ISLAMABAD: Top military commanders from Pakistan and India spoke by hotline on Sunday hours after border guards from the two countries traded fire in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.
Indian troops resorted to ‘unprovoked’ firing and shelling in Neza Pir Sector of the Line of Control Saturday night, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
“Unprovoked firing which started at 2340 hrs last night lasted till 0445 hrs early morning. Pakistan Army troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing and shelling. No loss has been reported so far,” it added.
Following the skirmish, a hotline contact was established between the director1s general military operations (DGMOs) of the two countries where, according to the ISPR, issues related to ceasefire violations across the LoC were discussed. Pakistan’s DGMO lodged a strong protest over the “unprovoked initiation of fire by Indian troops”.
Pakistan and India had signed a landmark truce in 2003 as part of confidence-building measures to reset their troubled ties. Notwithstanding, the two countries have often accused each other of breaching the ceasefire in recent years.
The latest border clash came at a time when the two neighbours are struggling to revive the normalisation process. The two countries agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue in December last year. And in line with that their foreign secretaries were to meet in January.
However, the meeting was cancelled after a terrorist attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot near the border with Pakistan.
Islamabad agreed to cooperate in investigation. And a joint investigation team (JIT) recently visited India to collect evidence of an alleged Pakistan link. The JIT was granted only limited access to the crime scene by Indian authorities. The JIT has concluded that the brazen assault was an inside job by Indian secret agencies, according to media reports.
India has asked Pakistan to allow its investigators to interview the militants it suspects carried out the Pathankot attack – a request Islamabad is unlikely to grant.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2016.