Pak calls in Indian High Commissioner, serves demarche

Pakistan's Foreign Office today called in Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to lodge a protest over the death of a Pakistani soldier in an incident of firing along the Line of Control, which has witnessed a string of clashes since the weekend.

Officials in the Foreign Office said Sabharwal was served a demarche by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani over yesterday's incident in Battal sector of the LoC, which the Pakistan army said had resulted in the death of a soldier.

There have been three violations of the nine-year-old ceasefire along the LoC in the past five days.

The Indian Army said two of its soldiers were killed in a cross-border raid by Pakistani troops on Tuesday while another Pakistani soldier died on Sunday.

The clashes were among the most serious violations of the truce that was put in place in late 2003.

Pakistan's Foreign Office had earlier called in Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay on January 7 to protest the incident that occurred a day earlier.

The External Affairs Ministry had summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir earlier this week to protest the killing of the two Indian soldiers.

Sources said the Foreign Office's decision to call in the Indian High Commissioner to be given a demarche by the Foreign Secretary marked an escalation in the tit-for-tat responses.

Hours before yesterday's incident in Battal sector of the LoC, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had sought to play down the impact of the recent clashes.

She said Pakistan did not see the recent violations of the LoC ceasefire derailing or setting back the peace process with India.

Khar said the government and people of Pakistan were committed to normalising relations with India and referred to recent breakthroughs in bilateral ties, including steps to normalise trade relations and a new visa agreement.

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