Nawaz Sharif 'sad' over LoC incidents, wants to meet Manmohan; BJP wants PM to cancel meet
Islamabad/New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday sought to assuage feelings in India by expressing 'sadness' over the recent incidents on the LoC and 'loss of precious human lives' and said would discuss steps to further build trust when he meets his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New York next month.
Back in India, the BJP renewed its demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should not hold any talks with Sharif, saying he should take a cue from US President Barack Obama who cancelled his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Snowden issue.
Speaking on the issue, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that a call on a meeting between the Prime Ministers will be taken after all the inputs are brought in, asserting that it was not the 'appropriate' time now to comment on it.
No reference to LoC killing in Pak statement
Chairing a meeting at the Foreign Office to review tensions in the wake of the killing of five Indian soldiers, Sharif said Pakistan and India should take effective steps to restore the ceasefire along the Line of Control. However, a statement issued by the Foreign Office made no reference to Tuesday's incident in which Indian soldiers were killed by 'specialist troops' of the Pakistan Army.
"It was imperative for both India and Pakistan to take effective steps to ensure and restore ceasefire on the LoC," Sharif said. He further said it is 'incumbent upon the leadership of both sides not to allow the situation to drift and to take steps to improve the atmosphere by engaging constructively with a view to building trust and confidence'.
As Prime Minister Singh has come under pressure from the BJP not to hold talks with Sharif, the Pakistani Premier said he was looking forward to the meeting with Singh in New York during which he intends to discuss steps to further build trust and consolidate the bilateral relationship. Relations between the two sides soured this week after the killing of the five Indian soldiers.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in parliament on Thursday 'specialist troops of the Pakistan Army were involved in the attack' and a 'group from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir side crossed the LoC and killed' the Indian soldiers.
Pakistan has already denied its troops were involved in the incident. It has also said two of its soldiers were injured in firing across the LoC.
Take a cue from Obama, call off meet with Sharif: BJP to PM
In the wake of the killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani attackers, BJP maintained there is a sufficient ground not to hold a dialogue with the neighbouring country.
"I think he (Prime Minister) should take a cue from Mr Obama who had cancelled his meeting with Mr Putin only on giving an asylum to somebody who was wanted by USA," senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters.
In a rare snub, Obama on Wednesday cancelled his planned talks with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at St Petersburg in Russia next month after intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum by Moscow.
"Five soldiers have been killed. Right now, there is sufficient ground to declare that the Indian Prime Minister will not hold any talks with Pakistan till they fulfil the commitment given to (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee...," Joshi said.
BJP has always insisted that the January 6, 2004 joint statement between the two countries - signed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf - should be the basis for all bilateral engagement between the two nations. In the joint statement, Pakistan had committed not to allow territories under its control to be used for terrorism against India.
Joshi's statement assumes significance amid speculation that Singh may hold bilateral talks with Sharif during his visit to the US next month-end for the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
Another BJP leader Yashwant Sinha expressed satisfaction over Defence Minister A.K. Antony's fresh statement in Parliament that 'specialist troops' of Pakistan were involved in the killing of soldiers, but demanded there should be no talks with the neighbouring country.
"Our demand to end talks with Pakistan still holds," Sinha said.
Taking a different line, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said peace negotiations with Pakistan should continue. He, however, condemned the killing of the five Indian jawans. "Every incident, which leads to the loss of life, should be combated by India fearlessly. And every piece of incident has to be taken care of," Dasgupta said.
Pak prepared to discuss steps with India: Sharif
In Pakistan, Sharif was briefed by Foreign Ministry officials on the situation. During the briefing, Sharif emphasised that 'existing military-to-military channels could be more optimally utilised to prevent misunderstanding and not allowing the situation to escalate'.
"Pakistan is prepared to discuss steps with India for further strengthening of existing mechanisms both at the political and military levels," he was quoted as saying in the statement issued by the Foreign Office. Sharif reiterated Pakistan's resolve to 'persist in its efforts to improve relations with India through a constructive dialogue on all issues'.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid, Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security, Tariq Fatimi, Special Assistant to the premier on Foreign Affairs, and other senior officials attended the meeting.
Next: Call on PMs' meet only after all inputs brought in: Salman Khurshid
Call on PMs' meet only after all inputs brought in: Salman Khurshid
New Delhi: A call on a meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan next month in New York will be taken after all the inputs are brought in, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Thursday, asserting that it was not the "appropriate" time now to comment on it.
Maintaining that he was not in a position to say anything as it was not the appropriate time, Khurshid told reporters that let us wait for the appropriate time and a call will be taken after all the inputs were brought in. He was responding to a query whether there will be a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in the backdrop of killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistan Army along LoC.