India urged to hold talks as two troops die in shelling

Published August 23, 2013
The photo shows an Indian soldier near the Line of Control. — File/Reuters
The photo shows an Indian soldier near the Line of Control. — File/Reuters

ISLAMABAD: As two more Pakistani soldiers were killed by Indian shelling, Pakistan proposed to India on Thursday meetings of senior diplomats and military officials for implementation of ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC).

Three soldiers and two civilians have so far been killed in almost daily Indian attacks on Pakistani posts and populated areas along the LoC since August 6. Several others have been injured.

Soldier Gul Wahab was killed in the Hot Spring sector and Lance Naik Habibullah in Rakhchakri sector of Rawalakot on Thursday.

The latest proposal for implementation of the ceasefire was made at a meeting between Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and the Indian high commissioner.

“Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani called Indian High Commissioner Dr T.C.A. Raghavan to the Foreign Office today and conveyed Pakistan’s serious concern over the continued and unwarranted ceasefire violations by the Indian army resulting in loss of precious human lives,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said.

It was the third time since the hostilities began and for the second consecutive day that an Indian diplomat was summoned. All protests have so far gone unheeded.

Secretary Jilani warned the Indian envoy that continued shelling could escalate the tensions.

Reiterating Pakistan’s desire for “constructive engagement”, Mr Jilani suggested holding meetings of senior diplomats and military officials for restoration of the 2003 ceasefire accord.

“He proposed that senior officials from the foreign ministries and militaries could meet to discuss ways and means to strengthen and expand the existing military and political mechanisms to ensure that the ceasefire agreement was observed in letter and spirit,” the spokesman said.

Alongside raising the level of the protest where the Indian high commissioner was summoned for the first time, the increase in the number of casualties also brought bitterness in the language of the Foreign Office which had hitherto been very polite in statements on regarding India.

“The people of Pakistan, the leadership and our institutions are fully capable of defending our territory and our interests,” the spokesman said earlier in the day at his weekly media briefing.

He cautioned that Pakistan’s policy of restraint, responsibility, and dialogue in the larger interest of peace in the region should not be misread as its weakness.

Tariq Naqash adds from Muzaffarabad: Two more civilians were injured by Indian shelling in Nakial sector of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday night, triggering panic and fears of displacement among the border area’s residents after a decade-long break.

“They started shelling during the night, yet again without any provocation, targeting various villages of Nakial sector with small weapons and mortars,” Kotli Deputy Commissioner Masoodur Rehman told Dawn.

Shamim Akhtar, 35, and Usama, 12, were injured in Balakot village.

Indian troops also shelled Tatta Pani sector on Thursday evening, but there were no casualties, he said.

The deputy commissioner said the Indian troops were “brazenly targeting civilian populations” which had compelled the administration to consider relocation of people from the affected areas, “as and where unavoidable”.

Around 25 families from Balakot, Datote, Lanjot, and Dheri Dabsi villages had moved to their relatives in rear areas on their own, he said.

DIVIDED FAMILIES: Indian troops added more bitterness to the already charged atmosphere in the region by preventing a riverside meeting of divided Kashmiri families, witnesses said.

Over 100 Kashmiri refugees, including women and children, had to return in despair to their camps in Muzaffarabad from the Chilyana crossing point in Neelum valley after Indian troops did not allow their relatives on the other side of River Neelum to get closer to the riverbank.

According to AFP, a statement issued by the Pakistani military said two soldiers were injured in the “unprovoked firing at Hot Spring (Tatta Pani) sector in the evening” that left Sepoy Gul Wahab dead.

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