India says Pakistan border clashes “extremely serious and provocative”

Monday, 1 September 2014 00:13 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: Clashes along India’s border with Pakistan are “extremely serious and provocative” and not conducive to improving relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday. The comments came nearly two weeks after New Delhi called off top level diplomatic talks, protesting against Pakistan’s meetings with separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir. Exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir have intensified in recent weeks, claiming lives of several people, including soldiers. “The incursions taking place at the border both at the LoC and at the international border are extremely serious and provocative,” Jaitley said. “These are creating an environment which is not being conducive to the relationship of the two countries.” The clashes have further strained ties between the two South Asian countries, which have been at loggerheads over the possession of the Himalayan region of Kashmir since their independence from the British rule in 1947. The two nations have fought three wars and came close to a fourth war in 2001. There have been regular clashes on the heavily militarised Line of Control. Hopes of a warmer relationship had risen after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi about three months ago. Since then relations have deteriorated. Modi on Friday said he was disappointed that Pakistan had made a “spectacle” of the peace efforts. “We will continue to make efforts to build peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties with Pakistan,” he said before leaving for his first state visit to Japan. “But I might add that any meaningful bilateral dialogue necessarily requires an environment that is free from terrorism and violence.”

 Pressure mounts on PM Nawaz Sharif to quit as protests continue

REUTERS: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came under new pressure to resign on Friday as thousands massed outside his residence following more than two weeks of demonstrations against his rule. Imran Khan(C), the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, addresses supporters during the Revolution March in Islamabad 31 August. Protesters led by former cricketer Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadhave have been camped outside parliament for more than two weeks. But it was the first time they had staged a rally directly outside the office of the prime minister to demand he step down. On Saturday, Sharif once again said he would not resign, and police fired tear gas at protesters camped in the so-called Red Zone, home to many government buildings and embassies. Pakistan has been ruled by the military for more than half its history, and the army stepped in this week to try to defuse the unrest. But as of Saturday night, at least 8,000 protesters were still camped out in the centre of the capital. Sharif has displeased the army by trying to strengthen civilian rule and improve relations with India and Afghanistan, and the latest conflict has given the military an opportunity to sideline him on security and foreign policy issues.