Ceasefire holds at LoC, Pak offers 'talks' to India
A ceasefire took hold today near the LoC after the Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to halt deadly cross-border firing that had threatened to unravel a fragile peace process. Pak offers talks to 'sort out things' | India-Pakistan truce takes hold in Kashmirdelhi Updated: Jan 17, 2013 15:24 IST
A ceasefire took hold Thursday near the Line of Control (LoC) after the Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to halt deadly cross-border firing that had threatened to unravel a fragile peace process.
As the foreign minister of Pakistan appealed for talks with her Indian counterpart to help defuse tensions, senior officers reported that calm had returned to the region after a spike in violence in which five soldiers were killed.
"No fresh incidents of firing or violation of the ceasefire agreement have been reported from the Line of Control," Rajesh Kalia, the spokesman for the Indian army's Northern Command, said.
The Union Cabinet may discuss Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar's offer for talks to defuse the tension at the Line of Control (LoC) between the two countries.
As India and Pakistan agreed to resolve the situation along the border, Islamabad on Wednesday night offered to hold talks with New Delhi to address concerns related to the LoC and to reinforce a nine-year-old ceasefire, saying any increase in tensions would be counter-productive.
According to reports, India has repeated that the talks between the two countries is possible only after those responsible for the barbaric killings of the two Indian soldiers at the LoC are brought to book.
"Talks with Pakistan are possible only after Pakistan acts against those responsible for the barbaric act," information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said.
Khar, who had earlier accused India of engaging in war-mongering, offered to have talks with Salman Khurshid to address concerns related to the Line of Control and to reinforce the ceasefire that had been in operation since 2003.
"Instead of issuing belligerent statements by the military and political leaders from across the border and ratcheting up tension, it is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire, may be at the level of the foreign ministers, to sort out things," Khar said.
"Rhetoric and ratcheting up of tensions is certainly counter-productive," she said in a statement issued late on Wednesday evening.
A string of violations of the ceasefire along the 742-km LoC over the past 10 days have left two Indian and three Pakistani soldiers dead.
Earlier on Wednesday, the directors general of military operations of the two sides spoke on a hotline and "agreed on the need to reduce tension on the LoC", a Pakistani military statement said.
Khar said Pakistan and India were important countries of South Asia and it was "imperative that they demonstrate requisite responsibility for ensuring peace by addressing all concerns through dialogue".
Pakistan, she said, was "saddened and disappointed at the continued negative statements emanating from India both from the media as well as certain Indian leaders".
Islamabad had observed a "measured and deliberate self-restraint" in its public statements on India and this was been done in view of the interest of peace in the region, she said.
"We have invested hugely in the dialogue process and have worked energetically to keep the dialogue process moving forward in a sustained and constructive manner. Pakistan has gone out of the way to build a constructive relationship with India," she said.
India and Pakistan resumed their dialogue process in early 2011 after a gap of over two years in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group.
The string of clashes along the LoC since January 6 marked the most serious violations of the ceasefire put in place in late 2003. The two sides have traded angry charges over the violations. The High Commissioners of both countries were summoned by the foreign ministries for lodging protests.