Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has said that India is ready to extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan, but it should not be taken for granted.
In his address the nation on the eve of India’s 64th Republic Day, Mukherjee said, “We believe in peace on the border and are always ready to offer a hand in the hope of friendship. But this hand should not be taken for granted.”
Acknowledging the fact that tensions between the neighbouring states act as a subtext of frontiers, Mukherjee also expressed concerns over sponsorship of terrorism through non-state actors.
The Indian media had earlier quoted Indian Defence Minister AK Anthony as saying that it is “too early” for India to normalise relations with its neighbour as infiltration attempts continue across the border.
Tensions between India and Pakistan were heightened earlier this month after a series of cross-border exchanges in the disputed Kashmir region wherein which five soldiers were killed on both sides. Two Pakistani soldiers were killed on January 6, before India claimed on January 8 that one of its soldiers was beheaded in an alleged attack by Pakistani troops.
Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740km LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents of ceasefire violations.