Delhi restraint on soldier deaths

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Trade across the Line of Control came to a halt today amid reports of fresh firing between Indian and Pakistani troops but key sources in Delhi said any immediate retaliatory steps were unlikely.

Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and national security adviser Shivshankar Menon both said there had been no rethink yet on the liberalised visa agreement the neighbours signed last year.

Indian officials also reacted with caution to reports that bilateral trade had stopped across the LoC. An official said Delhi was trying to ascertain whether it was Islamabad's official decision or it was because of local factors in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

India rejected Pakistan's proposal that the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) investigate Delhi's allegation of "barbaric and inhuman mutilation" of two Indian soldiers by Pakistan Army troops.

"(The) UNMOGIP still exists?" Menon said. "I thought they do not have a role."

Menon voiced concern over the "increase" in ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts across the LoC. "There has been an increase in infiltration attempts, not only in the last few months. In 2012 there was an increase overall over 2011. That is a fact. And that is something we are dealing with, both ourselves and with the Pakistani authorities," he said.

An Indian official said India-Pakistan ties were not a "zero sum game. This is not the sum total of everything and has not happened for the first time. Instead of shouting, we should give them (Pakistan) time to take action".

Shinde refused to take an extreme view of the killing of two soldiers, one of whom was beheaded. He said the government would "carry out" the visa deal announced jointly by Shinde and his Pakistan counterpart Rehman Malik late last year.

The first of the visa recipients under the new regime ' that aims to make travel easier for citizens of both countries ' are likely to cross the Wagah border from either side next week. "There is no rethink on the agreement," Shinde told reporters, asked if the government would review the agreement in the wake of the ceasefire violation.

Shinde said there had been inputs that Jamaat ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed met some people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir recently. However, the minister did not dwell on the issue and sources close to him said Saeed often visits PoK. "It is not a new thing," said a source close to Shinde.

The home ministry's refusal to take a hawkish stand appeared to be tied to the action Islamabad is taking against the Mumbai attack suspects.

Sources said voice samples of Lashkar-e-Toiba activist Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi provided by India had been matched by Pakistani agencies. Lakhvi is in a Pakistani jail and, though Delhi claims he is treated like a VIP, the latest inputs from Pakistan suggest action is being taken.

Pakistan is also trying to create a legal framework so that the voice samples India provided might be admissible as evidence in court. "We want to resolve the (Mumbai attack) case at the earliest," Shinde said, explaining that judicial commissions from either side would examine officials involved with the 26/11 case.

Menon cautioned against speculating on the government's next move. "You have heard what the foreign minister said. He has made it quite clear that he is not jumping to any conclusions at this moment…. The government has said what it has to say on the event. You have a selection of adjectives ' reprehensible, barbaric, dastardly, whatever you want. Sadly, it is not the first time this has happened. I hope it never happens again. But we have also told you exactly what we intend to do. So, now I think you should let the government go about its business," he said.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram said: "Whatever has to be done will be done." He also asserted that Indian troops had not violated the ceasefire agreement.

At the UN, a spokesperson for secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the UNMOGIP had received a complaint from the Pakistan Army, which has accused Indian troops of killing one of its soldiers on January 6. Spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the UNMOGIP "will conduct an investigation as soon as possible in accordance with its mandate".

Delhi does not acknowledge the existence of the observer group, though it does have a sprawling office in the heart of the city. It also has an office in Srinagar. "We (India) don't interact with them. Nobody takes them seriously here," said a senior diplomat.

A visit to the UNMOGIP office suggested as much. The gates of the two-storey bungalow were locked at 3pm. The office is manned by a UN representative and an Indian associate. A security guard said both were "out of office on work".

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »