Pakistan Says India Tensions Peaking Again After Soldier's Death
Published on Sunday, June 23, 2002 by Agence France Presse
Pakistan Says India Tensions Peaking Again After Soldier's Death

Pakistan's military warned that tensions with nuclear rival India were as high as ever following the alleged torture and shooting of one of its unarmed soldiers.

Major General Rashid Qureshi
Pakistan's military spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi has warned that military tensions with nuclear rival India could "snowball" after claiming Indian troops had tortured and killed an unarmed Pakistani soldier. (AFP/Saeed Khan)
Military spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi said recent progress in de-escalating tensions between the two nuclear rivals had been eroded because of the death and said India risked being blamed for a "state-sponsored" killing if it did not punish those involved.

"Whatever cosmetic actions the Indians have taken have not reduced tensions at all," Qureshi told AFP, referring to recent diplomatic and military manouevres by India aimed at easing the crisis.

"This just goes to show tensions are exactly what they were a month back or a few months back.

"There is no decrease in tension at all."

Qureshi said he had heard no official response from India after calling for an inquiry into the death of Lance Corporal Naik Maqsood, who he said was tied up, interrogated "by third degree methods" and shot after being dragged from the no man's land between the two countries.

"They need to take action, otherwise it will be state-sponsored," Qureshi said.

"If the government is not involved the government needs to take action against the perpetrators of this.

"It's something we will not forget. It's something that needs to be investigated and if they say they are fair and open they need to investigate it and get to the bottom of it."

India has denied any torture and said Maqsood was shot while trying to cross into India. Pakistan said the ranger was captured by a group of Indian soldiers after rounding up a pair of runaway camels.

Qureshi said the incident had created dangerous "bitterness" among Pakistani ranks, which could prove extremely dangerous with a million troops from both sides massed on their international border and the Kashmir Line of Control.

The world had heaved a collective sigh of relief in recent weeks after top-level international diplomatic pressure appeared to have brought about a climb-down.

India withdrew its navy from waters off Pakistan, reopened its airspace to Pakistani flights, announced it is appointing a new ambassador and granted leave to soldiers stationed on the borders.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, reflecting after the worst of the crisis appeared to be over, told an American news magazine it had been "touch and go" whether the two countries would go to war.

"I did not rule out the possibility of war. Until the last minute we were hoping that wiser counsels would prevail," Vajpayee told Newsweek in an interview released on Saturday.

But Pakistan has repeatedly warned just a small spark could ignite a large-scale conflict.

©2002 AFP