Pakistan urges India to cool rhetoric over Kashmir

Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:44pm EST
 

By John Chalmers

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Pakistan urged India on Thursday to tone down the "Pakistan bashing" over a spate of military clashes in Kashmir between the nuclear-armed neighbors, and again offered foreign minister-level talks to try to cool tensions.

"I think it is important not to let this cycle escalate into something which becomes even more ugly than it is today," Pakistani High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir said in an interview with Reuters. "Let's try to see if we can cool down and resume normal business."

Three Pakistani and two Indian soldiers have been killed this month in the worst outbreak of tit-for-tat violence in Kashmir since India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire along a de facto border there nearly a decade ago.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since partition in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region that both claim.

Following public and media outrage after India said one of its soldiers had been decapitated, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there could be "no business as usual" with Pakistan, and the army chief said his commanders should retaliate if provoked.

Bashir said India could have worked with Pakistan to get to the bottom of what happened instead of "stirring raw emotions and upping the rhetoric", adding that "Pakistan bashing has become fashionable" in India.

He told Reuters that the killing of the soldiers on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir was not carried out by Pakistani troops.

"Such heinous acts ... are of course condemnable irrespective of where they happen and when they happen. But to say that these were done by Pakistan, that the Pakistan army was responsible, is something that we cannot agree to," he said.   Continued...

 
Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, poses after an interview with Reuters in his office, in New Delhi January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi