Indian troops target UN vehicle from across LoC in 'new low'

Published December 18, 2020
A bullet hole is seen on the UN vehicle targeted by Indian troops on Friday. — Photo: ISPR
A bullet hole is seen on the UN vehicle targeted by Indian troops on Friday. — Photo: ISPR

Indian troops on Friday "specifically targeted" a United Nations vehicle carrying two officers of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) from across the Line of Control, in what the Foreign Office termed a "new low" in their conduct.

The incident occurred at around 10:45am when Indian border forces resorted to "unprovoked firing" in Chirikot sector in Azad Jammu and Kashmir along the LoC, FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told a weekly press briefing.

The officers were on their way to Polas village to meet with the victims of Indian ceasefire violations when they came under fire.

The UN vehicle was damaged but the officers remained unhurt, the FO spokesperson said.

The officers were immediately evacuated by the Pakistan Army and brought back to the UNMOGIP field station in Rawalakot.

"The reprehensible act of unprovoked firing by India on the UNMOGIP officers is indicative of a new low in the conduct of Indian occupation troops," Chaudhri said.

In a series of tweets, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also said Indian forces resorted to unprovoked firing in Chirikot sector and "deliberately targeted" a UN vehicle with two military observers on board.

"It must be noted that the UN vehicles are clearly recognisable even from long distances due to their distinct make and type and clearly visible markings," the Pakistan Army's media wing said, adding that while the vehicle was damaged, the two observers "luckily remained unharmed" and were evacuated to Rawalakot.

The ISPR also shared pictures of the UN vehicle targeted by Indian troops with bullet holes visible.

"Such illegal and unlawful acts against all established international norms, signify mal-intent of Indian Army to target not only innocent civilians residing along the Line of Control but UN Peace Keepers as well," it said.

"This act only goes to show Indian Army’s complete disregard to principles enshrined in [the] UN Charter. It is indeed a new low for Indian Army."

The ISPR said the Pakistan Army stood in solidarity with UNMOGIP officials and appreciated the "selfless services rendered by all members of UNMOGIP in discharge of their UN-mandated duties".

At the press briefing, the FO spokesperson said Pakistan "strongly condemns the continuing CFVs by India in clear violation of international law; the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; and against all established humanitarian norms and professional military conduct".

He noted that India had committed 2,992 ceasefire violations so far this year alone, resulting in 27 deaths and serious injuries to 249 civilians, including 92 women and 68 children.

He called upon India to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding, investigate the incidents of deliberate ceasefire violations, and maintain peace along the LoC and the Working Boundary (WB).

"Pakistan also urges India to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to play its mandated role as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions," Chaudhri said.

The heavily militarised LoC that splits the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has been witnessing skirmishes and artillery duels in a serious breach of a truce agreement that the rival armies had signed in November 2003.

Last month, five civilians and a Pakistan Army soldier were martyred in Indian firing from across the restive LoC in several areas of AJK. At least 30 other civilians and five soldiers had also sustained injuries in the ceasefire violations in what was the biggest escalation in hostilities on the de facto border in months.

'Catastrophic consequences'

The FO briefing came as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a press conference in the United Arab Emirates that he had credible information that India was planning a 'surgical strike' against Pakistan to divert attention from its internal affairs and that it was trying to seek "tacit approval" for the move from its "partners".

Chaudhri confirmed that the government had learnt from "credible sources" that India was planning to undertake a military misadventure or so-called surgical strike across the LoC/international border, for which it was trying to "seek understanding" from major powers.

"This irrational approach is driven by Indian frustration emanating from internal unrest due to the RSS-BJP regime’s policies aimed at subjugation of religious minorities and disadvantaged segment[s] of the society," the FO spokesperson said.

"Pakistan’s Armed Forces are fully prepared to defeat Indian designs," he said, adding that any "miscalculation" will result in global embarrassment for India, "as it faced in 2019".

"It is reiterated that if any ill-considered misadventure is resorted to, it will face an assured notch-up military response from Pakistan.

"Such a scenario will, however, seriously destabilise the region with catastrophic consequences," the spokesperson said, adding that the possibility had been shared with important world capitals as well.

Chaudhri cautioned that any military conflict between Pakistan and India will "seriously undermine" the peace prospects in Afghanistan, "for which the entire responsibility will rest with India".

"Pakistan urges the international community to advise India against any irresponsible act and to desist from any action that would jeopardise regional peace and stability," he said.

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