ISLAMABAD – Seven soldiers were martyred in cross-border unprovoked fire in disputed Kashmir, in what appeared to be an unusually high toll after months of surging tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
“Seven (Pakistani) soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom) at the Line of Control (LoC) in Bhimber sector in a crossfire LOC violation by Indian troops late last night,” the military said in a statement.
“Pakistani troops while responding to Indian unprovoked firing targeted Indian posts effectively.” There was no immediate response to the allegation from Indian officials. Tensions across the long-disputed de facto Himalayan border reached dangerous levels in September, when India blamed militants for a raid on an army base that killed 19 soldiers.
India claimed it had responded by carrying out “surgical strikes” across the heavily militarised border, sparking a furious reaction from Islamabad, which denied the strikes took place. There have since been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians, though the deaths of seven soldiers in what appeared to be one such incident is relatively high.
The two sides have also expelled diplomats in a tit-for-tat row that has even spilled into the glamorous world of Bollywood. The border skirmishes come against the backdrop of months of protests against Indian rule of Kashmir, sparked by the killing of a popular rebel leader in July.
Nearly 90 people, most of them young protesters, have been killed in clashes with security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir since then.
Nawaz condemns Indian shelling
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his profound grief and sorrow over the loss of precious human lives in the latest violation of LoC.
The prime minister said that we are fully capable of defending our soil against any aggression. He said the Indian Forces have resorted to escalating tension on LoC only to detract the world’s attention from the grave human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan summons Indian High Commissioner
Pakistan Foreign Office summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale on Monday afternoon and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violation of Indian occupation forces at Line of Control.
He said that this belligerent attitude of Indian occupation forces is a serious threat to the regional peace and security. ‘This may lead to a strategic miscalculation’, said Aizaz Ahmed.
The Foreign Secretary asked the Indian High Commissioner to convey to his government that it must stop the provocative firing and observe the ceasefire.
He cleared that Pakistan’s policy of restraint should not be construed as a sign of weakness.