MUZAFFARABAD, Jan 1: Pakistan army officials said on Tuesday the situation on the border with India was still highly dangerous despite signs of an easing of the tension between the hostile neighbours.
They said there had been exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani forces across their border in the disputed Kashmir region late on Monday and on Tuesday morning and residents in one area said a man had been killed.
“It is still highly explosive and dangerous,” said an army official in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir.
“Any small incident could lead to the situation becoming out of control,” he said.
There has been a surge in tension between the two neighbours since a bloody raid on India’s parliament on Dec 13.
India blames the attack, in which 14 people were killed, on Pakistan-based Islamic militants fighting Indian rule in disputed Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.
The two countries, which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, have traded intermittent fire in Kashmir and bolstered forces along the frontier in their biggest military build-up in almost 15 years.
But in the first sign of an easing in the stand-off, India on Monday opened the door to the possibility of talks between the countries’ leaders on the sidelines of a regional summit in Nepal later this week.
NO CHANGE ON GROUND: The Pakistan military official said for the time being there was no change in the face-off across a ceasefire line — known as the Line of Control — in Kashmir.
“Though there are positive signals at the top level from both sides, in practical terms, on the ground there is no change,” the official said.
“The Indians have strengthened some of their forward posts on the Line of Control in the last few days.
“There could be no change in the situation unless the two countries decide to talk or pull back from the Line of Control.”
Residents of Rawalakot district in Pakistani Kashmir said one man was killed and two people were wounded by Indian fire across the border on Monday evening.
Pakistani military sources said Indian troops opened fire on Pakistan positions to the north of the border town of Chakothi with mortars and small arms on Tuesday morning.
Pakistan returned fire. There were no casualties on the Pakistan side, they said.
“We retaliated and silenced the Indian guns,” one official said. Thousands of civilians on both sides of the border have fled from their homes since the sharp rise in tension.—Reuters