LoC clash: UN steps in

*World Body To Probe Pak Complaint Of ‘Cross-LoC Raid By India’ *UNMOGIP Has No Role: New Delhi *Islamabad Hopes Ceasefire Violations Won’t Derail Peace Process

YOSHITA SINGH

United Nations, Jan 10: The UN observer force in Kashmir will probe a Pakistani complaint of alleged ceasefire violation by Indian soldiers along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in which it claims a Pakistani soldier was killed.
Pakistan has complained to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) about the January 6 incident in which it claimed that Indian troops “raided” a border post on the Pakistani side of the LoC, the UN mission said in a statement e-mailed to PTI.
India has denied crossing the international border and said that the Pakistan army started firing mortar shells towards its posts with some of the shells landing close to civilian habitation.
India has said that Pakistani troops commenced “unprovoked firing on Indian troops” in the early hours of January 6. A civilian house was damaged in the firing and Indian troops then undertook “controlled retaliation” in response. Pakistan has claimed that the incident resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier and injuries to another.
The UNMOGIP said it will soon conduct an investigation into the incident.
Two days later on January 8, two Indian soldiers were killed, with the body of one of them mutilated, and two soldiers sustained injuries in an attack by Pakistani soldiers who crossed over to the Indian side of the LoC.
“Regarding the 6 January alleged incident, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, or UNMOGIP, has received an official complaint from the Pakistan Army and will conduct an investigation as soon as possible in accordance with its mandate,” UNMOGIP said in the statement.
An UNMOGIP official did not provide further details of the complaint, saying that the mission “is not in position to distribute communications between member states and the UN.” The Pakistani mission to the UN did not respond to queries from PTI seeking comment on the complaint to UNMOGIP.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky also said in the daily briefing that the UNMOGIP had received a complaint from the Pakistani army.
However, “no official complaint has been received either from the Pakistan Army or Indian Army” regarding the January 8 clash in which two Indian soldiers were killed, the statement said.
Pakistan is currently holding the rotating Presidency of the UN Security Council. It will complete its two-year term at the 15-nation body this year end. India's two years at the Council as a non-permanent member ended in December.
UNMOGIP observers have been located at the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since 1949 and supervise the ceasefire between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Currently there are 39 military observers in Kashmir, 25 international civilian personnel and 48 local civilian staff.
The United Nations has urged India and Pakistan to respect the ceasefire and “de-escalate” tensions over the recent cross-border firings through dialogue.
“UNMOGIP is aware that the Pakistan Army and Indian Army are in contact via the Hotline and urges both sides to respect the ceasefire and de-escalate tensions through dialogue,” the UN observer force said. The ceasefire has been in place along the LoC since 2003.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after two Indian soldiers Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance Naik Hemraj were brutally killed by Pakistani troops on January 8, which India has described as “highly provocative.”
The attack took place along the LoC in Poonch district when the Pakistani troops entered into Indian territory and assaulted a patrol party. The bodies of the two Indian soldiers were mutilated by Pakistani troops.
Outraged over the attack, India summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Salman Bashir yesterday and lodged a strong protest against the “highly provocative” attack in its territory and described as “extremely distressing” and “inhuman” the mutilation of bodies of the two soldiers.

UN HAS NO ROLE: INDIA
Meanwhile India Thursday outrightly rejected Pakistan's proposal for UN probe into the incident in which two Indian soldiers were killed across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, making it clear it does not want to internationalise the issue.
The alleged unprovoked attack by Pakistani troops in Poonch sector on January 8 in which the two soldiers were killed and subsequent developments figured at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which was briefed about the incident by Defence Minister A K Antony. “We are certainly not going to agree to internationalise the issue or allow the United Nations to hold an enquiry. That demand is obviously rejected out of hand,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram told a press conference after the meetings of the Union Cabinet and CCS presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Reacting to Pakistan's proposal, National Security Advisor Shivshanker Menon asserted that the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has no role. “They don't have a role,” he said in a one-line reply.
Menon also said there has been an “increase” in the incidents of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts not just in the last few months. “In 2012 there was an, overall, increase over 2011 and that is a fact. And we are dealing with both ourselves and with Pakistan authorities,” he said.
Menon rejected reports that the government was rethinking or revisiting the decision to operationalise liberalised Indo-Pak visa pact.
He also said the January 8 incident which can be termed as “reprehensible, barbaric and dastardly” has not happened for the first time but hoped it never happens again. The bodies of the two slain soldiers were found in a mutilated condition.
Pakistan had yesterday claimed that its troops were not involved in the attack carried out inside the Indian territory in Mendhar area of J&K and said it was prepared to hold investigation through the UNMOGIP, which has presence on both sides of the Line of Control(LoC). “We take a serious view of what happened. Whatever has to be done will be done,” Chidambaram said while describing the incident as brutal.
He also asserted that Indian troops had committed no violation of the ceasefire agreement as claimed in a media report.
Asserting that Indo-Pak ties were not a “zero sum game”, official sources said “this is not the sum total of everything and has not happened for the first time. Instead of shouting, we should give them (Pakistan) time to take action.”

