New Delhi, Aug. 8 (ANI): External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday appealed to the opposition to work in unison with the Central Government, saying that it was the only constructive way forward so that India can send a strong message to Pakistan on the Poonch District killings of five Indian Army soldiers by Pakistani troops on Tuesday morning.
"The Opposition is with us; I believe that we are united. They might have made some statements because of their political constraints, but I believe deep down they also want the Government of India to send a strong message regarding the incident. We will face the present situation with strength and we have full faith that the opposition will support us," Khurshid said.
On Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition had severely criticized the Congress-led Central Government after they felt that A.K. Antony's statement had contradicted Army's account of the incident.
On Thursday, Antony made an updated statement in which he declared that the onus of the Poonch District incident was directly on the Pakistani Army and that India would respond with a strong message.
Though the BJP has welcomed Antony's updated statement, they have also urged the Centre to suspend talks with Pakistan.
Responding to the BJP's stand on talks, Khurhsid appealed to them saying that both the ruling government as well as the opposition must work together in order to be productive and constructive.
"The multiple voices amongst politicians on this issue worries me tremendously. I hope you will join me in this worry because the discordant voices, the tower of Babel, come because there is a hope and experience that those discordant voices will get aired and presented by the media in India. ...I can't blame you (the media), I have to blame ourselves. We politicians have to know what our responsibility is. Unfortunately, our resolve to fight forces that want to undermine India's sovereignty and security, we are ending up helping those very forces because of discordant voices. So, I make a fervent appeal, once again, to the opposition-please learn to trust your own people, you will not be able to accomplish anything nor will we accomplish anything unless we trust each other," Khurshid said.
On Thursday, shortly after noon, Antony made a fresh statement in Parliament after being briefed on the facts by Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh.
"It is now clear that Specialist Forces of the Pakistan Army were involved in the attack. Those in Pakistan who are responsible for this tragedy, should not go unpunished. Our restraint should not be taken for granted," said Antony.
Antony said that his earlier statement to both Houses of Parliament were made on the basis of facts available to him then, and that now, he was making a fresh and amended statement based on the feedback provided to him by General Bikram Singh after the latter's visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday.
"We all know that nothing happens from the Pakistan side of the LoC without the support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of the Pakistan Army. Pakistan must take steps to punish those responsible for the attack. Pakistan should also dismantle all terrorist apparatus on its soil," said Antony.
He also warned that attacks such as this will have consequences not only on the Line of Control (LoC), but also naturally on the (future) relationship with Pakistan.
He said that the Indian Government would not stand by the wayside and allow the sanctity of the LoC to be violated time and again.
"The capacity of our armed forces, the resolve of the government to uphold the sanctity of the LoC should not be doubted," Antony said.
Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha) Sushma Swaraj had welcomed the Defence Minister's statement at the Floor of the House and expressed their support.
"The opposition is not politicising the issue, but we were just trying to show Pakistan the real sentiment of the Parliament and the people of this country through your medium. Today, the entire Parliament supports this statement of yours and sends out a message to Pakistan that such incident cannot be repeated again," Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha today.
Yashwant Sinha on Thursday reiterated the BJP stance on talks with Pakistan saying that his party was strongly against pursuing them.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was scheduled to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York in September.
Though Nawaz Sharif had publicly expressed his desire to mend the Indo-Pak relationship earlier, Tuesday morning's killings along the LoC of Indian patrolling soldiers are likely to dent ties between the two countries.
Khurshid acknowledged Pakistan's shifting stance with regard to the peace process with India and said, "We are not getting proof that Pakistan wants to embark on a peace process with us. The repeated incidents don't give us clarity on the matter right now; when we get that, we will see what is to be done." (ANI)