ISLAMABAD: As tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir heightened, Pakistan and India on Monday threatened each other with strong retaliatory measures.
Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza and his Indian counterpart Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt had an unscheduled hotline contact, on Pakistan’s request, over recent ceasefire violations that resulted in the deaths of several civilians.
“Any Indian misadventure from across/along LoC in any form shall be responded with full force at the time and place of our choosing with onus of responsibility on Indian aggressive behaviour,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said after the communication.
India has over the years regularly stepped up cross-LoC ceasefire violations. The number of ceasefire breaches by India this year has already crossed the 400 mark, surpassing last year’s tally of 382.
DGMOs have unscheduled hotline contact over LoC violations
Latest violations have been reported from Battal, Hot Spring and Jandrot sectors. At least eight civilians living on the Pakistani side of the LoC have lost their lives this year due to Indian shelling.
As India’s approach becomes more aggressive, the Pakistan Army’s response too has become tougher.
The ISPR over the past fortnight has twice released video clips showing destruction of Indian posts due to retaliatory fire by Pakistani forces.
Gen Mirza told Gen Bhatt that “killing of innocent civilians and inadvertent crossers at LoC and labelling them infiltrator is highly unprofessional and unsoldierly”, the ISPR said.
India blames cross-LoC movement for the ceasefire violations committed by its troops.
The Pakistan DGMO sought “actionable evidence” on the allegations of infiltration.
He advised Gen Bhatt to “look inwards” for causes behind the aggravating situation in India-held Kashmir instead of blaming Pakistan.
The Pakistan Army, he emphasised, was committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LoC and Working Boundary.
Gen Bhatt, according to an Indian Army statement, responded by saying: “If Pak Army continues to abet infiltrations and cause trans-LoC firings, the Indian Army will take appropriate retaliatory actions.”
Tariq Naqash in Muzaffarabad adds: Another civilian was injured in an Azad Jammu and Kashmir village in overnight Indian firing.
A police official told Dawn from Kotli that schoolteacher Zulfiqar, 45, was sleeping in the courtyard of his house in Red Kathaar village of Goi (Tatta Pani) sector when he fell victim to unprovoked firing by Indian soldiers.
He was referred to Islamabad because of his critical condition.
During the special hotline contact, Maj Gen Mirza raised the issue of unprovoked firing by Indian troops along the LoC and Working Boundary and continuous targeting of innocent civilians, particularly on June 1 in Battal, Hot Spring and Jandrot sectors, which resulted in martyrdom of innocent civilians, the ISPR said.
Two civilians were killed and six others injured in Battal sector of Poonch district on Thursday, while another two were injured in Nezapir sector of Haveli district on Friday.
On Saturday, Indian troops resorted to shelling in Tatta Pani sector and the Pakistan Army aggressively responded.
Indian bunkers were destroyed and at least five Indian soldiers were killed and several others injured in what the army described as a “violent” response to India’s unprovoked ceasefire violation.
Pakistan maintains that India has been igniting tensions along the LoC under a plan to divert the world’s attention from ‘state sponsored terrorism’ unleashed by it in a bid to quell the popular freedom movement of Kashmiri people.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2017