Plans to restart Indian-Pakistani peace discussions appeared to hang in the balance after an alleged border "ambush" reportedly killed five Indian military personnel on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said about 20 attackers had received assistance in the assault from backers wearing Pakistani military garb. The Indian Defense Ministry initially said Pakistan's army had taken a direct collaborating role in the alleged assault near the Line of Control separating the disputed province of Kashmir, but later backed away from the allegation in the interest of preserving stability, the wire service reported.
Indian army insiders said that Pakistan's Border Action Team was responsible for the strike. That group has ties to extremists, including the organization behind the 2008 terrorist assault on Mumbai.
Pakistani defense expert Imtiaz Gul said Tuesday's incident "looks like part of a pattern of sabotage activities carried out by war lobbies, by people who are not interested in peace, who are not interested in the normalization of talks."
Islamabad, though, reaffirmed its dedication to the peace process and denied any armed clash at the Kashmir boundary. The border was the starting point for two of the three wars to date between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors, and experts widely fear that future clashes might risk escalation to the use of atomic weapons.
The incident came less than a week after Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said her government planned on "picking up the threads from where we left off" before Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's May election victory. Any outreach, though, “presupposes an environment free of violence and of terror," Agence France-Presse quoted her as saying.