Indian army chief threatens Pakistan

General Bikram Singh’s remarks come amid mounting public anger in India after Delhi accused Pakistani soldiers of slitting the throat of one of the soldiers and decapitating him.Despite each side blaming the other for the worst outbreak of violence in the area since a ceasefire was agreed nine years ago, analysts said a breakdown in ties was highly unlikely.
The two nations have fought three wars, two over Kashmir, since independence in 1947 and are now both nuclear-armed.
Calling the beheading of the soldier “gruesome”, Singh told a news conference: “We reserve the right to retaliate at a time and place of our choosing.”
Singh said the Indian army would honour the ceasefire in Kashmir, so long as Pakistan did, but would respond immediately to any violation of the truce.
“I expect all my commanders at the Line of Control to be both aggressive and offensive in the face of provocation and fire,” he said.
Last week’s fighting in the Himalayan region both nations claim comes at a time when the two sides have made some progress in repairing ties, notably by opening trade links.
Both armies have lost two soldiers each in the fighting along parts of the 740-km (460-mile) de facto border this month.
“The attack on January 8 was premeditated, a pre-planned activity. Such an operation requires planning, detailed reconnaissance,” Singh said.
His remarks came hours before local commanders met at a crossing point on the ceasefire line for the first time since the fighting erupted to try and reduce tensions. Both sides lodged protests, accusing each other of ceasefire violations.
The ceasefire in Kashmir has held since it went into effect in November 2003, surviving even the crisis in ties after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 by Pakistan-based militants.
Analysts said it was unlikely the two armies would escalate the situation further and that Singh’s remarks may well have been made to maintain the morale of his troops and to respond to a public outcry over the mutilation of both soldiers’ bodies.
“He is trying to tell Pakistan that it cannot afford to open another front while it is in a very critical state because of a large number of internal issues,” said research fellow Ashok K. Behuria at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
“He’s under pressure from the Indian people and the media but I don’t think that India will be so proactive as to respond disproportionately to the situation,” Behuria said.
The family members of the slain Indian soldier, Hemraj Singh, have started a hunger strike demanding retribution and that his remains be back brought back. The family is not related to the army chief.
“Our demand is not something big. My brother’s head should be brought back and the Pakistanis should be taught a lesson,” said Jai Singh in their village in northern India.
(Source: bdnews24.con/FLARE-UP)

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