Two days after its troops killed five Indian jawans in a border ambush, Pakistan sought to play peacemaker with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, expressing "sadness" over "recent incidents on the Line of Control" and saying he looked forward to meeting counterpart Manmohan Singh in the US next month.
Sharif also called for using military-to-military mechanisms "optimally" to ensure such situations don't escalate, said Pakistan was willing to discuss steps to strengthen such mechanisms and added that the neighbours should ensure the 2003 ceasefire agreement is honoured.
"It is incumbent upon the leadership of both sides not to allow the situation to drift and to take steps to improve the atmosphere by engaging constructively with a view to building trust and confidence," he said on Thursday during a briefing at the foreign office, a Pakistan high commission statement said here.
"The PM reiterated the resolve that Pakistan will persist in its efforts to improve relations with India through constructive dialogue on all issues," it added.
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But as Sharif preached peace, a spokesman for his government accused Indian troops of injuring a Pakistani civilian in "unprovoked firing" along the LoC on Thursday morning, and said Islamabad had lodged a protest with New Delhi.
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Rejecting the charge, an Indian defence spokesman said, "There was no unprovoked firing from our side in Poonch sector along the LoC today."
Pakistan has denied any part in Tuesday's killing of the five jawans by a 20-strong gang of intruders 450m on the Indian side of the LoC in Poonch. Sharif's statement on Thursday was also carefully worded, referring to "recent incidents along the LoC that have resulted in the flaring-up of tensions between India and Pakistan and the loss of precious human lives".
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Referring to his proposed meeting with Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month, Sharif said, "We will discuss steps to further build trust and consolidate this relationship."
The Indian side chose to keep Pakistan guessing on the meeting with external affairs minister Salman Khurshid saying, "It should be welcome but we have to proceed with caution. Let us give it time."
With 57 ceasefire violations by Pakistan this year — 80% more than the same period last year, according to defence minister AK Antony — the India-Pakistan border remains tense.
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Tuesday's ambush came seven months after two Indian jawans were massacred, one of them beheaded, near the LoC. Pakistan, on its part, has also complained of Indian forces killing four of its nationals recently. It led to calls in India to put on hold any peace talks with Pakistan.
(Inputs from NU Correspondent, Islamabad)