15 jan 2013
Second ceasefire violation by Pakistan in one hour
New Delhi: Another round of firing by Pakistani troops has been reported near the Line of Control (LoC), the second within an hour this evening. The fresh round of firing happened in the Krishnaghati sector in Jammu and Kashmir, making it the fifth ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops since a brigadier-level flag meeting took place between both sides yesterday.
- Earlier in the evening, Pakistani troops had targeted two Indian army posts along the LoC in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The firing lasted for a brief period and Indian troops did not retaliate, Army spokesperson RK Palta said, adding there was no loss of life or injury to anyone.
- The fresh ceasefire violations come hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his first response since two Indian soldiers were brutally killed by Pakistani troops last week, said that it “cannot be business as usual” with Islamabad given the current situation. Speaking to NDTV, the Prime Minister said, “Those responsible for this crime will have to be brought to book” and hoped “Pakistan realises this”. Dr Singh was referring to the mutilation of the bodies of the two Indian jawans, Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh – the latter was decapitated. The PM also met President Pranab Mukherjee and apprised him of the situation at the LoC.
- Soon after the PM’s strong remarks, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, “The government has deplored this grave provocation…and called on the government of Pakistan to (order) a proper investigation into this unacceptable action.”
- The tough talk by New Delhi came even as the process of issuance of visa-on-arrival to senior Pakistani citizens at the Wagah-Attari border was put on hold. Mr Khurshid, though, said that the process – part of the much-hyped liberalised visa regime between the two nations – has not been “called off”, but has just been “deferred”.
- Earlier, a decision was taken to send back nine Pakistani players who were in India to play in the inaugural Hockey India League tournament.
- This decision was closely followed by reports that the Pakistani women’s cricket team is also unlikely to travel to India for the World Cup later this month.
- There is uncertainty, too, over the fate of the meeting of Commerce Ministers of India and Pakistan, scheduled later this month. Government sources say that New Delhi is closely watching the situation and will decide on its next step, depending on Islamabad’s response. The internal political turmoil in Pakistan is also likely to be a factor, sources have added.
- Reacting to the Prime Minister’s statement, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, “From the Prime Minister’s statement, it seems we were able to convey the nation’s mood to the government during the meet with the National Security Advisor.” She added that the statement indicated the government’s “tough stand. Her comments came after the Prime Minister sent National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon to brief Ms Swaraj and her colleague and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on the prevailing situation vis-a-vis Pakistan.
- The BJP has asked the government to take a tough stand against Pakistan, even calling for an immediate review of engagement with the neighbour at all levels.
- Meanwhile, New Delhi has expressed unhappiness with the outcome of a flag meeting that was held between Indian and Pakistani army commanders in the Poonch sector of Kashmir yesterday. At the meeting, India lodged a strong protest against the repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and also expressed concern at the barbaric way Pakistani troops treated the bodies of the Indian soldiers. But the Pakistani side, the Army said, denied all charges and was “adamant and arrogant” in its attitude, despite India giving them photographic evidence of mines placed by Pakistani troops in Indian territory.