New Delhi : For a change Parliament functioned. But then the tempers rose as an outraged Parliament demanded action against Pakistan for the killing of five Indian Army soldiers in the Poonch sector in an ambush.

Union defence minister A K Antony was at the receiving end with former defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav referring to him as a ‘bechara-helpless’ andleader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley calling him an ‘honourable minister.”

As members shot queries at Antony, Yadav observed: Woh nahin bata payenge bechare (he won’t be able to answer all these questions, poor thing).”

At the official level the government summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner to convey its displeasures, but in Parliament former minister Yashwant Sinha spared no punches.” “Whose hand is the government holding -– India or Pakistan’s? Who is the government concerned about, India or Pakistan?” said an angry Sinha.

In a statement in the Lok Sabha, Antony accepted that Pakistan has been violating the ceasefire agreement with impunity. He said,”There have been 57 ceasefire violations in the past few months. The tally has gone up by 80 percent. We strongly condemn the killings and have registered a strong protest with the Pakistan government through diplomatic channels. Our Army is strong and has foiled 17 infiltration bids in the past couple of months and eliminated several terrorists.”

But he clearly gave the Pakistan an escape route for denying its hand as he observed that “the killing of five Indian soldiers was carried out by at least 20 armed terrorists in Pakistani Army uniforms.”

This drew a sharp response from Jaitley who maintained that Pakistan has always remained in denial mode when it comes to violent attacks on India.”They have denied their involvement in the 1999 Kargil War, the 26/11 attacks, the beheading of our soldiers. By saying ‘there were men in Pakistan Army uniform’ the minister just gave Pakistan a clean chit and gave them an opportunity to reiterate their lie,” said the Opposition leader.

He also stressed that in case of Pakistan it is meaningless to have any distinction between state and non-state actors. “The distinction between Pakistan’s state actors and its non state actors has been obliterated. It might be a conscious strategy of Pakistan government to pretend lack of knowledge about terrorist activities. No one knows who controls Pakistan,” he charged.

The BJP’s attack on the Congress party for being soft towards Pakistan however drew a stinging rejoinder from Union parliamentary affairs minister Rajeev Shukla who referred to incidents of violence during the NDA regime. “When Parliament was attacked by terrorists had the then government colluded with Pakistan?” he demanded in response to allegations that Congress was hand-in-glove with Pakistan.

Parliament was attacked by terrorists in 2001 when the NDA government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee was in power.

The BJP has also demanded that India should hold no talks with Pakistan at any level and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should drop his plans to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York next month.

Senior BJP leader and former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha told a press conference that it was unfortunate that the Prime Minister did not feel it necessary to remain present in Parliament and send out a clear message that all parties are united in condemning such acts of Pakistan.

He also ridiculed Defence Minister A K Antony’s claim that ‘our Army is ready to take full steps to uphold the sanctity of LoC.’ “Ready for what — to be killed,” he demanded. He asserted that the Army only needed orders to retaliate, which were not emanating from the UPA government.

Asked if the BJP wants India to declare war on Pakistan, Sinha said Army commanders on the LoC could be given orders to teach Pakistan a lesson, instead of remaining on the defensive.

He wondered what was the point in citing the cease-fire in vogue when there have been 57 violations in the last six months.

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