The Army reported a quiet Line of Control (LoC) since Wednesday, even as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid welcomed the Pakistan Army’s assurance of restraint and said he did not think it necessary for the two Foreign Ministers to meet especially on the recent skirmishes.
Earlier on Thursday, Defence Minister A.K. Antony informed the Cabinet about Wednesday’s conversation between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs), which has helped ease the tension that prevailed along the LoC for over 10 days.
Five soldiers from both sides have been killed in the flare-up on the LoC, but India has been strident about a probe into the beheading of its soldier on January 8.
The Cabinet also noted the stand taken by the government that it would not be business as usual if Pakistan continued to deny that its men were involved in the mutilation of an Indian soldier’s body. Since then, the Pakistan Army has said its units have been asked to exercise restraint and observe a ceasefire on the LoC, a move that has been welcomed by official circles here. The initiative taken by the armies to cool tempers, they said, confirmed the understanding here that there was no need for the Foreign Ministers to convene a special meeting on the issue.
The suggestion was made by Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in a late night statement on Wednesday after the Pakistani leadership absorbed the import of actions taken by New Delhi during the week, they pointed out. India put on hold a liberalised visa agreement, sent back nine top Pakistani players here for the Hockey India League and appeared lukewarm about the month-end visit of the Pakistan Commerce Minister. These signs of displeasure over Pakistan’s attitude towards the beheading of the Indian soldier were capped by a strongly worded statement from the government read out by Mr. Khurshid at a hurriedly convened press meet on Tuesday evening.
Officials referred to Mr. Khurshid’s interview to CNN-IBN in which he termed the Pakistan Army’s assurance of restraint as a very positive development and felt the flare-up was something the armed forces should handle themselves on the basis of available mechanisms.
“It’s a good thing that they handle it at their own level and if it is contained at their own level then it doesn’t create a larger political issue at the higher level… I think that when something good is done, you should encourage it by praising it and appreciating it because we have been complaining a lot about things going wrong,’’ the Minister said.
The officials said this indicated that the leaderships of both countries felt the armies should by themselves be responsible enough to handle tensions arising from holding and manning the LoC.