REZAUL H LASKAR ADDS FROM ISLAMABAD
Pakistan Thursday hoped that the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control would not be a setback to or derail the peace process with India. “You asked whether this will set back or derail the (peace) process. I will hope not and I (do not) see it derailing or setting back the process,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said during a news conference at the Foreign Office this afternoon.
“I hope both the countries will show their commitment to correct (the situation) as we are showing our commitment to correct it,” she said in response to a flurry of questions about two clashes along the LoC that left one Pakistani and two Indian soldiers dead.
Khar reiterated Pakistan's offer to have the clashes investigated by the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. India has outrightly rejected this offer. “We have asked for (a probe by) UNMOGIP and conveyed to the Indian side that this is an option which is on the table because we clearly have nothing to hide. We would want a third party to investigate the matter and set the record straight,” she said.
The situation had deteriorated because of “some unnecessary statements and unnecessary atmospherics which were created”, she contended.
She said the two countries have mechanisms in place to deal with “challenges like the one we have been faced with in the last week...So that we can continue as normal neighbours.”
As part of these efforts, the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries had been in contact and a protest had been lodged by Pakistan's Foreign Office with the Indian Deputy High Commissioner, she said.
Khar repeatedly said that the government and people of Pakistan were committed to normalising relations with India and ruled out an official response to every statement being made by Indian political leaders on the clashes along the LoC. “The Pakistan government and the Pakistani people have demonstrated a deep, abiding commitment to normalise and improve relations with India and to really start a journey of trust-building,” she said.
The Pakistan People's Party-led government, she said, had been “walking the talk on giving India very pragmatic and specific messages, for instance through trade normalisation and visa liberalization.”
The Pakistan government is “leading towards a track which is of trust-building and normalising this region which has been very unstable because of irresponsible actions and statements”, Khar said.
The government would not do anything that would promote or contribute to instability, she added.
Khar said Pakistan had been “a bit appalled and unpleasantly surprised to see such strong statements emanating four days after (a Pakistani soldier) lost his life” in a clash along the LoC on Sunday.
She said it was also “unfortunate” that there were “contradictory statements” from Indian Army officials on whether an Indian soldier had been decapitated.
However, she acknowledged that there was now “a sense of trying to de-escalate on their (Indian) side from those statements and I think that is the right way to go.”
Asked about Pakistan's failure to meet a December 31 deadline for giving Most Favoured Nation-status to India, Khar said the government was committed to normalising all aspects of bilateral relations, including trade and commerce. “Let me convey once again our commitment to normalise relations with India...And we are talking about normalising (ties) in all aspects. So I like to look at it as trade normalisation because we are not granting India any special favours. We are granting India the same treatment that we grant to 180 countries,” she said. “There is a commitment of this government to go ahead with that. There are processes which need to be pursued and a delay of a few weeks here or there (in giving MFN-status) should not be too much of a worry,” she added.
Khar said Pakistan was keen to ensure that there were no “invisible barriers” to trade. “It's easy to normalise trade by giving each other MFN-status but Pakistan is committed to ensure that there are no visible or invisible barriers to trade. Tariff and non-tariff barriers should cease to exist,” she said.
The Pakistan government has reportedly held up the grant of MFN-status after several ministries and trade lobbies contended that rapid trade liberalisation would allow Indian goods and products to swamp the Pakistani market.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 10 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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