Indian envoy raises LoC incident during ‘courtesy call’


ISLAMABAD: In what some foreign policy analysts described as discourteous, the new Indian High Commissioner during a “courtesy call” on Foreign Policy and National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz turned to the sore spot in bilateral relations and curtly told him that the Line of Control incident cast doubt on Pakistan’s sincerity in normalising ties.  “Incidents such as the recent one on the LoC raised doubts on Pakistan’s sincerity,” Dr T.C.A. Raghavan was quoted as saying by a Foreign Office statement during the meeting with Mr Aziz, his (Raghavan’s) first since his posting in Islamabad.The Indian envoy was referring to the August 6 ambush on an Indian patrol in which five soldiers were killed. The Indian government blamed Pakistan for the attack, but Pakistani military denied any involvement.

Since Aug 6, India has been shelling Pakistani posts on the LoC and nearby civilian population, killing three troops and two civilians.

High Commissioner Raghavan said the LoC incident was a “setback” in the dialogue process.

It was unusual for the Foreign Office to reflect such views in the official statement that contradicted its policy standing. The FO statement also did not make any reference to the military’s rejection of the Indian allegations.

India put off the resumption of this year’s episode of the annual peace dialogue that has been on an unannounced halt since the incidents on the LoC in January. The expected meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh in New York is also now in limbo.

Dr Raghavan’s visit to the Foreign Office had prompted talk of both sides progressing towards the New York meeting. Afterwards, both sides, however, described the FO meeting as a “courtesy call”.

Making case for a possible prime-ministerial meeting in New York, Mr Aziz called for getting past the LoC row.

“Both sides have to show maturity and move forward in a positive manner to resolve outstanding issues and put in place a sustainable dialogue process,” the adviser counselled. He rued the tension on LoC as unfortunate and noted that it derailed the peace process.

On the expectations of a Sharif-Singh meeting, the Foreign Office has at least twice said in as many weeks that “should an opportunity arise we (Pakistan government) believe that such a contact between the leadership of the two countries will be a useful occasion to discuss the steps required to improve relations”.

But High Commissioner Raghavan said the next pointer would be the visit of a Pakistani judicial commission to India from Sept 7 for cross-examining witnesses in the Mumbai attack case.

The visit would be helpful towards this end, he maintained and called for forging a common counter-terrorism policy so that misperceptions could be allayed.