actualization and dignity.

Patients’ recovery was not Pfao’s only concern, she supported the journey of her patients from a place of sub-human torture they received at the hands of society to a destination secure with medical, educational and financial strength and Shahnaz Ather is one of those lucky ones whose lives were turned around by Dr Pfao, thanks to her commitment and dedication.

Shahnaz, has been affiliated with Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) for the last 30 years where she started off as a helpless 11-year-old patient of leprosy.

She was referred to Dr. Pfao by some well-wishers in the early stages of her disease and since then has recovered and evolved into a trained professional and a mother of three healthy sons. Her story is nothing short of being called a miracle that was only made possible by Pfao, the living legend.

As an eighth-grade student showing early signs of disability in hands and feet and an affected face, Shahnaz came for help to Dr Ruth Pfao. Unusual white patches had started appearing on her limbs that were worsening into wounds and her hand was gradually losing all strength and becoming disfigured due to the contortion of fingers into an abnormal shape.

When she first came to Dr. Pfau her hands had lost grip on even small things like a tea cup and the deformity was slowly settling in. But fortunately she sought help at the right time and took a two-year treatment at MALC where her hand was surgically treated to improve in shape and become functional again.

However, life of a leprosy patient is not as simple as we might think. The medication caused her face to acquire an abnormal redness that lasted the duration of her treatment. During this time not only did she have to quit studies, but was also mocked by colleagues who constantly pestered her with intrusive questions about her condition.

She was preyed at by the insensitivities of our society and being the second oldest daughter in a family left in shambles after the father’s death, she had to become a son for the mother and the sisters.

For this reason after completing her treatment she requested a job and kind-hearted Pfao offered her to work at the very organization she was treated at.

Her difficulties did not end here as she was placed in Hyderabad and being a woman living in Pakistani society it was not a convenient decision to make. But financial needs at home and constant mentoring by Dr. Pfao pushed her to work without pitying her health, her womanhood, or her poverty.

Pfao’s acknowledgement of her as a human no less than any sane, healthy male empowered Shahnaz enough to take a stand for herself. Even now, while talking to The News, she attributed all her success and well-being to the late Dr. Pfao.

Dr. Pfao not only founded MALC to provide free of cost health care to patients but also successfully created an intimate home-like atmosphere that made the patients see it as their second home or maybe even their first.

Many like Shahnaz even found their spouses while living in MALC and began their married lives from the nurturing grounds of this place. Now her life is complete with a caring husband and three healthy sons and in-laws that respect her.

Her life turned a new leaf after she met Dr. Pfao because she is no longer a young girl affected by leprosy trying to feed four more mouths at home. What this legendary woman did for her and several others is beyond amazement.

Pfau’s contributions to changing the statistics of leprosy in Pakistan are not just restricted to numbers. Her devoted efforts have transformed the conditions of entire families and left the younger generations with an extraordinarily high standard to meet.

May this nation be blessed with more humans like Pfao.

Daily Times – Sikhs urge Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to build them a school

Irfan Bahadur

Peshawar-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Pakistan, 10 September 2017. The Sikhs on Saturday urged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government build a school for them.

The Sikh school, Rising Hope Public School, situated in Mohallah Jogan Shah in Dabgari area of Peshawar, has been sold by the owner.

Sikhs said that the closure of Rising Hope School will create problems for them. The important aspect of the school was that Sikh students from all over Peshawar used to study there due to a uniform nature of the school.

Manjit Singh, a student’s father, said that his two sons and a daughter studied at the community school for the last three years and he had not faced any issue regarding their culture and religious beliefs.

Earlier, the Sikhs protested for months to press the KP government to buy the school for their kids.

Another Sikh couple said the Rising Hope School not only provided standard education but also played a vital role to teach tolerance. They added that the KP government should help the community in order to fulfill its slogan of educational emergency.

Dawn – UK seeks Pakistan’s help in Altaf hate speech probe

Owen Bennett-Jones

London, 6 September 2017. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has asked for Pakistan’s help to bring charges against MQM-London leader Altaf Hussain, according to documents obtained by Dawn.

The British authorities are focusing on violence associated with speeches given by Mr Hussain on 11 March 2015 and 22 August 2016.

