India–Pakistan military confrontation (2016–present)

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On 29 September 2016, a military confrontation between India and Pakistan began. India said that it had conducted surgical strikes against militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistani-administered Azad Kashmir, and inflicted "significant casualties".[43] Indian media reported the casualty figures variously from 35 to 50.[18][28][44]

Pakistan rejected the claim,[45] stating that Indian troops had not crossed the Line of Control but had only skirmished with Pakistani troops at the border, resulting in the deaths of two Pakistani soldiers and the wounding of nine.[46][47] Pakistan rejected India's reports of any other casualties.[29] Pakistani sources reported that at least 8 Indian soldiers were killed in the exchange, and one was captured.[14][48] India confirmed that one of its soldiers was in Pakistani custody, but denied that it was linked to the incident or that any of its soldiers had been killed.[49] Pakistan said India was hiding its casualties.[50]

Media outlets noted that the details regarding the "attack" were still unclear.[51][52] Earlier that month, four militants had attacked the Indian army at Uri on 18 September in the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, and killed 19 soldiers. India's announcement of the claimed raid on 29 September marked the first time that the government had publicly acknowledged its forces crossing the Line of Control, amidst skepticism and disputing accounts.[53][54] In the succeeding days and months, India and Pakistan continued to exchange fire along the border in Kashmir.

Background

From July 2016, large-scale protests had taken place in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir against the Indian government after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen millitant Burhan Wani by the Indian forces, during which more than 80 civilians died in protests and more than 1000 people were injured, including more than 3000 security forces.[55][56] Pakistan criticised India's use of force against Kashmiris, while India accused Pakistan of stirring up tensions.[57]

On 18 September, 19 Indian Army soldiers were killed outright when unknown militants attacked an army base near the town of Uri, in Jammu and Kashmir. Two more soldiers later died of their wounds. India accused Jaish-e-Muhammad, though no group claimed responsibility. The following day, the Indian army said that it had displayed considerable restraint in the wake of the attacks, but it reserved the right to respond "at the time and place of our own choosing.”.[58]

But The Guardian said that Indian patience had run out due to Pakistan's inaction in curbing the activities of terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.[59] On 21 September, India summoned the Pakistan High Commission Abdul Bassit and gave a protest letter detailing the involvement of a terrorist group based in Pakistan.[60] Pakistan later said that India had provided no evidence that the Uri attack was launched from Pakistan. Pakistan's defence minister suggested that India had carried out the Uri attack to deflect attention from the popular protests in Jammu and Kashmir.[59] The Hindustan Times reported that Indian sources said that the minister's comments made up an "inflection point", after which India decided to respond militarily.[60]

Indian officials said that the cross-border infiltration across the Line of Control had surged since the unrest began in Kashmir. Persons crossing the border showed evidence of military training.[61] According to a government source close to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security was held on 24 September, at which "broad details of targeting terrorists" were discussed.[62]

Surgical strikes

On 29 September, eleven days after the Uri attack, the Indian army said it had conducted "surgical strikes" against suspected militants in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), said that it had received "very credible and specific information" about "terrorist teams" who were preparing to "carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states". The Indian action was meant to pre-empt their infiltration.[51][52] India presented its operation as preemptive self-defence against terrorism, striking against terrorist infrastructure along with "those who are trying to support them." Columnist Ankit Panda thought the latter included Pakistani soldiers or the elements of Pakistani state.[63] On 30 September, Indian minister for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that there had been no aerial strikes and that the operation had been conducted "on the ground".[64][65]

Ranbir Singh said that his Pakistani counterpart had been informed.[46] The Pakistani military said the DGMO communications discussed only the cross-border firing, which was part of the existing rules of engagement.[66]

Pakistan denied that such surgical strikes occurred. The Inter-Services Public Relations said that there had been only "cross border firing".[63] But, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the "unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces", which he said resulted in the death of two Pakistani soldiers.[67][68]

