India non committal on talks with Pakistan

India emphasised Tuesday that the “current environment” of “unprovoked incidents on the LoC” does not fit into an atmosphere for holding peaceful dialogue with Pakistan but did not discount talks saying a call would be taken at the appropriate time.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that India welcomes Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s articulation of seeking good ties with India, but stressed that “unprovoked incidents on the LoC (Line of Control) naturally have consequences for bilateral relations” and that “upholding the sanctity of the LoC is one of the most important CBMs between the two countries.
“For us, it is vital to uphold the sanctity of the LoC,” he said.

To a question of whether India would go ahead with holding secretary-level talks with Pakistan that are due to be held, Akbaruddin said that India has received a proposal last month from Pakistan for holding secretary-evel dialogue.

“But for a peaceful dialogue to proceed we need an environment free of violence and terror, and what has happened last week does not fit into that,’ the spokesperson said, but added immediately that no timeline had been set for the talks to be held. “We will factor in all subsequent developments, and we will take a call on it in due time and well ahead of what is requred to be responded to,” he said.

India and Pakistan are to hold talks on Sir Creek, a 96-km strip of water that is disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands in Gujarat, and the Wullar Barrage built on Jhelum river in Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan has protested against.

The spokesperson tactfully ducked a question on whether the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sharif would be held in New York. He said the meeting, scheduled to be held in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was “quite a distance away” and counselled journalists to be patient.

In a border flare-up, Pakistani troops last week killed five Indian soldiers on the LoC, which divides Kashmir between the two countries, triggering anger in the country and calls by the opposition BJP to call off talks.