India, Pak Trade Gun Fire, Allegations Over Border Incident
New Delhi: Once again, the tumultuous border between India and Pakistan is bleeding, and it is creating news around the world. The origins of the current conflict, still contained to the skirmishes along a particular stretch of the border, is not clear as both sides have accused each other of breaking the rules of the ceasefire that has held for a decade. India Thursday rejected Pakistan’s demand that the UN be asked to probe allegations that Pakistani troops killed and beheaded two Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir as Indian political parties called for “tough” action against Pakistan.
“That (Pakistan’s) demand is rejected out of hand. We will not internationalise the issue nor go to the United Nations,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
He said the cabinet committee on security was briefed about the Tuesday killings near the Line of Control (LoC).
“Our report is that the Indian forces did not violate the ceasefire (in place in LoC since 203),” he said.
In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reiterated the demand for a third party enquiry into ceasefire violations on the LoC.
Khar, addressing a news conference, said Islamabad abides by the 2003 ceasefire. She added that Pakistan has also contacted UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to probe the killing of one of its soldiers Jan 6 in alleged firing by Indian troops. She had a day ago denied the killing of Indian soldiers was a “tit-for-tat” reaction.
According to Radio Pakistan, a Pakistani soldier was killed Thursday when “Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing at Tatta Pani Sector in Kotli today”.
Hamid Mir of Geo TV said in a tweet: “Tatta Pani sector of Kashmir became another battlefield, one Pakistani soldier Havaldar Mohyudin martyred by Indian shelling.”
India’s Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the heightened border tensions will not to come in the way of a liberalized visa agreement between India and Pakistan.
“The visa agreement (inked last year) will be carried out as scheduled, there is no rethink on it,” Shinde told reporters.
National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon noted that ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC had increased last year. “There has been an increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan and in infiltration attempts in 2012 over 2011.”
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said it would organize nation-wide protests Friday over the killings of the two soldiers.
“People are very angry over this matter,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said, adding: “We hold the Pakistan government and army accountable for breaking the ceasefire.”
“We should give proof, name and shame Pakistan for having done this… we can’t afford to have our goodwill misused,” she added.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said the party would support the UPA government if it takes “tough” decisions against Pakistan for the killings.
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray demanded that India should “take revenge” against Pakistan for the brutal killing of the two soldiers.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati asked the government to take “strong action” to ensure that such brutalities are not repeated and that India-Pakistan relations did not suffer.
The US has asked India and Pakistan to talk to each other to improve relations.
“We’re urging both sides to take steps to end the violence. We continue to strongly support any efforts to improve relations between the two countries,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington.
The UNMOGIP has asked India and Pakistan to respect the ceasefire and de-escalate tensions. The UNMOGIP said it has received an official complaint from the Pakistan Army to probe the Jan 6 killing of a Pakistani soldier. But Martin Nesirky, spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said no official complaint had been from India or Pakistan on the second “alleged incident” of Jan 8 for a probe.
Indian Army sources have denied a media report linking the current border skirmishes to an elderly Kashmiri woman crossing into Pakistani Kashmir to be with her children. The sources also denied the Indian Army had transgressed the LoC on Jan 6, and said soldiers had only carried out “controlled retaliation” in response to a ceasefire violation by Pakistan.
Earlier, the Indian Army on Wednesday said both the soldiers killed during an attack by Pakistani troops across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir were decapitated and that one severed head was yet to be recovered.
“The bodies of two soldiers were brutalised — one head was severed and another body was beheaded… It (the head of one of jawan) has not being recovered — probably they have taken it along with them”, deputy commander of the 25 Division Brigadier J K Tiwari told reporters in Rajouri.
According to Army sources in Delhi, the Pakistan army regulars who were involved in the attack wore black uniforms and they had slit the throats of both the soldiers in a brutal manner and that the bodies were badly mutilated.
Giving details about the incident, Tiwari said eight soldiers belonging to the 13 Rajputana Rifles were carrying out area domination patrolling (ADP) in two escort parties including 6 jawans on back side and two on the front about 600 metres inside the LoC.
Army officials said the fence on the LoC in that particular area in Krishna Ghati is built 2 Kms inside Indian territory and the Pakistani troops did not have to cross the obstacle to enter Indian territory.
Then men wearing black clothes, suspected to be from the Pakistani special forces, took benefit of the thick fog and dense forests and laid ambush, Tiwari said, adding that they fired on patrol party and fire fight continued for 30 minutes. There were also reports that the Pakistani troops belonged to 29 Baloch regiment.
“After the firing stopped, patrol parties moved ahead and came acoss the two dead jawans in a mutilated condition”, he said. The incident took place near the Sona Gali area close to the LoC.
The Mendhar area has been the hub of ceasefire violations and cross-border firings in the last one year with close to 90 such incidents.
The area is known as the Barasingha battalion area and is under the overall command of the 10 brigade of the Indian Army.
Pakistani military has rejected India’s contention that its troops had attacked an Indian patrol and killed two soldiers, claiming that it had carried out ground verification and “found nothing of this sort happened.”
The Pakistani side conveyed this during a phone conversation between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two sides.
A Pakistani military official, who did not want to be named, said Pakistan’s DGMO Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem talked to his Indian counterpart Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia on a hotline and rejected the Indian army’s “allegations of cross-LoC firing by Pakistani troops and killing any Indian soldier.”
“The Indian authorities were informed that Pakistan has carried out ground verification and checked and found nothing of this sort happened as is being alleged by India,” the military official said.
“It is mere propaganda by the Indian army,” the official claimed.
Despite the shrill calls for revenge and probes, both sides are maintaining a level of sanity that may lead to a cooling down of the situation soon.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.