Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for consultations on Wednesday evening to narrow divergence in views on the killings of five Indian soldiers on the line of control (LoC) while Pakistan turned victim by claiming injuries to two soldiers in “unprovoked’’ firing from Indian troops on Tuesday night.
Islamabad also wondered why India had not formally complained to the United Nations Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) but sources here said New Delhi believes the mission has outlived its usefulness and ought to be wound up.
Pakistan maintained its rejection of its army’s involvement in the killing of the five soldiers in the first hotline contact after the incident between Military Operations Directorates of the two armies on Wednesday morning.
The Prime Minister is understood to have called the top BJP leadership including Parliamentary Party chairman L K Advani, Party President Rajnath Singh and Leaders of Opposition in both Houses Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley for the meeting
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will be among those from the Government side who will explain the current state of play on the LoC where brief but gory incidents such as the beheading in January or the killings on Monday night (or the tit-for-tat killings of prisoners in each other’s jails) have the potential to put Indo-Pak ties in deep freeze for a couple of months.
Mr. Khurshid and Mr. Menon are expected to put the proposed meeting between Dr. Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the context of the importance to remain engaged with Islamabad at a time when a new Government is in place and the end game in Afghanistan is playing out.
They would also point out that the LoC has seen less violence than earlier as also clarify Mr. Sharif’s Foreign Relations Advisor Sartaz Aziz’s recent comment about New Delhi agreeing not to make speedy prosecution of Mumbai attack accused a precondition for talks. Sources here wonder whether Mr. Aziz’s remarks were as reported because Mr. Sharif’s Special Envoy Shahryar Khan was categorically told about the need for proactive steps by the new Government to curb attacks from its side of the border.
While the proposed meeting between the two Prime Ministers is scheduled for the end of next month by when a lot of water would have flowed, sources here expressed doubts about plans to hold official level meetings over the next one month on the Tulbul navigation project and Sir Creek dispute where a recent brief disagreement between the two countries was sidestepped by the Indian media.
Meanwhile the US has also weighed in on the killings but kept away from commenting on the Kashmir dispute. Commenting on Indian charges of its troops having been ambushed by Pakistanis, a US State Department spokesperson said they were aware of these “unconfirmed reports’’ but their policy on the long standing Kashmir dispute has not changed.
Pakistan also took comfort from a New York report stating that the UNMOGIP had not received any official complaint about the reported killing of five Indian soldiers in Indian-held Kashmir. India has a completely different view and has frequently clashed with Pakistan at the UN over the efficacy of the UN peacekeeping mission.
Pakistan says UUNOMGIP continues to monitor the ceasefire in accordance with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolution and its mandate is, therefore, relevant and operative. India maintains the UNOMGIP is obsolete and should be wound up because its role was to supervise the ceasefire line established in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of the Karachi Agreement of 1949. This line no longer existed and a new line came into existence on December 17, 1971.