Pakistan Foreign Minister rules out improvement in ties with India

Pakistan Foreign Minister rules out improvement in ties with India

ISLAMABAD : Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday asserted that Islamabad does not “expect” any improvement in relations with New Delhi as long as the Indian army continues to violate the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary.

Asif’s statement comes a day after cross-border firing injured two locals in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district. Three members of a visiting United Nations Military Observers Mission for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), who had arrived to inspect the situation along the LoC barely escaped with their lives.

The UN officials were in the Polas village, hardly a kilometre away from the dividing line, when the cross-border firing began. The officials, who had been speaking to residents about the situation along the border, were “in a state of shock” after the unexpected incident, police said.

“India is violating the ceasefire agreement time and again on the Line of Control and Working Boundary,” Radio Pakistan quoted Asif as saying. “In such circumstances, we are not expecting improvement in relations between the two countries,” the foreign minister told a private news channel.

In May last year, two UN observers had a narrow escape in AJK’s Bhimber district, when their vehicle was allegedly targeted by Indian troops from across the LoC.

Ceasefire violations are a frequent feature along the LoC and Working Boundary despite the leadership of Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Forces agreeing in November 2017 that the “spirit” of the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement must be revived to protect innocent lives.

Last month, the foreign office had claimed that Indian forces had committed more than 190 ceasefire violations since the start of 2018, killing 13 civilians and injuring 65 others through the use of heavy mortars and automatic weapons. - Agencies