‘Hot-line’ contact: DGMOs discuss flare-up as UN observers visit border



A UN observer interacts with a boy who was injured by Indian firing. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Indian military officials opened contact through the ‘hotline’ on Tuesday in a bid to discuss escalating tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary.

The development coincided with a tour by a team of UN military observers of the villages badly hit by Indian firing near Sialkot.

The contact between directors general of military operations (DGMO) of Pakistan and Indian armies was the first since tensions flared up at the LoC and Working Boundary more than a week ago.

A military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Pakistan’s DGMO conveyed concern to his Indian counterpart and pointed towards India’s “unprovoked firing on the civilian population living along the LoC and Working Boundary.”

According to figures provided by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), as many as a dozen Pakistani nationals have so far lost their lives due to Indian firing, which has also caused serious injuries to 64 civilians, mostly along the Working Boundary.

The interaction between the two militaries was seen as significant in view of the ongoing clashes. However, contact by mid-level army officials from both sides suggested that the situation may not improve in the near future.

Pakistan accuses Indian security forces of targeting civilians inhabiting villages all along the working boundary. “Day-to-day living of civil population all along working boundary is badly affected. People have almost fled their homes and taken refuge in the nearest safe places,” said the ISPR.

It said India had committed 24 ceasefire violations on the Working Boundary and 26 along the LoC since October 1.

Between Monday and Tuesday, a team of the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) visited the Charwah, Chaprar and Pukhlian sectors on the Working Boundary near Sialkot.

The UN observers travelled to the affected areas after Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the UNMOGIP over unprovoked Indian firing/shelling on working boundary and LoC. According to army’s media wing, the UN observers met the villagers, witnessed and gathered firsthand account of damage caused to human lives and property due to recent Indian shelling on the Working Boundary.

The UN observers’ team also visited the Combined Military Hospital Sialkot and met civilians who have been injured due to Indian firing.

The ISPR pointed out that that as per UN resolutions, Pakistan is utilising the good offices of the UNMOGIP, which is in place on both side along the LoC and Working Boundary to investigate such incidents or violations by either side.

“Pakistan offers full access to the UNMOGIP observers to investigate and bring the facts in front of the world; however, the Indians have always been reluctant and deny access to UNMOGIP observers on their side,” it added.

Foreign ministry briefs diplomatic corps

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also briefed the entire diplomatic corps based in Islamabad on the situation arising from the ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary by the Indian armed forces.

The briefing included a detailed presentation by a senior representative of the Military Operations Directorate, who explained the on-ground situation, the frequency and intensity of the ‘unprovoked and indiscriminate’ firing and shelling by the Indian security forces since September 30, 2014, and details of civilian casualties, injuries and damage to property, said a press statement.

He also informed that efforts towards restoring peace and tranquility on the LoC and the Working Boundary through available means of communications were not responded to by the Indian side.

“On a few occasions of sector-level hotline contacts, the Indian side refused to acknowledge that its troops were firing, despite intense shelling on the civilian population in Pakistan, taking place at that time,” he added.

In his remarks, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi reiterated Pakistan’s policy for establishing good neighbourly relations with India. Referring to the positive overtures of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the previous and present Indian governments, he said early restoration of peace and tranquility on the LoC and the WB was of paramount importance to the region.

Fatemi expressed concern that the Indian ceasefire violations were increasingly targeting Pakistani territory across the Working Boundary.

“In the face of adversity, the people of Pakistan stand united with the Government and Armed Forces of Pakistan to safeguard Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. There will be no compromise on the country’s core interests,” said the special assistant.

In the context of the long outstanding dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, he referred to the United Nations Secretary General’s repeated statements that UN resolutions do not fade away with the passage of time.

“The credibility of the UN system is at stake if its resolutions remain unimplemented as all member countries look up to this sole international body, to address issues relating to peace and stability,” he added.


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