House wants ‘befitting’ reply to Pak

*Ambush at LoC *Oppn slams Antony for giving Pak an ‘escape route’

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:August 7, 2013 3:48 am

Parliament witnessed a charged up atmosphere Tuesday as members in both houses demanded a “befitting reply” to Pakistan over the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control. Opposition MPs demanded immediate action on Pakistan,saying that talks should be suspended and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should not meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York next month on the sidelines of UN General Assembly as planned.

Defence Minister A K Antony,who made a statement before both houses,condemned the attack and said,“I assure the House that our army is fully ready to take all necessary steps to uphold the sanctity of LoC.” He said the “morale of armed forces is very high” and they are capable of handling the situation. He said the ambush was carried out by heavily armed terrorists “along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform”. This triggered angry reactions from opposition MPs,who said it amounted to giving an “escape route” to Pakistan which said its army is not responsible.

In the Lok Sabha,SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said neither Pakistan nor China can be trusted and both have been aggressive towards India. “Our five soldiers have been killed on the LoC. Our army is not weak,” he said,demanding to know India’s response to the action by the Pakistan troops. “This is a matter of national unity,national security and self-confidence. Tell us why we are not able to stop these attacks,” he said.

In the Rajya Sabha,the parties expressed the need to revisit the foreign policy in the wake of recent attacks by not only Pakistan but also China,Sri Lanka and even Maldives. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said that Antony’s contention that “the attack was carried out by persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform provides an escape route to Pakistan which has always been in a state of denial,even in Kargil where it said non-State actors were involved”.

He termed Antony’s statement as “ambiguous” and took a dig,saying that he hoped it was a “typographical error”.

Jaitley said that such incidents shall not be seen in isolation while making reference to increased incidents of infiltration in the recent times. “Our soldiers were beheaded,then there was case of Sarabjit Singh,two days back there was bombing outside Indian consulate in in Afghanistan,there were series of cross-border incidents,” he said. He said that there is a “need to modulate our foreign policy to send a message to Pakistan that these kinds of attacks will not be tolerated”.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury too slammed Antony’s statement and sought to know the basis for the conclusion. “Whose information was this? Is it your own assessment? I have not seen such a categorical statement. If there is any basis,please share with us,” he said.

SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav said,“The statement by the Defence Minister was disappointing and detrimental for the morale of the armed forces. Sadly our leadership is not in a position to take a strong stand.”

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the Indian troops should be allowed to teach Pakistan a lesson. He said the killing of five soldiers should be avenged by killing 50 Pakistani soldiers. AIADMK V Maitreyan said whether the attacks are by Pakistan,China or Sri Lanka,the “government was eloquently silent”.

In his reply,Antony said,“My statement is based on confirmed reports received till the time I made the statement… At this stage we don’t want to jump to any conclusion.”

Earlier in the day,the upper house witnessed a spat between Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyar and SP’s Naresh Agarwal over the decision to start a debate on the killings. Opposition members were pressing for a reply by the PM when Aiyar said there were equally serious issues concerning rise in natural gas prices listed for Question Hour and asked the SP members if they were not concerned about it. On this,Agarwal made an insinuation against Aiyar which the Chairman expunged. “How dare you call me that,” Aiyar said,as he charged towards Agarwal. He was,however,stopped by other members.

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