Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday 'everything will be fine soon' on the border a day after India summoned the Pakistani deputy high commissioner in New Delhi to lodge a strong protest over repeated ceasefire violations.
At least 17 civilians have been killed and dozens wounded so far on both sides of the border after a week of some of the most intense fighting between India and Pakistan in about a decade.
The violence has further strained relations between the two countries that hit a low after New Delhi called off bilateral talks in August following the Pakistani high commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders.
“Everything will be fine soon,” Modi told reporters at a function in New Delhi to mark the 82nd Air Force day.
HT has learnt that India has taken up the ceasefire violation issue with Pakistan more than once in the past week as part of the “diplomatic initiatives” to end the impasse. According to sources, the Pakistan envoy was told on Tuesday that “unprovoked firing from across the border that also continues to target civilians” must stop.
Fighting intensified along the international border on Tuesday night and carried on till morning as Pakistani troops hit about 50 Indian outposts and three dozen hamlets with mortars and machine guns, killing two women of a family and wounding at least 15.
Intelligence sources said India hit back by pounding 37 Pakistani posts that left about 15 dead and damaged several Pakistan Rangers outposts. “Our troops at all the places gave a strong and befitting reply to firing from Pakistan,” a Border Security Force (BSF) spokesperson said.
The BSF has given a detailed report of the situation to the ministry of external affairs to diplomatically take up the issue with Pakistan. BSF chief DK Pathak will meet Union home minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on Thursday to give an account of the situation on the ground.
Thousands have fled their homes on both sides of the 192-kilometre international border since the fighting broke on Sunday night.
Analysts say the violence comes at a time when Pakistan's army is taking a more assertive role in the country’s politics while India has toughened its stance ahead of assembly elections this month.
Islamabad summoned India’s deputy high commissioner JP Singh on Monday to lodge a protest over alleged ceasefire violations by India and raised the pitch by lodging a protest with the UN Military Observer Group over what it termed as India’s aggression.
However, India maintains the UN body has outlived its utility and all bilateral issues should be discussed under the framework of the Simla agreement and Lahore declaration. The ceasefire pact of 2003 is seen as the most important confidence-building measure between the two sides.
India and Pakistan exchange fire on the border sporadically but this year has been particularly volatile as Jammu and Kashmir is due for assembly polls and Pakistan typically ratchets up border tensions every time the state holds elections.
A terse eight-minute phone conversation on Tuesday between officers of the Directorate-General of Military Operations of India and Pakistan ended with brigadiers from both sides trading accusations.
The moderate wing of the Kashmiri separatist group Hurriyat Conference asked both countries to end hostilities along the border and resume the stalled dialogue process to resolve outstanding issues.
(With inputs from Rajesh Ahuja and agencies)