Days after tension escalated on the Line of Control (LoC) following the killing of five Indian soldiers in Poonch,Defence Minister A K Antony has said that the Army is free to respond to any incident on the disputed border with Pakistan as it deems fit.
The statement by the minister comes even as a series of ceasefire violations have been reported along the LoC,particularly the Poonch and Mendhar areas,with both sides blaming each other for starting the heavy firing.
The army has the freedom to respond to the developing situation there (on the LoC) appropriately, the minister said,in reply to a question on the spate of cross-firing incidents that have heightened tensions with Pakistan. He was speaking after the launch of the indigenous aircraft carrier here.
Antony refused to answer questions on his statement that created a furore in Parliament,prompting the Opposition to say that an escape route has been given to Islamabad. Antony had said that men dressed in Pakistan Army uniform had targeted the Indian Army patrol but changed his statement next day.
However,ever since the August 6 ambush that led to the death of 4 Bihar Regiment and one Maratha Light Infantry soldier,there have been several incidents of cross border firing by troops on both sides,posing a threat to the 2004 ceasefire agreement.
Army Chief General Bikram Singh had said in January that he asked his commanders and officers along the LoC to retaliate with all their might to any incident on the LoC,following the beheading of an Indian soldier in a cross border raid. This was followed by a series of exchanges of firing on the border that eventually led to the death of at least three Pakistani soldiers.
A similar pattern has emerged after the August 6 incident with at least two Pakistani soldiers being seriously injured in the firing. The incidents of firing are expected to continue over the next few days but are likely to be confined to the Poonch and Mendhar areas.
Threats issued to PIA offices in Delhi,Mumbai
New Delhi: After Pakistan said the offices of its national aircraft carrier in New Delhi and Mumbai received security threats,India assured the Pakistani government of providing necessary security to avert any untoward incident. While raising the issue with the MEA,Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan underlined that there was a threat to connectivity for Pakistan International Airlines. Pakistan has requested Indian government to ensure security and safety of PIA offices in Delhi and Mumbai after it received threats, a Pakistan High Commission spokesperson said. According to sources,the MEA has assured that all necessary security would be provided. The Pakistan High Commission has also uploaded a picture of a pamphlet received by PIA office in New Delhi asking Pakistan to stop cross-LoC firing and attacks on Indian soldiers.