ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif reviewed the operational preparedness of the country’s armed forces on Monday, even as the military claimed three instances of ceasefire violations by Indian forces across the Line of Control (LoC).
According to a brief statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Sharif visited the headquarters of the Strike Corps, the name given to the famed 1 Corps based in Mangla.
A brief video released by the ISPR shows Strike Corps Commander Lt Gen Umar Farooq Durrani briefing the army chief. Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Sadiq Ali, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman, Gujranwala Corps Commander Lt Gen Ikramul Haq and Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza were also present at the occasion.
The army chief’s visit to the 1 Corps is seen as a clear message to the enemy that the armed forces are ready to meet any eventuality.
Unconfirmed reports of contact between Indian, Pakistani national security advisers surface
Retired Lt Gen Ghulam Mustafa, who used to command the Strike Corps, termed the army chief’s visit to Mangla “highly significant”.
“Normally, such meetings take place at the General Headquarters and are not announced. This was a clear message to India, and the presence of other corps commanders during the preparedness-level review is also noteworthy,” he said.
Meanwhile on the LoC, tensions between the two South Asian nuclear-armed nations ran high as Pakistan’s military accused India of violating the ceasefire thrice in one day.
According to the ISPR, the first violation took place between Sunday night and Monday morning in the Iftikharabad sector, near Mirpur. Shelling began just after midnight and continued for nearly four hours.
The second violation was reported in the Nezapir sector near Sialkot, where firing from across the border started at 11:30am.
Hours later, the Kailer sector near Bagh in AJK also saw unprovoked firing from across the LoC around 2:30pm.
Pakistani forces retaliated in a befitting manner, but there were no reports of any casualties or losses, the ISPR said.
Ties between Pakistan and India worsened after an attack on a military camp in Uri, inside India-held Kashmir on Sept 18, where around 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
India alleged that Pakistan-backed terrorists were involved in the attack and initially claimed that weapons recovered from them bore Pakistani markings. However, this assertion was debunked by the Indian media itself, forcing the Indian DGMO to retract the claim.
Since then, India violates the ceasefire along the LoC on an almost daily basis. The escalation continued when India claimed to have carried out surgical strikes across the LoC on Sept 29, claims Pakistan rejected as being baseless.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports surfaced on Monday regarding contact between the national security advisers of the two countries. However, these could not be independently verified.
The ANI news agency reported that Naseer Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval had spoken on the phone following the recent escalation in tensions between the two sides.
ANI quoted Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz as confirming that the two men had spoken, but Mr Aziz could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.
Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2016