As Islamabad and New Delhi prepare for foreign secretary-level talks, army chief General Raheel Sharif has warned India that Pakistan will give a ‘befitting’ response to any provocation along the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary.
“Let there be no doubt that any provocation along LoC and working boundary will meet a befitting response,” the military’s chief spokesman quoted Gen Raheel as saying during a visit to areas affected by Indian firing along the working boundary near Sialkot on Thursday. The statement came just ahead of a crucial visit to Pakistan by India’s foreign secretary, who is due to arrive on March 3.
The army chief termed repeated ceasefire violations by India in the recent past “an attempt to distract Pakistan from its campaign against terrorism” and stressed that such actions would have a negative impact on regional stability. According to Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, Gen Raheel also cautioned India that the entire Pakistani nation is united in defence of the motherland.
The army chief also met troops stationed along the working boundary and the residents of adjoining areas, and paid tribute to their resilience.
Pakistani and Indian forces stationed along the LoC and working boundary have regularly exchanged fire over the past few months and have accused the other side of starting hostilities. The border clashes are expected to come up for discussion during the Indian foreign secretary’s visit.
Speaking at her weekly news briefing, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said all issues, including the longstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute, are likely to be discussed during the meeting between the two foreign secretaries.
“We welcomed the Indian initiative. At this stage, I would not like to speculate on what the exact agenda of the talks will be,” she said. “However, whenever Pakistan-India dialogue resumes, we expect all matters would be on the table for discussion, including Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, water resources, confidence building measures, people to people contacts and trade matters,” Tasnim added.
She pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir had been on the UN Security Council’s agenda. “We have been discussing the Kashmir issue bilaterally. The process, however, has to be result-oriented,” she said.
The Indian foreign secretary’s visit is expected to help resume the stalled peace process, which New Delhi has been reluctant to revive since Narendra Modi came to power.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2015.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