Pakistan’s Sharif Urges Calm After Deadly Kashmir Attack

Pakistan’s Sharif Urges Calm After Deadly Kashmir Attack

8 August 2013
AFP


Islamabad: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried Thursday to ease tensions with India by urging both sides to work swiftly to shore up a 10-year ceasefire threatened by recent attacks. He made the remarks shortly after the Indian government for the first time directly accused Pakistan’s army of involvement in an ambush that killed five Indian soldiers on Monday in Kashmir. The picturesque Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored Line of Control, but is claimed in full by both countries. India’s Defence Minister A.K. Antony said specialist Pakistani troops had been involved in the attack and hinted at stronger military action. But Sharif, who was elected in May and who backs rapprochement with India, said he was looking forward to meeting his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September. In remarks made at the Pakistani foreign ministry and released by his office, Sharif expressed his sadness over the loss of life and said it was “imperative” for India and Pakistan to take “effective steps to ensure and restore” the truce. He said existing military channels could be more “optimally utilised” to prevent the situation from escalating further. Amid uproar in India over New Delhi’s handling of the attack, Sharif said leaders on both sides needed to engage “constructively with a view to building trust and confidence”. He also stressed that he was looking forward to meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next month in New York to discuss steps to further build trust and consolidate ties. Indian analysts have said Monday’s attack complicates efforts to arrange such a meeting. Pakistani military officials earlier Thursday accused Indian troops of opening fire and seriously wounding a male civilian along the heavily militarised Line of Control. They said Indian troops opened fire at around 8:30 am (0330 GMT) in the Tatta Pani sector, seriously wounding one civilian who was evacuated to a military hospital. Pakistan denied any part in Monday’s incident. But India has lodged an official protest with Islamabad over what is one of the worst losses of life for Indian troops since the 2003 truce.