New Delhi: A day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called for interference of the United Nations to verify the country's claims on the deaths of two Indian soldiers, the UN has urged India and Pakistan to de-escalate tensions through dialogue. The UN has urged India and Pakistan to respect the ceasefire and "de-escalate" tensions over the recent cross-border firings through dialogue.
The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) made the plea even as it received a complaint from Pakistan which claimed that Indian troops had allegedly crossed the Line of Control(LoC) and "raided" a border post on January 6. India has denied it has crossed the LoC.
"UNMOGIP is aware that the Pakistan Army and Indian Army are in contact via the Hotline and urges both sides to respect the ceasefire and de-escalate tensions through dialogue," the UN observer force said in a statement to PTI. The ceasefire has been in place along the LoC since 2003. However, "no official complaint has been received either from the Pakistan Army or Indian Army" regarding the January 8 clash in which two Indian soldiers were killed, it said.
The attack on the Indian soldiers has raised concerns over Indo-Pak bilateral relations, with the Indian Army calling it a significant breach of ceasefire. Hina Rabbani Khar's call for a UN-led third party probe into the brutal killing of Indian soldiers has sparked off an angry response in India. Indian diplomats claim this is Pakistan's attempt to internationalise the issue.
Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai during a debate on CNN-IBN, former Indian diplomat KC Singh said, "Civilian governments tend to duck. When the military does something, then Pakistan puts civilian government in the front. In this case, if Hina Rabbani Khar really was in control, she shouldn't have gone back to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which is provoking India."
KC Singh said, "This has been done to suck UN back in. How can a foreign minister make an argument like this when there is a convention providing means for settling it."
External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid admitted that the incident is a set back to normalisation of Indo Pak ties but also added that India should tread cautiously taking one step at a time. "I would imagine that this issue has very serious implications. But let's take it one step at a time. I don't think we should either let our guard down or get hysterical. Let's take one step at a time. Let's get a formal response from them and then we will see."
When asked whether India was ready to take it up at the UN International Convention, Khurshid said, "Because we are distressed and disturbed doesn't mean that we will give a go by to sort out positions that we have taken about not inviting multilateral interference. We have consistently maintained this in the bilateral situation between India and Pakistan."
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar denied Pakistan's hand in the killings of Indian soldiers. Speaking to CNN-IBN, she said Pakistan was ready for a third party to verify their claims if 'India doesn't believe in our enquiry'. She also told CNN-IBN that Pakistan had completed its investigation.
Pakistan Ambassador to India, Salman Bashir, also reiterated that the country did not violate ceasefire or cross the Line of Control (LoC) at any point of time. Pointing that a Pakistani post was attacked on January 6 wherein a soldier had died, Bashir said that though the matter was raised by the Foreign Ministry, Pakistan had refrained from going to the media.
(With additional information from PTI)