India summons Pakistan envoy amid spike in tension (Roundup)

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) India stepped up its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan by summoning Islamabad’s envoy here on Wednesday to hand over a list of evidences about his country’s complicity in a cross-border terror attack on an army base in Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned High Commissioner Abdul Basit to remind him of his government’s “solemn commitment in January 2004 to not allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India.

“The persistent and growing violation of this undertaking is a matter of very serious concern,” a statement from the External Affairs Ministry said.

“The latest terrorist attack in Uri underlines the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan remains active. We demand Pakistan lives up to its public commitment to refrain from supporting and sponsoring terrorism against India.”

India has said that the four terrorists who attacked the military base and were killed in a gunfight came from across the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border dividing Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries.

The statement also listed the items recovered from the slain terrorists, including GPS devices, grenades, communication equipment, food, medicines and clothes made in Pakistan.

The GPS devices have coordinates that indicate the point and time of infiltration, and have recorded the route to the terror attack site in the garrison town of Uri, near the LoC.

“If the government of Pakistan wishes to investigate these cross-border attacks, India is ready to provide finger prints and DNA samples of terrorists killed,” the statement said, expecting “a response from the government of Pakistan”.

Pakistan did not react immediately to Basit’s summoning that came hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a security review meeting with his top cabinet colleagues, including Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath SIngh.

There were no details about the meeting. But sources said the Uri attack was discussed.

Defence Minister Parrikar at a separate event here said India was capable of a “knee jerk reaction” if required to hit at Pakistan.

“I will not go into the details of what we are going to do. But if required I can have a knee-jerk reaction also. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction is also required,” the minister said.

“This country is a very responsible power. That does not mean I will sleep over this kind of terrorism that is being pushed across the border. How I do it, is entirely for the government and the Prime Minister to decide. We will take a proper reading of everything.”

He admitted there may have been some security lapses within the army camp that allowed the Uri assault to take place.

“Something must have been wrong… I will not go into details of it because it is a very sensitive matter. When something goes wrong while you try to correct it, you should also ensure that it does not happen again.”

Amid the tension, Pakistan closed its air space in northern areas.

State-run airline cancelled all flights to Gilgit-Baltistan after the aviation regulator’s order. “As per the directives of CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), the air space over Northern areas (was) closed on Wednesday,” Danyal Gilani of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) tweeted.

All flights to Gilgit, Skardu in the Gilgit-Baltistan region and Chitral in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province were cancelled.

The Express Tribune suggested that Pakistan’s warplanes may have been engaged in a takeoff and landing rehearsal at Chitral amid “threats from India”. Geo News said the Pakistani armed forces were “on high alert”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is set to address the UN General Assembly on Wednesday during which he is expected to focus on the Kashmir situation and relations with India.

–IANS

sar/mr

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