A girl injured in cross-border fire on Thursday at the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu. Pakistani Rangers pounded several villages and border outposts that left eight people, including two children, injured. A BSF officer said the Pakistanis targeted the Lalyal and Ghakriyal villages along with some posts in Kanachak area of Pargwal in Jammu and Kashmir at 6.45pm. (PTI picture)
On board PM’s special aircraft, Oct. 24: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed great “disappointment” with Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for failing to keep his commitment to maintain peace on the Line of Control and the International Border, made as recently as three weeks ago when the two leaders met in New York.
There has been a spate of firing by Pakistani troops at the LoC and the border over the last few days, making a mockery of the peace initiative Singh took in New York.
The escalating tensions at the LoC are particularly galling for the Prime Minister since he went ahead and met Sharif in the teeth of domestic opposition.
The move was criticised not just by the BJP and vocal sections of the media, but as many as 40 retired civil servants and diplomats — including former foreign secretaries — had signed an open letter asking Singh not to meet Sharif in the light of Pakistan’s continuing overt and covert actions against India.
Given this backdrop, Singh feels badly let down and said as much — using the word “disappointment” three times in the space of one answer.
In reply to a question on the subject, the Prime Minister said: “Let me say that I am disappointed because in the New York meeting there was a general agreement on both sides that peace and tranquillity should be maintained on the Line of Control as well as on the International Border and this has not happened. It has come to me as a big disappointment.”
Elaborating, he said: “We had agreed at that meeting that the ceasefire which was made effective in 2003, if it has held ground for 10 years, it could be made to hold ground later on also. The fact that this is not happening is something which is really a matter of disappointment.”
Singh added: “I sincerely hope that even at this late hour, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will recognise that this is a development which is not good for either of the two countries.”
India’s troubles with Pakistan on the LoC have come out in sharper relief in the light of the much more mature handling of another border — the Line of Actual Control or LAC — which India shares with China.
India inked a substantive Border Defence Cooperation Agreement with China only yesterday.
Top government officials repeatedly pointed out that despite periodic tensions on the LAC, there has been no exchange of fire between the two armies facing each other for over three decades.
In contrast, the LoC with Pakistan remains a “hot” border with frequent firings and casualties.
While the history of India-Pakistan relations cannot be compared to that of India-China ties, one reason for the improvement in the latter is the “mature” Chinese political leadership.
Once the political leaderships decide to pursue friendship (or at least avoid hostilities), the armies in India and China fall in line.
Singh alluded as much when he was asked today why India was hopeful of peace at the LAC when the experience at the LoC — despite talks with the Pakistani Prime Minister — had been so bitter.
Singh replied: “There is a commitment on the part of both China and India that peace and tranquillity on the border is a pre-requisite for progress in our relationship. There is this recognition and on the whole there has been peace and tranquillity on the India-China border. So I am reasonably satisfied that the Chinese leadership is as serious as we are in ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border.”