Two more Pakistani soldiers were killed by firing by the Indian Army on Thursday, according to military officials, sparking fresh outrage even as the top leadership in Pakistan called for restraint and dialogue.
Close on the heels of the death of Captain Sarfaraz at Skardu, sepoy Habibullah was killed around 11.50 a.m. on Thursday at the Line of Control (LoC) at Rakhchakri sector near Rawla Kot. Later in the evening, Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing at Hotspring (Tatta pani) sector, killing sepoy Gul Wahab and injuring two soldiers. Pakistani troops responded effectively, military officials here said.
A strong protest was lodged by the Government of Pakistan over the killing of sepoy Habibullah. A statement said Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani called Indian High Commissioner T.C.A Raghavan to the Foreign Office and conveyed Pakistan’s serious concern over the alleged ceasefire violations by the Indian Army, resulting in loss of precious human lives. He also called upon the Government of India to respect the ceasefire agreement and desist from such acts which have the potential of further escalating the tension.
Mr. Jilani also expressed Pakistan’s desire to engage with India in a constructive dialogue process aimed at reducing tensions and restoring peace and tranquillity along the Line of Control. In this regard, he proposed that senior officials from the Foreign Ministries and militaries could meet to discuss the ways and means to strengthen and expand the existing military and political mechanisms to ensure that the Ceasefire Agreement was observed in letter and spirit.
While the National Assembly passed a resolution against the ceasefire violations and condemned the Indian aggression, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, in a weekly press briefing, spoke the language of peace and dialogue. It was important for India to appreciate Pakistan’s policy of restraint and responsibility and not construe it as a weakness, he declared. He hoped there would be no more incursions on the border and that peace would be given a chance.
However, he made an important offer to use existing mechanisms which ought to be used optimally to address the issue of ceasefire violations. “The Prime Minister of Pakistan has even offered that if the Indian side feels that these mechanisms are not sufficiently robust, then we are ready to discuss the ways to further strengthen them. Apart from the bilateral mechanisms, UN Military Observer Mission (UNMOGIP) is also there to observe the line of control,” he pointed out. The Government of Pakistan finds value in the work of UNMOGIP, he added.
Referring to the incident of August 6, investigations have found that the Pakistani side was not involved in it, he said. “We have conveyed that to the Indian side. It is for the Indian government to investigate what happened on its side. Pakistan, which has [itself] been suffering from terrorism, cannot be held responsible for any acts of terrorism that may have happened on the other side of the LoC,” he said.
He expressed grave concern over the LoC violations by India which was in continuation of many others that have occurred in the past two weeks. “Pakistan is following the policy of restraint, responsibility, and dialogue in the larger interest of peace in the region. At the same time, the people of Pakistan, the leadership and our institutions are fully capable of defending our territory and our interests,” he said.