Beheading of soldiers hit Indo-Pak ties, says PM

Pakistan PM to visit India for a pilgrimage to Ajmer

Ahead of his Pakistani counterpart Raja Prevez Ashraf’s visit to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that the brutal killing of two Indian Army soldiers by the military personnel of the neighbouring country along the Line of Control (LoC) on January 8, had cast a shadow on the bilateral dialogue.

“Incidents such as the barbaric manner in which two Indian soldiers were killed on the Line of Control in January 2013 vitiate the atmosphere and cast a shadow on the bilateral dialogue process,” Prime Minister told the Lok Sabha.

He was replying to a debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.

Singh’s comment came just three days ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister’s visit to India, for a  pilgrimage to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer in Rajasthan.

“Further, we are yet to see tangible progress in dismantling the terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan and in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008,” he said.

Singh’s tough-talk came in the backdrop of the clashes between the armed forces of the two countries along the LoC in January. He particularly referred to the January 8 incident near the LoC at Mendhar in Jammu and Kashmir, where two Indian soldiers were killed by Pakistan Army.

Pakistan Prime Minister is also not scheduled to have any official talks with Singh or any other representative of the Indian Government during his pilgrimage to Ajmer.

“He is only coming to offer prayers at Ajmer,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told journalists outside the Parliament House. “He will possibly be received by (Rajasthan) Governor (Margaret Alva). There is no further programme,” said Khurshid. A similar pilgrimage by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Ajmer in April 2012 was turned into a major diplomatic event.

Singh, however, on Wednesday said that India would expect Pakistan to take steps to “create conducive environment” and to take the process of normalisation forward.
 “Normal, good-neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan -- free from the threat of violence, and enhanced bilateral economic cooperation -- would be in our mutual interest,” said the Prime Minister.

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