“Disappointed over the continuing pattern” of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistan on Friday increased its scale of protest and “summoned” Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to the Foreign Office while reiterating its resolve to remain invested in the peace process.
Simultaneously, Pakistan has begun contacting other countries through their diplomatic missions in Islamabad to present its case and enlist their help in de-escalating tension along the LoC. And though New Delhi has made clear its position on an enquiry by the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (Unmogip), Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani reiterated that this was the only available mechanism to establish the truth about the ceasefire violations.
Pakistan has already established contact with Unmogip, Mr. Jilani said, adding they had been briefed by the defence authorities. The issue came up for discussion when Mr. Sabharwal was summoned to the Foreign Office earlier in the day. The High Commissioner reiterated India’s refusal to accept any third party investigation, pointing out that there was a bilateral mechanism to resolve such issues.
This is the second time this week that Pakistan has registered a protest with India over cross-LoC firing. After alleging that Indian troops had physically raided a Pakistani check-post in the Haji Pir Pass area on Sunday killing a soldier and injuring another, the Deputy High Commissioner had been “called to” the Foreign Office on Monday.
Pakistan raised its scale of protest on Friday after the Army reported that another soldier was killed in cross-LoC firing on Thursday afternoon. The events in Islamabad were also dictated by the strong protest registered by India with Pakistan midweek over a cross-border intrusion by Pakistani troops in which two Indian soldiers were killed. While the media and political leadership have remained restrained in comparison to India, questions have been asked about the “controlled” nature of Pakistan’s response to Indian allegations including that of mutilating and beheading the bodies.
Referring to the clarification from Indian Army authorities that the bodies of its soldiers killed in the firing had not been mutilated or beheaded, Mr. Jilani asked the Indian government to thoroughly investigate the “repeated violations of the ceasefire along the LoC by Indian troops,” exercise maximum restraint, and take necessary steps to ensure their non-recurrence.
Addressing the media after registering the protest and briefing European diplomats, Mr. Jilani said the Indian High Commissioner concurred with Pakistan on the need to maintain the sanctity of the ceasefire agreement on the LoC in letter and in spirit. About the latest ceasefire violation, Mr. Sabharwal is understood to have said that Indian troops had given a “controlled response” to “unprovoked” firing by Pakistani soldiers.
Both sides were one in stating that the LoC ceasefire agreement — which has held for much of the 10 years it has been in existence — is the most important confidence building measure between the two countries. Pakistan emphasised that such unprovoked attacks were against the spirit of the ongoing peace process and not only vitiate the atmosphere but also create unnecessary and avoidable distractions in efforts to bridge the trust deficit.