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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 08 Oct 2014

3 Army men among 12 hurt; hundreds flee after Pak firing
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Arnia/New Delhi, October 7
India and Pakistan have raised the border violation rhetoric with both sides locked in a heavy exchange of fire, resulting in the death of at least eight civilians on each side in the last 48 hours.

The BSF today said Pakistan Rangers escalated firing along the 100-km stretch along the international border in Arnia, RS Pura and Akhnoor sectors targeting 40 forward posts and 25 hamlets. At least nine civilians and three Armymen were injured on Tuesday, taking the number to 46. Five civilians were killed yesterday in Arnia and Mahashe-De-Kothe village.

An Arnia police officer said nearly half of the town’s 20,000 people haves fled to safety. Around 3,000 villagers migrated to schools in safer areas of Salehar, Deoli, Rehal and Bishnah.

Along the Line of Control in Poonch, one JCO and two Armymen were injured in the shelling by Pakistani troops.

“Around 1 pm, Pakistani troops opened automatic weapon fire on forward posts in Mankote-cum-Balnoi sector of Poonch. In the evening, they started shelling Banwat and Hamirpur areas of Rajouri district,” said an intelligence source. “We responded effectively and appropriately,” said defence spokesperson Col Manish Mehta.

Defence sources said in Delhi that there was growing suspicion in the security establishment that a part of the ongoing firing from across the boundary is being done by terrorists with the Pakistan Army tacitly supporting them.

Sources said the top decision-makers have been informed that men from the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba are among the teams firing at Indian outposts. This is being done simultaneously by the Pakistan Army and Rangers, a paramilitary outfit. The firing is seen more of attempt to infiltrate from the Tangdhar sector in north Kashmir as the snow in late October will close the mountain passes.

Top military officials of India and Pakistan talked over hotline for five minutes during which both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire. The Brigadier--level representatives of Directorate Generals of Military Operations expressed concern over civilian casualties and admitted there was a need to maintain peace along the LoC.

Sources said the Indian side conveyed to Pakistan that the Army has been told to give an appropriate response to truce violations. A senior official said in case the firing across the LoC resumes, then the DGMOs of either side – Lt General PR Kumar and Major General Aamer Riaz — could speak to each other tomorrow or day after.

“As many as 40 BSF posts in Arnia, RS Pura, Pargwal, Kanachak and Gajansoo areas were targeted in the overnight firing. We gave a befitting reply,” said BSF DG, DK Pathak. In Arnia, one of the shells hit the boundary wall of the Arnia police station injuring six persons.

Top military officers speak over hotline

* Top military officers of India and Pakistan talked over hotline for five minutes during which both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

* The Brigadier-level representatives of Directorate Generals of Military Operations expressed concern over civilian casualties and said there was a need to maintain peace along the LoC.
Pak protests ‘unprovoked’ firing, accuses India of constant violations
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

A woman was killed while two people were injured as Indian troops resorted to ‘unprovoked firing’ in the Charwa sector near the Sialkot working boundary, Pakistan’s military spokesman said on Tuesday.

Sector Commander Chenab Rangers Wasim Zafar has said that India has violated the working boundary 21 times this year. He said: “India does not want peace at the working boundary and has always targeted the civil population.” Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with the Government of India through diplomatic channels and called upon India to restrain from “constant violation of ceasefire”.

Pakistan has also protested against the firing and shelling by the Indian side to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) , a press release by Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR), said.

The military spokesman alleged that ‘unprovoked firing’ by the Indian army continues in the Harpal sector.

Urging Pakistan and India to resolve the issue via dialogue, the US has expressed concern over violence along the Line of Control, Radio Pakistan reported.

When asked to comment on the growing tensions between Pakistan and India, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the US encourages the two governments to engage in dialogue to address these issues. On October 6, Indian firing in Charwa sector had destroyed 10 houses while attacks in Harpal sector had killed 13 domestic animals, the press release said.

ISPR said there was firing from Indian side in Nakial, Karela, Kot Kettera, Hot Spring and Jandrot sectors but no casualty was reported.
 Doubts over Indo-Pak biannual border meet
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
A peacekeeping meeting between the border guarding forces of India and Pakistan is under doubt, following the flare-ups along the 198-km International Boundary in Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting, which is supposed to be held bi-annually between the Director Generals of India's Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers, has elicited no response from Pakistan so far this year. India is the host this time. Sources in the security establishment say the meeting has not been called off or postponed, however, the prevailing scenario along the border does not look conducive for such a meeting. Senior officers of both sides meet either in India or Pakistan by rotation. Their wives also accompany them in their peace mission.

Following the cross border firing between the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers in August, the BSF in September had asked their Pakistani counterparts on fixing a date for the DG level meeting. "Pak said it will respond, but they never did," said a source.
India and Pakistan Trade Blame in Kashmir Deaths
NEW DELHI — At least five Indian civilians and four Pakistani civilians were killed by overnight shelling along the disputed Indian-Pakistani border, both countries said on Monday, in fighting that brought an end to a monthlong lull in cross-border fire.

Three men and two women were killed and more than 20 people hospitalized with injuries after a night of heavy mortar fire, said Devender Singh, the police chief in a district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes Arnia, a village that was hit in the shelling.

The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that two children and a woman in the village of Dharmala, as well as a man in Tulsipur, had been killed. Six other people were said to have been wounded in what Pakistan called “unprovoked firing” and a violation of a cease-fire agreement.

