Truce violations, exchange of fire continue

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: The India-Pakistan tension might have eased a bit, but an Indian Air Force Su-30 MKI on Monday shot down a Pakistani Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the Nal sector on the International Border in Rajasthan on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said his country plans to take action against militant groups operating on its soil, amid global pressure to act after a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir last month.
But Chaudhry denied Indian accusations that Pakistan was involved in the February 14 attack, which led to a sharp rise in hostilities, saying it “had nothing to do with us”.
Chaudhry said the decision to act was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee before the suicide bombing, claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), in Kashmir.
“A full-fledged strategy is now in place,” Chaudhry told Reuters. “We have different strategies for different groups, but the main aim is that we have to enforce the writ of the state. We have to demilitarise if there are groups (on our soil).”
Earlier in the day, IAF chief B S Dhanoa claimed that the operations were still going on as he refused to go into details about the aerial engagement between the two forces.
Sources said that the forces continued to be on high state of alert and that the air defence systems are manned to deal with any eventuality.
Anxiety and speculation were rife across the border in Pakistan where social media went into overdrive after some “shells” reportedly fell in Fort Abbas near Bahawalpur. It was later clarified that these were extra fuel tanks dropped by PAF fighters on patrol. Fort Abbas is located close to Rajasthan border.
There were claims by unconfirmed sources about both sides thwarted each other’s aggressive intents.
After heavy firing exchanges in Akhnoor sector of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir as Indian troops responded to Pakistan’s ceasefire violation early on Monday, the two armies clashed again in Poonch district, a defence official said.
“Pakistan continues with its nefarious designs along the LoC and again at 5.30 pm, they initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by mortar shelling and firing small arms in Poonch district,” Defence Ministry spokesman, Lt Col Devender Anand said.
“Indian army retaliated effectively and strongly.”
After trading heavy fire on the LoC in Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts for seven days, clashes between the two armies had stopped on Sunday.
All educational institutions within a 5 km distance from the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri, however, remained closed on Monday.
Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat visited forward positions on the LoC and the International Border on Sunday to review the preparedness of the deployed troops.
Amarinder warning: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday warned that Pakistan would not hesitate to use its nuclear arsenal if it felt it was losing out against India in a conventional war.
Pointing out that both India and Pakistan were nuclear powers, he said it was not in either country’s interest to use the weapons of mass destruction but Islamabad could indulge in such a misadventure, if faced with defeat in other battles.
In an informal chat with reporters here, Amarinder Singh said that the Indian Air Force air strikes had proven India’s resolve to deal with the problem in the wake of the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy, but refused to comment on the number of terrorists killed in the strikes.
“Whether it was one killed or 100, the message has gone out loud and clear that India will not let the killing of its soldiers and citizens go unpunished,” he said. — IANS/Reuters