India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, responding to questions on the recent skirmishes along the LoC, said: “Yes, there has been escalation in the past 24 hours. The news is not good. It is distinctly bad — there’s been some disquiet about ceasefire violations and the steps that Pakistan has taken including ceasing border trade in one place.”
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, the foreign minister, who was on a two-day visit to France, also said he felt the Indian and Pakistani governments had the capacity to overcome the present crisis: “We think this will pass. We think that we have enough arrangements in place between the Pakistanis and ourselves to counter these issues. But our main and burning concern is what happened to our men. The mutilation and beheading that took place is tragic, unfortunate, inhuman, and we think there should be some clarity, some truth that must be brought out. Even if you have to think of reconciliation, it must come after the truth is brought out. That is important, and we haven’t heard anything very helpful as far as that is concerned.”
Truth a necessary ingredient
Mr. Khurshid said India will continue to make efforts to get to the bottom of the matter and that truth was a necessary ingredient of any reconciliation. “I think we have tried and we will continue to try to contain emotions to ensure that the matter does not escalate beyond any reasonable limits. There are understandable calls for strong action on the part of India. We are hoping the other side will be more responsive to our cautious approach despite public pressure and we would certainly urge the Pakistanis to respond. There are various ways and levels at which ceasefire violations or the stopping of trade or movement of people can be treated but our major concern is the treatment of our soldiers and on that we have received no substantial response so far.”
Mr. Khurshid reiterated his earlier remarks on the question of Kashmir saying the mutilation of two Indian soldiers in Kashmir was “ >extremely shocking and unacceptable, even barbaric .”
No U.N. intervention
He said he was perplexed that such a shocking and horrible act should be committed and that too now when Indo-Pakistan relations were on the mend.
“This incident is despicable and shocking and cannot but be described as barbaric. Whether the other side accepts responsibility is another matter but nothing is being achieved through such acts. We are demanding redress and we want transparency and accountability. We wish to be moderate in our response but at the same time we are determined to get answers. And howsoever Pakistan tries to bring this matter to the international fora, India will refuse any UN intervention in the matter.”