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the UN Observer Group in Pakistani Kashmir did not directly observe any "firing across the Line of Control" relating to the incident.[69][70] The Indian envoy at UN Syed Akbaruddin dismissed this statement, saying "facts on the ground do not change whether somebody acknowledges or not."[70]

Analyst Sandeep Singh, writing in The Diplomat, said that the operation is better characterised as a cross-border raid because "surgical strikes" involve striking deep into the enemy territory and typically using air power.[71]

Timeline

28–29 September

Indian version

Indian officials said the strike targeted areas close to the Line of Control (LoC), where it believes militants congregate for their final briefings before sneaking across the LoC. An Indian security source said the operation began with Indian forces firing artillery across the frontier to provide cover for three to four teams of 70–80 commandos from the 4th and 9th battalions of the Parachute Regiment (part of Para (Special Forces)) to cross the LoC at several separate points shortly after midnight IST on 29 September (18:30 hours UTC, 28 Sep). Teams from 4 Para crossed the LoC in the Nowgam sector of Kupwara district, with teams from 9 Para simultaneously crossing the LoC in Poonch district.[2][46] By 2 a.m. IST, according to army sources, the special forces teams had travelled 1–3 km on foot, and had begun destroying the terrorist bases with hand-held grenade and 84 mm rocket launchers. The teams then swiftly returned to the Indian side of the Line of Control, suffering only one casualty, a soldier wounded after tripping a land mine.[2]

The Indian Army said the strike was a pre-emptive attack on militant bases, claiming that it had received intelligence that the militants were planning "terrorist strikes" against India.[51][52] India said that, in destroying "terrorist infrastructure" it also attacked "those who are trying to support them", indicating it attacked Pakistani soldiers too.[63] India later briefed opposition parties and foreign envoys, but did not disclose operational details.[46]

Some Indian media claimed that the Indian army infiltrated 2–3 km into Pakistani territory,[47] but the Indian Army did not say whether its troops crossed the border or had simply fired across it.[51] India said that none of its soldiers were killed though two soldiers were injured.[46] It also stated that one of its soldiers, from 37 Rashtriya Rifles, was captured by Pakistan after he "inadvertently crossed over to the Pakistan side", though not during the "surgical strikes."[49]

Initially, Indian media claimed that the army used helicopters during the skirmish. On 30 September, an Indian minister denied that there were any helicopters used, stating the operation was conducted "on the ground".[64][65]

Pakistani version

Pakistan denied that any surgical strikes occurred. Pakistan's Foreign Office rejected the claim as "baseless" and said India was "deliberately" escalating conflict.[45] The Pakistan Army said that there had only been "cross border firing".[63] Pakistan warned that it would respond militarily should any surgical strike actually occur.[47] The two soldiers killed were identified as Naik Imtiaz and Havildar Jumma Khan.[45]

Pakistani sources reported that up to fourteen Indian soldiers were killed in retaliatory firing and one was captured, Chandu Bablulal Chohan.[14] It further stated that India was concealing its casualty figures from the cross-border firing.[50]

From 30 September

India and Pakistan increased their exchanges of small arms and mortar fire across the Line of Control, resulting in frequent reports of Indian[72][73][74][75][76][77][78][79][24][80][81][82] and Pakistani casualties.[83][84][85][86][87][88]

On 1 October, Pakistan said its soldiers had come under fire in Bhimber and they responded to the attack. Indian media stated that Pakistan had started the firing.[89] 6 Indian civilians in Poonch district were reported to be injured in firing from Pakistani soldiers on 3 October.[90] On 4 October, the Indian Border Security Force said it witnessed Pakistani-operated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying close to the border, presumably to survey Indian positions.[91] The same day, an Indian soldier was injured by Pakistani fire in the Naushera sector of Rajouri district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.[92] Three to at least four Indian soldiers were injured on 5 October because of firing and shelling. Nine Pakistani soldiers were also reported to be injured in retaliatory fire.[92][93]

