Wednesday, 16 January 2013

LoC tension: Pakistan offers talks with India

New Delhi: After days of bitter stand-off over the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers by its forces, Pakistan finally offered to hold talks with India to sort out all issues of concern. 

Reports, Thursday, said that the offer was made last night by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to hold discussions with her Indian counterpart to resolve issues related to Line of Control (LoC) and reinforce ceasefire. 

Khar had earlier accused India of engaging in "war-mongering" in the aftermath of clashes and killing of two Indian soldiers at the (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir.

Khar also said Pakistan is "deeply disappointed" to hear statements from India that are "upping the ante" and claimed her government is creating a "precedence" of not following war-mongering.

India, Pakistan and the South Asian region cannot afford a conflict between the two countries and the doors of dialogue have to remain open, she said, adding her government wants the dialogue process to be "uninterrupted and uninterruptible."

The Pakistan Foreign Minister's comments came close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's stern warning to Pakistan that it cannot be "business as usual" between the neighbours after tension flared up at the LoC following the killing of two soldiers--one of whom was beheaded-- by Pakistani troops.

Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani forces on Wednesday agreed to maintain peace on the LoC in J&K after days of bitter stand-off that had threatened their uneasy ties.

The two armies agreed not to violate the 2003 ceasefire on the LoC, a top Army officer was quoted as saying.

"The DGMOs (Director General of Military Operations) of India and Pakistan had a 10 minute talk in the morning and agreed not to violate the ceasefire and exercise maximum restraint," an Indian Army spokesperson said.

The DGMOs agreed not to allow the situation along the LoC, which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, to escalate, he added.

Ties between the two neighbours were under strain ever since the Jan 6 killing of a Pakistani soldier allegedly in firing by Indian troops. Two days later, Pakistani soldiers brutally killed two Indian soldiers, including beheading one of them, on the LoC. India has voiced its protest over the killing and also summoned the Pakistani envoy in New Delhi.

India also held back the Visa on Arrival regime for senior Pakistani citizens and Pakistani hockey players for the Indian Hockey League were asked to return on Tuesday.

Army Chief General Bikram Singh had Tuesday termed the killing of the Indian soldiers "an unpardonable act" and said his forces reserved the "right to retaliate".

Pakistani troops had violated the ceasefire on the LoC in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday evening on two occasions - a day after their brigadier-level flag meeting Monday.

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