RAWALPINDI: Military commanders from Pakistan and India spoke over the hotline on Tuesday in an apparent effort to stop the tense situation from going bad to worse in the wake of the latest controversy over the alleged beheading of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
However, the contact between the directors general military operations (DGMOs) of the two countries led to a spat of allegations and counter-allegations.
DGMO Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza strongly rejected India’s ‘baseless and unfounded’ allegations of mutilation of Indian soldiers’ bodies by Pakistan Army. He reiterated that neither any ceasefire violations (CFV) had occurred in the [Buttal] sector nor crossing of the LoC by Pakistani troops had taken place, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement.
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“Pakistan Army is a professional military outfit and upholds the highest standards of conduct,” he told his Indian counterpart. “Allegations of mutilation are an Indian attempt to divert the world attention from the situation within the [Kashmir] valley,” he added. Maj Gen Sahir asked for ‘actionable evidence’ and urged that the Indian army should look inwards to probe the incident.
In the wake of the statements emanating from across the border for reprisals, Maj Gen Sahir cautioned his Indian counterpart, Lt Gen Bhatt, that while Pakistan was fully committed to maintaining peace and tranquility along the LoC, any misadventure shall be appropriately responded to at a place and time of our own choosing.
He also highlighted the issue of unabated targeting of innocent civilians on the LoC by Indian troops and apprised Lt Gen Bhatt that continuity of such actions would invite appropriate response.
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In a separate statement issued by the Indian army, DGMO Lt Gen Bhatt ‘expressed grave concerns’ over the alleged mutilation of bodies of Indian troops by Pakistani forces. Lt Gen Bhatt conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart that “such dastardly, inhumane act is beyond any norms of civility and merits unequivocal condemnation and response”, it claimed.
Apart from the DGMO, a local commanders’ level hotline contact was also established at Rawalakot-Poonch Sector on the LoC Monday night between Pakistani and Indian military authorities.
The Indian authorities were told that there was unnecessary media hype following the allegations of beheading of Indian soldiers.
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“Pakistan remains fully committed to maintaining peace and tranquility along the LoC and expects the same from the other side and hopes prudence is exercised and no steps are taken that may lead to vitiating of environment and affect peace along the LoC.”
The Indian media has gone berserk seeking tough action against Pakistan while questions are being raised about the effectiveness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz strongly contested the Indian claim that the Kashmir dispute was essentially an issue of cross-border terrorism.
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“India’s contention that the Kashmir issue is primarily an issue of cross-border terrorism is a claim that no one in the world is prepared to accept today,” Aziz said in a strong-worded rejoinder.
He pointed out that the Indian government had broken its own record of brutality in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), not only in target killing but also by indiscriminately killing over 100 young unarmed Kashmiri protesters.
The Indian forces have blinded hundreds of Kashmiris, including children, and injured over 16,000 protesters with live ammunition, pellet guns and gas shells. That is why the New York Times has labelled 2016 as the ‘Year of Dead Eyes’ in Kashmir. “Nobody believes that thousands of young boys and girls, who have been agitating ceaselessly since July, 2016, are terrorists,” Aziz added.
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“India can also not ignore the fact that the people of IOK are losing faith in Indian democracy since in the recent sham by-election in Srinagar on April 9, the voters’ turnout was only 7% and when the re-polling was done it collapsed to 2%,” Aziz pointed out.
The second by-election in Anantnag has been postponed to May 25 and the Election Commission has demanded thousands of additional troops to be able to conduct the poll, he further said.
The OIC’s declaration adopted in the 13th summit in Istanbul, in April last, rejected outright Indian attempts of equating the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle with terrorism, Aziz said.
The discovery of over 7,000 ‘unnamed and unmarked mass graves’ have proven through forensic analysis, undertaken by independent investigators, that those buried were Kashmiris belonging to IOK.