Unprovoked firing by India on LoC: Pakistan

10 July 2008
The Hindu

Islamabad: The Pakistan Army said that it retaliated against “unprovoked” firing from the Indian side on the Line of Control on Thursday. Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said the firing ceased after the local Pakistani commander lodged a complaint with his Indian counterpart and demanded a ceasefire. No casualties were reported in the incident in the Hajira sector in Rawalakot, the same place where four Pakistani soldiers were killed on June 20 in an ambush by “miscreants” on the Pakistani side. That time, the Pakistani Army underlined that the firing that killed the soldiers did not come from across the LoC, giving rise to the speculation that the soldiers were shot by militants trying to cross over from the Pakistani side to the Indian side. On Thursday, Major-General Abbas, who heads the Inter-Services Public Relations, said the firing came “definitely” from the Indian side this time. “It was unprovoked firing. The forward post at Battal [in the Hajira sector] was engaged with mortar fire and small arms. [Pakistani] troops also retaliated with mortar and small arms,” he said. Major-General Abbas denied the Indian military spokesman’s statement that it was the Pakistanis who fired first while Indian troops were engaged in foiling an infiltration bid on the LoC. “I will not like to comment on such a statement, but which insurgency doctrine dictates that an insurgency should take place in open day light,” he asked. The incident occurred about 2.30 p.m. Major-General Abbas said that aside from the interaction between the local commanders on both sides to restore the ceasefire, the Director-General Military Operations of Pakistan called the DGMO India and demanded an immediate flag meeting. The rising tensions on the LoC led to a protest by women of the Neelum Valley in Pakistan occupied Kashmir earlier this month against the “growing activities of some militant groups,” which they feared could harm the five-year-old truce along the LoC. According to a detailed report in the Dawn, the women staged a symbolic sit-in before an Army camp near Athmuqam on July 1 to highlight the fact that the recent incidents of ceasefire violation may destroy the peace in their area as well. They wanted the Pakistan Army to maintain the peace and restrict the activities of the militants operating in the border areas, the Neelum Valley in particular. The Assistant Commissioner of Athmuqam told Dawn that the women had mistaken “test firing” by Indian troops as preparation for cross-border shelling and this was the reason they panicked. The residents of the Neelum Valley have also formed a Neelum Peace Committee to protect the truce in order to preserve the peace. The Valley was among the worst affected areas in shelling during 1989-2003.