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No business as usual with Pakistan: Indian PM

NEW DELHI/AMRITSAR: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned yesterday that there “cannot be business as usual” with neighboring Pakistan after last week’s deadly flare-up along the border in disputed Kashmir.
“It cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan, he told reporters on the sidelines of an army function.
“What has happened is unacceptable,” he added in reference to the killing of two Indian soldiers, one of whom was beheaded.
“Those responsible for this crime will have to be brought to book.”
Singh’s comments came a day after commanders of the rival armies traded protests over the border exchanges.
The Indian government has accused Pakistani soldiers of crossing into Indian territory and killing two of its soldiers on Jan. 8.
Pakistan denies its troops were involved in any such incident and has accused Indian troops of killing two of its soldiers.
Foreign ministers of both sides have warned against escalating tensions. But the Indian army chief of staff told his commanders Monday to respond “aggressively” to any future Pakistani firing across the heavily militarized de facto border in divided Kashmir, known as the Line of Control.
India’s chief military commander in Kashmir cranked up pressure yesterday on Pakistan, saying Monday’s border meeting aimed at calming tensions was fruitless.
“We accused them of carrying out the barbaric attack... we insisted that the head be returned,” Lieutenant General K. T. Parnaik told a press conference in the Kashmir garrison town of Akhnoor.
“We (also) drew their attention to the frequent firing in the area,” the Press Trust of India quoted the general as saying
“At the end of the meeting, they were as arrogant and adamant — not ready to admit anything. We do not believe in reacting in hate and anger. We have our plans. We will react in time,” the general added.
India meanwhile suspended a new program to allow Pakistani pensioners to get visas on arrival at the border, citing technical glitches only hours after officials said it had begun yesterday.
Home Secretary R.K. Singh told reporters the scheme, which was designed to issue visas on arrival to senior citizens from Pakistan, had been suspended until further notice.
“Couple of points has to be ironed out on that. There are technical issues, documents required. We will iron it out after consultation with other agencies,” he said.
The suspension was announced the same day that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned neighboring Pakistan that there “cannot be business as usual” between the two countries after last week’s deadly flare-up in disputed Kashmir.
Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia, a spokesman for the Home Ministry, insisted to AFP that the decision over visas had “nothing to do with tensions along the India-Pakistan border.”
India last week accused Pakistani troops of killing two of its soldiers, one of whom was beheaded. Pakistan denies its troops were to blame for any such incident.
It says two of its own soldiers were killed by Indian firing in the last nine days along the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed region of Kashmir where a ceasefire has been in place since 2003.
The visa deal was sealed last month, when the interior ministers from both countries met in New Delhi and decided to institute measures making cross-border travel easier.
The new agreement was to allow Pakistanis aged over 65 to arrive at the Attari/Wagah land border dividing the Punjab region and apply for a single-entry Indian visa for a duration of up to 45 days.
An Indian customs official on the border, who declined to give his name, told AFP earlier in the day that the process to issue visas had begun, but refused to say if any Pakistanis had made use of the facility yet.
The two countries have fought three wars since independence in 1947. They resumed talks two years ago, after New Delhi suspended negotiations following militant attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 that killed 166 people.