NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON - India said on Monday it was running out of patience with what it alleged Pakistan army-backed transgressions across disputed Kashmir.
Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said it was clear that specialist troops of the Pakistani army were involved in the attack on the soldiers whose deaths triggered criticism that the government’s posture toward the neighbour had been too soft.
Antony demanded that Pakistan act against its troops involved in the latest incident as well as the killing of two soldiers back in January, one of whom was decapitated.
“Naturally, this incident will have consequences on our behaviour on the Line of Control and for our relations with Pakistan,” he told parliament, referring to the de facto border between the two countries in the disputed Kashmir region. “Our restraint should not be taken for granted.”
Pakistan has denied involvement and accused India of opening fire and killing one of its soldiers in late July. Also the same month, police in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir said four civilians who had gone to collect herbs near the Line of Control had gone missing and their families believed they had been arrested by the Indian army.
The rhetoric in India has been steadily mounting as the Congress-led coalition government faces a difficult election less than a year away, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being criticised by opposition hardliners and even from within his party for trying to quietly relaunch peace talks with Pakistan.
The armies of India and Pakistan on Monday once again targeted each other’s positions with heavy artillery on the Line of control (LoC) in Kashmir for the tenth straight day.
The ceasefire violations took place along LoC in Hamirpur and Balakote belts of frontier Poonch district, around 185 km southwest of Srinagar city.
Both sides used mortars, RPGs and automatic weapons, besides heavy machine guns to target each other’s posts on the LoC.
Meanwhile, a US State Department spokesperson, commenting on PM Nawaz Sharif’s address, said Washington encourages further dialogue between the two countries to resolve all issues, including Kashmir.
“We believe Pakistan and India can work through any issues through dialogue and we encourage that,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
“Our policy on Kashmir has not changed. We still believe that pace, scope and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue (on Kashmir dispute) is for these two countries to determine.