New Delhi: As the tensions between India and Pakistan escalated with more ceasefire violations reported on Tuesday and the war of words intensifying on Wednesday, both the countries are now looking for measures to de-escalate it. While both the countries have ordered their troops to strictly honour the ceasefire agreement, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has invited her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid for talks.
In an interview to CNN, while Khar expressed disappointment over comments from Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said the country was open to a dialogue to de-escalate tensions. "It was deeply disturbing and I say this with all honesty, for me to see such hostile comments coming in from all facets from the political leaders, from the military, the media. We would think the best way to deal with this instead of raising the rhetoric would be a political level discussion and I am open to have a dialouge with the External Affairs Minister of India. I invite him for that matter for a dialogue at the political level so that we can resolve the LoC issue and to ensure we continue to respect the ceasefire, which is absolutely crucial because if we start acting in this manner then we are going back into the history," she said in the interview.
Meanwhile, in the latest attempt by India and Pakistan to maintain peace along the LoC after more than a week of flared tensions, the Indian and Pakistani Director Generals of Military Operations spoke on the phone and have ordered troops to observe the ceasefire. Pakistan DGMO has told the troops to exercise restraint and they have also agreed not to allow the situation to escalate.
This came even as the Indian Army submitted proof of Pakistani mines found on Indian soil. The Indian Army released pictures of Pakistani landmines found on the Indian side of the LoC. These are mines manufactured at the Pakistan Ordinance Factory. These are anti-personnel mines. The pictures were given to the Pakistan counterparts during the flag meet on Monday.
Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh rejected Pakistan's allegations that the Indian Army violated ceasefire and killed a Pakistani soldier. "Pakistan is wrong in alleging that their soldier has died in firing at the Line of Control. If their soldier has died, he must have died in retaliatory fire. Our soldiers do not cross the LoC. In a ceasefire violation, we fire when they fire," General Singh said.
The Pakistani army had claimed that Indian troops killed a Pakistani soldier in Kashmir. The soldier was killed at a position called Kundi during firing from the Indian side that began at 10 pm, Pakistan's army said in a statement.
Meanwhile, sources said that Indo-Pakistan Trade Ministers' meet had been ruled out. Pakistan Commerce Minister was earlier invited to attend the Global Business Meet in Agra on January 27. However, sources said that as a fallout of the ceasefire violations at the LoC and the tension between the two countries, the Pakistan Trade Minister was unlikely to attend the meet. According to sources, the prevailing situation was not conducive for trade talks.
India and Pakistan resumed their dialogue process in early 2011 after a gap of over two years in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba terror group. The string of clashes along the LoC since January 6 marked the most serious violations of the ceasefire put in place in late 2003. The two sides have traded angry charges over the violations. The High Commissioners of both countries were summoned by the foreign ministries for lodging protests.
(With additional information from PTI)