ISLAMABAD/ MUZAFFAR­ABAD: In the sternest warning as yet, Pakistan on Monday signalled that it could consider choking India’s supply lines near the Line of Control (LoC) if the latter did not ‘rein in’ its troops committing ceasefire violations, as six more civilians, four women among them, were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in “unprovoked and indiscriminate” shelling by Indian soldiers.

The threat was conveyed during a conversation between the directors general of military operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India over the telephone hotline. The conversation was held in the aftermath of targeting of a Pakistan Army’s vehicle along the Neelum River on LoC at Athmuqam. The vehicle fell into the Neelum River. Four soldiers drowned after the attack.

The Inter-Services Public Relations said it was a “weekly hotline contact”, which usually happens every Tuesday between officers of operations directorates of the two countries. The Indian Army in its statement said the conversation had been requested by the Pakistani side for discussing the Athmuqam incident.

Last such conversation between the DGMOs took place almost six weeks ago when the Pakistani side sought a contact for protesting over killing of civilians on its side.

DGMOs establish hotline contact

“While we don’t want to go down the path where we start cho­king each other’s supply lines; however, any such recurrence will invoke more strong and effective measures from Pakistan’s side,” Pakistani DGMO Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza told his Indian counterpart during the telephonic contact.

There have been instances in the past when the DGMOs have warned each other of retaliatory actions, but the threats have not been as specific as on this occasion.

India has this year committed record ceasefire violations since the two countries agreed to observe truce at the LoC and Working Boundary. There have been over 580 incidents of ceasefire breaches this year so far, which is way higher than last year’s figures.

Gen Mirza asked for “controlling tactical actions” of Indian troops as these could potentially lead to major standoffs.

“Such acts have the potential to escalate which then will be extremely detrimental to peace and stability,” he added.

Indian DGMO Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt, according to the Indian statement, also threatened retaliatory action.

Six injured in Indian shelling in AJK

An administration official told Dawn that the shelling began at about 7am on Monday without any provocation, with Indian troops targeting almost all villages in AJK’s Nakyal sector with mortar guns. The shelling stopped in the afternoon, but only after leaving at least six people wounded in different villages, he added.

He identified the victims as Shaheen Kosar, 38, and Nazakat Ali Babar, 32, of Oli village, Iftikhar Ahmed, 28, of Marg Jair village, Gul Begum, 50, of Balakot village, Safina Kosar, 28, of Kunda village, and Ms Rowail Akhtar, 40, of Indarla Nar village. They were taken to tehsil headquarters hospital in Nakyal.

AFP adds: An Indian soldier and a girl were killed on Monday during a skirmish at the Line of Control in India-held Kashmir, officials in Srinagar said.

Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said a soldier died when a mortar fired from Pakistan territory landed on a bunker, sparking fierce retaliatory fire.

According to a police officer, an eight-year-old girl was also killed in an exchange of fire across the LoC, and her mother was seriously injured.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2017