SIACHEN: Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Wednesday said that Pakistan followed the doctrine of peaceful coexistence with its neighbours especially India, Geo News reported.
"Peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours is very important so that everybody can concentrate on the well-being of the people," he told reporters.
The general was speaking at Skardu airport in northern Pakistan after visiting the remote Gayari army base in disputed Kashmir, which was hit by a massive avalanche on April 7.
Rescuers are still searching for nearly 140 people buried by the mass of snow and rock at the camp, which lies around 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level.
To a question, he said Pakistan was open to talks with India to de-militarize Siachen.
“Both countries should sit together to resolve all the issues including Siachen.”
He also unequivocally added that Pakistan’s pursuit for peace should not be mistaken for its weakness.
The general said the reason why Pakistan Army was putting up with the forces of extreme weather as well as the adversary on the frozen heights of Siachen glacier was not a secret to the world.
“ It were Indians who carried the war onto Siahcen forcing us to get up there and stop them in their tracks, we only mounted a natural tactical response”, Gen Kayani said.
COAS also made it clear that army was "protecting" the country’s borders on Siachen.
“We are only manning the border on this frigid outpost twenty-two thousand feet above the sea-level in the line of duty.”
Kayani also said soldiers would do their duty come what may, but defending borders should not be the country's sole priority.
"We in the army understand very well that there should be a very good balance between defence and development. You cannot be spending on defence alone and forgetting about development," he said.
"Ultimately the security of a country is not only that you secure boundaries and borders but it is when people that live in the country feel happy, their needs are being met. Only in that case will a country be truly safe."
He was of the view that Siachen was an enormous burden on the taxpayers of both the neighbours.
“Siachen consumes a mammoth amount of national exchequer, which must be diverted to the people of both countries respectively”, said Gen Kayani.
Replying to a question he said that Pakistan did not want to add to military spending by fueling the disputes.
He said natoinal security should be a comprehensive concept.
"And therefore we would like to spend less on defence, definitely," he said.
" Any country should do the same -- more focus should be on the welfare of the people."
Pakistan and India invest significant resources in maintaining a military
presence on the Siachen Glacier -- dubbed "the world's highest battleground" -- and the tragedy has sparked lively debate about the human and financial cost of defending an uninhabitable patch of snow and rock.
On Gyari rescue operation, he said, “We are trying to reach the trapped soldiers with all we are worth in the face of inclement weather, no stone has been left unturned, we are not far from them now, we’ll dig them out, no matter how long it takes”, said he.
“Foreign teams are lending hand in the rescue operation too, we hope for a breakthrough soon.”
To a question, he refused to comment on PML-N’s Mian Nawaz Sharif’s statement on Siahcen.
Sharif in a statement on Tuesday had exhorted Pakistan and Indian governments to withdraw their troops from Siachen sector and resolve the issue through dialogue.