Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: Responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s call for a "new beginning" in relations with India amid tension over the killing of five Indian soldiers and recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC), the government on Tuesday asked Islamabad to respond to New Delhi’s concerns.
Maintaining that "unprovoked incidents" of ceasefire violations by Pakistan were not conducive to holding peaceful dialogue, the government today called for a return to peace and tranquillity on the border.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the incidents of firing on the LoC that divide Kashmir between the two countries had led to a "sense of disappointment" and both sides needed to "get back to normal".
Addressing reporters on the sidelines of a function here, Khurshid said, "There has to be peace and tranquillity on the border. Ceasefire should not be violated. We are still in a sense of shock."
Five Indian soldiers were killed in Poonch on the LoC by Pakistani troopers last week, triggering anger in India and calls by the opposition parties to call off talks with Islamabad.
In a separate briefing, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the "current environment" of "unprovoked incidents on the LoC" does not fit into an atmosphere for holding peaceful dialogue with Pakistan but said a call would be taken at the appropriate time.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "Upholding the sanctity of the LoC is one of the most important CBMs between the two countries".
To a question of whether India would go ahead with secretary-level talks with Pakistan that are due to be held, Akbaruddin said India has received a proposal last month from Pakistan for this.
The MEA spokesperson said, “We welcome newly-elected Pakistan PM`s commitment, which is defined by peace and cooperation. However, we would like to make it clear that there will be no talks until Pakistan responds to the killing of our soldiers.”
"For a peaceful dialogue to proceed, we need an environment free of violence and terror, and what has happened last week does not fit into that," the spokesperson said, but added immediately that no timeline had been set for the talks to be held.
"We will factor in all subsequent developments, and we will take a call on it in due time and well ahead of what is required to be responded to," he said.
India and Pakistan are to hold talks on Sir Creek, a 96-km strip of water that is disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands in Gujarat, and the Wullar Barrage built on Jhelum River in Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan has protested against.
The spokesperson tactfully ducked a question on whether the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif would be held in New York.
He said the meeting, scheduled to be held in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was "quite a distance away" and counselled journalists to be patient.
Akbaruddin said India is "committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through peaceful bilateral dialogue in an environment free of violence and terror".
The spokesperson said India expects Pakistan "to abide by its publicly stated commitment not to allow its territory or territory under its control to be allowed for terrorism against India and also looks forward to determine the action being taken to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and network, as well as tangible movements to quickly bring to justice those involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
The warning from India came in the aftermath of killing of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control by the Pakistan troops in the Poonch sector recently and ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country.
On Aug 11, Pakistanis fired at Indian positions in Digwar village of Poonch district, and the exchange of fire continued for more than six hours.
On Aug 6, specialist troops of the Pakistan Army killed five Indian soldiers in Chakan-Da-Bagh sector of the LoC in Poonch district.
A bilateral ceasefire agreement was signed by India and Pakistan in November 2003.
With IANS inputs