M A I N   N E W S

Air Chief warns Pak against LoC violations
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12
The ongoing cross-border tension took a new turn on Saturday as Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne spoke of “other options” to ensure compliance of peace along the Line of Control (LoC) even as Pakistan did not respond to a call for a flag meet to de-escalate tensions.

Upping the ante, Browne termed the ceasefire violations by Pakistan (117 last year) as “unacceptable” and in a way warned the western neighbour that India was being forced to look at “some other options for compliance” if incidents of ceasefire violations continued. The Air Chief is chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, a body that has all the three Chiefs of Services.

Pakistan had not responded to India’s call for a Brigadier-level flag meet till 8 pm on Saturday evening to de-escalate cross-border tension. Normally, a time-frame of 48 hours is acceptable for a response. This period will lapse on Sunday morning, sources said.

NAK Browne’s remarks could set the tone of this skirmish over the next few days. Minutes after addressing youth of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) here, the Air Chief responded to reporters’ queries, saying: “We have a Line of Control, we have a ceasefire agreement, we have certain structures and mechanisms which are sacrosanct and any violation of these with impunity, especially what has been happening in the last few months, is totally unacceptable.”

The Chief, a fighter pilot who periodically flies jets and was on board a Jaguar on January 9, went on to add: “We are monitoring the situation carefully because if these things continue to be the way they are and these violations continue to take place, then perhaps we may have to look at some other options for compliance.”

Refusing to divulge the “options” being looked at by the government, he said, “Options are options. We do not discuss these openly. If the violations continue, we may have to look at the whole issue all over again.”

This is the second instance of tough posturing from the defence set-up in New Delhi in as many days. Yesterday, Defence Minister AK Antony had conveyed to National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon that the “beheading” of India soldiers was a turning point and the “prestige” of the forces had to be upheld. Menon leads the Indian diplomacy initiative with Pakistan.

On January 8, Pakistan Army regulars had infiltrated into Indian territory in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and killed and mutilated the bodies of Lance Naiks Sudhakar Singh and Hemraj.

Meanwhile, Pakistan repeated its demand for a neutral probe into the firing along the LoC, but India rejected it on the premise that after the 1972 Simla Agreement, all issues have to be resolved bilaterally and, hence, there was no role for third party intervention, including that of the United Nations.

This comes after Islamabad's tit-for-tat move to summon the Indian High Commissioner on Friday to lodge a protest over the alleged killing of its soldier. A week of intermittent ceasefire violations has left four soldiers dead -- two each on either side of the LoC. Despite both governments speaking the language of restraint, tensions were unabated.

Fresh firing in Poonch

  • Indian and Pakistani troops traded gunfire along the LoC in Poonch sector after the movement of a group of suspected infiltrators was detected
  • Pakistan had not responded to India’s call for a Brigadier-level flag meet till late Saturday evening.





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