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Jawans' killing: Strong protest by India
Highly provocative, says Antony Pakistan envoy ticked off
Tribune News Service

Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir comes out of the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi on Wednesday
Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir comes out of the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo

New Delhi, January 9
Tension between India and Pakistan flared up on Wednesday with New Delhi lodging a strong protest through diplomatic and military channels a day after the brutal killing of two soldiers by the Pakistan Army.

Even as the government directed the Army not to retaliate, the force conveyed to its counterparts that the onus of consequences of the recent round of military belligerence would lie on Pakistan. Yet, Islamabad remained in denial mode. The Pakistan High Commission rejected the charge that Pakistani troops had killed the Indian soldiers.

Army sources said the operation from the Pakistani side was carried out by the Special Services Group (SSG), a NSG-type commando unit of the Army.“Even though the underlying message is to hold the 2003 ceasefire agreement and not escalate matters, we will do what we will do at our own time to respond,” a top ranking Army official said. Army authorities refused to be drawn into setting a time-frame for such a response.

Defence Minister AK Antony described Pakistan’s action as “highly provocative” and said the way the bodies of the Indian soldiers were treated was inhuman and highly objectionable. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid termed the incident as “unacceptable” and warned the incident could have an adverse impact on bilateral ties. “We cannot and must not allow escalation of this very unwholesome event that has taken place,” he said.

As strong reactions by the government and political parties came, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai summoned Pakistani envoy Salman Bashir to his office. He was told that Islamabad must investigate the actions of the Pakistan Army that were in contravention of all norms of international conduct and ensure that such incidents did not recur.

Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia called up his Pakistan counterpart Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed at 10 am today to lodge a strong protest. “The action of the Pakistan Army was in grave violation of the rules of engagement for any civilized and professional Army,” Bhatia said. The rules of engagement for both armies are part of the 2003 agreement.

The Foreign Secretary pointed out to Bashir that Pakistan troops had been regularly crossing the LoC in the Mendhar sector and engaging Indian troops patrolling there. Mathai also drew attention to the killing of Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and how their bodies were subjected to barbaric and inhuman mutilation. “The head of one of them was severed,” Army authorities said.

Later, in a statement here, the Pakistan mission said the allegations made by India was “baseless and unfounded”. It was important for the two sides to make serious efforts to maintain the current trend of improving bilateral ties and avoid ‘negative propaganda’,’’ the high commission said.

Ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops had figured during the expert-level Conventional Confidence Building Measures (CBM) talks between the two countries here last month. New Delhi is of the view that the November 2003 agreement has been a major CBM and was effective only as long as Pervez Musharraf was at the helm of affairs.

Sources said the intrusion and killings would also have to be seen in the context of the Pakistan Army’s revised military doctrine, which for the first time lists militant groups and internal dangers as the biggest threat to the country’s security rather than India. Sources said the hawks in the Pakistani establishment might again be out to prove that India remained Enemy No. 1 for Pakistan.

South Block still believes India must remain engaged in the peace process with Pakistan as an adverse relationship was in neither country’s interest.

Pak denies killing

Pakistan on Wednesday denied that its troops crossed into Jammu and Kashmir and killed two Indian soldiers but said it was ready to investigate India's claim.





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