PM snubs his party, sends NSA to brief Sushma on Pakistan

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Manmohan Sushma Advani
New Delhi, Jan 15: Alarmed by the opposition's tough talk that bordered on revenge for the killing of 2 jawans near the Line of Control and implementation of relaxed visa rules for Pakistanis from today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent his National Security Advisor to the residence of BJP leader Sushma Swaraj to brief her and her party colleague Arun Jaitley about the Pakistan border incident. Normally, the NSA briefs political leaders only during grave situations like war or covert operations.

Shiv Shankar Menon's visit was preceded by the telephonic talk from the PMO. To minimise the effects of BJP's criticism of soft policy of the government on Pakistan, Manmohan Singh himself on Monday had called the two senior leaders and discussed the issue.

The Prime Minister may also not be sharing the view of his party and opened a channel of communication with the Opposition. The Congress had asked the BJP to leave the response to the LoC incident "to professionals who are equipped and tasked with the responsibility."

"Professional armies around the world respect rules of engagement. It is advisable that jingoism needs to be avoided," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

Swaraj stressed that if India cannot recover the head of Lance Naik Hemraj Singh, it should at least bring back 10 Pakistani heads. "The incident that has happened, we should take revenge. Today, the country is demanding that we should not be proved a weak government... If we don't get this (Lance Naik Hemraj Singh's) head, we should get 10 of theirs (Pakistan Army's)," she had said.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who accompanied Swaraj to the martyr's home, said the government should "isolate" Pakistan. "The Pakistani government is provoking people with what they are doing," he told reporters, demanding an apology. "The government should isolate Pakistan as the incident has disturbed not just the family of the slain martyrs but also every Indian," he added.

Even the so called ally of the government, the Samajwadi Party, termed killing of soldiers by Pakistan as a war crime. The SP said Islamabad should be given a befitting reply.

"Killing of two Indian soldiers is a war crime. Pakistan should be given a befitting reply to prevent recurrence of such incidents," SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said in Mirzapur on Monday.

He said he agreed with Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne's remarks that "India may have to look at some other options for compliance of ceasefire" if such incidents continue.

Apart from the strong statement made by Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh, the government has been very diplomatic and soft towards Pakistan even after the barbaric acts. The government maintains that it will try its best to ensure that the peace process was not derailed.

However, the BJP wants an immediate review of the level of engagement with Pakistan. The main opposition party wants a strong message to be conveyed to Pakistan that it cannot seek peace while it violates the ceasefire agreement.

And to add to the government's discomfort, India began today to honour an agreement to give visa on arrival to senior citizens of Pakistan at Wagah.

The tension along the Line of Control began on Jan 6 when the Pakistani Army accused India of killing one of its soldiers and wounding another in a cross-border attack. India said its troops had opened fire following a Pakistani mortar attack but denied they crossed the border. Two days later Pakistani troops violated ceasefire and mutilated the bodies of two jawans - Lance Naiks Hemraj Singh and Sudhakar Singh - killed in Pakistani firing; Hemraj's body was decapitated and the head is missing.

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