M A I N   N E W S

No business as usual with Pak: PM
New visa facility put on hold Hockey players to be sent back 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 15
Clearly drawing a line for pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said there can’t be “business as usual” with the neighbour after a clash last week at the Line of Control (LoC) in which two jawans were killed and their bodies mutilated. New Delhi backed it up by putting on hold the new visa-on-arrival facility for senior citizens of Pakistan and decided to send back all its nine players here to take part in the Hockey India League.

In his first public reaction to the gruesome beheading of an Indian soldier along the LoC, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “After this barbaric act, there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan. Those responsible for this crime will have to be brought to book.''

The PM chose to articulate the government's stance at the Army Day reception hosted by General Bikram Singh. The Prime Minister hoped Pakistan realised the message and insisted New Delhi would keep trying to make its point in the wake of Islamabad being in denial mode.

Immediately after the reception, the Prime Minister called on the President and the two met for an hour, Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesman Venu Rajamony said. Though no details were shared, the exchange is understood to be about the situation at the LoC.

Intending to demonstrate that its deeds match the tough talk, India put on hold visa-on-arrival for senior citizens fro Pakistan, one of the goodwill measures under the recently agreed liberalised regime. The facility was to start today at the Attari-Wagah border post.

While Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said the decision was made on technical grounds, the swift manner in which it was taken clearly underscored the government's intent of sending a clear message across the border.

Separately, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said India was exerting pressure on Pakistan to bring those responsible for the “barbaric mutilation” of the bodies of the two Indian soldiers to book.

The government, he said, “deplored this grave provocation and repugnant act of the Pakistan Army” and called upon the Government of Pakistan to carry out a proper investigation... It should not be felt that the brazen denial and the lack of proper response from the Government of Pakistan to our repeated demarches on this incident will be ignored and that bilateral relations could be unaffected or that there will be business as usual,” Khurshid said later at a briefing.

The External Affairs Minister emphasised that such actions by the Pakistan Army were in contravention of all norms of international conduct and not only constitute a grave provocation, but lead New Delhi to draw appropriate conclusions about Islamabad's seriousness in pursuing normalisation of relations.

Asked as to how the no-business-as-usual attitude will translate, the minister said it was meant to convey New Delhi's single point view reflecting a large section of public opinion and the government resorted to “all such instruments and all such methods that are available to us at this time”.

In a related move, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon briefed the Leaders of Opposition in Parliament, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely, about the situation and the steps taken by the government. The meeting followed the Prime Minister's assurance yesterday and aimed at keeping the principal Opposition party abreast of the latest. 





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