DGMOs talk on hotline

Senior Pakistani and Indian military officials spoke Tuesday via a special hotline after days of intense cross-border firing. At least 20 civilians have been killed and thousands on both sides of the border have fled their homes in the last fortnight, following some of the worst shelling in years. Pakistan’s military said Tuesday it had voiced concern at continued Indian firing across the disputed frontier in Kashmir and in Punjab province.

“A routine weekly hotline contact was established today between directors of military operations of Pakistan and Indian armies,” a senior military official said in Islamabad on condition of anonymity. “Pakistan army’s director of military operations conveyed concern to (his) Indian counterpart and pointed towards India’s consistent unprovoked firing on civil population living along the Line of Control and the working boundary,” the official added.

Meanwhile, a team of UN military observers visited villages affected by the border unrest near Sialkot on Monday and Tuesday, the military said. “A team of UN observers met the villagers, witnessed and gathered first hand account of damage caused to human lives and property due to recent Indian hostility on the Working Boundary,” it said in a statement. The observer group also visited a Siaklot hospital and met injured civilians.

TALKS IN DISARRAY The latest shelling began over a week ago, and while its intensity has lessened since Friday Pakistani officials say firing has continued. Islamabad said Friday that both countries shared a duty to defuse the situation, while India’s foreign ministry maintained that “de-escalation is now entirely in Pakistan’s hands”.

There had been hopes of an early resumption in peace talks between the two countries, when India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his counterpart Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in in June. But India called off talks last month after Pakistan consulted with Kashmiri leaders, in a move some saw as a sign of a tougher stance under India’s new right-wing government.