Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif has written to his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj seeking to bring down the number of incidents of ceasefire violations across LoC and International Boundary (IB), sources here told TOI.
The letter from Asif, which was delivered to Swaraj last week, stated that it was high time the two countries worked to end these violations as these had also led to a large number of civilians casualties. Asif reiterated Pakistan’s position in the letter that Indian troops were the aggressors and that Pakistan forces were only retaliating.
While Swaraj is yet to respond to the letter, sources here said Pakistan’s contention was difficult to digest as the government’s figures clearly showed that the number of ceasefire violations cause by Pakistan’s troops had increased significantly in 2017.
According to home ministry data, Pakistan violated ceasefire 724 times along IB and LoC until October this year. The figure for such violations for the entire last year was 449. Twelve Indian civilians and 17 security personnel were killed in the firing from across the border until October, the same set of data said.
India is currently awaiting a sovereign guarantee from Pakistan meant to ensure the safety of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family members who want to visit Pakistan to see him. Pakistan recently offered to allow his wife to meet him but India has demanded that his mother too be allowed to visit Jadhav. There was no mention of the Jadhav case in the letter though, sources here said.
Indian officials do not see the letter yet as a possible “ice-breaker” between Asif and Swaraj which could lead to some form of substantive engagement between the two countries. India believes that the recent release of JuD chief and Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed has only further diminished any possibility of any thaw in relations.
Swaraj and Pakistan PM Shahid Abbasi were together at the SCO summit in Sochi last week but neither side proposed any meeting between the two leaders.
Pakistan has repeatedly summoned India’s envoy in Islamabad in the past few months claiming that ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to “a strategic miscalculation”. In his letter to Swaraj, Asif quoted Pakistan’s figures to highlight the alleged ceasefire violations by India. Islamabad claims that Indian troops have been responsible for over 1300 violations this year and had caused the death of 52 civilians.