Cricket and Indo-Pak cross military exercises!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
This time around the two Asian nuclear powers with poverty reigning in both countries, India and Pakistan have resumed their mutual cross firings more forcefully than ever in the recent past after the Kargil war, both fought essentially to terrorize the besieged Kashmiris, sandwiched between them.
India and Pakistan have been trading fire for about a week, straining India-Pakistan relations which hit a low after New Delhi called off foreign secretary-level talks in August following the Pakistani high commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders.
US says it is concerned about Pak ceasefire violation along LoC but has refused to mediate to between the two south Asian nuclear super powers that boast of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, diseases, cricket mafias, etc.
The latest addition of cross border attacks is due to the defeats suffered by both Pakistan and India. When Pakistan was defeated by Australia, Indian attacked Pakistani posts while when India was crumbled by West Indies, Pakistan attacked Indian posts.
In these cross firings, many Kashmiris, who serve as people of boundaries for India and Pakistan, got injured and also died. Many Kashmiris deserted their houses and localities out of fear. .
This year has been particularly volatile along the border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, which is due for assembly polls as Pakistan typically ratchets up border tensions every time the state holds elections.
Pakistan registered its protest with the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) over the firing by the Indian military along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The BSF director general told HT on Tuesday Indian and Pakistani troops will likely continue shelling each other for a few more days, vowing to give a fitting reply in the unexpected flare-up that has so far claimed 18 lives on both sides of the border.
Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, expressed concern over the situation along the Line of Control. “The Indian government has not been able to restrain its forces despite strong diplomatic protest by Pakistan,” he said. “We call upon the Indian government to immediately cease fire and shelling and help us preserve tranquility,” he said in a statement. Shelling kills four of a family, leaves another with horror of a birthday memory. Aziz said the Pakistani government has been exercising “utmost restraint and responsibility”. “We also extended a hand of friendship to India. However, with abrupt cancellation of foreign secretary-level talks, the Indian side has shunned all our peace overtures. We hope that the Indian side would give peace a chance,” he said.
BSF sources said Pakistan was deliberately targeting Arnia town, which is about three kilometres from the border, to inflict maximum civilian causalities. “Pakistan is firing about 1.5 km from behind the fence for effective firing. It’s also being done to move away from our radar of observation along the fence. The firing during the night is also the reason for it,” said a BSF official.
Home minister Rajnath Singh has urged Pakistan to stop violating the ceasefire attacks if it wants peace talks with India. “We will not tolerate such acts of border violations. We are for peaceful relationship but not at the cost of security to our civilians,” Singh told HT on Monday.
The Pakistani media said that at least 10 civilians were killed and dozens of others injured in the fighting along the LoC since last Sunday.Describing the border clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops as “unprecedented”, the Pakistani media on Thursday blamed India for “starting a massive unprovoked mortal shelling” on the Pakistani territory, killing at least 10 civilians. Dawn described the clashes as “unprecedented” while the online news portal Daily Times said it was “most intense in a decade”.The portal further said that the “fighting comes at a time of changing power dynamics in South Asia, with Pakistan’s army taking a more assertive role in politics and India’s new nationalist Prime MinisterNarendra Modi promising a more muscular foreign policy”. The Pakistani media said that at least 10 civilians were killed and dozens of others injured in the fighting along the Line of Control (LoC) since last Sunday. The fighting reportedly started in Jandrot sector and reportedly spread to adjoining sectors. The worst-affected sectors were Harpal, Dhamala and Charwah, Jandrot (Kotli), Hot Spring (Bagh) and Beduri (Rawalakot), the Dawn said.
“During the past three days Indian troops repeatedly resorted to unprovoked firing, which resulted in the death of 10 Pakistani citizens and injuries to another 40,” the daily quoted a military spokesman as saying. The spokesman added that the Pakistani troops have responded “befittingly to the Indian violations”. The daily cited a Pakistani foreign office statement as saying that “The prime minister will convene a meeting of the National Security Committee tomorrow to discuss the recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and Working Boundary.” The statement further said: “The government of Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with the government of India through diplomatic channels and called for restraining its forces from constant violation of the ceasefire. This was the sixth violation occurring on a daily basis since Oct 1.” Dawn said the issue was raised with the UN military observers Group in India and Pakistan and a visit of the observers to the affected areas was being arranged.
