Guns Boom on Eve of Jaishankar's Visit to Pakistan
Ceasefire violations continue
NEW DELHI: Just days before Indian Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar, is set to visit Islamabad, tensions between India and Pakistan simmer as cross-border firing accounts for a ceasefire violation along the Line of Control.
Whilst India reported that “Pakistani troops resorted to small arms firing” targeting a border outpost in the RS Pura sector of Jammu, Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Raheel Sharif, issued a stern warning to India. "Repeated Indian ceasefire violations on the Working Boundary and the LoC in recent past was a distraction for Pakistan from campaign versus terrorism and it affects regional stability," a statement issued by the military quoted Sharif as saying.
"Let there be no doubt that any provocation along LOC and Working Boundary will meet a befitting response," the General added.
Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar is set to visit Islamabad on March 3, following a telephone conversation between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. PM Modi had called leaders of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to wish them luck for the cricket World Cup, including, in addition to Sharif, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and newly-sworn in Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena.
On Twitter, PM Modi, whilst wishing SAARC nations good luck, had said that India’s Foreign Secretary will soon be setting off on a “SAARC-yatra” to promote ties.
The visit is significant because India had cancelled secretary-level talks -- that had been agreed to during Sharif’s visit for PM Modi’s inauguration ceremony -- over Pakistan’s decision to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in August last year. Speaking at the United Nations last month, Sharif said that India’s decision to cancel the talks had resulted in a “missed opportunity.” Modi, speaking at the UN the next day, responded saying that India was not opposed to talks, but would not participate “in the shadow of terror” and that it was upto Pakistan to “create a conducive atmosphere for talks.”
Further, tensions between the two countries have been high as border skirmishes across the Line of Control that began in late 2014, continue in 2015, with the latest ceasefire violation coming after a week long lull. The firing prompted Pakistan penning a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that invoked the UN to implement resolutions for a plebiscite in Kashmir. The letter marked a major reversal of Pakistan’s position for over a decade, sending bilateral relations between the two countries plummeting.
However, the first sign that the situation was changing came when Pakistan’s former National Security Adviser Major-General (Retd.) Mahmud Durrani met with NSA Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar earlier this month. The Citizen had the reported that the meeting could be an attempt at resuming back channel diplomacy. Although the MEA spokesperson dismissed a question in regard to whether this could pave the way for the resumption of an India-Pakistan dialogue, General Durrani was quoted by The Hindu saying that his impression is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would “like to move forward” on the dialogue, but would rather not pick up the old format of the composite dialogue process. “Mr. Modi is a different man with a different mind and a different thinking from the previous Prime Minister,” The Hindu quoted General Durrani as saying. “I think he will probably engage with Pakistan, but he would like to do that in his own way.”