New Delhi, Aug. 12: India and Pakistan both raised their pitch today in an ongoing blame game over killings and repeated ceasefire violations along the Line of Control over the past week, but have not called off proposed talks.
Pakistan’s foreign office summoned India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad, Gopal Baglay, accusing the Border Security Force of “continuous ceasefire violations” along the de facto border over the weekend, which it claimed led to a civilian’s death.
Islamabad also asked New Delhi to raise security at the offices of the Pakistan International Airlines in India after alleged Shiv Sena activists blackened a board outside its Delhi office. The external affairs ministry has promised enhanced security.
In New Delhi, officials said India’s patience was “wearing thin” over last Tuesday’s attack in which five Indian soldiers were killed. Defence minister A.K. Antony had blamed Pakistan Army special forces for that attack, and India had summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in India. But Islamabad has not yet offered any, officials said.
Today’s tone, both in Delhi and in Islamabad, reflects a subtle shift from last week when the attacks along the LoC threatened to derail proposed secretary-level talks and a meet between Sharif and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Then, the UPA had carefully crafted its statement to Parliament, giving Sharif’s government an opportunity to explain the killing of Indian soldiers. Sharif had issued a statement expressing “sadness” over the killings and re-emphasising his commitment to peace with India.
But repeated instances of ceasefire violations alleged by both nations and the domestic criticism these have triggered have hit efforts to refrain from the blame game common in diplomatic exchanges between the neighbours.
Today, though, India and Pakistan were both clearly claiming victim-hood.
“Pakistan calls upon India to uphold the ceasefire over the LoC and reiterates its commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement of 2003, which should be respected in letter and spirit,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement, referring to the pact that has largely held over the past decade.
Islamabad had summoned Baglay last week too, after protesters in New Delhi tried to march into the Pakistan High Commission. But it is Pakistan that violated the LoC, even early on Monday, targeting multiple Indian foreign posts, officials here said.
The planned meeting between two Prime Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in end-September is, however, still on, the officials said. “We will only take a final call on the meet closer to the event, based on the ground reality then and on Pakistan’s response by then,” an official said.
Pakistan, too, indicated that it remained keen on pursuing dialogue with India. In a statement last week, Sharif’s office had said the Pakistan Prime Minister was willing to engage with India on new mechanisms to reduce violence between troops along the LoC.
Today, Pakistan’s foreign ministry reiterated Sharif’s suggestion. “Pakistan also urges the need for abiding by and strengthening existing military mechanisms to ensure that such violations do not recur,” it said in a statement.