More threats from India over cross-border crisis

Published October 21, 2014
Minister of Finance and Defence Arun Jaitley talks at a press conference in New Delhi on August 30, 2014. – AFP
Minister of Finance and Defence Arun Jaitley talks at a press conference in New Delhi on August 30, 2014. – AFP

NEW DELHI: India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more “pain” if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.

The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along a 200-km (125-mile) stretch of the border dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.

“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.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power in May promising a tough response to violence in the Himalayan territory. It accuses Pakistan of helping keep alive a 25-year armed revolt in India held Kashmir. Pakistan has denied this allegation on many occasions.

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.

It was not clear what triggered the fighting.

Pakistani army officials said the trouble began with India's decision to beef up border defences, in violation of the ceasefire pact.

Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said in an earlier statement that India was not cooperating on the issue.

"The Pakistan government has been exercising utmost restraint and responsibility. Unfortunately, all our efforts to secure peace and tranquility on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary have elicited no cooperation from the Indian side," he said.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has said that Pakistan is committed to peace with India despite the escalation along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary. Adviser Aziz added that he suspected that India had "a much bigger plan" in maintaining this crisis.

"It's about integrating Kashmir and neutralising Pakistan by pressurising it. LoC is not the total strategy... it's part of the strategy" he alleged.

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.

Jaitley said it was up to Pakistan to create the conditions for dialogue.

“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.

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