ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar suggested on Wednesday that a third party, like the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), should investigate recent ceasefire violations while Indian Minister for External Affairs, Salman Khurshid cautioned that an ‘escalation’ should not be allowed.
Even though the recent skirmishes on the Line of Control (LOC) have shattered the 2003 ceasefire, resulting in three casualties in two days, attempts at an exercise in damage control was noticeable between politicians from Pakistan and India to ensure that the peace negotiations were not completely derailed.
Pakistan, both at the military and political level, strongly denied Indian allegations that Pakistan killed two Indian soldiers and mutilated their bodies. When approached, Minister Khar told The News, “Pakistan has examined the ground situation and clearly stated its position. No Pakistani troops were involved in any incident on the night that the alleged incident took place. We have even offered a UNMOGIP inquiry into the matter. Pakistan remains committed to the ceasefire agreement and hopes that both the countries will use existing mechanisms to resolve such an issue.”
“I say that we need to grow up; and allow me to say this that it is not Pakistan’s policy to do tit for tat. We think we are a responsible country and India is a responsible country”, said Minister Khar.
Meanwhile, Director General Military Operations, Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem and his Indian counterpart Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia also picked up the hotline to discuss the matter. A military official said that Nadeem rejected Indian allegations as ‘propaganda’, and denied cross-LoC firing by Pakistan and killing of any Indian soldiers. Brigadier G S Sangha, one of the army’s most senior officers in Kashmir, told AFP that the LoC was “calm, steady and stable,” on Wednesday.
Earlier, Pakistani High Commissioner, Salman Bashir was summoned to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, to lodge protest with him at the “highly provocative” attack on its territory in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops, describing as “extremely distressing” and “inhuman” the mutilation of the bodies of its two soldiers.
Pakistan had a few days back, summoned to the Foreign Office the Deputy High Commissioner to lodge a protest.The Foreign Office here also rejected the Indian allegation of an attack across the LoC on its military patrol in which two Indian soldiers were claimed to have been killed saying the allegations were baseless and unfounded .
“Pakistan remains committed to the ceasefire agreement of 2003 which is an important Confidence Building Measure and should be respected in letter and spirit. Pakistan also urges the need for abiding and strengthening existing military mechanisms to ensure that there is no recurrence of such violations in future”, the spokesman said in a statement.
He said that Pakistan is committed to a constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India. “We have made significant progress in the dialogue process. Pakistan has taken a number of steps to normalise and improve bilateral relations. It is important that both sides make serious efforts in maintaining this improvement and avoid negative propaganda,” he said.
Agencies add: A Pakistan Army official said Indian troops had raided a Pakistani post on Sunday morning in which a Pakistani soldier Naik Alsam was martyred. He was buried in his native village in Chakwal on Tuesday.
He said Indians are propagating that their soldiers were killed by Pakistani firing to divert attention of world from that raid in violation of ceasefire treaty.
It was the first official reaction from Pakistan after India summoned Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi to protest at the killing of the two soldiers, one of whom was reportedly beheaded.
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told a press conference said that New Delhi was awaiting a response from Pakistan’s civilian government on the killing of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control.
Khurshid said non-violation of ceasefire was an integral part of the conventional confidence building measures (CBMs), and added ‘such actions would adversely impact whatever we have achieved so far in bilateral ties’.
“The manner in which bodies (of Indian soldiers) were treated is a matter of deep concern... this is completely unacceptable,” the minister said.
While stating that the Indian government was awaiting “an appropriate response” from the Pakistan government, Khurshid said, “We must ensure the situation is not allowed to escalate further.”
Senator Mushahid Hussain said the Indian government – dogged by corruption scandals and facing a tough election as early as this year – was returning to ‘the war-like language of the past’ for domestic political reasons.
“Pakistan has its hands full with a full-blown insurgency inside its borders. It doesn’t suit Pakistani interests at all to raise the temperature along the LoC,” Hussain said.