Cross-border firing casts shadow over NSA meeting

abdul-basit

Intensifying cross-border firing, and the resulting mutual recriminations, has cast shadow over the forthcoming meeting between national security advisers of India and Pakistan.

Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit remained defiant when New Delhi summoned him on August 16 to launch a strong protest against the killing of five civilians along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir. Five other civilians were also injured by Pakistani shelling.

Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in India’s External Affairs Ministry, conveyed to Mr Basit India’s protest and anger against the unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC.

Mr Basit accused India of 70 ceasefire violations across the LoC and international boundary in July and August and called for a more effective mechanism to determine which side had resorted to unprovoked firing, said press reports.

“Our side would like to have a more effective mechanism in place so as to determine who indulges in this exchange of gunfire,” Basit told reporters after emerging from South Block, Ministry of External Affairs.

The summoning of Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India comes just days before the big meeting to be held between the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of both the countries. Mr Wadhwa is said to have told Mr Basit that, “the Pakistan government needs to take the necessary steps to ensure that its military does not undermine peace and tranquility along the international border and LoC”.

The high level bilateral meeting between the NSAs of both the countries is scheduled on August 23 in New Delhi. It remains to be seen how both countries would look to address the issue of terrorism in the backdrop of continuous ceasefire violations along the LoC. This will be the first such meeting on terrorism related issues between the NSAs of both the countries. Islamabad has already said that it sees the meeting as an ‘ice-breaker,’ not necessarily a breakthrough.

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