LoC killings: Pakistan PM bats for talks as India maintains a tough stand

SharifSharif’s efforts to calm tempers were in stark contrast to the mood in New Delhi, where the government went back to adopt a hard line.

Hours after Defence Minister A K Antony backtracked from his earlier statement in Parliament and squarely blamed the Pakistan Army for carrying out the attack on the Line of Control that killed five Indian soldiers, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif provided an "escape route" to the beleaguered government.

Sharif, who had a briefing in the Pakistan Foreign Office on Thursday, expressed "sadness" over the loss of human lives and made it clear to his officials that it was "incumbent upon the leadership of both sides not to allow the situation to drift and to take steps to improve the atmosphere by engaging constructively with a view to building trust and confidence".

He went on to add that it was "imperative" for both sides to "take effective steps to ensure and restore the ceasefire on the Line of Control". Military-to-military channels should be more "optimally utilized to prevent misunderstandings and not allowing the situation to escalate".

Further, Sharif suggested that both sides must also look to identify more measure to strengthen existing mechanisms at political and military levels.

"The Prime Minister said that he was looking forward to his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. During the meeting, we will discuss steps to further build trust and consolidate this relationship, the Prime Minister added," stated a Pakistan Foreign Office release.

But Sharif's efforts to calm tempers were in stark contrast to the mood in New Delhi, where the government went back to adopt the hard line that it had first tried to avoid. Under pressure from the Opposition, Antony on Thursday made a second statement based on what he said was Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh's feedback after visiting the scene of the killings.

"Since then the Chief of the Army Staff has visited the area and has gone into the details of the matter, it is now clear that the specialist troops of Pakistan Army were involved in this attack when a group from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) side crossed the LOC and killed our brave jawans. We all know that nothing happens from Pakistan side of the Line of Control without support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of the Pakistan Army," Antony told Parliament.

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