‘Accept mistakes and punish LoC attackers first’
New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Thursday said the Pakistani Government must accept its mistakes and punish those responsible for the barbaric attack on the Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch District.
Tewari, who was responding to Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's offer to hold ''discussion and dialogue'' with her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid to resolve the crisis at the LoC, said ''the only problem which needs to be resolved is the inhuman behaviour of the Pakistani armed forces personnel''.
"Rather than giving sanctimonious homilies, it would be worth Pakistan's while to really respond positively and constructive to India's concerns and hold those people who were responsible for this barbaric treatment to account. I think that's the minimalist response, which the Indian establishment is looking for," said Tewari.
"So, therefore, any sort of meandering and getting into a tangential direction is something which is not going to go down very well with the Indian establishment. I think they should realise and understand the seriousness of the issue, the intent of the Indian establishment and respond to it appropriately," he added.
Tewari further said the apex level of the Indian leadership has made it clear in wake of the brutal attack on the Indian soldiers that there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan.
"When at the apex level of the Indian leadership, a clear and a secant message is sent out that it cannot be business as usual; it is for the establishment in Pakistan to understand, observe that message and react to it appropriately. And the reaction that we expect is first an acknowledgement of the fact that a grievous wrong has been committed and then a process of bringing those people who were responsible for this barbaric mutilation to account," said Tewari.
"The sentiment both in the Indian establishment and among the people of India is extremely sensitive to the manner in which the events have played out. So, it would really be worthwhile of Pakistan and the Pakistani establishment to understand the gravity and the seriousness of our message," he added.
In a statement issued late last evening in Islamabad, Khar, who had earlier accused India of ''warmongering'', said: "Instead of issuing belligerent statements by the military and political leaders from across the border and ratcheting up tension, it is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire, may be at the level of the Foreign Ministers, to sort out things."
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had earlier on Tuesday termed as ''barbaric'' the brutal killing of Indian soldiers along the LoC, and said there cannot be business as usual with Islamabad.
Dr. Singh, who broke his silence on the prevailing tension with Pakistan on the LoC, said the attack on the Indian army men was unacceptable.
"After this barbaric act, there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan. Pakistan must be held accountable for what happened on the LoC. Hope Pakistan will bring the perpetrators of the beheading to justice. The future peace process depends on Pakistan," he said.
Tension between the two Asian neighbours has escalated ever since Lance Naik Hemraj was beheaded in an attack by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control on January 8.
India has lodged a strong protest against the ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC and made it clear to it that the Army reserves the right to retaliate if provoked.
The Army’s position was conveyed at a brigadier-level flag meeting between the two sides at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing-point in Poonch sector of the Jammu region earlier on Monday.
Pakistan has denied India's claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control to ambush a patrol party in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district.