Pakistan yesterday accused Indian troops of killing one of its soldiers along the disputed Kashmiri border, the latest in a series of tit-for-tat attacks that threaten to ratchet up tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
In New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said that his country’s relations with archrival Pakistan “cannot be business as usual.”
In Islamabad, the Pakistan military claimed Indian troops fired at a Pakistani Army post across the so-called Line of Control that divides the Himalayan region.
Two other Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers have died during the past 10 days in the worst bout of fighting in the region in nearly 10 years. India said one of its soldiers was beheaded.
The Pakistani Army said the shooting from Indian troops, which started at 10pm on Tuesday and lasted for an hour, was unprovoked and occurred in the Hot Spring and Jandot sectors of Pakistan-held Kashmir. The soldier who was killed was identified as Naik Ashraf. The army said he is survived by his wife and three daughters.
Indian Army spokesman Colonel R.K. Palta yesterday said that Pakistani troops fired at two Indian positions on Tuesday night in the Poonch sector of the Indian portion of Kashmir.
“Our troops didn’t fire at all,” Palta said.
India and Pakistan have been rivals for decades and have fought three wars since 1947 — two of them over Kashmir. The region is divided between the two countries, but each claims it in its entirety.
On Monday, Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh accused Pakistan of planning the attacks that left the two Indian soldiers dead and warned of possible retaliation.
“The attack on Jan. 8 was premeditated, a pre-planned activity. Such an operation requires planning, detailed reconnaissance,” Bikram Singh told reporters.
He said India reserved the right to retaliate at a “time and place of its choice.”
Bikram Singh urged his troops to be “aggressive and offensive in the face of provocation and fire” from Pakistan.
The Kashmir fighting began on Jan. 6 when Pakistan accused Indian troops of raiding an army post and killing a soldier. India denied launching the attack and said its troops had fired across the border in response to Pakistani shelling that destroyed an Indian home.
Two days later, India said that Pakistani soldiers, taking advantage of heavy fog, crossed the de facto border and killed two Indian soldiers, beheading one.
On Thursday last week, Pakistan said Indian troops had fired across the border and killed another of its soldiers.
Pakistan has suggested UN monitors in the region conduct an inquiry — a call that India rejected, saying it did not want to internationalize the issue.
The incidents have been the most serious since a ceasefire over Kashmir was struck in 2003.