Pakistan’s foreign affairs and national security adviser Sartaj Aziz accused India of “non-cooperation”. The daily quoting him said: “Pakistan government has been exercising utmost restraint and responsibility. Unfortunately, all our efforts to secure peace on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary have elicited no cooperation from the Indian side.”
The Pakistani military said that the “Indian hostility has gradually increased since 2010 making lives of civil population living in closer vicinity of the LoC and WB difficult”.
Munawar Bhatti, a former additional secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs, sought to link the recent skirmishes along the LoC to upcoming state elections in India. “The violations and the accompanying hostile statements by Indian leadership is aimed at motivating the support base before the elections,” the daily quoted him as saying.
The Daily Times said that “while exchanges of sporadic fire are common along the border, the number of civilian deaths is unusual”. It said that people were busy offering Eid prayers early on Monday when the BSF started massive unprovoked mortal shelling in Dhamal-Charwah, Gandiyaa, Rangor, Tulsipur, Sapwaal, Joiyaan and other areas. “Modi is following through on a promise to take a harder line with Pakistan in its border disputes after being elected in May. Although Nawaz came to Modi’s inauguration, the Indian leader has since cancelled a round of talks with Pakistan, and in a further snub did not meet Nawaz at a UN meeting in New York in September,” it added. The Pakistani government is expected to convene a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) to discuss the situation at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Top military officers, PM’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security Sartaj Aziz, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Information Minister Pervez Rashid will attend the meeting. “The military leadership will take the committee into confidence over the latest situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, and a joint strategy would be adopted which might give a strong message to India,” the Pakistan Observer said citing sources. Pakistan targets over 130 villages, 60 border posts; 12 injured
India and Pakistan exchanged heavy mortar and gun fire along the international border with Pakistani troops targeting over 130 villages and 60 Border Out Posts Wednesday night in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, leaving 12 people including 3 BSF jawans injured.
The firing and shelling continued intermittently during the day till 1100 hours in Pargwal, Kanachak, Arnia and Ramgarh sub-sectors. Pakistan Rangers shelled almost the entire 192-km border during the night. Nearly 30,000 people have been displaced following one of the worst violations of the 2003 ceasefire by Pakistan which has left 8 people dead and 80 others, including nine security men, injured since October 1.
People from 113 border hamlets have migrated leaving the hamlets deserted.
“Pakistani Rangers continued with unprovoked mortar shelling and heavy automatic weapon firing on BSF posts all along International Border since 2045 hours last night,” a BSF spokesman said. “Almost the whole stretch of International Border in Samba, Hiranagar, Ramgarh, Arnia, R S Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal (Sub-sectors) was affected in the firing,” he said. “About 60 BSF border outposts were affected by the fire from Pakistan side,” the spokesman said, adding BSF troops retaliated in a “calibrated manner”.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the defence forces were giving a “befitting” reply to the Pakistani onslaught and the country will not bow down before anyone.
“I want to assure the people that we will not let down our country,” he said, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that “everything will be fine soon”. “The prime minister is keeping a close eye on the situation. He does not need to speak as our Army and BSF personnel are giving a befitting response and we are satisfied with it,” Singh said amid questions being raised by the Opposition on Government’s response to the ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
According to officials, over 130 border villages have been hit by mortar shelling and firing by Pakistan since Wednesday night. Of these 57 hamlets were hit in Kathua district, over 50 in Jammu and 20 in Samba district, they said. Pakistan Rangers shelled almost the entire 192-km border overnight. Nearly 30,000 people have been displaced following one of the worst violations of the 2003 ceasefire by Pakistan which has left eight people dead and 80 others, including 9 security men, injured since October 1. “Pakistani Rangers continued with unprovoked mortar shelling and heavy automatic weapon firing on BSF posts all along International Border since 2045 hours last night,” a BSF spokesman said in Jammu.
