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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Army chief coldshoulders diplomats from Pakistan

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 16, 2014
First Published: 01:53 IST(16/1/2014) | Last Updated: 01:56 IST(16/1/2014)

Pakistani diplomats — including the high commissioner to India, Salman Bashir — were not invited to a reception hosted by army chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday to mark the 66th army day, two days after the general said his force had avenged the murders of Indian soldiers along the line of control (LoC).

Bilateral ties, battered by the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, plunged to a new state of crisis last year due to the beheading incident, the killing of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector and repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan.

Pakistani diplomats have in the past attended ceremonial receptions hosted by the service chiefs. Pakistani defence attaché Brigadier Saqib Malik and air attaché group Captain Irfan Zaka were seen only at the army day parade in Delhi Cantt.

General Singh on Monday had indicated India had avenged the murders of its soldiers along the LoC last year by inflicting casualties on the neighbouring army. He had also warned Pakistan against border violations, saying India could not be expected to stick to rules if the neighbour was breaking them.

Quoting Pakistani news reports that 10 of their soldiers were killed and another 11 injured in recent clashes along the LoC, Singh had said, “That happened due to firing by your soldiers.”

Top Indian and Pakistani generals heading the crucial military operations directorates last month held talks for the first time in 14 years, where the Indian side confronted the Pakistanis over the LoC murders and border violations.

Ministry of external affairs sources said the ministry had nothing to do with the invitations sent by service chiefs for ceremonial receptions held at their homes.

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