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No “business as usual” with Pakistan says Manmohan

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday there could be no “business as usual” with Pakistan after a clash last week along the line dividing the arch-rivals in Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated.

Speaking to reporters at a ceremony to mark India’s Army Day, Singh said that the killings on January 8 on the Line of Control, in which one of the soldiers was beheaded, were a “barbaric act”.

His remarks come after the Indian army chief General Bikram Singh said India reserved the right to retaliate at a time and place of its choosing and he had instructed his ground commanders to be aggressive in the face of provocation.

Despite each side blaming the other for the worst outbreak of violence in the area since a ceasefire was agreed nine years ago, analysts said a breakdown in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors was highly unlikely.

Singh has been pushing for a rapprochement with Pakistan, despite opposition not only from the main rival political party but also from within his ruling coalition.

Yet Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said ties could not remain unaffected by the flare-up on the border.

“Such actions by the Pakistan army which are in contravention of all norms of international conduct not only constitute a grave provocation but lead us to draw appropriate conclusions about Pakistan’s seriousness in pursuing normalization of relations with India.”

Each army has lost two soldiers in fighting along parts of the 740-km (460-mile) de facto border this month.

The decapitation of one of the Indian soldiers provoked outrage in the country and demands of retribution including from his family which wanted the severed head of the soldier back.

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