The charges being considered by the British range from encouraging violent disorder, inciting others to commit terrorism outside England and Wales to encouragement of terrorism.

Other charges could include intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence. The various offences fall under the Terrorism Act, the Serious Crime Act and the Public Order Act.

Asked about the British investigation into Mr Hussain’s speeches, the MQM declined to comment.

A British document sent to Pakistan on 8 August this year recounts how, after the 22 August 2016 speech, some of Mr Hussain’s supporters went on the rampage in Karachi. “Towards the end of the speech, he seemed to be encouraging the audience to go and attack local media stations,” the document says.

According to the CPS, the protesters attacked the ARY News office. “As a result of the violence, one person was killed and several others were injured.” The document names the deceased as Arif Saeed.

In the 22 August speech, Mr Hussain said: “Pakistan is headache for the entire world. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan…it’s down with Pakistan.”

Later in the speech when he asked, “So you are moving to ARY and Samaa [offices] from here…right?”, he received from the crowd a unanimous and loud reply in the affirmative.

“So you go to Samaa and ARY today and then refresh [yourself] tomorrow for the Rangers place. And tomorrow we would lock down the Sindh government building, which is called Sindh Secretariat.”

The CPS document also cites a less well-known speech made on 11 March 2015 following the Rangers’ raid on Nine Zero. After that raid, the document says, Mr Hussain gave a live interview on Geo TV.

Reports about the interview indicate that Mr Hussain denounced the raid, and said the death of an MQM activist, Waqas Shah, during the raid deeply upset him. He also accused the Rangers of planting the ammunition they seized at Nine Zero

The most likely explanation of the CPS’s interest in the otherwise largely forgotten March 11 speech is that nine days later, on March 20, 2015 the Pakistani authorities lodged a complaint to the UK police requesting that Mr Hussain be investigated for his comments on March 11.

A potentially controversial aspect of the request concerns the death of Waqas Shah during the Nine Zero raid. The British document observes that: “The Rangers have denied that he was killed by them,” and goes on to request: “a statement and any further details from any pathologist regarding the post mortem or cause of death in relation to Mr Waqas Shah.”

The MQM has claimed that, in fact, Waqas Shah was killed by the Rangers. Earlier this month an MQM worker, Syed Asif Ali, was sentenced to death for the murder of Waqas Shah.

The CPS document appears confused as to the sequence of events on March 11. At one point it states that Mr Waqas Shah was killed during the raid on Nine Zero and before Mr Hussain gave his Geo TV interview.

But later the document says the death of Mr Waqas Shah followed Mr Hussain’s speech. The distinction would seem crucial to any attempt to prove incitement.

Asked how Mr Hussain could have incited a death that occurred before he spoke, the CPS said that due to staff leave they needed more time before making a statement.

The current enquiry into the speeches, called ‘Operation Demerit’, was established by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command in February this year and brought together two separate units that were looking into possible hate crime offences.

Initially Operation Demerit considered six of Mr Hussain’s speeches but the CPS document indicates that it is now focusing on just two of them.

Asked about the progress of Operation Demerit, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed to Dawn that an International Letter of Request has been sent to Pakistan and said that it is not yet clear how long it will take to decide whether or not to lay charges: “a decision will be made in due course: no time limit has been set.”

The CPS is requesting a significant amount of Pakistani assistance. London is asking Islamabad to provide copies of all the investigation files in relation to both speeches. It is hoping to receive the Sindh Police files, details of the Sindh Counter Terrorism Division investigation files, the FIA files and the Sindh Rangers files.

The CPS is also hoping to obtain copies of the speeches and any video of the aftermath that “may help identify criminal offences committed by Mr Hussain.”

The British government also wants details of any suspects arrested in relation to incidents following the two speeches and anything else Pakistan would consider useful to progress the cases in relation to possible incitement.

The British document makes it clear that any material provided by Pakistan could be used in criminal proceedings in the UK. And it adds that in the future Pakistan could expect to experience similar co-operation from the British government.

“I confirm that the assistance required above may be obtained under current English law if in a like case a request for such assistance were made to the authorities in England and Wales,” the document says.

