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Indian HC summoned to lodge protest over artillery shelling

Indian HC summoned to lodge protest over artillery shelling

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday raised the level of protest with India over shelling of areas across the Line of Control (LoC) by summoning High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale after Indian troops used artillery for the first time since the ceasefire agreement was signed by the two countries in 2003.

“The foreign secretary deplored the use of artillery by the Indian occupation forces in Shahkot and Jura sectors on the LoC on 9 November 2016 and highlighted that such weaponry had been used after 13 years,” the FO said in a statement.




The Foreign Office sees the use of artillery as a reflection of Indian intention to further escalate tensions and undermine regional peace and security.

India has over the past couple of months intensified shelling on civilian populations living close to the LoC and Working Boundary, killing 26 people. Protests against the death of civilians were previously lodged at the level of Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh, who was summoned six times over the past five weeks for receiving the protest.

Mr Bambawale was last called to the FO on Oct 27, when the government decided to expel Indian High Commission official Surjeet Singh after New Delhi declared a Pakistani staffer Mehmood Akhtar as persona non grata and sent him home.

While the FO statement noted that the protest was over the use of artillery in Shahkot and Jura sectors on Nov 9, Indian media had on Nov 4 quoted Indian officials as claiming that artillery guns were used in October.

India was also asked to allow the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan to visit the LoC and Working Boundary to investigate the incidents of ceasefire violations. Pakistan, the statement noted, was fully cooperating with UNMOGIP, which was mandated by the Security Council to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LoC and WB.

“The foreign secretary urged India to investigate the continued incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations on the LoC and the Working Boundary and ensure respect for the 2003 ceasefire understanding, in letter and spirit,” the FO statement said.

WEEKLY BRIEFING: Speaking at the weekly media briefing, FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria expressed the hope that US President-elect Donald Trump would live up to his election campaign promise of mediating between India and Pakistan.

He recalled that Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had welcomed Mr Trump’s offer.

The spokesman said that efforts would continue to sensitise the new administration on human rights violations in India-held Kashmir and Pakistani concerns.

About the future of ties under the Trump administration, he said continued close cooperation between the two countries was essential for successfully fighting terrorism and achieving the shared objective of peace and stability in the region.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain had greeted Mr Trump soon after he won the election. In their messages, the prime minister and the president expressed the hope that Mr Trump would work with the government of Pakistan for improving bilateral relations.

“It is a very comprehensive relationship that dates back to several decades. It will remain our endeavour to promote and strengthen this relationship further and also to work closely in areas of common interest with the new administration,” Mr Zakaria said.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2016

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