India and Pakistan 'to ease' Kashmir tensions

Day after Pakistan accused India of killing a soldier along the border, both sides agree to "de-escalate" tensions.

    India and Pakistan 'to ease' Kashmir tensions
    Five soldiers have reportedly been killed along the border in Kashmir this year [Reuters]

    The armies of India and Pakistan have reached an agreement to "de-escalate" military tensions along the disputed border of Kashmir after a recent flare-up in violence.

    Jagdeep Dahiya, spokesman for the Indian army, said an "understanding has been arrived at between the two director-generals of military operations to de-escalate the situation along the Line of Control" (LoC), on Wednesday.

    He said senior military commanders for both nations had spoken for 10 minutes over the phone before they reached their agreement and that the Pakistani director-general had said strict instructions have been passed not to violate
    the ceasefire".

    Dahiya said Indian troops stationed along the border would also not breach the ceasefire forged between the two nuclear-armed rivals in 2003.

    "We have always upheld the ceasefire and have only retaliated," the spokesman said.

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said that both sides had agreed to de-escalate the violence.

    "Pakistan authorities said that no matter what happens they are very keen to keep having dialouge," Hyder said.

    The Pakistani military confirmed that the telephone conversation between the two commanders took place.

    It added in a statement that "Pakistan lodged strong protest" over the killing of one of its soldiers on Tuesday night.

    India did not confirm the killing but said that if a soldier had died it could have been from Indian gunfire in response to
    shots from Pakistan.

    'Open to dialogue'

    Pakistani authorities say three Pakistani soldiers have been killed in Kashmir this year.

    "However, both sides agreed on the need to reduce tension on the LoC," the statement said.

    Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called for talks with her Indian counterpart to ease tensions.

    She said in New York that clashes over the past 10 days had "reated questions" but added: "We will be open to a discussion, a dialogue, at the level of the foreign ministers to be able to resolve" the dispute and "to re-commit ourselves to the respect for the ceasefire."

    India says two of its soldiers have been killed, one of them beheaded, since hostilities erupted along the LoC. It has demanded the return of the soldier's head which is still missing.

    Khar denied Indian accusations that Pakistani forces had beheaded the soldier and said an inquiry had found "no evidence" of the deaths.

    The two countries have fought three wars since their separation in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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