MUZAFFARABAD: Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa dismissed on Friday Indian propaganda about presence of alleged rogue elements along the Line of Control (LoC).

“Indian propaganda regarding presence of miscreants along the Line of Control is aimed at spreading unrest in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, but it will never succeed,” he said during a visit to AJK’s Neelum valley to inspect some forward locations.

“People of Azad Jammu and Kashmir are fully aware of Indian atrocities in held Kashmir as well as Indian agendas,” a handout of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted the army chief as saying on the occasion.

The picturesque Neelum valley straddles the heavily militarised LoC and has long been a scene of regular skirmishes and artillery duels between the rival troops.

The valley has borne the brunt of cross-LoC shelling for years until a ceasefire agreement in November 2003 brought much sought-after relief to its more than 250,000 inhabitants. The truce agreement, however, did see violations in the following years, causing even civilian casualties sometimes, but Neelum remained an exception, by and large.

The first ceasefire violation, during which civilian populations were directly hit, was made by Indian troops in Neelum on October 29 last year, when they targeted a tourist rest house in Karen, injuring at least three people.

In less than a month in a worst ceasefire violation, Indian troops hit a passenger bus near Lawat in the Kel sector, killing about 10 people and injuring many others.

Gen Bajwa, who visited the Kel sector on Friday in his third visit to the LoC after assuming office, reiterated that the armed forces of Pakistan would continue to ensure protection and security of the people living along the unmarked dividing line in Kashmir.

The COAS, who was apprised of the army’s in role and support for the ongoing housing and population census, directed that progress and development works in the area be ensured in coordination with the AJK government, the ISPR handout said.

General Officer Commanding 12-Div Maj Gen Azhar Abbas briefed the army chief on the situation along the dividing line and ceasefire violations by India in recent months.

Gen Bajwa appreciated the state of operational preparedness and response to ceasefire violations by Indian troops.

Earlier on his arrival in the area, the army chief was received by 10-corps commander Lt Gen Nadeem Raza.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2017

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