Envoys invited to visit civilian areas hit by Indian shelling

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A Kashmiri boy looks out from his damaged house after cross-border shelling in Jura, a village of Neelum valley in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday.—AFP
A Kashmiri boy looks out from his damaged house after cross-border shelling in Jura, a village of Neelum valley in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan-based foreign diplomats would be taken to areas along the Line of Control, which were hit by Indian shelling, to show that civilian population has been targeted and not the alleged “terror launch pads” as was claimed by Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, according to a diplomatic source.

Gen Rawat claimed on Sunday that his troops had “destroyed three terror camps” and inflicted heavy damage on the fourth one. It was alleged that the camps were in “Jura, Athmuqam and Kundalsahi sectors”.

Indian troops carried out heavy artillery strikes on civilian population in the wee hours of Sunday in Nauseri, Jura, and Shahkot sectors, leaving six civilians and an army soldier martyred in the unprovoked shelling, in addition to heavy damage to houses and other civilian properties.

The Indian government, a diplomatic source said, had been asked to provide coordinates of the so-called terror camps to prove its allegation that the targets were terror sanctuaries.

Indian deputy high commissioner asked to accompany the diplomats to prove that terrorist infrastructure was targeted

Indian Deputy High Commissio­ner Gaurav Ahluwalia, who was summoned to the Foreign Office on Sunday to receive protest over the ceasefire violations, was asked to accompany the diplomats to the LoC and prove on the ground that terrorist infrastructure was hit.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor too made a similar offer over Twitter to the Indian High Commission. “Indian COAS’ statement claiming destruction of three alleged camps in AJK is disappointing as he holds a very responsible appointment. There are no camps let alone targeting those. Indian Embassy in Pakistan is welcome to take any foreign diplomat/media to ‘prove’ it on the ground,” he tweeted.

He further said: “The propensity of false claims by senior Indian military leadership especially since Pulwama incident is detrimental to peace in the region. Such false claims by Indian Army are being made to suit vested domestic interests. This is against professional military ethos.”

The source said that no response had been received from the Indian government so far.

Director General for South Asia Dr Mohammad Faisal in a tweet commenting on Indian silence on the offer said: “It indicates that they have no grounds to support false claim by their COAS. We expect them to respond soon.”

Gen Ghafoor also took a jab at the Indians on Twitter. “Indians have no grounds to support false claim made by their COAS. If they don’t want to go they have the option to share claimed targeted locations with our foreign office. We will take foreign diplomats & media tomorrow on those given locations. Let all see facts on ground,” he said.

The source said the Indian diplomat was further told that use of heavy weapons would not go without response.

It was conveyed to Mr Ahluwalia that Pakistan did not desire escalation in tensions with India, but it was fully prepared to respond to any aggression, said the source, who was aware of what transpired in the meeting between Dr Faisal and the Indian deputy high commissioner.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2019