Pakistan on Thursday blamed India for rekindling hostilities along the Line of Control (LoC) and working boundary, and said the border tensions were distracting the country from focusing on the ongoing fight against terrorism.
Speaking at her weekly news briefing, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said Pakistan had no interest in initiating or prolonging tensions with India along the LoC and working boundary.
“We cannot afford distractions at a time when we are in the midst of a very crucial counter-terrorism operation,” she told reporters in Islamabad. “Hence, any effort to create the perception or impression that Pakistan initiates these violations, creating or prolonging tension, is totally baseless.”
Tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbours flared up on New Year’s Eve as Indian troops killed two Pakistan Rangers officials. Since then, at least seven people have been killed on the Pakistani side of the border as a result of these skirmishes.
When asked, Tasnim made it clear that Pakistan is willing to normalise the situation, while pointing out that India was actually the one escalating tensions.
“India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has been targeting civilians blatantly and without discrimination. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and flee to safety. The civilian population of Pakistan is more vulnerable because many villages are located in close proximity to the working boundary,” she said.
The spokesperson added that despite Indian hostilities, Pakistan was exercising ‘utmost restraint’ to avoid civilian casualties “because on the other side of the Line of Control and working boundary live our Kashmiri brothers and sisters.”
In reply to a question, Tasnim said India had not approached Pakistan through diplomatic channels about the so-called terror boat incident.
“Based on media reports, our authorities in Pakistan are conducting an inquiry into the incident primarily to ascertain if any Pakistani fishing boat is missing at sea. There appears to be no sound evidence to substantiate the Indian allegations,” she said.
She added that “there is a debate in India and questions are being raised about the claims and circumstances under which the people in the boat were targeted and boat was set on fire. We expect that there will be a transparent investigation by the Indian government to ascertain the facts of the incident and the circumstances in which the boat caught fire and some people were killed.”
Paris attack condemned
The spokesperson also condemned Wednesday’s ‘brutal terrorist attack’ at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris which resulted in the loss of many lives and had several others injured.
“Pakistan deplores terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We extend our condolences to the government and people of France on the loss of life,” she said. “We are confident that the international community will continue to stand firm against terrorism and bring the perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2015.