Indian PM says no "business as usual" with Pakistan

Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:06pm EST
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By Satarupa Bhattacharjya

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday there could be no "business as usual" with Pakistan after a clash last week along the line dividing the arch-rivals in Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated.

Speaking to reporters at a ceremony to mark India's Army Day, Singh said that the killings on January 8 on the Line of Control, in which one of the soldiers was beheaded, were a "barbaric act".

His remarks came after Indian army chief General Bikram Singh said his country reserved the right to retaliate and he had instructed his ground commanders to respond to any provocation aggressively.

Adding to the tensions, troops from both sides exchanged machinegun fire across the line for more than two hours on Tuesday night, Indian army intelligence officials told Reuters.

No one was injured and no property was damaged during the latest shooting in Poonch district, they added.

Despite each side blaming the other for the worst outbreak of violence in the area since a ceasefire was agreed nine years ago, analysts said a breakdown in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors was highly unlikely.

Singh has been pushing for a rapprochement with Pakistan, despite opposition not only from the main rival political party but also from within his ruling coalition.

Yet Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said ties could not remain unaffected by the flare-up on the border.   Continued...

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks during the meeting of the 57th National Development Council (NDC) in New Delhi December 27, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur