23 diplomats visit LoC areas affected by Indian shelling

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ARMY officers brief foreign diplomats on Tuesday during a visit to an area in the Neelum Valley that was hit badly by shelling from across the Line of Control.—AP
ARMY officers brief foreign diplomats on Tuesday during a visit to an area in the Neelum Valley that was hit badly by shelling from across the Line of Control.—AP

ISLAMABAD: India neither allowed its diplomats based in Islamabad to visit the Line of Control (LoC) along with a group of diplomats that travelled to the region on Tuesday to see the area affected by latest Indian shelling nor did it provide the coordinates of the alleged ‘terror launch pads’ it had claimed to hit.

A group of 23 diplomats was taken to Jura to witness the targets and the damage caused by Indian shelling in the early hours of Sunday morning in which six people, including a soldier, were martyred, while six others were injured. The visit was jointly organised by the Foreign Office and the Pakistan Army.

Indian Army Chief Gen Rawat had earlier claimed 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”.

The FO said the visit, which also included local and foreign media representatives, was arranged to expose the “fallacy of Indian claims”.

New Delhi does not allow official to join group of envoys

The Indian high commission had been invited to join the trip. But it did not respond to the Pakistani offer.

Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, who accompanied the group, in a tweet before embarking on the visit said: “The Indian side has not joined us in the visit.”

He further said: “Claims by Indian Army Chief remain just that: claims.”

Military Spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor too criticised the Indian High Commission for staying away from the trip. “What good Indian High Commission is which can’t stand with its Army Chief? Indian High Commission staff didn’t have the moral courage to accompany fellow diplomats in Pakistan to LoC.”

India was also asked to share the coordinates of the three alleged terrorist launch pads it had claimed to have neutralised.

India, the FO said, was asked details “including longitudes and latitudes of the alleged location to back the allegations. No response has been received so far from India”.

In a post-visit statement, the FO said the absence of Indian response “not only exposes the lies and deceit being employed as state policy and Indian aggressive posture which is a growing threat to regional peace and stability.”

It further said: “The visit exposed the Indian falsehood to the international community and the desperate attempts being resorted by India to divert international attention from the humanitarian nightmare in IOJ&K.”

Talking about the visit, Dr Faisal said the diplomats, who visited Jura were free to move and talk with the local people.

In one of the video testimonials, which had been recorded by a private TV channel, Chinese ambassador Yao Jing said: “Daily life has been disturbed. I did not see any terror camp.” He further noted that the suffering of the people and the damage that has been caused underscores the need for peacefully dealing with the dispute.

In another clip, he urged the international community to pay attention to the dispute because people are suffering.

The acting South African high commissioner, meanwhile, in yet another clip, said: “What I saw were purely civilian, non-lethal targets … housing area targeted allegedly by Indian forces, which is against all principles of civility and humanity.”

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2019