Each side blamed the other for the shooting. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that Islamabad had “lodged strong protest” to India through diplomatic channels.
Villagers mourned the death of a relative who they said was killed by shelling from the Pakistani side of the border on Monday in the village of Arnia, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Credit Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

The Indian Army released a statement saying that there had been no casualties among its troops and that “equal effective response of unprovoked firing was given.” Arun Jaitley, the Indian defense minister, blamed Pakistan for the violence.

“Pakistan must realize that the kind of environment it is generating between the two countries is certainly not going to help in normalizing the relations,” he said. “The onus of creating a positive environment is on Pakistan, which is utterly failing to do so.”

India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed neighbors, have fought three wars over the disputed border and maintain fragile diplomatic relations. A cease-fire had mainly remained in place at the border since 2003.

For much of August, there were heavy exchanges of gunfire and shelling between border posts, causing thousands of people to flee to safer areas. At the time, D. K. Pathak, India’s chief of border security, described the crossfire as the biggest since the war the two countries fought in 1971.

India suspended official talks with Pakistan this summer after Pakistan’s ambassador met with separatist leaders from the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir. Since then, cease-fire violations and reports of infiltration attempts have gone up.

On Sept. 26, Gen. Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani Army chief, visited troops deployed near the city of Jhelum along the Line of Control, as the de facto border is known, where he was briefed by local commanders, according to a statement by the Pakistani military. General Sharif “reiterated that any provocation along the Line of Control will be responded effectively,” the statement said.

Rajnath Singh, India’s home minister, said Monday that the Indian side, now under the leadership of a new government, would have a tough response. “Pakistan should stop cease-fire violations and should understand the reality that times have changed in India,” he said.

On Monday, Mr. Pathak toured forward posts on the Indian side, telling reporters that “there has been equal or more volume of fire from our side also.”
Pakistan Seeks UN Help After India Cross-Border Firing
Pakistan said United Nations observers will visit its disputed border with India after the deadliest incident between the nuclear-armed neighbors in more than a year.

Both sides blamed each other for opening fire around midnight Oct. 7 that killed five Indians and four Pakistanis, including civilians. Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s adviser on foreign affairs, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s received “no cooperation from the Indian side,” while India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanded Pakistan end the violence in comments to reporters in New Delhi on Oct. 7.

The latest bloodshed in Kashmir, a region the two nations have fought over for more than six decades, may further hinder efforts to mend relations between the two states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration canceled talks between foreign secretaries in August after Pakistan held talks with separatists in the region.

“The greatest concern here is that civilians are being targeted, which we have not seen in maybe 13 or 14 years,” said C. Uday Bhaskar, a distinguished fellow with the Delhi-based Society for Policy Studies. “India’s response has been more robust and more intense than what was received, a real stamp of the Modi government, resulting in greater casualties on the other side.”

Pakistan yesterday summoned the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to mediate an end to the violence. Until then, Sharif had been exercising restraint in hopes that India would give peace a chance, Aziz said in a statement yesterday.
Line of Control

“Unfortunately, all our efforts to secure peace, tranquility on the line of control and the working boundary have elicited no cooperation from the Indian side,” Aziz said. “UNMOGIP must also be enabled to play its due role in monitoring cease-fire.”

Indian Army spokesman Manish Mehta said Pakistan had again “resorted to unprovoked firing” around 2:20 p.m. yesterday, although no casualties were reported, he said in a statement.

Both sides spoke over the phone yesterday to convey their concern about the most severe cease-fire violation since August 2013, according to an Indian Army official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information. India stated further violence would yield an immediate and intense military response, according to the person.
Civilian Fatalities

Civilian casualties fell every year from 2001 until 2013, when 61 people were killed along the border, an increase from 17 a year earlier, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which doesn’t keep track of Pakistani casualties. So far, 31 Indian civilians have been killed this year. Since 1988, more than 14,000 Indian civilians and 6,000 security personnel have been killed in violence along the border.

Modi told the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 27 that he’s ready for “serious” dialog with Pakistan over their long-standing political disputes. He said India has long sought to resolve differences with Pakistan through direct talks rather than via third parties such as the UN.

“With Pakistan I want to hold bilateral talks to improve friendship and cooperation in all seriousness and in an atmosphere of peace, without the shadow of terrorism,” Modi said last month in New York. “But it is also the duty of Pakistan to come forward and create an appropriate atmosphere and in all seriousness come forward for a bilateral dialog.”

While India and Pakistan share a 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border and have mutually understandable languages, trade between the nations totaled $2.6 billion last year. That’s less than 0.5 percent of India’s combined commerce with other nations, according to government data.

Sharif attended Modi’s inauguration in May, which many had hoped would signal peace and economic cooperation between the neighbors. Since then, there have been more than 120 cease-fire violations along the border of Kashmir, according to the Indian Army official.
2,000 terrorists across LoC waiting to infiltrate: Indian Army
New Delhi: More than 2,000 terrorists are waiting across the LoC in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to infiltrate into the Indian territory, according to army estimates.
There are more than 2,000 terrorists hiding on the other side and are getting trained in the 20 terrorist camps there, army sources said here today.

The Army troops and other border guarding forces are keeping an eye on the situation and maintaining extra vigil to thwart any attempts by the terrorists to sneak into the Indian side, they said.

Attempts are being made to push these terrorists into the Indian side at a time when the Pakistan Army has been continuously violating the ceasefire along the LoC and the International Border over the last one week.

Six persons have been killed and 50 others including BSF jawan injured in Pakistani shelling and firing along LoC and IB in Jammu and Poonch?districts in the ceasefire violations this month.

The Indian side is giving a befitting reply to the ceasefire violations by Pakistan, the army sources said.

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