May have to look at other options: Air Chief on Pak

Pak

AT A time when India has proposed local-level military talks to resolve the crisis at the Line of Control (LoC), Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne on Saturday queered the pitch by saying that the military "may have to look at some other options for compliance" in case violations on the border continue.

Browne, who is also chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, did not elaborate on what these options would be. But his statement surprised many, coming at a time when efforts are on to resolve the recent spate of ceasefire violations that escalated after the beheading of an Indian soldier on Wednesday by Pakistan army regulars.

"...If these things continue to be the way they are and these violations continue to take place, then perhaps we may have to look at some other options for compliance," Browne said. Asked what specific options were available, he said, "Options are options. We do not discuss these options openly."

Government officials said Browne's statement reflected the "sense of outrage" within the armed forces over the "intolerable" killing of the two jawans. But they made it clear that it should be taken in isolation, and did not reflect any move to scale up the issue.

However, Pakistan is yet to respond to the call for a Brigadier-level flag meeting at Poonch to enable area military commanders to discuss the issue.

Indian Army officers pointed out that there has been no ceasefire violation in the area since Thursday, when a Pakistani soldier was killed in crossborder firing.

"Things remain calm with no fresh case of violation reported from the area. The situation is likely to be back to normal in the next 24 hours," an Army official said.

Sources also said that the Air Chief's statement did not reflect the views of the military. The Army is clear that a resolution of the crisis is needed to maintain peace on the LoC, that has largely remained quiet since 2003.

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