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3 civilians martyred as Indian troops continue shelling across LoC

By Our Correspondent
August 01, 2019

Ag Agencies

ISLAMABAD: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday condemned a recent ceasefire violation by Indian troops which resulted in the deaths of three civilians in different villages in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), saying that the increased frequency of attacks from across the Line of Control (LoC) indicates their Indian frustration due to failure in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

In a tweet posted on ISPR's official Twitter account, Major General Asif Ghafoor said ceasefire violations by the Indian forces "are being and shall always be effectively responded".

“Increased Indian Cease Fire Violations (CFVs) indicate their frustration due to failure in IOJ&K. CFVs are being & shall always be effectively responded. Pak Army shall take all measures to protect innocent civilians along LOC from Indian firing deliberately targeting them,” the DG ISPR said. His statement came after a four-year old boy was martyred and eleven others, including his mother, siblings, cousins and neighbours, were injured in Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in a fresh ceasefire violation by Indian troops on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, two persons were martyred and eight were injured in Neelum Valley alone, while elsewhere eight persons were injured in Nauseri sector of Muzaffarabad district and 10 in Leepa valley of district Hattian Bala. However, many casualties in Leepa could not reported on Tuesday due to poor telecommunications network.

On Wednesday, sporadic small arms fire between Pakistani and Indian military posts was reported from parts of Neelum Valley.

In Islamabad, the Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations, a press statement released on Wednesday said.

The spokesperson urged the Indian side to respect the ceasefire agreement and termed the targeting of the civilian population as “deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws”.

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

The Indian government must respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement, investigate these and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary, the statement further said.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi pointed out that the situation in Afghanistan cannot be viewed in isolation with the situation on the eastern border.

This was a clear message to western capitals that India has left no stone unturned and relentlessly attacked across the Line of Control, which necessitated on Wednesday the evacuation of dozens of Chinese construction workers from a dam in Azad Kashmir.

While speaking to the media after a meeting of the fifth Parliamentary Committee on Jammu and Kashmir headed by Syed Fakhar Imam, the minister once again pointed out that the prime minister exchanged his views with US President Donald Trump on a wide range of issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

“One of the issues that I raised in the meeting was to discern the way forward given the silver lining that has emerged from US President Donald Trump’s offer of mediation in the Kashmir dispute,” he said.

“Our deployment on the western border is one thing, as is the Pak Army’s role in securing the region, the merger of the areas in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province through an amendment in the Constitution, the holding of peaceful elections there, the funds set aside in the budget for its development and the progress we are achieving there,” he pointed out.

But at the same time, he added, “We cannot remain oblivious to the fact that our attention is diverted when it comes to the eastern border so obviously the situation in Afghanistan can be impacted and negative elements can play the role of a spoiler so we have to see how to move forward given these facts.”

The minister went on to say that there are two new developments which are even more pressing in the situation unfolding. One was the arrival of new deployment of forces in IHK and the talk of a demographic change being sought by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by repealing Articles 35-A and 370 of the Indian constitution which provides an autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and prevents settlements or the acquisition of immovable property by non-Kashmiris in the occupied territory.

“There was talk of an all-parties conference and the forces that were coalition partners at a point in time are not only distancing themselves from the government policies, but are expressing their reservations and wish to meet the prime minister. Mehbooba Mufti also says there should be an all-parties conference minus the BJP,” he said.

“So there is a wave of fear in Kashmir as well over what is happening (in IHK). If there is a demographic change, then how will it impact what is laid out in the UN resolution? So we had an exchange of views on all these matters and I am happy to share that all the political parties today not only had representation but there was a new resolve; we reiterated that the entire nation and parliament stands as one (on this issue),” said Qureshi.

The minister further emphasised that the last one year had seen a growing momentum in activities focused on drawing international attention to Kashmir dispute, particularly with the publication of the successive OHCHR reports in June 2018 and July 2019 which extensively documented the human rights situation in IHK.

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