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Indian minister blames Pakistan over killings
Publication Date : 09-08-2013
Pushed to the corner by a belligerent opposition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government yesterday blamed Pakistan for the killings of five soldiers in the Poonch sector.
In a virtual U-turn, Indian Defence Minister AK Antony told parliament “specialist troops of Pakistan army were involved in this attack when a group from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) side crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and killed our brave jawans (soldiers).”
In a statement that was also applauded by the opposition, the minister said, “This incident will have consequences on our behaviour on the Line of Control and for our relations with Pakistan. Our restraint should not be taken for granted; nor should the capacity of our Armed Forces and resolve of the government to uphold the sanctity of the LoC ever be doubted.”
The fresh statement by defence minister, amending his earlier controversial version ensured peace with the main opposition which had categorically told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the minister will have to retract his statement.
Antony had earlier said “the ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms”.
The minister's new statement “satisfied” the BJP (Indian People's Party), with the leader of the opposition, Sushma Swaraj, thanking the defence minister for rectifying his earlier statement.
“I think the prime minister should take a cue from (US President) Obama who had cancelled his meeting with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin only on giving an asylum to somebody who was wanted by US,” senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters.
Swaraj said the opposition is not playing politics over the LoC killings and that the House supported the statement of the minister and wants to tell Pakistan that they cannot continue to act like this.
Another BJP leader, Yashwant Sinha, also expressed satisfaction at the minister's statement.
Antony said his statement now was based on fresh reports from army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was briefed by top officials Lt Gen Sanjeev Chhabra and Lt Gen D S Hooda, during his visit to the Nagrota-based 16 Corps headquarters.
The BJP said the Indian prime minister should not hold any talks with his counterpart. The pro-talks camps in both the countries were pinning lot of hopes on Manmohan-Nawaz Sharif maiden meeting on the sidelines of UN meet in September.
“We stand by our statement that at least there should be no talks at the level of prime ministers,” BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain said.
He noted that the issue regarding contradictory statements by Antony and the army has ended after the minister's clarification.