ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – The latest military clashes between Pakistan and India along the disputed Kashmir border are said to have inflicted several casualties on both sides.
The Pakistani army accused Indian forces of starting the skirmishes several days ago and confirmed the killing of two of its soldiers in Dewa Sector on the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rival nations.
Military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor claimed that Pakistani troops retaliated and killed three Indian soldiers.
The Indian military, however, has confirmed the death of one of its officers and a civilian in what it alleged was “unprovoked” fire by Pakistan across the Kashmir frontier, Indian media reported.
Letter to UN
Earlier this month, Pakistan wrote a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to share Islamabad’s concerns over New Delhi’s alleged massive military mobilization, deployment of medium-range missiles in Kashmir and partially removing the border fence.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his letter warned New Delhi was apparently preparing to stage a cross-border attack on his country. While there has been no reaction from India to the Pakistani assertions, the Indian military chief last week said the situation along the Kashmir LoC “can escalate any time.”
India and Pakistan regularly accuse each other of violating a 2003 cease-fire in the disputed Himalayan region, though officials on both sides admit the mutual truce has been rendered ineffective in recent years.
Bilateral tensions have dangerously escalated since early August when the Indian government unilaterally canceled the semiautonomous status of its portion of Kashmir and divided it into two federally administered union territories.
Pakistan has rejected the move and downgraded diplomatic ties with India, saying Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory under U.N. Security Council resolutions.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir and came close to a fourth war in February when a suicide bombing in Kashmir, allegedly planned by a Pakistani militant group, killed 40 Indian soldiers.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi again alleged Thursday that India’s escalatory actions in Kashmir are meant to divert international attention from “extreme measures” imposed by New Delhi to suppress reaction and dissent in the only Muslim majority Indian region.
Indian authorities have placed Kashmir under a communication blackout, effectively cutting millions of Kashmiris off from the rest of the world for months, though some of those restrictions have been eased in recent weeks.