Pakistan, India warn against escalation over border killingsAgence France-Presse . New Delhi
India delivered a dressing-down Wednesday to Islamabad’s envoy to Delhi as it accused Pakistan’s army of beheading one of two soldiers killed in Kashmir, but both sides warned against inflaming tensions.
While Pakistan insisted no such incident had taken place and suggested a UN inquiry be held, India denounced the ‘inhuman’ treatment of the troops who were killed two days after a Pakistani soldier was also slain in the Kashmir region.
As the Indian government mulled its response, the foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, struck a note of caution and warned against further moves to inflame tensions.
Khurshid said Pakistan’s ambassador Salman Bashir had been ‘spoken to in very strong terms’ after he was summoned for an angry rebuke over the killings.
But in a subsquent press conference, Khurshid said that ‘whatever has happened, should not be escalated’.
‘We cannot and must not allow for an escalation of a very unwholesome event that has taken place,’ he added.
The two Indian soldiers died after a firefight erupted in disputed Kashmir on Tuesday. The Indian army said a patrol moving in fog discovered Pakistani troops about 500 metres inside Indian territory.
‘We can confirm that one of the Indian soldiers was beheaded by the Pakistani army in Kashmir,’ spokesman Jagdeep Dahiya said after the next of kin had been informed. ‘It was a dastardly act as they have taken away the head.’
The defence minister, AK Antony, said the Pakistan army was guilty of ‘inhuman’ behaviour in the treatment of the bodies while newspaper headlines stoked the tensions, with the Mail Today denouncing ‘Pak Army Butchers’.
But amid the chorus of condemnation, Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar appeared on Indian television to issue a firm denial and criticise the statements by authorities in Delhi.
‘Let me just say that we are a bit appalled at some statements that are coming in from India because the government of Pakistan has absolutely rejected that any such incident took place,’ she told India’s CNN-IBN network.
‘It is not Pakistan’s policy to not observe ceasefire on LoC,’ she added in reference to a de facto border in Kashmir known as the Line of Control.
Khar said Islamabad had tempered its language after the death of one of its soldiers on Sunday in a cross-border skirmish and the Indian side should have followed suit.
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