India Protests Pakistan Firing

16 August 2015
The Hindu
Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi: The government summoned High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Sunday to protest 'unprovoked firing' by Pakistani troops on the Line of Control since August 8 that has left at least six people, including a woman and a young boy, dead and more than 10 injured. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the High Commissioner met Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa who 'lodged a protest and conveyed our anger' over the firing. In particular, India is concerned about what it called 'systematic targeting of civilian populations and the use of high-calibre weapons including artillery.' On Tuesday, Pakistan's MOFA had summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad to protest what it claimed was unprovoked firing from the Indian side. According to defence officials, Pakistani troops targeted six sectors of the LoC on Sunday: Poonch, Balakote, Hamirpur, Sujiyan, and Mandi, all falling under Poonch district; and Manjakot sector of Rajouri district. Giving further details, the officials accused the Pakistan Army of using 120mm, 82mm, mortars and automatics, and said the Indian Army was 'responding effectively.' They also said that there had been a 'lull in the firing' after 5p.m., roughly an hour after the MEA meeting with High Commissioner Basit. Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Basit told reporters that Pakistan too was concerned over 'close to 70 ceasefire violations from this side of the LOC and the [International Border]' in July and August. 'Our side would like to have a more effective mechanism in place as to determine who indulges in these unprovoked firing,' he said. During the upcoming talks between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz on August 23, both sides are expected to discuss the DGMO meeting that was agreed to when Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Ufa. Sources told The Hindu, Pakistan wants to broaden the scope of the talks by also discussing a 'new mechanism' for dealing with the LoC firing. The MEA said that the issue of firing had already been taken up at the DGMO level over the past few days. 'Assurances were also received from the Pakistan military authorities that the firing would stop and their troops would be instructed accordingly. But in fact the firing has continued up until Sunday,' it added in a statement.