LoC Firing Isolated, Armies Will Resolve Issue: Pranab
21 January 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Pakistan officially denied that its Army was responsible for the trans-LoC mortar fire in Poonch on Tuesday evening, an incident that the Indian Army has chosen to tread on cautiously. This evening, the Army stuck to Wednesday's statement saying the firing was in clear violation of the November 2003 ceasefire agreement. In the Capital, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the incident was isolated and would not be taken up politically as part of the peace process, and would be left to the two countries' armies to resolve at the ground level. 'Both sides have agreed that nothing should be done to heighten tension. Both sides are taking up measures to maintain the spirit of confidence building,' Mukherjee said. In their second phone conversation in the last two days, Pakistan's Director General (Military Operations) Maj Gen Mohammed Yusuf told his Indian counterpart Lt Gen A.S. Bahia this afternoon that the matter had been 'fully investigated' and there was no evidence to indicate that the Pakistan Army had fired the mortars, even though the explosions were heard by Pakistani soldiers in PoK. The two officers had spoken over a hotline on Wednesday morning, after which Yusuf had assured the Indian DGMO of a full probe . An Army spokesperson said: 'The DGMOs spoke over the phone , during which the Pakistani DGMO denied firing was carried out by the Pakistan Army. There is no change to our statement.' Pakistan's military spokesperson Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan said in Islamabad: 'Pakistani DGMO told the Indian military officer that such allegations create tension and the two sides agreed that such incidents should be resolved at the local level through flag meetings'.'