Jaitley said if Pakistan wants peace on the borders, it should stop what it is doing.
“Pakistan has to stop this unprovoked firing and shelling. As long as that continues how can there be peace.”
Asked about chances of talks between leaders of the two countries, he shot back, “how can you talk when firing is on?”
Underlining that India is a responsible country which is not an aggressor but is responsible for fully protecting its people and land, the defence minister said, “Our forces are taking all steps they can to protect our people and land.”
Both Modi and Jaitley attacked the opposition leaders who have been criticising the government over its handling of the border situation. Targeting Pawar, who had slammed him for holding poll rallies in Maharashtra when there was tension on the border, Modi said, “When you were the defence minister, there were problems with Pakistan and China on the border. Did you ever bother to go to the border then?” “There have been terror strikes in Maharashtra during your tenure…Mumbai, Malegaon, Pune. You could not even reach the terrorists, leave alone catching them. In the spirit of patriotism, we never politicised the issue,” he said. Jaitley also attacked opposition leaders for their “ill-informed” criticism of the government over ceasefire violations. “They should at least know this much as to what extent our forces are going to protect the borders,” he said.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has attacked the government over ceasefire violations and Chinese incursion, questioning its policies. Jaitley singled out Pawar, saying he should have been more informed as a former defence minister. Asked about Pakistan’s motives behind the escalation, Jaitley said he would not like to speculate but firing could be a cover for infiltration and also an effort by it to precipitate tension where none existed.
“Our forces have only one option which is to respond adequately,” the defence minister said. He said many militants have been killed in firing since floods hit Jammu and Kashmir, an evidence of Pakistan’s attempts to push more militants into Indian territory.
Asked why Pakistan is doing it now, he said the question should be put to those across the border.
The Indian security forces unleashed “massive retaliation” on Tuesday all along the 200-kilometre long International Border (IB) in Jammu against what they termed unprovoked firing by Pakistan Rangers that began on October 1. The Indian attack targeted 37 Pakistani border posts, resulting in around 15 deaths, more than 30 injured and serious damage to outposts manned by the Pakistani Rangers, intelligence sources told HT.
India has lost six people and sustained 13 injuries in Pakistani firing in the Jammu sector, part of a five-fold increase in ceasefire violations on the IB this year to 41. The incidents have perplexed military analysts who are more accustomed to firing across the Line of Control (LoC) to facilitate infiltration of terrorists.
The IB is the formal border between India and Pakistan and the 700-km LoC is a line demarcated in 1972 across which troops of either side are ranged. A terse eight-minute phone conversation between the Indian and Pakistani deputy directors of the directorate general of military operations (DDDGMO) ended with brigadiers from both sides trading accusations. There were some reports of the Rangers holding their fire in the wake of the strong Indian response but by and large the Pakistanis responded in kind to Indian action in Arnia, Raghubir Singh Pura, Ramgarh, Samba, Akhnoor and Pargwal. “While India has no intention of escalating situation on the Jammu border, there is no question that the Pakistanis will be allowed to go without punishment,” said a senior South Block official.
Thousands migrate to safer places as ceasefire violations by Pak continue
South Block sources said the Indian side was forced to open up after the Pakistan Army first violated the Line of Control in Poonch followed by their Rangers, who let loose with heavy machine guns and mortars in the Jammu sector. The first incident happened on October 1, when the Pakistan Army targeted an Indian Army border outpost (BoP) under Mandi sub-division of Poonch sector. On October 3, the Pakistanis again fired at a BoP in Mandi, killing a 17-year-old girl and injuring four Indian civilians. On October 3-4 night, the Pakistan Rangers decided to escalate firing to the IB and targeted an Indian BoP in Arnia sector. A Pakistani mortar shell landed in a house in Kaku de Kothey village in Arnia as a result of which two civilians sustained serious injuries. This was just the beginning.
