India and Pakistan on Friday continued to trade accusations over ceasefire violations with the Pakistani government summoning the Indian envoy to serve a demarche on yesterday's incident, which Indian authorities said was a 'controlled response' to 'unprovoked' firing by the other side.
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani summoned High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to lodge 'a strong protest on the repeated, unacceptable and unprovoked attacks on Pakistani soldiers by the Indian army' [ Images ] and sought a 'thorough investigation' by the Indian government.
Officials of the Pakistan foreign office told PTI that Jilani handed over a strongly-worded demarche to Sabharwal.
In New Delhi [ Images ], the official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said Sabharwal was 'called to the foreign office where he met Jilani and issued a note verbale on an incident which is said to have occurred on January 10."
He also said Pakistan is claiming that one of their soldiers was killed in the incident on Thursday. Sabharwal told Jilani that there was 'unprovoked firing from Pakistan (along the LoC) in Mendhar sector and there was a controlled response from our side', the MEA spokesperson said.
The Indian envoy also stressed the need for holding the sanctity of LoC and adherence of the Simla Agreement to sort out bilateral issues, he said. A statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office said Jilani "asked the Indian government to thoroughly investigate the repeated violations of the ceasefire along the Line of Control [ Images ] by Indian troops and also take necessary steps to ensure their non-recurrence."
Jilani renewed Pakistan's offer to hold an 'independent inquiry' into recent ceasefire violations through the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan, the Pakistan foreign office statement said.
This was countered by the MEA, which reiterated India's position that it was 'capable' of resolving the issue bilaterally and rejected role of the UN or any third party.
The Pakistani statement said Jilani reminded the Indian government 'of its commitment to fully implement the ceasefire' and urged it to 'abide (by) and respect the ceasefire along the LoC, which is an important CBM that has worked well since 2003'.
The Pakistan Foreign Secretary 'emphasised that such unprovoked attacks were against the spirit of the ongoing peace process. These attacks not only vitiate the atmosphere but also create unnecessary and avoidable distractions in our efforts towards the peace process', the statement said.
"Pakistan has pursued with seriousness the dialogue with India and has taken significant steps to create a peaceful environment. Pakistan reiterates its commitment to a peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues through a sustained and result-oriented dialogue with India," it said.
The LoC has witnessed a string of clashes since last weekend. There have been three violations of the nine-year-old ceasefire in the past five days.
The Indian Army said two of its soldiers were brutally killed in a cross-border raid by Pakistani troops on Tuesday. The clashes were among the most serious violations of the truce that was put in place in late 2003.
Pakistan's Foreign Office had earlier called in Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay on January 7 to protest an incident that occurred a day earlier. The MEA had summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir earlier this week to protest the killing of the two Indian soldiers.
Sources in Islamabad [ Images ] said the Pakistan foreign office's decision to call in the Indian high commissioner to be given a demarche by the foreign secretary marked an escalation in the tit-for-tat responses.