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Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visits CMH Sialkot to meet those injured in recent Indian shelling.—INP
Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visits CMH Sialkot to meet those injured in recent Indian shelling.—INP

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa on Monday re-emphasised Pakistan’s strong commitment to the 2003 ceasefire understanding, but vowed strong response to violations by India on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB).

“Our commitment to abide by the ceasefire agreement of 2003 should never be misconstrued as response limitation. Indian aggression or any misadventure shall always get the most befitting response,” Gen Bajwa was quoted by the Inter-Services Public Relations as having told troops during his visits to the LoC and WB that have continued to witness frequent truce breaches by Indian troops.

The army chief visited Khuiratta and Ratta Arayan sectors.

Violations by India have continued last year’s pattern when the highest number of violations — 1,881 — was recorded during a year since the understanding on ceasefire went into effect in 2003, resulting in martyrdom of 87 people. Over 200 violations by India have taken place so far this year in which 12 lives have been lost, including four troops.

Bajwa says Indian aggression will always get most befitting response

The army chief appreciated effective and responsible response of the troops to Indian unethical targeting and high morale of the troops and civilians, the ISPR said.

Gen Bajwa was informed that Indian troops were specifically targeting civilian populations.

Besides the increased intensity of ceasefire violations, which has been progressively growing over the past 10 years, new disturbing trends were witnessed last year that point towards changing Indian tactics.

The Indian troops have particularly been targeting women and children living in villages along the LoC, whenever they notice their movement or activity. Moreover, there has been calibre escalation.

Military officials say that Indians use artillery, heavy mortars, missiles, rockets and heavy automatics, besides employing deadly air bursts.

It is further said that the Indian troops use sniping with heavy calibre weapons and are targeting women and children for terrorising civilian populations.

The ISPR said: “The army chief directed enhanced protective measures including construction of more community shell protection shelters for civil population. COAS especially hailed heroic determination of local population against Indian blatant aggression.”

Our Correspondent in Sialkot adds: Four civilians, including three women, were injured on Monday as intense mortar shelling by Indian troops continued unabated for the fifth consecutive day on border villages of the Sialkot’s Sucheetgarh sector.

Sialkot Deputy Commissioner Dr Farrukh Naveed said that Safoora Bibi, 50, Zeeshan, 18, Asia Bibi, 35, and Tanzeela Bibi, 25, were at their homes when several heavy mortar shells landed on their houses. They were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Sialkot’s Cantonment in critical condition.

Indian troops continued pummelling border villages along Phookaliyaan-Bajwat, Chaprar, Sucheetgarh, Har­pal, Bajra Garhi, Char­wah and Zafarwal-Shaka­rgarh sectors of the Sialkot Work­ing Boundary, with mortar shells all night between Sunday and Monday.

Dr Naveed told reporters that dozens of homes had been badly damaged and dozens of cattle heads were killed and injured. All educational institutions in the area have been shut down.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2018