Pakistan claim Indian ‘raid’ never took place
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. –
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.