Border skirmishes continued throughout the month of October. An Indian soldier was killed by Pakistani fire in the Rajouri District of Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir on 16 October.[94] One Pakistani civilian was stated to have been killed by Pakistani authorities while 12 others were stated to have been injured in firing by Indian forces on 19 October.[95] On 21 October, the BSF said that it killed 7 Pakistan rangers, a militant and injured 3 other Pakistani soldier in retaliatory fire after a sniper attack by Pakistani forces injured an Indian soldier, Gurnam Singh in Hiranagar,[96][97] who later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.[98] The BSF claimed that the Pakistani media confirmed the "fatalities suffered by Pakistani rangers" with a news report that put the number of dead at 5.[96] Pakistan's ISPR denied that any of its soldiers died and claimed that Indian forces resorted to unprovoked firing, which was dealt by Pakistani soldiers.[99]

On 24 October, a BSF personnel and an Indian civilian were reported to have been killed in exchange of fire between both countries, while nine Indian civilians were reported to be injured. BSF also stated that four to five Pakistan Rangers were injured in firing from Indian side.[100] Pakistani authorities also stated that 2 Pakistani civilians were killed in firing by Indian forces, with 6 civilians being injured.[101]

Pakistani military claimed that it had killed 5 Indian soldiers and destroyed 4 Indian military outposts on 25 October.[102] Pakistani authorities on 26 October alleged that two civilians were killed while nine others were injured in firing by Indian troops at the working boundary in Chaprar and Harpal sectors and on the LoC in Bhimber sector on 25–26 October.[103] A BSF personnel was reported to be killed on 27 October in R.S. Pora sector while ten Indian civilians were reported to be injured along the International Border in Jammu region in firing by Pakistani forces. BSF claimed that it killed one Pakistan Ranger and injured another in retaliatory firing.[104] 6 Pakistani civilians were killed and 22 were injured in firing by Indian forces at Shakargarh and Nikial sectors on the same day in a claim made 2 days later by Pakistani authorities.[105] In addition, another two civilians were reported to be killed while nine others were reported to be injured in Chaprar, Harpal and Bhimber sectors.[106]

Two Indian civilians were reported to be killed, while four civilians were reported to be injured in shelling by Pakistani forces on 28 October.[107] A BSF constable was killed in an accident while retaliating to fire by Pakistani forces on the same day.[108] Meanwhile, BSF claimed that 15 Pakistani soldiers had been killed in retaliatory fire.[109] Three Pakistani civilians were reported to have been killed while five others were injured in firing by Indian forces on the same day in Nakyal sector.[106]

According to a report by India Today, the Indian Army had destroyed a company headquarters and four military posts of the Pakistan Army on 29 October in retaliation to the beheading of an Indian soldiers by militants who were aided by cover fire from Pakistan Army. At least 20 Pakistani soldiers were reported to be killed in the attack according to the report.[110]

A soldier was killed in Tarkundi area of Rajouri while a civilian was killed in Mendhar and another was injured in firing and shelling by Pakistani forces on 31 October.[111] Pakistani authorities claimed on the same day that 4 Pakistani civilians were reported to be killed while 6 were injured in firing by Indian forces.[112] 8 Indian civilians were reported to be killed in firing and shelling by Pakistan Rangers while 23 were injured on 1 November. The Indian Army stated that it had killed 2 Pakistani soldiers and destroyed 14 military posts in retaliation.[20] 2 Indian soldiers were reported to be killed while two other soldiers and a woman were reported to be injured in firing by Pakistan Army who were trying to facilitate an infiltration bid on 5 November in Poonch district.[113]

