NEW DELHI: The ‘terror boat’ incident complicated by the remarks of Coast Guard DIG B.K.Loshali has placed Pakistan between a rock and a hard place. Keen, some would say almost desperate, to open a dialogue with India, the Pakistan government had been announcing a possible visit by Indian Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar to Islamabad to kick start the process, but has now been compelled to take a position against India in the wake of Loshali’s remarks that he had ordered the crew to blow up the Pakistani vessel.

The Indian government has issued a show cause notice to the Coast Guard DG and he has denied making the remarks, despite the video that has captured the moment, saying, "I have been misquoted; the boat actually set itself on fire and sunk.I was not privy to whatever was happening at that ground that day." “Sources” have been fielded by the government to plant reports against Loshali, questioning him for alleged alcoholism and pointing towards a not very stable career.

The foreign secretary is scheduled to visit all Saarc countries as a goodwill gesture from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, no details are available at this end although Pakistan’s national security advisor Sartaj Aziz has said that Jaishankar is scheduled to visit Islamabad in March. Torn by violence within, and engaged in military operations on its north-west borders Pakistan is keen to pursue the path of peace with India at this particular point in time. However, the lack of reciprocity from New Delhi has obstructed this desire, with Aziz making more of the proposed visit by the official than expected at this initial stage. In fact, some officials have even been claiming that the foreign secretary might skip a visit to Pakistan “for the moment.”

Loshali’s comments have forced Pakistan to take cognisance of an incident it had noted, spoken about, but not over played through the media at the time. Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said in a strong response, "It has one again been proved that India has violated the international rules and disregarded the humanitarian considerations. India not only imposed baseless and false allegations on Pakistan like in the case of Samjhauta Express, but was involved in treacherously killing four innocent lives on board. India has once again proved to be heinous in its face, designs and urge for peace."

Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam was more restrained a day later, laying equal emphasis on the foreign secretary level talks. She admitted that the dates have not been finalised. She went on to criticise the “drama” over the boat saying, “ on the so called terror boat incident, India has not approached Pakistan through diplomatic channels."

"There is a debate in India and questions are being raised about the claims and circumstance under which the people in the boat were targeted and boat was set on fire," Aslam said. "We expect that there would be a transparent investigation by the Indian government to ascertain the facts of the incident and the circumstance in which the boat caught fire and some people got killed," she added.