Deputy High Commissioner summoned; Pakistan says there has been no exchange of fire in Poonch

Even as Pakistan rejected allegations that its troops were involved in the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control (LoC) earlier on Tuesday, India summoned its Deputy High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan and lodged a strong protest over the bloodletting.

A senior South Block official summoned Mr. Khan and delivered a strong message on the killings, which come in the wake of the attempt to attack the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad city.

The attacks have taken place when prospects for resumption of peace talks had brightened with a new government being placed in the saddle in Islamabad. Officials have said both sides could hold talks this month on the least controversial and easily resolvable disputes — demarcation of the border in Sir Creek and barrages being built by India on rivers common to both countries.

The two rounds of official-level talks this month, catalysed by visits between special envoys of both Prime Ministers, were to be followed by talks between the two principals on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

In a detailed statement, Pakistan rejected the allegations made by “some sections of the Indian media” of an attack across the LoC in the Poonch sector in which five Indian soldiers “were claimed to have been killed”.

The Pakistan Foreign Office said military authorities had confirmed that there had been no exchange of fire that could have resulted in such an incident and reiterated its commitment to the ceasefire agreement of 2003 “which is an important Confidence Building Measure and should be respected in letter and spirit”.

Pakistan sought that both sides abide by and strengthen the existing military mechanisms to ensure that “such ill-founded reports that have the potential of vitiating the atmosphere are avoided”.

“Avoid propaganda”

Islamabad said it was committed to a constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India and looked forward to an early resumption of the dialogue process. “It is important that both sides make serious efforts [to maintain] the positive atmosphere and avoid negative propaganda,” it counselled.

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