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Indian response to maintaining LoC ceasefire awaited: FO

Updated August 30, 2013
The photo shows an Indian soldier near the Line of Control. — File photo
The photo shows an Indian soldier near the Line of Control. — File photo
Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry. — File photo
Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that it was yet to hear from India about measures proposed for maintaining ceasefire along the Line of Control.

“We have made some concrete proposals to the Indian side to help reduce the tension along the LoC. The Indian response is awaited,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said at his weekly media briefing.

The measures proposed by Pakistan included reinforcing the existing political and military mechanisms and convening a meeting of senior diplomats and military officials for ensuring that ceasefire on LoC is observed.

Calm seems to have returned to the LoC after weeks of continuous shelling by Indian troops. Three Pakistani soldiers and two civilians were killed in the attacks.

The two countries have a ceasefire accord that has been left in tatters since the start of this year because of repeated hostilities — more importantly the incidents this month since August 6 and breaches of ceasefire in January.

The skirmishes renewed strains in bilateral relations and impeded the progress towards normalisation of ties. The LoC hostilities in January left the peace talks on ice and as the new government prepared to revive the dialogue, the latest episode has further delayed its resumption.

The events have also left an expected meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session next month, in a limbo.

The uncertainty about the prospects of the Sharif-Singh meeting was evident as spokesman Chaudhry once again said: “Should an opportunity arise we believe that such a contact between the leadership of two countries will be a useful occasion to discuss the steps required to improve relations.”

And while the political leaders on both sides are not directly talking to each other for defusing tensions, the job for finding a way out looks to have been left for Track-II.

Ambassadors Shahryar Khan and S.K. Lamba, the Track II pointsmen for Pakistan and India, respectively, are preparing to meet in Dubai. The two, Mr Chaudhry said, had been regularly interacting with each other since Mr Shahryar’s appointment last month.

Mr Shahryar has earlier visited India as PM Sharif’s special envoy.

SYRIA: The Foreign Office expressed concern over violence in Syria and condemned the use of chemical weapons.

Urging Western countries that are raring to attack Syria to show restraint, Pakistan, which is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, said it was important to wait for the outcome of a UN probe that is currently under way to ascertain the facts about the use of chemical weapons.

A team of UN inspectors, currently in Syria for investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons, is leaving the violence-wrecked country on Saturday.

“Pakistan believes that sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected. Use of force must be avoided at all costs as the people of Syria have already suffered enormously,” the spokesman said.

Pakistan’s position, he said, was guided by the principle of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-intervention in internal affairs.

SCO SUMMIT: Pakistan’s delegation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit being held on Sept 13 in Kyrgyzstan would be led by Foreign Affairs and National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz.

Pakistan is currently an observer state and is seeking a full membership status in the SCO.