Pakistani officials stated on 7 November that 3 Pakistani civilians were killed while 6 civilians were injured in firing by Indian troops.[114] On 8 November, three Pakistani civilians were killed while three were others were injured in shelling by Indian troops according to a senior police official of Poonch district.[115] On the same day, an Indian soldier was reportedly killed while another was seriously injured in shelling by Pakistani troops in Nowshera sector. Another 4 Indian soldiers were also reportedly injured in shelling by Pakistani troops on the same day. The soldier who was seriously wounded in Rajouri succumbed to his injuries on the following day while another was killed in sniper fire by Pakistani troops in Machil sector of Kupwara according to an Indian Army official.[116] On 9 November, Pakistani authorities stated that 4 civilians were killed while 7 were injured in firing by Indian troops in Khuirata and Battal sectors on the previous day.[117]

An Indian soldier was reportedly killed in Keran sector on 11 November in firing by Pakistan Army[118] while 6 soldiers were injured.[119] Pakistani authorities stated on 14 November that 7 Pakistani soldiers had been killed in gunfire by Indian forces.[120] General Raheel Sharif later claimed that they had killed 11 Indian soldiers on the same day in retaliatory firing.[121] The Indian Army rejected the claim.[7] On 17 November, Northern Command of the Indian Army said in a tweet: "No fatal casualties due to Pak firing on 14,15 or 16 Nov. Pak Army Chief claim of killing Indian soldiers on 14 Nov false."[7]

On 18 November, the Pakistan Navy alleged that its warship had intercepted and prevented the covert infiltration of Indian submarine in Pakistan's seaborne territories on 14 November.[122] The ISPR released the military video footage of the alleged Indian submarine patrolling in the Arabian sea.[122][123] However, Pakistan had not identified the type of submarine it claim to have intercepted.[124] The Navy claimed that its warships had intercepted the incurring Indian submarine once it was detected on their military radars, and diverted the submarine from its course of actions.[125] The Indian Navy strongly rejected the claims and termed Pakistan's interception claims as: "blatant lies".[126][127][128] The Indian Navy also said that none of its ships are near Pakistan."[126] A Indian Navy officer said in a statement, "Why would an Indian submarine surface or come to snorkelling depth near Pakistani waters?", Submarines are meant to be stealthy, and they do not reveal their presence so easily whether they are on intelligence gathering or in combat missions.[126] Another navy officer stated that there are more than 150 ships in the northern Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf of different nations including submarines of the China, "either the Pakistan Navy mistook some other nation's submarine as an Indian one or is just doing propaganda warfare."[126] NDTV stated that, analysis of the video and the images released by Pakistani authorities does not indicate that the mast of the submarine which are visible in the images matches the mast of either India's Shishumar-class submarines, its Kilo-class submarines or its Chakra nuclear attack submarine.[124]

On 18 November, Commander of X Corps of the Pakistan Army Lieutenant-General Malik Zafar Iqbal said to a selected gathering of Pakistani parliamentarians and journalists in Gilgit: “Only 20 of our soldiers embraced martyrdom" and claimed: "they [Indian Army] lost more than 40 soldiers".[16][17]

On 19 November, the Pakistani military claimed that it shot down an Indian quad-copter type drone that had allegedly crossed the LoC into Pakistani controlled Kashmir. The same day, the Pakistani police said that four Pakistani civilians were killed in cross-border firing.[129]

On 22 November, Indian reports said that militants or a Pakistani "Border Action Team" killed three Indian soldiers and savagely mutilated one of the bodies in Machhil sector of Kupwara district along the LoC.[4][130] The Northern Command of the Indian Army said that "retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act".[4][130] This was the second such incident of mutilation of an Indian soldier's body in the same sector since 28 October, when the militants mutilated the body of Mandeep Singh of 17 Sikh Regiment[4][130][131] before retreating back into Pakistan controlled Kashmir under covering fire from Pakistan Army.[132] Pakistan denied the accusation, calling it fabricated.[133]

