Onus on Pakistan for ceasefire, says MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup
New Delhi: India is willing to show restraint and end cross-border firing provided Pakistan stops provocative attempts to violate a 2003 ceasefire pact between the two countries, India’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
The Indian government is also open to talks, but the onus was on Pakistan given its recent attempts to push terrorists into India under the cover of gunfire from Pakistan as well as its record of supporting terrorist attacks against India.
“We are for a dialogue with Pakistan, but talks and terror cannot happen together. It is incumbent on Pakistan to create the necessary environment for a conducive bilateral dialogue to happen,” foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said.
The comment was in response to a question on whether India would resume talks with Pakistan given the many violations of the ceasefire pact and recent instances of the bodies of Indian soldiers—stationed along India’s borders with Pakistan in Kashmir—being mutilated by their Pakistani counterparts.
It also comes a day after Pakistan confirmed that Sartaj Aziz, adviser on foreign affairs to prime minister Nawaz Sharif, would be visiting India for a regional conference on Afghanistan.
There has been a surge in tensions between India and Pakistan since July when Pakistan described a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist killed by Indian troops in Kashmir as a “leader” and a “martyr”.
A terrorist attack on an Indian army garrison in September that killed 19 soldiers only frayed ties further.
India retaliated with “surgical strikes” against six to eight terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on 29 September. Though Pakistan denied the strikes took place, there have been many instances of the 2003 ceasefire being violated since then.
Swarup said despite India’s calls for restraint, “Pakistan forces committed 27 ceasefire violations between 16 and 21 November” using artillery and 120mm heavy mortars against Indian posts. “These violent acts constitute a clear violation of the ceasefire agreement of 2003,” he said, adding India’s objections were conveyed to Pakistan through its deputy high commissioner in New Delhi, Syed Haider Shah, on Wednesday.
India said it “deplored the tacit support of the Pakistan Army to armed terrorists that came from close to Pakistan Army posts,” Swarup said, adding the government had also protested “the deliberate targeting” of 18 villages along the de facto Line of Control (LoC) border in Kashmir between 16 and 21 November.
India also “conveyed its grave concerns at the continued attempts to infiltrate armed terrorists from across the LoC to target Indian posts and patrols. During the past week alone, there have been 15 instances when terrorists indulged in nefarious actions from the vicinity of Pakistani Army posts,” Swarup said.
In response to Pakistan’s charge that India targeted a civilian bus and ambulance on Wednesday, Swarup said: “We never intentionally target Pakistani posts across the LoC.”
“Ceasefire violations take place from Pakistan in order for them to provide a cover to infiltrate terrorists into India,” he said. “So, the onus of stopping ceasefire violations clearly rests on Pakistan.”