January 2005 News

India Waits And Watches Kashmir Powder Keg: Army Chief

22 January 2005
Agence France-Presse

New Delhi: India is waiting and watching with troops on alert along the Kashmir border, army chief General N.C. Vij said on Saturday, after Pakistan twice denied firing mortars in violation of a ceasefire this week. 'There have been two instances of some firing from two different places. We need to wait and watch,' Vij told NDTV news channel. 'Whether it's some local man, part of a design or some terrorist, we'll have to wait and watch ... We will never let our guard down. We are on alert,' he said. Asked whether Indian troops would retaliate, he said: 'No seasoned soldier should retaliate to this level of firing.' Ten mortar shells fired from Pakistan crashed into southern parts of Indian-held Kashmir on Friday night after some 15 exploded on Tuesday night. One girl was wounded in the first salvo.Pakistan's military denied any involvement. 'We have fully investigated this allegation and there is no truth in this. It is baseless and there has been no firing from Pakistan,' military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told AFP in Islamabad. 'We are respecting the ceasefire and would like to reassure that the ceasefire will be maintained,' Sultan said. Friday's shelling followed telephone conversations between senior military officials from India and Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday. The ceasefire between the nuclear rivals has held since November 2003. The two sides are also engaged in peace talks to resolve a host of disputes including the core problem of Kashmir where tens of thousands have died since an Islamic insurgency broke out in 1989. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to meet Pakistani premier Shaukat Aziz on the sidelines of a regional summit in Dhaka early next month. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but both countries lay claim to all of it.


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