On 23 November the Indian army launched a massive attack. 120 mm heavy mortars and machine guns were used in the attack on Pakistani army posts.[134] Artillery fire and shelling from India targeted several Pakistani villages and struck a passenger bus near the dividing line in the disputed region of Kashmir on Wednesday killing 9 civilians. Pakistan announced that it also killed 3 soldiers including an army captain. Two more civilians were also killed in another region of Kashmir. Pakistan military also claims 7 Indian soldiers have been killed in retaliatory fire, which was not confirmed by India.[135] Following the incident, DGMO of Pakistan requested for unscheduled talks on hotline and complain about killing of civilians caused by Indian Army fire.[136][137] However, Indian DGMO, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh made it clear to its counterpart about the unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops to provide cover fire to the terrorists coming from POK.[136][137]

On 29 November, Pakistan and India exchanged fire on the LOC north of Baramulla sector as well as in Uri sector.[138] On 2 December, a Border Security Force trooper was wounded by a Pakistani sniper in Bhimbher Gali sector of Rajouri district.[139] On 29 December, it was reported that Pakistan Army fired at Indian positions in Gulpur sector of Poonch district. No casualties were reported on the Indian side.[140]

2017

On 13 February 2017, Pakistan Army's official public relations outlet, the ISPR stated that three Pakistani soldiers were killed in cross-border firing by Indian troops.[141]

The Indian Army stated on 1 May that the Border Action Team (BAT), which is alleged to be made up from terrorists and soldiers of Pakistan's Army, killed and mutilated bodies of 2 Indian soldiers. Pakistan's government denied it.[142]

On 11 May 2017, the two countries exchanged artillery and small-arms fire. Pakistan's foreign office stated that a civilian had been killed while 2 others were injured by Indian shelling in Subzkot in Azad Kashmir while the Associated Press reported that an Indian civilian had been killed in Nowshera.[143] On 14 May 2017, an Indian army official claimed that Pakistan shelling in Nowshera killed 3 Indian civilians and injured 9 others including a BSF officer.[144]

On 23 May 2017, the Indian Army claimed it had "bombed" Pakistani army checkposts in Nowshera Sector along the border. An Indian military spokesman said the action was taken to prevent infiltration of militants into the Indian side. However, the Pakistani military swiftly rejected the claim as "false".[145]

The Indian Army stated on 26 May that it had scuttled the attempts at a cross-border infiltration by BAT, killing 2 BAT terrorists.[146] 2 days later it stated that an army porter was killed and another injured in firing by Pakistan Army in Keran sector.[147]

On 29 May 2017, the Indian media reports, citing defence sources, said that special forces of the Indian Army foiled an attack by Pakistan's Border Action Team, killing 2 Pakistani soldiers along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector.[148]

On 1 June 2017, Livemint reported, quoting an Indian government official, that the Indian Army's special forces eliminated a Pakistani Border Action Team composed of five enemy soldiers along the Line of Control in the Muzaffarabad sector.[149] The same day, two Pakistani civilians were killed and 6 others including 4 women were injured by Indian army's cross border firing in Battal, Jandrot and Hotspring sectors.[150]

On 4 June, Pakistan's ISPR said that the military destroyed Indian bunkers during cross-border firing, in which five Indian soldiers were killed.[10] It released video footage showing the Pakistani forces' destruction of the posts.[151] However, the Indian Army denied the claim. "No casualties have been caused to our own soldiers in ceasefire violation along LoC," a senior officer of 16 Corps of the Indian Army said. "The claim of the Pakistan Army that it killed 5 Indian soldiers, destroyed bunkers in firing on LoC, is totally wrong," he said.[152] Following hotline contact, the ISPR stated any Indian violations would be responded with "full force at the time and place of our choosing with the onus of responsibility on Indian aggressive behaviour."[151] Dawn reported the number of Indian ceasefire violations in 2017 at over 400, crossing last year's 382.[151] Pakistan's DGMO, Major-General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, said that Indian forces were killing civilians and inadvertent crossers of the LoC and labeling them infiltrators, which was "highly unprofessional and unsoldierly".[151] He told his Indian counterpart to "look inwards" instead of at Pakistan for the unrest in Kashmir.[151]

