NEW DELHI: India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more “pain” after a spate of cross-border firing incidents has killed at least 20 civilians and wounded dozens in the worst violation to date of the 2003 ceasefire. The threat comes just days after Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif vowed to thwart any “aggression” against Pakistan.
“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism,” Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV in an interview. He added that it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for the resumption of peace talks. “Of course we can talk to Pakistan, but it is up to Pakistan to create an atmosphere for talks. Pakistan has to stop triggers which upset the environment in which talks are held,” he said.
Pakistan and India exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month at the Line of Control. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along the 200-km stretch of the border. Military officers on both sides say Indian border commanders adopted a more aggressive stance in the clashes this month, firing 1,000 mortars on one day this month.
Pakistan Army officials said the trouble began with India’s decision to beef up border defences, in violation of the ceasefire pact. Indian army commanders, for their part, were incensed by the killing of a soldier on their side of the Line of Control in Kashmir in a remote-controlled explosion that they blamed on Pakistan.
“When Pakistan used to fire, we always had a shield in our hand. This time we also had a sword,” said Jaitley, a close associate of Modi who is also finance minister.
In August, the Modi government abruptly called off talks between the two countries’ top diplomats, objecting to Pakistan’s ambassador to New Delhi holding talks with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.