All cultural exchanges off, prisoner swap under review
By Yatish Yadav | ENS | Published: 16th January 2013 10:03 AM |
All Indo-Pak exchange programmes, including cultural and sports events, are likely to be put on hold as the UPA government believes that an uncompromising Pakistan needs to punished for the ‘barbaric’ beheading of two Indian soldiers and continuous ceasefire violation.
In a first strong tit-for-tat response against the backdrop of the Pakistan Army’s horrific act, the government has also decided to put on hold any political-level talks with Islamabad in the present scenario and the message has been conveyed to all government departments concerned.
Top government sources said the prisoner exchange programme will also be reviewed and may be put on hold in the next few days. The government has also decided to put on hold the much-awaited Visa on Arrival for certain sections of Pakistani citizens under the liberalised visa agreement signed in September last year.
“The government has activated a multi-pronged strategy to counter Pakistan’s high-handedness and a decision was taken to review and suspend the prisoner exchange programme in the current volatile situation. Suggestions from various departments were reviewed before the decision was made. India would like to send a clear message to Pakistan that its action is not appropriate for any kind of exchange programmes,” sources said. On January 1, both the countries had exchanged a list of prisoners — mostly fishermen.
An in-principle decision was also taken by the government to put on hold cultural exchange programmes after a high-level review meeting on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, in the wake of strong protests against Pakistani hockey players, the government has asked intelligence and security agencies to carry out threat assessment for Pakistani singers and reality show stars currently staying and working in India.