PM says can’t be business as usual with Pakistan after ‘barbaric act’

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Taking a tough position on the tension that has flared on the Line of Control after an Indian soldier was beheaded, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday warned Pakistan that it cannot be "business as usual" between the neighbours following the incident and those responsible must be brought to book.

"After this barbaric act, there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan," Singh said in his first remarks on the killing last week of two Indian soldiers and the beheading of one of them.

The comments came hours after New Delhi put on hold its decision to give visas on arrival to senior citizens from Pakistan, with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid admitting that this was due to the impact of the LoC incident. However, he said the move has only been delayed and not called off.

The PM, who came under fire from political parties for his silence on last week's incident, also raised the pressure a notch by saying that Pakistan needs to fix accountability for the "barbaric act". "Those responsible for this crime will have to be brought to book," he said, adding that he hoped "Pakistan realises this".

The BJP, which has targeted the PM for his silence, welcomed the statement. "I heard that Prime Minister has said that business as usual will not do. this has some echo of tough measures we have demanded," the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, said.

The decision to delay implementing the liberal visa system for senior Pakistani citizens is seen as driving home the point that it would not be business as usual. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the decision was taken after several agencies sought clarifications on facilities to be offered to Pakistani citizens. The visa-on-arrival facility for Pakistani nationals above 65 years of age was due to start on Tuesday at the Attari check-post under the visa agreement signed in September 2012 to ease cross-border travel.

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