Pak asks UN observers to probe border firing


Pakistan’s army on Friday asked the UN military observers to investigate firing and shelling by Indian troops on its side of Kashmir which it claims killed four people this week.

The flare-up between the two countries comes days after their prime ministers met in Russia in an apparent sign of a thaw in relations.

The Pakistan army in a statement said that it had informed the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan about ceasefire violations and asked them to investigate. It said it had “highlighted the Indians’ use of heavy mortars and machine guns on (the) civil population” living along the de facto border of Jammu and Kashmir. It said four civilians were killed and five others were wounded during the past two days as a direct result of Indian firing and shelling.

The UNMOGIP was set up to monitor ceasefire violations by India and Pakistan but the watchdog does not conduct criminal investigations. On Thursday Pakistan protested to the Indian envoy in Islamabad over the firing. It also summoned the Indian ambassador after a “spy drone” was shot down in Kashmir. India denied it was their drone.

For its part, India protested to Pakistan over the firing, a government source said. The complaint was registered after India claimed one of its civilians was killed during gunfire near the border in Jammu’s Akhnoor sector on Wednesday, the source told AFP.

The two countries agreed on a border ceasefire in 2003, which has largely held, though violations are regularly reported from both sides.

Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted an invitation from his counterpart Nawaz Sharif to visit Pakistan next year, raising hopes of an improvement in perennially difficult relations.

After months of stalemate and recriminations, Modi and Sharif spoke for about an hour while visiting Russia for a regional summit.