Pak summons Indian envoy, scraps LoC bus service

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 10:37 hrs

Islamabad: Pakistan's Foreign Office on Friday called in Indian high commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to lodge a protest over the death of a Pakistani soldier in an incident of firing along the Line of Control, which has witnessed a string of clashes since the weekend.

Officials in the Foreign Office told PTI that Sabharwal was served a demarche by Foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani over Thursday's incident in Battal sector of the LoC, which the Pakistan Army said had resulted in the death of a soldier.

The Pakistani state-run radio, Radio Pakistan, reported Sabharwal was told that New Delhi should adhere to the 2003 ceasefire in place along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between the two countries.

There have been three violations of the nine-year-old ceasefire along the LoC in the past five days.

The Indian Army said two of its soldiers were killed in a cross-border raid by Pakistani troops on Tuesday while another Pakistani soldier died on Sunday.

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 the incident that occurred a day earlier.

The External Affairs Ministry had summoned Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir earlier this week to protest the killing of the two Indian soldiers.

Sources said the 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.

Pak suspends bus service

In yet another setback to cross-LoC travel, Pakistan on Friday decided to suspend 'Paigam-e-Aman' bus service between Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Jammu and Kashmir. There would be no bus services on Monday. "Pakistan has suspended the cross-LoC bus service between Chakan-Da-Bagh (J&K) and Rawalakote (PoK) for the time being," Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO), Poonch, Abdul Hamid Sheikh told PTI.

"There would be no cross-LoC bus service on Monday," the TFO said, adding, "No time frame was conveyed to us for re-starting the cross-LoC trade and bus service."

Sheikh said that he contacted director general, trade and travel, PoK for clarifying the situation on LoC trade and travel and he conveyed that there was firing going on and in this situation, no travel can be carried out till further orders.

Pakistan Army had on Thursday refused to open the gates for allowing cross-LoC trade in Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.

25 J&K trucks carrying goods mostly vegetables for traders in PoK were stranded at the checkpoint.

Hours before Thursday's incident in Battal sector of the LoC, Foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar had sought to play down the impact of the recent clashes.

She said Pakistan did not see the recent violations of the LoC ceasefire derailing or setting back the peace process with India.

Khar said the government and people of Pakistan were committed to normalising relations with India and referred to recent breakthroughs in bilateral ties, including steps to normalise trade relations and a new visa agreement.

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