Pakistan conveys concerns over border skirmishes to US delegat


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday conveyed its concerns over ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary between India and Pakistan to a visiting two-member US congressional delegation.  The delegation met with top government functionaries in Islamabad, including Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. The US delegation comprised Senators Tim Kaine and Angus King. During the meeting, a number of issues, including Pakistan’s relations with the US and the regional situation, came under discussion. Aziz highlighted the steps taken by the government for the country’s economic revival and good governance.

The US Senators appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorism and acknowledged the sacrifices made by Pakistan in this regard. Both sides agreed on addressing the root causes of terrorism to reach a long-term solution.

The recent ceasefire violations across the LoC and the working boundary were discussed at length, with Aziz conveying Pakistan’s viewpoint on the matter.

“Mr Aziz underscored the government’s approach of seeking peace in the neighbourhood and expressed his concern at the current security situation along the LoC,” Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said in a statement.

Delegation holds meeting with PM

The visiting two-member delegation also met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister House and discussed bilateral ties between the two countries and the regional security situation including issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan-India tension along with LoC and working boundary.

Official sources told Dawn that US delegation apprised the Prime Minister about their visit to India and Afghanistan and their meetings prior to Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan wants good ties with immediate neighbors India and Afghanistan so that region may get durable peace, prosperity and economic development.

He also appreciated US support on Bhasha and Dasu dams and told the senators that Pakistan has seen improvement in its economic indicators.

The premier told the visiting senators that Pakistan needs better market access for its products in US.

“Trade is our priority in our relationships. Pakistan and India can only gain through dialogue,” he said adding that “Cancellation of Pak-India Foreign Secretary level talks by India were disappointing.”

“Pakistan considers that United Nations resolutions must be the base for any solution of Kashmir,” Sharif remarked.

He further said that, “People of Kashmir should be part of any solution of Kashmir. UN should honor its own resolutions. Any solution which is endorsed by all parties including Pakistani, India and Kashmir will be the only acceptable solution.”

Violation of ceasefire reported along LoC

Meanwhile, Pakistani military reported a ceasefire violation in Kailer sector near Bagh along the LoC earlier in the afternoon.

“Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing,” a short statement from Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

No loss of life or property was reported.

Moreover, firing along the disputed and working boundary between India and Pakistan has left at least 17 civilians dead in the worst skirmishes in a decade.

In December last year, Pakistan and India had pledged to uphold the 2003 LoC ceasefire accord which had been left in tatters by repeated violations that year. The truce breaches had put the nascent bilateral peace dialogue between the two countries on hold.

Ceasefire violations along the LoC and working boundary between Pakistan and India continue intermittently, with casualties reported on both sides. The Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored de facto border of LoC but is claimed in full by both the countries.