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Indian troops fire at Pakistani posts

Updated August 12, 2013

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE, Aug 11: Indian troops on Sunday fired at Pakistani posts across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Nakial sector near Kotli and the Bajwat sector of the Sialkot working boundary, according to military sources.

However, no loss of life was reported.

Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said that Pakistani troops responded with “restraint and responsibility” to unprovoked Indian firing.

A spokesman for Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) said that Indian forces used mortar guns and other heavy weapons in the firing across the Sialkot working boundary.

He said Rangers personnel retaliated in the same coin.

The Rangers spokesman said Sunday’s incident was the fifth violation by Indian troops over the past two weeks.

He said Rangers authorities had officially lodged a protest with their Indian counterparts over the latest incident.

Officials of Chenab Rangers said Indian troops started indiscriminate firing from their Sumbal post on villages in the Bajwat sector at 7am which continued for three hours.

They said Indian troops tried to target Chenab Rangers’ Ejaz Shaheed and Burji posts in the Bajwat sector. Indian guns were silenced when Chenab Rangers retaliated, they added.

The fresh attacks came in the backdrop of Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh’s directives to his troops to launch strikes against Pakistan Army in the aftermath of the alleged Aug 6 LoC attack on an Indian patrol in Poonch sector in which five soldiers were killed.

Gen Singh, according to Hindustan Times, visited Nagrota-based Headquarters 16 Corps outside Jammu after the reported incident and reprimanded commanders for not ordering artillery and mortar fire on Pakistani posts.

The fresh attacks have left the already battered 10-year old ceasefire accord in tatters.

The 2003 ceasefire accord, under which both countries committed not to target each other’s troops and posts, has been under strain since the beginning of this year. According to Pakistan Army’s statistics, India violated the ceasefire accord over 190 times this year. Indians accuse Pakistan of 58 violations.

The FO spokesman underscored the importance of observing ceasefire.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a special session at the Foreign Office on Thursday which discussed the aggravating situation on the LoC.

Mr Sharif called for utilising existing military-to-military channels to prevent further escalation and discussions for further strengthening these mechanisms.

The contact between directors general military operation of the two countries, one of military mechanisms referred to by Mr Sharif, took place on Aug 7, a day after the incident in Poonch sector, but it had failed to prevent further escalation.

Mr Sharif is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh next month in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. The meeting is under doubt after recent incidents. However, there is no official word as yet from Delhi on whether or not the meeting would take place as planned.

Pakistan hopes that the fragile peace talks with India would survive the LoC crisis.