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Central & South Asia

Pakistan soldier 'killed' in Kashmir shooting

Pakistani FM accuses India of "warmongering" after Islamabad says one its soldiers was killed by Indian troops.
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2013 09:28
There are concerns the last standoff will derail the bilateral peace process [Reuters]

One Pakistani soldier has been killed by Indian troops in the latest ceasefire violation in Kashmir, the Pakistani army has revealed.

The soldier was killed at a position called Kundi during firing from the Indian side that began at 10pm local time, the Pakistani army said in a statement. He was the fifth soldier killed in Kashmir in recent weeks.

Speaking in New York, the Pakistani foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, accused India of "warmongering."

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"It is deeply disturbing to hear statements which are upping the ante, where one politician is competing with the other to give a more hostile statement," she said.

Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, said on Tuesday that there could be no "business as usual" with Pakistan.

India has already halted a new visa programme, and the fallout has hit sports events as well.

While diplomats have warned against allowing four recent cross-border killings to wreck a fragile peace process, Singh has called the beheading of an Indian soldier on January 8 "unacceptable."

"What has happened is unacceptable," he said on the sidelines of an army function in New Delhi. "Those responsible for this crime will have to be brought to book."

Rising pressure

India says two of its soldiers were killed by the Pakistani army on January 8, one of whom was decapitated and whose head is still missing. Pakistan denies that its forces were responsible for the killings, and says that two of its own soldiers have died as a result of Indian firing.

Indian-administered Kashmir's chief military commander also increased pressure on Pakistan, saying a meeting on the border on Monday between the two militaries to calm tensions proved fruitless.

"We accused them of carrying out the barbaric attack... we insisted that the head be returned," Lieutenant-General KT Parnaik said in the Kashmir garrison town of Akhnoor.

The deadly exchanges erupted on January 6 along the militarised de facto border in divided Kashmir known as the Line of Control.

After a total break in ties following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which India blamed on Pakistan-based fighters, relations had been slowly improving. Recent talks had focused on opening up trade and offering more lenient visa regimes.

Visa on arrival

India was meant to begin on Tuesday allowing Pakistanis over the age of 65 to obtain a visa on arrival at the border in Punjab.

However, the programme was put on hold until further notice only hours after Indian officials said it had come into force, although the delay was attributed to "technical" reasons.

Nine Pakistani players were also withdrawn from a new field hockey league in India and asked to return home just before Singh's comments.

"Due to extraordinary circumstances, it has been decided to send the nine Pakistan players home," Narinder Batra, Hockey India chief and the league's main organiser, said.

Media reports also said on Tuesday the women's cricket World Cup, scheduled to be played in Mumbai from January 31 to February 17, could be affected due to Pakistan's participation.

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