Islamabad: In yet another case of ceasefire violations, Pakistan summoned a senior Indian diplomat to the foreign ministry on Friday and lodged a protest over a “recent cross-border shelling that killed at least three civilians”.
The army said the civilians were killed due to “Indian unprovoked firing” in Nakial sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region on Thursday.
“The Indian Deputy High Commissioner, JP Singh was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today to protest against the shahadat (martyrdom) of three civilians, in Nikial sector, due to the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian Security Forces at the Line of Control,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The Government of Pakistan has expressed its deep concern at the continuous unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian Security Forces and the intentional targeting of innocent civilians, which is highly condemnable,” the statement said.
The foreign ministry said Pakistan has stressed upon India to stop forthwith these ceasefire violations and respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement in order to restore peace and tranquility at the LoC and the Working Boundary.
Pakistan and India declared ceasefire along the LoC in 2003, however, border troops occasionally traded fire. Both countries accused each other of the ceasefire violations.
Pakistan says it is expelling India’s high commissioner to Islamabad, just hours after downgrading diplomatic and trade ties with New Delhi for stripping the disputed Kashmir region of its special status (Article 370), as bilateral relations continue to deteriorate.
The foreign ministry said in a brief announcement the Indian government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.
Earlier, an official announcement said that an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee, which includes top Pakistani civilian and military leaders, had decided to lower diplomatic and trade ties with India among other steps in response to the “unilateral and illegal actions” by the Indian government.
It said without elaborating that Pakistan will review other bilateral arrangements with India and take the Kashmir matter to the United Nations, including the Security Council. “[The] Prime Minister directed armed forces to continue vigilance,” the announcement noted, citing the situation on the military line of control separating Pakistani and Indian portions of Kashmir.
New Delhi added a special provision to its constitution in 1949 giving autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, allowing the region to have its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defense and communications. India’s Hindu nationalist-led government scrapped the constitutional provision Monday.
On Tuesday, the Indian parliament passed a bill giving its approval to the move, including splitting its part of the divided Himalayan state both New Delhi and Islamabad claim in its entirety. Hours later, the Pakistani parliament passed a resolution condemning India’s measures to alter the status of the divided region and demanding New Delhi lift its wide-ranging security lockdown imposed on Kashmir since Monday.
The Indian security action to prevent a possible backlash, particularly from insurgents fighting New Delhi’s rule in Kashmir, has plunged the region into a communications blackout and a virtual shutdown.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told the emergency joint session of the parliament on Tuesday that the Indian action to “annex” Kashmir would intensify the insurgency in the majority-Muslim Kashmir, and the ensuing tensions could trigger another war between India and Pakistan, both armed with nuclear weapons.
The Pakistani leader warned the conflict could eventually lead to an exchange of nuclear weapons, urging the international community to intervene and press India to reverse its controversial decisions and resolve the Kashmir dispute through negotiations.
Islamabad rejects New Delhi’s allegations the Pakistani military is behind separatist groups in Kashmir. “The next time there is a major attack on Indian forces in Kashmir, the next India-Pakistan crisis will be upon us. And it could get ugly,” cautioned Michael Kugelman, a Washington-based expert on South Asia affairs.
In a significant clarification issued Wednesday, a senior U.S. State Department official rejected Indian media reports New Delhi had informed Washington ahead of its Kashmir-related moves.
“Contrary to press reporting, the Indian government did not consult or inform the US Government before moving to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status,” tweeted Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of South and Central Asian affairs. Wells is currently in Islamabad for official talks with Pakistani leaders on bilateral matters.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Monday, the administration was “closely” following developments in Kashmir. “We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities, said Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. (VOA)