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India engaged in "war-mongering": Khar

India engaged in war-mongering: Khar

New York: Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar accused India of engaging in "war-mongering" in the aftermath of clashes and killing of two Indian soldiers at the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Khar also said Pakistan is "deeply disappointed" to hear statements from India that are "upping the ante" and claimed her government is creating a "precedence" of not following war-mongering.

India, Pakistan and the South Asian region cannot afford a conflict between the two countries and the doors of dialogue have to remain open, she said, adding her government wants the dialogue process to be "uninterrupted and uninterruptible."

The Foreign Minister's comments came close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's stern warning to Pakistan that it cannot be "business as usual" between the neighbours after tension flared up at the LoC following the killing of two soldiers--one of whom was beheaded-- by Pakistani troops.

"What do we see today. We see three incidents across the LoC. We see war-mongering which puts the last 60 years actively back into our memory. War-mongering coming in from the other side of the border which is, I thought, the thing of yesteryears, thing that we had put behind us," Khar said at an event at the Asia Society here yesterday.

"It is deeply disturbing to hear statements (from India) which are upping the ante where one politician is competing with the other to give a more hostile statement," Khar, who is in the city on the occasion of Pakistan's Presidency this month at the UN Security Council, said.

Khar said a "typical" Pakistani government would have responded with "tit-for-tat" statements but her government has made "pacifying statements" that called for respecting the dialogue process in response to the "hostile statement" India has made in the last few days over the clashes and killings of soldiers at the LoC.

She said there is no question of Pakistan authorising the beheading and killing of any Indian soldier as it would not be conducive for the peace process.

"We have two people dead on the Pakistan side and two people allegedly dead on the Indian side...Pakistan government is creating a precedence of not following war-mongering. We would be happy to create a precedence of moving towards a dialogue process. The doors to dialogue are open. We need to meet at any level, we need to call each other. We need to become mature countries which know how to handle their issues.

"For something like this to be blown out of proportion... there is absolutely no questions of ever anyone authorising any beheading or killing of Indian soldiers. It would be absolutely opposite to the peace process," Khar said.

With repeated cease-fire violations by Pakistani troops along the LoC, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there "cannot be business as usual with Pakistan," which must bring those responsible for the killings and mutilation of two Indian soldiers to book. Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh has also said that he has instructed battalion commanders on the LoC to retaliate "aggressively and offensively" if the Pakistani Army provokes them by violating the ceasefire or pushing militants into J&K.

Referring to remarks coming from India, Khar said "two very important persons" within the Indian government have given statements "which we will ignore."

She said her government has created space within the public arena in Pakistan to have a "positive narrative" towards India.

"What you see in India is currently not living up to that and I hope that we will both show a deep abiding commitment to normilised peace process, to normalisation of relations and towards peace process... I have no doubt in my mind that that is the only way to go forward (for the two countries)."

Khar denied allegations made by India that its soldiers Lance-Naik Hemraj and Lance-Naik Sudhakar Singh were killed and their bodies mutilated by Pakistani troops in cross-border firing on January 8. She said Pakistan conducted an "intensive" investigation and found no evidence that any killing or beheading had taken place. She also cited an interview the spokesperson of India's Northern Army Command had given in which he had said Hemraj had not been beheaded.


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