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Peace process remains unaffected: Khar

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Although riled over provocative Indian statements, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Thursday that the peace process with India remained unaffected by recent ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

“You asked whether this will set back or derail the process. I will hope not and I don’t see it derailing or getting set back,” she said at a media conference at the Foreign Office.

The foreign minister noted that certain inflammatory statements had created a tense atmosphere, but vowed to continue to exercise restraint.

Ms Khar said Pakistan was “appalled and unpleasantly surprised” to hear such statements being made following the death of a Pakistani soldier in a cross-LoC raid by Indian troops.

“Do we want to emulate and follow somebody else’s lead or do we want to lead ourselves? We are proud to be leading towards a track which is of trust-building and normalising this region which is already very unstable because of irresponsible actions and statements.”

She expressed the hope that India would show its commitment to correct (the situation) as Pakistan had done in dealing with the situation after an attack by Indian ground forces on a Pakistani outpost last Sunday.

The foreign minister renewed Pakistan’s proposal of getting the ceasefire violations investigated by the UN Military Observers Group deployed here.

“We have asked for the UNMOGIP and conveyed to the Indian side that this is an option which is on the table because we clearly have nothing to hide. We would want a third party to investigate the matter and set the record straight.”

Ms Khar said Pakistan used mechanisms at its disposal for addressing the situation instead of adding to tensions by responding to the statements coming from India.

“We followed the mechanism. We have a commitment to abide by this ceasefire and to pursue mechanisms which exist to be able to deal with issues and problems like this.”

She said: “As a responsible country, if we have mechanisms which are in place to deal with issues and challenges like the one we have been faced with in the past week, you revert to those mechanisms that exist so that we can continue as normal neighbours.”

Referring to the steps taken by Pakistan, she said contact between the directors general of military operations of the two countries had been immediately made and the Indian deputy high commissioner had been summoned to receive a demarche.

Pakistan, she said, used all tools at its disposal.

“We acted responsibly every time we faced a challenging situation.”

Meanwhile, another soldier was killed on Thursday in what military sources said was the 10th violation of ceasefire by India in the first 10 days of this year.