ISLAMABAD: India has lost 60 soldiers in retaliatory fire by Pakistani troops to its (Indian) ceasefire violations since the Pulwama stand-off in February, the military spokesman said in a post on his private Twitter account.

“Since 27 Feb, 19 Pak Army has killed over 60 Indian soldiers on LoC besides injuring many & destroying their bunkers. Artillery gun positions also damaged [and troops] forced to relocate,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

He further said that two Indian Air Force jets were shot down by the Pakistan Air Force, and two helicopters had “met fratricide under fear” and the Indian Navy was under deterrence.

The perpetually strained relations between the South Asian arch-rivals have been particularly tense since the start of this year and the two were involved in nerve-racking military standoff in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack in February. At the same time, there has also been a sharp spike in ceasefire violations by India.

This year, Indian troops committed 2,608 ceasefire violations, which resulted in martyrdom of 44 civilians. A number of troops have also been martyred.

Pakistani troops have always responded to the ceasefire violations by the Indian side. The military spokesman, in his tweet, was primarily referring to the damage inflicted on the Indian forces by Pakistani retaliatory fire.

The spokesman had on Friday in a tweet from his official account said that Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat was getting his troops killed through his reckless command and in pursuit of his personal ambitions.

“Indian COAS repeatedly provoking war through irresponsible statements endangering regional peace for electioneering of political masters. From fake surgical strike to date his only success has been to turn Indian Army into a rogue force and getting them killed,” Gen Ghafoor had tweeted.

The spokesman in his second tweet linked Gen Rawat’s statements, intensified atrocities against Kashmiris, deaths of Indian troops in ceasefire breaches, and helicopter crashes due to “the so called technical fault cum fratricide” to his desire to become India’s first Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).

Gen Ghafoor’s tweet from personal account carried forward the same theme and it was hashtagged #CostForCDS. The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) is a new position that Indian government intends to create in its armed forces hierarchy. The proposed CDS position would be the combined head of all three forces – Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2019