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DGMOs in hotline contact after Indian ceasefire violations

DGMOs in hotline contact after Indian ceasefire violations

SIALKOT: As unprovoked shelling by Indian forces on border villages along the Sialkot Working Boundary continued for a second day and resulted in killing of two more civilians, Pakistan on Friday warned India that the ceasefire violations had undermined all existing understanding on the issue.

Pakistan’s Director General of Military Operations Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza communicated this to his Indian counterpart in a hotline contact.

Separately, acting Foreign Secretary Aitzaz Ahmed summoned the Indian high commissioner, and strongly condemned the ceasefire violations by Indian forces in the Charwa Sector, Bini Sulariyan village.

Death toll from Indian firing along Working Boundary increases to six

The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) stepped up unprovoked mortar shelling and killed two women and wounded 11 others early in the morning on Friday. The total number of civilians killed in Indian firing rose to six since Thursday.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the total number of injured civilians has risen to 26, including 15 women and five children.

The ISPR announced that a special hotline had been set up between the DGMOs of Pakistan and India. Maj Gen Mirza, the DGMO of the Pakistan Army, raised the issue of deliberately targeting Pakistani civilians living along the Working Boundary.

He informed his Indian counterpart that the ceasefire violation had undermined all existing understanding on the issue.

The Indian DGMO was also conveyed a message of the unflinching resolve of the Pakistan Army to ensure security of the civilian population.

Speaking to India’s high commissioner in Pakistan, the acting foreign secretary urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement; to investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; to instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire in letter and spirit, and maintain peace along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

He stressed that India should permit the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Indian forces are responsible for more than 870 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary in 2017, as a result of which, 38 civilians have died and 142 have been injured

The Foreign Office’s statement noted that deliberately targeting civilians was deplorable and went against basic human dignity and international humanitarian laws and human rights.

According to senior officials, the BSF continued unprovoked mortar shelling in the border villages of Charwah, Sucheetgarh, Harpal, Bajra Garhi and Lehri-Zafarwal-Shakargarh sectors all through the night between Thursday-Friday.

They added that the victims included Shakeela Bibi, 32, of Charwah village, and Shazia Bibi, 33, of Gandiyaal-Kingra village (in Charwah sector), who had died after some mortar shells fell on their homes, killing them on the spot. On Thursday, four of a family were killed in shelling by the BSF.

Cattle were killed and injured, while dozens of houses in the border villages were badly damaged after large mortar shells fell on them.

The injured were rescued by Rescue-1122 officials in Sialkot who took them to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Sialkot Cantt. Many of them are said to be in a critical condition.

According to the senior officials, the Punjab Rangers had retaliated effectively and caused the firing from the Indian side to halt.

The residents of border villages have been shifting to safer locations in Sialkot city since the cross-border firing began on Thursday.

Among the worst-hit villages are: Joiyaan, Anula, Bajra Garhi, Naankey Chak, Dheelam(in Bajra Garhi Sector),Harpal, Salaankey, Wahga, Khanor, Sangiyaal, Umeraanwali, Sarhaal, Jarwaal (in Harpal sector), Thathi Kalaan, Wainse, Daallowali, Thathi, Meendarwal and surrounding villages (in Sucheetgarh Sector), Jarwal, Charwah, Merajkey, Akhnur , Tulsipur, Behlaadpur, Mairaajkey, Jamaal Jand, Dhamaala , Haakimwala, Tulsipur, Lasso Chak, Bharthaal, Rangpur, Tandiyaal, Thakariyaal and Sangiyaal villages (in Charwah Sector).

Residents of the area said tensions along the border had intensified following the deaths of four civilians in the unprovoked mortar shelling by BSF officials. One of these residents said, “People moving to safer locations, along with their cattle, leaving behind homes which have been badly damaged in the shelling by BSF personnel.”

Other residents said that their morale and spirits were high, but added that India could resort to targeting civilian populations at any time. This was why, many of them said, they had brought their cattle along with them.

All educational institutions remained closed for the second day in Charwah, Sucheetgarh, Harpal and Bajra Garhi sectors along the Sialkot Working Boundary.

Some senior officials of the Sialkot education department claimed that the schools would be re-opened after the situation in Sialkot’s border villages gained a semblance of normalcy.

Six laid to rest

The six people who lost their lives in the shelling by BSF were laid to rest in the villages of Beeni Sulehriyaan-Charwah and Kundanpur-Sucheetgarh today.

The grieving families lodged a strong protest against India and kept the bodies in the village. A large number of residents in the area participated in the anti-Indian war aggression protest and shouted slogans.

Talking to visiting journalists from Sialkot, the grieved members of the bereaved families urged Pakistan’s government to take up the issue of Indian war aggression on all the international forums including the UN and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

They were of the view that it was time for Pakistan to adopt a strict, strong and bold stance against rising incidents of ceasefire violations by Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) along the working boundary.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2017

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