Pak­istan claim In­dian ‘raid’ never took place

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PAK­ISTANI mil­i­tary of­fi­cials point to an In­dian army post high on a forested ridge along the Line of Con­trol di­vid­ing Kash­mir, in­sist­ing any in­cur­sions are im­pos­si­ble, af­ter skir­mishes ig­nited dan­ger­ous ten­sions be­tween the nu­clear ri­vals.

The army took the rare step of fly­ing in­ter­na­tional me­dia to the de facto bor­der to make its case in a bat­tle of com­pet­ing nar­ra­tives, af­ter In­dia said its com­man­dos pen­e­trated up to 3 kilo­me­tres (2 miles) into Pak­istan on anti-mil­i­tant raids.

The pres­ence of In­dian forces so far across the Line of Con­trol would be a sting­ing blow to Pak­istan, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the 2011 US raid that killed Osama bin Laden which took place on its ter­ri­tory with­out its con­sent.

The me­dia visit came as In­dia’s army chief Dal­bir Singh con­grat­u­lated com­man­dos in­volved in what New Delhi has de­scribed as “sur­gi­cal strikes” to take out ter­ror­ist launch­pads af­ter a deadly at­tack on an In­dian army base last month.

Pak­istan has flatly de­nied the claim, say­ing two of its sol­diers were killed but only in cross-bor­der fire of the kind that com­monly vi­o­lates a 2003 cease­fire on the Line of Con­trol.

The he­li­copter tour took jour­nal­ists to sec­tors just 2 kilo­me­tres from the di­vid­ing line, and near the lo­ca­tions In­dia said it tar­geted in as­saults on four mil­i­tant camps.

On hand were se­nior com­man­ders as well as army spokesper­son Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Asim Ba­jwa who has taken cen­tre stage on Pak­istani tele­vi­sion since the ten­sions erupted.

In vil­lages like Mandhole, daily life was go­ing on as nor­mal de­spite the ten­sions, with shops and busi­nesses open and chil­dren in pressed white uni­forms walk­ing to school.

“You have seen the lay of the land,” said Mr Ba­jwa, speak­ing from a com­mand post over­look­ing the lush green Ban­dala Val­ley, with Pak­istani and In­dian for­ti­fi­ca­tions vis­i­ble on the op­po­site hill.

“You can see the way the for­ti­fi­ca­tions are built and the way Pak­istan has lay­ers of de­fence and they have

lay­ers of de­fence ... the LoC can­not be vi­o­lated,” he said.

“If they’ve caused that dam­age to us, we don’t know any has been caused to us. You can go and meet the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. Our side is open: to the UN mis­sion, to the me­dia, to the gen­eral pub­lic,” he said.

It was not pos­si­ble to ver­ify the gen­eral’s claims, though vil­lagers who spoke with a sec­ond AFP re­porter in the area in­de­pen­dent of the mil­i­taryguided trip were also in­cred­u­lous.

Some Pak­istani ob­servers say the vaunted raids are an at­tempt to shift the fo­cus and al­low In­dia to es­cape scru­tiny over its ac­tions in Kash­mir.

Pak­istan is ea­ger to dis­pel to the world the no­tion it har­bours ter­ror­ists, and to its own cit­i­zens van­quish the idea it can be pushed around by its big­ger neigh­bour

In­dia, for its part, seeks to diplo­mat­i­cally iso­late Pak­istan fol­low­ing the at­tacks that it blames on Is­lamist mil­i­tants backed by its neigh­bour. It also wants to show that it can act against Pak­istan if nec­es­sary. –

Photo: AFP

In­dian Bor­der Se­cu­rity Force (BSF) per­son­nel stand guard at the In­dia-Pak­istan Wa­gah bor­der, some 35 kilo­me­tres from Am­rit­sar, af­ter the Pun­jab state gov­ern­ment is­sued a warn­ing to vil­lagers to evac­u­ate from a 10km ra­dius from the In­dia-Pak­istan bor­der.

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