The Indian army earlier this week used cluster ammunition to target the civilian population in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) across the Line of Control (LoC) in violation of the Geneva Convention and international law, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Saturday.
According to the statement, the Indian military on the night of July 30/July 31 targeted innocent citizens including women and children in Neelum Valley through artillery using cluster ammunition. The attack left two civilians, including a 4-year-old boy, dead and 11 others were critically injured.
"This is [a] violation of Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law," the military's media wing said, adding that the use of cluster ammunition is prohibited under the Convention on Cluster Ammunition because of its severe impact on non-combatants.
Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, cluster bombs explode in mid-air, scattering bomblets, with many civilians getting killed or maimed by their indiscriminate, wide-area effect. They also pose a lasting threat as many bomblets fail to explode on impact.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, "Cluster munitions kill and injure large numbers of civilians and cause long-lasting socio-economic problems. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires States to ensure that they claim no further victims."
"This blatant Indian aggression against all international norms exposes true character of Indian Army and their moral standing," the ISPR statement said.
It added that it was time for the international community to take notice of "this Indian blatant violation of international laws" on use of cluster ammunition for the purpose of targeting innocent citizens.
The military's media wing also shared images of civilians who sustained gruesome injuries from the Indian troops' use of cluster munitions.
The ISPR director general, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, condemned the Indian army's use of cluster bombs in violation of international conventions.
"No weapon can suppress [the] determination of Kashmiris to get their right of self-determination," he said in a tweet.
"Kashmir runs in [the] blood of every Pakistani. Indigenous freedom struggle of Kashmiris shall succeed, IA."
'Extremely dangerous game'
Speaking to DawnNewsTV regarding the development, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he had feared that some forces would play the role of "spoilers" in view of the worsening situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and as the Afghan peace talks entered a "critical stage".
He said India was "in a state of panic" following US President Donald Trump's offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute and Prime Minister Imran Khan's successful visit to Washington. "I fear that [India] is in search of a false-flag operation [...] which it can use to again point fingers at Pakistan," the foreign minister added.
Qureshi said he had expressed similar concerns in a letter to the United Nations secretary-general.
Asked how Pakistan would respond to the Indian aggression, the minister said diplomatic means would be used to direct the attention of the international community towards this violation. In this regard, information will be shared with the envoys of P5 members of the Security Council.
He observed that India was neither ready for mediation nor bilateral engagement and yet it continued to carry out ceasefire violations, including the violation of the Geneva Convention through the use of cluster munitions.
"India is playing an extremely dangerous game and the international community should take notice of this," Qureshi said, adding that the latest violations threatened to harm regional peace and stability.
Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said India's use of cluster bombs was "absolutely not acceptable".
"The Indian army has committed a serious violation of human rights and international laws," the spokesperson said, adding that India will be given a "befitting response".
The ISPR statement comes a day after the AJK government warned people, particularly those living along the LoC, against touching or picking any familiar and unfamiliar devices or gadgets if found lying anywhere in the shelling-infested areas to avoid any danger to their lives, Dawn reported.
Three people lost their lives and four others were wounded when they tried to tamper with a dud device in a shop near Muzaffarabad a few days ago.
The warning came from the home department in the wake of reports that several dud shells and bomblets, fired by the Indian troops in recent ceasefire violations, had scattered far and wide along the LoC.
Previously, a number of casualties had also occurred when LoC residents, mostly young children, had tried to play or tamper with dud shells or bomblets out of ignorance, even though similar announcements were also made then.
“The enemy troops are constantly firing toy-shaped cluster bombs, mortar and medium artillery shells in civilian-populated areas … If anyone spots any such device or gadget, including a mobile phone, he should not even touch it, let alone pick it up and take home,” said the home department in a press release. Instead, it added, “the nearest police station, civil defence officials or volunteers or village defence committee members should be informed about it because such a device can take your life”.
With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.