Pakistan has previously made attempts to link the MQM cases to the presence of Baloch separatists in London. The current investigation into Mr Hussain’s speeches is the only active British police enquiry into MQM-London and its leader.

A source close to the investigation has said that some British officials remain determined that the politics surrounding the various cases should not be allowed to obstruct justice.

Over the last 12 months the British authorities have dropped two large-scale and long-running investigations into MQM-related matters. The first, into possible money laundering offences, had involved the UK police gathering evidence of significant flows of money coming into MQM-London, some of it from Indian sources.

The second into the 2010 murder of MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq identified two individuals in Pakistan who were suspected of having travelled to London to carry out the murder.

Both investigations collapsed amidst private expressions of mutual distrust and frustration by the British and Pakistani authorities. The MQM has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to both cases and says the decision to close down the investigations was a vindication of its longstanding protestations of innocence.

Dawn – Chances to solve Siachen, Sir Creek disputes missed: Shyam Saran

Our Correspondent

New Delhi, 8 September 2017. India and Pakistan came close to demilitarising the Siachen Glacier in 1989, 1992 and 2006, on all occasions during Congress party governments, a former Indian foreign secretary has claimed.

The Hindu on Thursday quoted top diplomat Shyam Saran as blaming then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s national security adviser M K Narayanan as opposing the Siachen move at the last minute during a meeting of the cabinet’s security committee in 2006.

Releasing his book, How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century, here on Wednesday, Mr Saran also described the ‘missed opportunity’ to solve the Sir Creek dispute.

India and Pakistan nearly came to an agreement on demilitarising the Siachen Glacier at least three times, he said.

Dr Manmohan Singh launched the book and former national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon discussed it.

In a discussion on the reasons for the failure of the two sides to come to an agreement in 2006, during tenures of the Manmohan Singh government and the Musharraf regime, Mr Saran said the two had even agreed on authenticating ground positions of the troops before the deal fell through.

The setback came as the crucial meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was held on the eve of India-Pakistan defence secretary-level talks in May 2006, where the draft agreement that had been approved by the Indian army and other stakeholders was to be discussed.

Mr Saran said two crucial players, then NSA Narayanan and then army chief General J J Singh, made last-minute interventions to cancel the proposal.

“When the CCS meeting was held on the eve of the defence secretary–level talks, Narayanan launched into a bitter offensive against the proposal, saying that Pakistan could not be trusted, that there would be political and public opposition to any such initiative and that India’s military position in the northern sector vis-à-vis both Pakistan and China would be compromised.

“General Singh, who had happily gone along with the proposal in its earlier iterations, now decided to join Narayanan in rubbishing it,” he said.

The Hindu quoted Mr Saran as saying that both Indian and Pakistani armies had agreed to authenticate the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), and sign an annexure with maps marking exactly where Indian and Pakistani troops held positions.

As a result, says Mr Saran, Indian troops who occupy the heights of Siachen would be able to mutually withdraw and be spared “extreme cold and unpredictable weather in inhospitable areas, [where] their psychological isolation was just as bad as their physical hardship”.

The former secretary’s revelations are significant as it is the first time that an Indian official of the time has accepted that agreements on Siachen and Sir Creek, often called the “low-hanging fruit” of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue between the two countries, was a reality.

In 2015, Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri wrote about the agreements in his memoirs Neither a Hawk nor a Dove, with an account of the Pakistani side of those negotiations.

During the book launch on Wednesday, retired General J J Singh, who was also in the audience, asked Mr Saran whether it would have been possible, in fact, to “trust Pakistan”, and ensure Pakistani troops wouldn’t return to occupy positions in Siachen.

“In matters of international diplomacy, it is a convergence of interests rather than trust that counts,” Mr Saran was quoted as saying in his reply.

The Hindu said the book also records what Mr Saran calls a “missed opportunity” to solve the Sir Creek dispute in Kutch, with the solution crafted by the navy to divide the creek between India and Pakistan according to the “equidistance” principle.

When asked by Mr Menon whether the opportunities to resolve the longstanding issues with Pakistan still existed, Mr Saran said: “Opportunities are perishable. When they aren’t seized, they don’t return.”