ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan celebrated its 70th Independence Day on Sunday, Indian border guards resorted to ‘unprovoked firing’ on the Line of Control (LoC) in disputed Kashmir state, targeting military posts and civilian population.
Following hours-long firing, Pakistan Army’s director general of military operations contacted his Indian counterpart and lodged a strong protest.
The military’s media wing said that shortly after midnight on Saturday, Indian troops fired into Nezapir Sector, near Rawlakot, at the LoC that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
“India used all types of heavy weapons, including mortar and artillery. Some rounds landed close to civilian houses near the LoC,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. However, no loss of life was reported.
It said that firing started at 2am and continued till 8:30 Sunday morning. Pakistani troops ‘befittingly’ responded to the Indian unprovoked firing.
In a separate statement, the ISPR said the army had strongly protested the cross-
border firing. “Pakistan Army DGMO contacted his Indian counterpart on hot line Sunday afternoon and strongly protested over the unprovoked firing by Indian troops on the LoC at Nezapir Sector targeting Pakistani posts and civilians,” said an ISPR statement.
Interestingly, hours after the cross-border firing, Pakistani and Indian forces continued with the tradition of exchanging sweets on the working boundary. The practice, which is observed on religious and national holidays in both countries, has often been suspended in the past in light of cross-border firing incidents.
The latest skirmishes on the LoC came at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India are simmering due to the ongoing violence in Kashmir.
Pakistan has denounced what it called grave human rights violations being committed by Indian troops in the disputed territory while New Delhi accused Islamabad of stoking unrest in the valley.
Kashmir has been in the grip of violence since the killing of prominent Kashmiri youth leader Burhan Wani on July 8. Over 60 people have so far been killed and thousands others wounded in the valley over the past month. Some protesters have lost their eyesight due to excessive use of pellet guns by the Indian security forces.
Despite verbal duels, Pakistan on Friday offered India an olive branch by seeking dialogue on Kashmir in the wake of current unrest. For this purpose, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry would soon write a letter to his Indian counterpart.
However, India is unlikely to respond positively to Pakistan’s l offer. The Indian External Affairs Ministry welcomed the dialogue offer but insisted that Pakistan had to address its concerns, including on terrorism, before any meaningful engagement.