On 10 June, a Pakistani civilian was killed by Indian army's firing in Chirickot sctor.[153] On 14 June, a cross border firing between Indian and Pak army, in Poonch and Rajouri area along LOC, left two Pak soldiers dead.[154] On 16 June, An Indian soldier was killed by Pakistan army's cross-border firing on forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.[155]

On 22 June, Pakistan Border action team (BAT) sneaked 600 metres across the LoC into the Poonch sector and killed two Indian jawans.[76] The same day, two Pakistani civilians were injured by Indian army's firing in Kotli district of Azad Kashmir.[156]

On 25 June, Pakistan army cross border firing resulted in death of 1 civilian in Naushera sector.[157] On 28 June, Indian army's cross border firing left a civilian dead and 3 others injured in Kotli District of Azad Kashmir.[158]

On 1 July 2017, a Pakistani civilian was injured by Indian army's cross border firing in Rawlakot, Azad Kashmir.[159]

On 8 July, an on leave Indian soldier and his wife were dead and their three children were injured as Pak army opened fire in Poonch district along LOC, said Indian officials.[160] According to a statement released by Pakistan military affairs, Indian Army fired into Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir's area of Chirikot sector and Satwal which resulted in death of two people including a 22 years old girl, Pakistan responded with the cross-border firing.[161]

On next day of incident, Pande Rajiv Omparkash, SSP Poonch, said that Indian army destroyed a Pakistani checkpost.[162]

On 10 July, Pakistan's ISPR said that Pak army responded with an attack that destroyed two Indian posts and killed four of their soldiers.[11]

On 12 July, two Indian soldiers were dead after a cross border firing by Pak army in Kupwara area along LOC.[163][164]

On 15 July, an Indian soldier was killed by Pakistan army's cross border firing in Rajouri.[165]

On 16 July, Indian army targeted one of the armoured vehicles of Pak army which eventually fell into Neelum River at Athmuqam along LOC resulting in deaths of 4 Pak army soldiers.[166]

On 17 July, an Indian army men and a minor girl were killed while 2 other civilians were critically injured in cross border firing by Pakistan army along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday in Rajouri’s Manjakote sector.[167]

On 18 July, two Pakistani civilians were killed and 13 others were injured by Indian army's firing at Samahni sector of Bhimber district and the Nakyal sector of Kotli district. The deceased included a minor.[168] Later two Indian army men were killed by Pakistan army's firing in Rajouri district. The deceased were rifleman Vimal Sinjali and Sepoy Jaspreet Singh.[169][170]

On 19 July, an Indian army Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) Shashi Kumar succumbed to his injuries. He was grievously injured as a result of Pakistan firing in Naushera yesterday.[77] That same day, the Pakistan Army said that it targeted Indian posts in response to ceasefire violations the previous day, which killed one Pakistani soldier and two civilians and critically injured seven others including two soldiers, and claimed that five Indian soldiers were killed.[12][87]

On 21 July, An Indian Army jawan was killed in cross-border firing across the Line of Control on Friday by Pakistani army in Sunderbani sector of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district.[171]

On 8 August, an Indian soldier was killed by Pakistani fire in skirmishing along the Line of Control.[172]

On 12 August, a 45 year old civilian Indian woman killed by Pakistani shelling in Mendhar sector of the Poonch district of Kashmir.[173]

On 13 August, 3 Indian soldiers were injured in Pakistan firing in Uri Sector of Baramulla.[174]

On 25 August, a BSF soldier sustained injuries when he was hit by a Pakistani sniper just below his right ear in the RS Pura sector. His condition was said to be stable. The next day, on 26 August, the BSF said that the Pakistani rangers started unprovoked mortar shelling at forward Indian posts in Dewra village of Rajouri's Sunderbani district and in retaliation it "shot dead at least three Pakistan Rangers".[25]

On 1 September, 1 BSF Jawan was Killed In Pakistani Sniper Fire From Across Line of Control In Poonch.[175]

