NEW DELHI: After India lodged a firm protest over the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops, the Pakistani Army rejected New Delhi's claim.
Pakistan has denied India's claims, with an army spokesman describing them as "propaganda" aimed at diverting attention away from an Indian incursion two days earlier in which one Pakistani soldier was killed. India denies that its troops crossed over the line during last weekend's incident.
A Pakistani foreign ministry official dismissed the latest flare-up. "These small issues have been going on for years - I don't think it will have much overall effect on the (peace) talks going on," said the official, who asked not to be named.
Mushahid Hussain, a Pakistani senator and member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, said that the Indian government - dogged by corruption scandals and facing a tough election as early as this year - was returning to "the war-like language of the past" for domestic political reasons.
"Pakistan has its hands full with a full-blown insurgency inside its borders. It doesn't suit Pakistani interests at all to raise the temperature along the LoC," Hussain said.
The Director General Military Operations for the Pakistan Army was quoted saying: 'Our troops did not carry out attack. Indians are making counter claim to cover their attack on a Pakistani post'.
"Indian authorities were informed that Pakistan has carried out ground verification and checked and found nothing of this sort happened as being alleged by India," a military official told the reporters in a text message.
India lashes out at Pakistan
India slammed Pakistan on Wednesday over a rare firefight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed, but the spat between the nuclear-armed rivals appeared unlikely to escalate into a full-blown diplomatic crisis.
India summoned Pakistan's envoy in New Delhi to lodge a protest over Tuesday's clash, and accused Pakistani troops of "barbaric and inhuman" behaviour. It said Pakistani soldiers crossed the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and fired at one of its army patrols.
The body of one of the soldiers was found mutilated in a forested area on the side controlled by India, Rajesh K. Kalia, spokesman for the Indian army's Northern Command, said. However, he denied Indian media reports that one of the bodies had been decapitated and the throat of another had been slit.
"Two Indian soldiers were killed in the attack and their bodies subjected to barbaric and inhuman mutilation," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement after Pakistan's High Commissioner to India had been called in.
Although India's defence minister described the incident as "highly provocative", its foreign minister sought to cool tensions, saying that exhaustive efforts to improve relations could be squandered if the situation was not contained.
"I think it is important in the long term that what has happened should not be escalated," Salman Khurshid told a news conference. "We cannot and must not allow the escalation of any unwholesome event like this."
"We have to be careful that forces ... attempting to derail all the good work that's been done towards normalisation (of relations) should not be successful," the foreign minister added, without elaborating on who such forces might be. (Agencies)