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Deadly fire at border, Sharif sends I-day messages

Even as India and Pakistan traded fire at the LoC, which left 3 people dead and 10 injured, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent a message to Prime Minister Modi to wish him for independence day, saying that "friendly, cooperative and good relations" was in the interest of South Asia.

"We in Pakistan sincerely hope to settle all our bilateral issues through a sustained and comprehensive dialogue and usher in a new era of mutual trust and cooperation," Mr. Sharif wrote in a letter. In a separate message to President Pranab Mukherjee, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain wrote that Pakistan was committed to "promote friendly relations between the two countries for peace and prosperity in the region. " On Friday, when Pakistan marked its independence day, PM Modi had tweeted his " Greetings & good wishes to the people of Pakistan on their Independence Day."

However the words were belied at the border between both countries, with another day of shelling and mortar crossfire at the LoC, the seventh consecutive day of ceasefire violations. Firing along the LoC in Poonch district of Balakote on Saturday resulted in three civilian casualties, Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner of Jammu told The Hindu. Seven injured people have been airlifted in a Mi-17 helicopter to Rajouri, Local officials said the incessant shelling had also delayed taking those injured to hospital. Unlike past years, there was no customary exchange of sweets at the border crossing at Wagah, as the BSF decided not to "receive or give" sweets to Pakistani rangers on August 14 and 15th to protest recent terror attacks. The decision follows a similar move not to exchange Eid greetings last month in protest over killings due to shelling at the border.

The messages and tensions come days ahead of talks between the National Security Advisors that promise to be every bit as stormy, given India is preparing a full dossier of Pakistan's involvement in the latest terror incidents in Punjab and J&K, while Pakistan's government has made it clear it will raise both the Kashmir dispute as well as the trial of the Samjhauta blasts case and bail to prime accused Aseemanand during the talks.

On Saturday, PM Modi came in for criticism from the Congress party for not referring to the situation with Pakistan in his independence day speech. "Why did he not say anything on foreign policy or terrorism? " Questioned party leader and former MoS Home RPN Singh. "He did not speak either on what kind of relations we will have with Pakistan, which he has only talked about during elections,” he added.

Meanwhile in Pakistan Mr. Sharif's message of cooperation with India was challenged by the Islamist political opposition party the Jamaat-e-Islami(JI), that is part of the coalition with Imran Khan's PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. At a flag raising ceremony in Islamabad, JI general secretary Liaqat Baloch said, the Sharif government should "abandon the idea of friendship with India"."National interests alone should guide the foreign policy," Mr. Baloch was quoted by the Express Tribune as saying.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 12:58:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/loc-tensions-ceasefire-violations-pakistani-troops-target-indian-posts-again/article7544324.ece

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