Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif waves to crowd on his arrival at Skardu. – Online Photo

SKARDU: PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has urged Pakistan and India to immediately start negotiations to resolve the Siachen issue and pull their troops out of the region.

Mr Sharif who is the first leader of any political party to visit Gilgit-Baltistan after the Siachen avalanche hit 138 Pakistani troops was talking to newsmen here on Tuesday.

He said if the two sides managed to resolve the issue they would save a lot of money now being spent on troops and use it for development and people’s welfare.

He said Pakistan should take the initiative in this regard and urge India to hold talks.

The former prime minister said he was proud of the army personnel trapped by the avalanche in the Gayari sector.

Mr Sharif paid tribute to the brave men who were spending their days and nights on the heights of Siachen for the sake of the nation. He said they were true Pakistanis and their contributions for the defence of the country were remarkable.

He said the rescue operation was under way despite harsh weather and the army was trying hard to get to the trapped men.

“I pray to Allah Almighty to save their lives and let them meet their families again.”

In reply to a question about the recent killings in Chilas, the PML-N chief said the incident was a matter of grave concern. He accused the government of giving a free hand to terrorists and having failed to protect people’s lives.

He said imposing curfew in Gilgit was not a solution to the problem. The government, he added, had no plan to curb terrorism.

Mr Sharif also condemned target killings in Quetta.

Earlier, he had an aerial view of the Gayari sector and returned to Skardu.

Mr Sharif met eight affected families, expressed sympathy with them and prayed for the trapped men.

He announced a compensation of Rs500,000 for each affected family and said the Punjab government was preparing a comprehensive package for them.

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