On New Year, India, Pakistan trade fire on border, violate ceasefire

January 2, 2019

TEHRAN - The intermittent border skirmishes continue between India and Pakistan, the two estranged South Asian neighbors, escalating political and military tensions. Over the past few days, the armies of the two countries have again accused each other of trading fire on the Line of Control (LoC), the line dividing the two countries, in the disputed Kashmir region.

On Tuesday, Pakistan summoned India's deputy envoy to Islamabad and condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations” by Indian troops across the Line of Control, which reportedly led to the death of a woman.

Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman, alleged that the Indian forces along the LoC and the Working Boundary were “continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons.”

He said that in 2018, Indian forces had carried out more than 2,350 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary, resulting in the death of 36 civilians, while injuring 142 others
This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India, the statement noted, is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations.

“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws,” the statement added. “The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.”

Reacting to Pakistan’s allegations, Indian authorities said Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing at Indian positions on Tuesday morning.

“Pakistani firing began early this morning in Khari Karmara area of the LoC. Indian positions retaliated strongly. No casualty or damage was reported on our side,” a newspaper report said.

In another incident, Pakistan allegedly fired in Khari Karmara area of the LoC, to which Indian positions retaliated strongly, said a report in IANS.

In 2018, there have been more than 1,400 ceasefire violations on the LoC and the International Border (IB) by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, the report added.

Earlier, Pakistan Army's Inter Services Public Relations in-charge Major General Asif Ghafoor claimed that Pakistan army had shot down Indian spy quadcopter in Bagh sector area along LoC. “Not even a quadcopter will be allowed to cross LOC, in Sha Allah,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Indian Army denied any such incident and said “they (Pakistan) keep lying on these issues”.

The ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have worsened in recent years with the intermittent exchange of small-arms and mortar fire along the border.

The two countries have fought two of the three wars over Kashmir and cross-border attacks have been frequent since the partition of erstwhile British India in 1947.

However, in recent years, the violations of the ceasefire accord the two countries signed in 2003 have increased. According to conservative estimates, more than two thousand such violations have taken place since 2011 alone, which often have sparked political, diplomatic and military tensions.

According to experts, both parties have failed to holistically weigh the causes and consequences of recurring ceasefire violations and failed to take steps in order to prevent them.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Tuesday handed over a list of its nuclear installations and facilities to a representative of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad as part of an agreement between the two countries, said a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

Similarly, India handed over a list of its nuclear facilities to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. The annual exchange is mandated by Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India, signed on December 31, 1988. It has been implemented consecutively since January 1, 1992.

Also, in consistent with the provisions of the Consular Access Agreement between Pakistan and India, signed on May 21, 2008, the two countries exchanged lists of prisoners in each other’s custody. This exercise will be repeated on July 1 as the practice is carried out twice a year.

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