ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities on Tuesday took a group of foreign diplomats on a visit to the Line of Control (LOC) — a cease-fire line agreed with India that is one of the most militarized borders in the world — to debunk what it says are “false claims” made by the Indian army chief about destroying terror camp’s inside Pakistan over the weekend.
Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday that Indian forces had “smashed four terror launch pads” in Azad Kashmir, the part of the disputed Kashmir Valley administered by Pakistan. Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said India had no evidence to support the “false claim,” and announced that foreign diplomats and media would be taken to the area in question to verify for themselves “facts on the ground.” Pakistan also said six civilians and a soldier had died in “ruthless” shelling by Indian troops from across the LoC on Sunday.
Tuesday’s visit, arranged by the Pakistani army and foreign office, comes at a time of high tension between the rivals, with Pakistan particularly aggrieved over recent Indian government measures in its part of the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. Both countries claim the Himalayan region in full but rule it in part.
“The Indian side has not joined us in the visit to LoC, neither have they provided coordinates of the alleged ‘launchpads’,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal, who was part of the group, tweeted on Tuesday.
“‘Claims’ by Indian Army Chief remain just that: ‘claims’,” Faisal said in another Twitter post.
In February, India said it had hit a terror training camp in Pakistan and killed hundreds of “terrorists” and their trainers and associates. Pakistan denies any such camps exist or were hit, and said the Indian airstrikes barely destroyed a few trees. Analysis of open-source satellite imagery has also widely cast doubt on India’s claims.
During Tuesday’s visit, diplomats were taken to the Nauseri, Shahkot and Jura sectors along the LoC, including Nausada village, which Pakistan says suffered severe damage in attacks by Indian troops on the weekend.
Foreign diplomats and the media were shown pieces of the shells fired by Indian soldiers, state-run Radio Pakistan said.
According to local media reports, the diplomats also visited a local market, met shop owners and residents, and were shown damaged shops and houses.
Commenting on the absence of Indian high commission staff from the group, Ghafoor said in a tweet: “What good [is the] Indian High Commission which can’t stand with its Army Chief? Indian High Commission staff didn’t have the moral courage to accompany fellow diplomats in Pakistan to LOC.”