The cross-border firing by Pakistan army that killed a major and three soldiers at Keri in J&K’s Rajouri sector on Saturday came towards the end of a year that saw over 780 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the 778km Line of Control and 120 along the 198km international border.
Over 33 people, including 12 civilians, have been killed in these firings. This marks a new high in recent years. Ceasefire violations along the LoC in 2014 and 2015, for instance, stood at 153 and 152, respectively, while the tally was 228 last year.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat recently held that peace talks with Pakistan could take place only when it stopped supporting terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir. But given its actions and behaviour, it didn’t appear that Pakistan really wanted peace, he added.
Director general of military operations Lt Gen A K Bhatt had also told his Pakistani counterpart, Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, last month that there appeared to be a “disconnect” between his army headquarters at Rawalpindi, which professes a desire for peace, and its troops on the ground along the LoC, who resort to heavy firing and ceasefire violations without any provocation.
While maintaining that the Army will continue its efforts to ensure peace and tranquillity on the borders, Lt Gen Bhatt said it will “continue to take all retaliatory measures and retain the right to punitively respond to any provocative acts of aggression from the Pakistani side”.
The Indian Army has, over the last few months, repeatedly told the Pakistan army to desist from actively abetting cross-border terrorism and infiltration, warning that all misadventures to either target Indian troops or provide cover fire to infiltrating terrorists would be met with retaliatory punitive fire assaults.
India has stressed that any collateral damage in the cross-border firings is due to the Pakistan army’s “unacceptable” support to cross-border terrorism and infiltration as well as its strategy to deploy civilians at forward posts to gain intelligence and act as guides to terrorists crossing the LoC.