Kashmir Conflict

Topics: Kashmir, Pakistan, Kashmir conflict Pages: 12 (4353 words) Published: February 9, 2013
India, Pakistan agree to ceasefire after recent Kashmir fighting

NEW DELHI -- India and Pakistan agreed on Wednesday to ease tensions in disputed Kashmir by strictly observing a decade-old cease-fire after five soldiers were killed in recent clashes, an Indian army spokesman said. The military commanders of the two armies spoke by telephone for 10 minutes and reached an understanding not to allow the situation to escalate further, spokesman Col. Jagdeep Dahiya said. Three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers have died in the worst bout of fighting in the region since the cease-fire was signed in 2003. India said one of its soldiers was beheaded.

The series of tit-for-tat attacks had threatened to ratchet up tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Earlier Wednesday, Pakistan accused Indian troops of killing one of its soldiers along the cease-fire line a day earlier. The Pakistani army said the shooting was unprovoked and occurred in the Hot Spring and Jandot sectors of Pakistan-held Kashmir. However, Col. R.K. Palta, another Indian army spokesman, said Pakistani troops fired at two Indian positions using small arms and mortar fire on Tuesday night in the Poonch sector of the Indian portion of Kashmir. "Our troops didn't fire at all," Palta said. Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, an Indian commander in charge of the troubled area, said, "We want to ensure that we dominate the line of control and don't let them (Pakistanis) provoke us into making it a hot line of control." In a sign of the rising tensions, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar accused India of "warmongering" in a speech in New York on Tuesday. In New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his country's relations with archrival Pakistan "cannot be business as usual." India and Pakistan have been rivals for decades and have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir. The Himalayan region is divided between the two countries, but each claims it in its entirety. Senior Pakistani and Indian officials are trying to limit the potential damage from the recent clashes to relations, which have slowly warmed since Pakistani militants killed 166 people in the Indian coastal city of Mumbai. They suspended peace talks after the Mumbai attack, but both countries have economic and other reasons for wanting better ties. Still, the fighting along the Kashmir border highlights how easily simmering tension can flare into conflict. The biggest risk remains an attack by militants like the one in Mumbai that would likely scuttle the reconciliation process once again. The tension has disrupted cultural and sporting ties. Performances by a Pakistani theatre group were cancelled in the western Indian city of Jaipur and in the Indian capital following protests by hard-line Hindu groups. On Tuesday, nine Pakistani hockey players who came to India to participate in a tournament were sent home. The tension comes as political turmoil is increasing in Islamabad, with Pakistan's top court ordering the arrest of the country's prime minister in a corruption case, officials said, and a firebrand cleric rallying thousands of people in the capital against the government. On Monday, Indian army chief Gen. Bikram Singh accused Pakistan of planning the attacks that left the two Indian soldiers dead - making clear he felt it was not an unintentional skirmish - and warned of possible retaliation. "The attack on Jan. 8 was premeditated, a pre-planned activity. Such an operation requires planning, detailed reconnaissance," Singh told reporters. He said India reserved the right to retaliate at a "time and place of its choice." Singh urged his troops to be "aggressive and offensive in the face of provocation and fire" from Pakistan. He said the alleged beheading of the Indian soldier was "unacceptable and unpardonable" and accused Pakistan of violating the "ethics of warfare." The Kashmir fighting began Jan. 6 when Pakistan accused Indian troops of raiding an army post and...
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