ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday took an unprecedented step to invite the India deputy high commissioner for a visit to the Line of Control (LoC) in order to rebut New Delhi’s claim that it had targeted alleged ‘terror launch pads’ in the recent skirmishes in AJK.
Gaurav Ahluwalia, the current head of the Indian diplomatic mission in Pakistan, was invited along with heads of other diplomatic missions for a visit on Tuesday (today) to the areas along LoC, which were targeted by the Indian army on Sunday.
Soon after the LoC clashes, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat had claimed that “three terror launch pads” were destroyed. He further claimed that several alleged terrorists were also killed in the Indian army’s strikes.
But Pakistan Army strongly rebutted the Indian claims, terming it part of New Delhi’s attempts to divert attention from the current situation in occupied Kashmir.
The head of military’s media wing said, “The statement of Indian COAS claiming destruction of three alleged camps in AJK is disappointing as he holds a very responsible position. There are no camps let alone targeting them. The Indian embassy is welcome to take any foreign diplomat/media to prove it on the ground.
“The propensity of false claims by senior Indian military leadership, especially since the Pulwama incident, is detrimental to peace in the region. Such false claims by the Indian army are being made to suit vested interests. This is against professional military ethics,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a statement.
The ISPR director general also tweeted: “Indians have no grounds to support false claim made by their COAS. If they don’t want to go they have the option to share claimed targeted locations with our Foreign Office. We will take foreign diplomats & media tomorrow on those given locations. Let all see facts on ground.”
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office summoned the Indian envoy for the second day running on Monday and lodged a strong protest over it.
While rejecting the Indian allegations, the Foreign Office invited the deputy Indian high commissioner for a visit to LoC.
A senior Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune that Ahluwalia was offered to provide the location where India believed ‘terror launch pads’ were operating.
He was told that Pakistan was ready to take him as well as other heads of diplomatic missions to those regions.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that the invitation for the Indian deputy high commissioner. Sources said India was considering the Pakistani offer, but yet to take a final decision till the filling of the report.
Nevertheless, this is rare that the Indian envoy has been extended such an invitation that, too, at a time when tensions have been building between the two nuclear-armed neighbuors for months.
“We have nothing to hide. We want to debunk the Indian allegations. If we had anything to hide, we would have never invited the Indian deputy high commissioner and other heads of diplomatic missions for a visit to LoC,” the official explained.
Regardless of India’s decision on the invitation, the Foreign Office is scheduled to take other diplomats to the LoC in order to give them the first-hand account of the situation on the ground.