On October 4, an Indian Army jawan was killed in an improvised explosive device blast and two others were badly hurt. The border action team of Pakistan-based terrorists had planted the device near Tiba forward post in Mendhar in Poonch sector. Two days later, the Pakistan Rangers again opened up at the IB and targeted Indian BoPs in Arnia with heavy mortars, killing five civilians including a minor, and injuring 30 others. Since October 1, Indian BoPs in Mandi, Mendhar, Arnia, Khour, Ramgarh and Rajouri sector have been targeted by the Pakistani forces. The Indian government hardened its stance and asked the Border Security Force (BSF) to “retaliate with full force” after five civilians were killed and 29 wounded in firing by Pakistani forces along the border in Jammu on Monday, official sources said.
Tensions flared after four Pakistani civilians, including two children and a woman, were killed in retaliatory firing by India as home minister Rajnath Singh and defence minister Arun Jaitley warned Pakistan to stop such attacks if it wanted peace talks with India. “Ceasefire violation must stop. Pakistan must realise that a decisive government has come to power, which will not take such instances lying down,” Singh told HT in an interview.
Pak must realise Modi govt not UPA, says Rajnath Singh
India and Pakistan exchanged fire in Arnia and RS Pura sectors late on Monday, the heaviest firing between the two countries since India called off bilateral talks last month. Jaitley said the repeated ceasefire violations would not help normalise relations between the two countries and Indian armed forces were responding to all provocations from across the border. “This is resulting in a series of ceasefire violations as a result of which innocent civilians have lost their lives. Pakistan must realise that the kind of environment it is generating between the two countries is certainly not going to help in normalising relations. The onus of creating a positive environment is on Pakistan which is utterly failing to do so,” Jaitley said. A senior government official told HT on condition of anonymity that border agencies, mainly the BSF and the army, had received instructions to not just match mortar for mortar but “outnumber the number of mortars in retaliation”. “There is no hesitation to our response now. If Pakistan fires five mortars, we can retaliate with 10,” he said.
The violence puts more strain on already-tense ties between India and Pakistan after New Delhi called off planned foreign secretary-level talks following the Pakistani ambassador’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders last month.
Worst affected by the Pakistani firing in India was Mashain-de-kothe village, where four members of a family were killed. Mortars also landed at Arnia town, about three km from the International Border (IB), forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. “When firing started we thought it would be another routine thing. But when heavy mortars started pounding our homes and heard cries, it was our worst nightmare,” said Soma Devi, a relative of the family that lost four members to the firing.
BSF sources said India will not have a flag meeting after the firing which began late last Thursday in a bid to disrupt Dussehra celebrations. Media reports said three militants were killed as the army foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control in Tangdhar sector.
The Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement condemning what it described as India’s “unprovoked firing”. “The government of Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with the government of India through diplomatic channels and called for restraining its forces from constant violation of the ceasefire,” it said in the statement.
With tension prevailing on the border, the traditional exchange of sweets between Indian and Pakistani troops at the Attari border in Punjab on Eid was called off. However, sweets were exchanged at Chakan-da-bagh area in Poonch.
Pakistani mortars continued to pound villages along the Jammu border for a second straight day on Tuesday as they targeted 40 Border Security Force (BSF) posts in the region, wounding six civilians and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.
BSF officials said Indian forces retaliated with gunfire and mortar bombs after Pakistan Rangers widened the range of their attacks to Poonch, Kanachak, Pargwal, Arnia, Akhnoor and RS Pura sectors, a day after mortar bombs killed five civilians and wounded 29 in the highest civilian death toll in a single day in more than a decade. “Pakistan targeted 40 of our posts in RS Pura and Akhnoor sector without provocation,” said the BSF inspector general in Jammu, Rajesh Sharma. “We were then forced to fire back in equally strong measure.”
Media reports said the Indian and Pakistani DGMOs held talks on ceasefire violations and accused each other of violating the ceasefire.