As 2017 comes to a close, diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan again seem to have hit a low point amid a row over the treatment of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav's family in Islamabad and Indian Army's cross-border operation on Monday, which killed three Pakistan Army soldiers.
India on Tuesday claimed that the manner in which the meeting between Jadhav and his family was conducted and its aftermath "was clearly an attempt to bolster a false and unsubstantiated narrative of Jadhav's alleged activities" and "the exercise lacked any credibility".
A statement by the Ministry of External Affairs also said that ahead of the meeting, the two women were made to remove their mangalsutra, bangles and bindi and were not allowed to converse in their mother tongue Marathi. The Ministry of External Affairs also claimed that the mother and wife of Jadhav were also heckled by the mediapersons outside the Pakistan Foreign Office.
India also said that from the feedback received of the meeting, "it appears that Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion" and that "most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan. His appearance also raises questions of his health and well being."
Nevertheless, the Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement said that Pakistan does not wish to indulge in a "meaningless battle of words" and rejected India's baseless "allegations and twists" about attitude of authorities during Jadhav's meeting with his wife and mother.
"If Indian concerns were serious, the guests or the Indian DHC should have raised them during the visit, with the media, which was readily available, but at a safe distance, as requested by India," Pakistan said.
The latest diplomatic row came just a day after the Indian Army crossed the Line of Control to kill three soldiers in the Rawalkot sector.
While India was slamming Pakistan over its treatment of Jadhav's family, Islamabad summoned New Delhi's acting deputy high commissioner JP Singh to not only protest "unprovoked" firing by the Indian side but also "categorically" reject claims that Indian commandos crossed the LoC.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said the Indian actions "got a befitting response from the Pakistani side and their guns were silenced."
It categorically rejected India's claims that the Indian Army commandos crossed the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and smashed a Pakistani post.
No Indian soldier crossed over LOC. Indian media claim is continuation of their self defeating projections to satisfy domestic audience.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) December 26, 2017
"The false claims by India about the alleged cross LoC adventures are a figment of their imagination and counter- productive for peace and tranquillity on the LoC," it said.
The statement said Director General (South Asia and SAARC) Mohammad Faisal summoned India's acting deputy high commissioner and "condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations" by Indian forces in the Rakhchikri sector.
The firing "provided a cover for the planting of IEDs by non-state actors", resulting in the death of three soldiers, it said.
Faisal urged the Indian side to "respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC."
The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border, Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003.
Geo News reported that the Pakistan Foreign Office also urged India to allow United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to mediate in the seven decade-long Kashmir conflict.
The Indian Army sources in New Delhi earlier said a "small group" of 'Ghatak' commandos carried out a tactical level selective targeting of the Pakistani post around 200-300 metres across the LoC last evening in which three Pakistani soldiers were killed and one was injured.
The operation is seen as avenging the killing of four Indian Army personnel by a Border Action Team of the Pakistan Army in Keri sector Rajouri district three days ago.
“The raid was to send a message that the Indian Army will retaliate swiftly and strongly to rogue actions,” the report quoted a source as saying.
Monday's retaliation came just a day after two Pakistani snipers, who were trying to target Indian soldiers on the LoC, were killed in Indian firing on the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts.
The Indian Army has been adopting a "tough" approach in dealing with ceasefire violations and terrorist activities in the last one year. Pakistan has violated the ceasefire 881 times along the LoC and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir this year, killing 30 people.
In 2016, there were 449 incidents of ceasefire violations wherein 13 civilians and 13 government forces personnel were killed and 83 civilians and 99 security personnel were injured.
In 2014, there were 583 incidents of ceasefire violation in which 14 civilians and three security personnel were killed and 101 civilians and 28 security personnel were injured.
In 2015, the number of ceasefire violations was 405; 347 in 2013, 114 in 2012, 62 in 2011 and 70 in 2010.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2017 10:41:05 IST