MUZAFFARABAD: On Tuesday, Army Staff Chief (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa warned the Indian Army that it would always receive an adequate response from across the divide to any “misadventure or aggression.”
During his visit to the military positions in unidentified snowbound forward areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gen Bajwa’s note of warning came hours after a woman was killed and two other civilians, including a minor child, were wounded as a result of the Indian army’s “unprovoked” ceasefire violations.
According to a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations, the COAS was briefed on the latest situation, especially the ceasefire violations by the Indian army targeting innocent civilians intentionally along the LoC, and the recent targeting by Indian troops of a United Nations vehicle against international norms and conventions.
“The Indian provocations, especially the recent targeting of UNMOGIP vehicles, are [a] threat to regional peace and stability,” the army chief observed on the occasion.
Woman killed, two other civilians injured in shelling from across LoC
On Friday, in what was described by the Foreign Office spokesman as a “reprehensible act, indicative of a new low in the conduct of the Indian Army,” Indian troops intentionally fired on a UN vehicle carrying two military observers on a routine monitoring mission in AJK’s Poonch district.
Pakistan has taken up this issue with the UN, according to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking it to launch a clear inquiry into the incident.
The army chief pledged that the Pakistan Army would take steps along the LoC to protect innocent citizens and safeguard the motherland’s prestige, reputation and territorial integrity at all costs.
Pictures and a video clip released by the wing of the army’s public relations showed Gen Bajwa and other top military officers walking in the snowcapped forward positions through the paths cut out.
Gen Bajwa briefed the soldiers in the open after attending the briefing indoors. The troops, who were lined up according to the normal operating procedures for Covid-19, were heard vociferously yelling the Pakistan Zindabadad slogan in the video clip (Long Live Pakistan).
The COAS was seen in one photo talking with a soldier, the former’s hand on the latter’s back.
Gen Bajwa was received at the LoC by Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lt Gen Azhar Abbas earlier on his arrival.
Earlier in the day, AJK officials said, “without any provocation, using mortars and heavy weapons and targeting civilian populations,” Indian soldiers resorted to heavy shelling in the Goi sector of Kotli district and neighbouring areas of Poonch district at around 9 a.m.
Initially without any delay and later with intervals, the shelling continued for several hours, leaving 42-year-old Khadija Bibi, Abdul Rehman’s wife, dead in Janjorra village and 18-year-old Aneela Pervez critically wounded in Goi Barmoch village of Kotli district. In Darra Sher Khan village in Poonch district, an eight-year-old boy, Nayab Ramzan, was critically wounded.
Both of the wounded were admitted to the Kotli District Headquarters Hospital.
The shelling also caused material losses to villagers in the affected areas, as at least seven houses were destroyed and five heads of cattle were killed, officials said, adding that dry hay piled up by villagers in the fields was burned in several villages.
In a serious breach of a peace deal signed by the armies of India and Pakistan in November 2003, the highly militarised LoC has been continuously seeing ceasefire breaches.
As many as 31 people have lost their lives and 260 others have sustained casualties in various areas along the LoC in the current year due to such violations by the Indian army, according to Saeed Qureshi, a senior official at AJK’s disaster management agency.
Meanwhile, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider went on Twitter to condemn the Indian military’s civilian casualties.
No let-up in the ceasefire line’s constant bloodletting as one more innocent citizen dies and two more, including a young child, are sustaining wounds on my side today at the hands of the beastly Indian Army. I wonder what else is going to jolt the mind of the UN & the culture of int’l? “He tweeted.
AJK President Masood Khan said in a statement from Islamabad that amid the Pakistan Army’s exercise of maximum restraint, Indian forces continued their violence along the LoC by attacking the civilian population in their futile efforts to distract world focus from inside the occupied territory.