On 13 September, three BSF troopers sustained injuries in unprovoked firing by Pakistani forces on BSF posts in Poonch and Jammu districts.[176]

On 14 September, the BSF said it killed two Pakistani soldiers in retaliatory fire.[176]

On 15 September, an Indian border guard was killed by Pakistani fire in skirmishing along the Line of Control.[177]

On 17 September, One woman killed, 5 injured as a result of Pakistan army firing in Arina sector.[178]

On 20 September, an Indian army soldier was killed in Keran sector as a result of Pakistan army firing.[179]

On 22 September, the Pakistan military said that six Pak civilians were killed while 26 others including 15 women and 5 children were injured by Indian army's firing in Charwah and Harpal sector.[180][181] That same day, Indian police officials said that the Pakistani forces violated the ceasefire first, injuring four Indian civilians.[34]

On 2 October, the Indian Army said that two children were killed and a dozen civilians were wounded in "unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars" by Pakistan soldiers in Poonch, where Indian troops killed 5 militants trying to infiltrate into India from the Pakistani side. Hindustan Times, citing an Indian Army spokesperson, said that Indian troops retaliated and the exchange of firing continued till afternoon.[30]

On 3 October, an Indian Army jawan was killed when Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Poonch.[6]

On 4 October, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported that three Indian soldiers soldiers sustained injuries when Pakistani troops opened "unprovoked and indiscriminate" fire at them. A Defence spokesperson said that Indian troops "retaliated effectively".[6][182] That same day, the Pakistan Army said that two children were killed from Indian firing across the LoC. The Pakistan Army added that it was engaging Indian posts, and three Indian soldiers were reported killed in addition to five injured during retaliatory firing.[13]

On 12 October, eight Indian Army personnel including two porters sustained injuries due to unprovoked firing by the Pakistani troops. An army soldier and a porter later succumbed to their injuries. A defence spokesperson said, "The Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms and automatics from 1035 hours in Krishnagati sector along the Line of Control (LoC)."[6]

On 25 October, the Pakistani military said that at least two Pakistani citizens were killed and six other injured "due to Indian unprovoked firing".[42]

Media reports

Lieutenant general Ranbir Singh, the Indian Army DGMO, only stated during his press conference on 29 September that the number of casualties inflicted had been "significant."[43] Most accounts in the Indian media varied as to the number of militants killed, with most publications giving estimates of 35 to 50 killed.[18][28] On 9 October, the Indian army said that it had intercepted radio messages of the Pakistan army and claimed that "around 20" Lashkar-e-Taiba militants had been killed, including at least 10 during the surgical strikes and nine[clarification needed] killed at Balnoi (opposite of Poonch).[26]

Initially, Indian media reported that helicopters were used to conduct "surgical strikes".[183][184][185] On 30 September, Indian Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, said that the Indian military did not use any helicopters. The Express Tribune said the retraction "cast doubts on the Indian narrative".[65][186]

On 1 October, the Pakistani army gave international media outlets including BBC, CNN, VOA, Reuters, AP, AFP and Newsweek a tour of the sites which India claimed to have hit on 29 September.[187] The Pakistan army claimed that had there been a "surgical strike", there would have been more damage. The journalists confirmed that the "area seemed intact", but added that they only saw what the Pakistani army showed them.[188]

On 5 October, The Indian Express stated it had managed to conduct covert interviews with eyewitnesses living across the Line of Control (LoC). The Express claimed that eyewitnesses corroborated the Indian account by describing fire engagements with militants and the destruction of some makeshift buildings that housed militants; but that there was little damage to infrastructure. However, the Express said that according to eyewitness accounts, and classified documents, the number of militants killed was lower than the 38–50 number reported by Indian officials; there were reports that "five, perhaps six" bodies had been trucked out the morning after the raids from Dudhnial (4 km from the LoC), while three or four militants were killed near Khairati Bagh. The Express said that the militants, many of whom belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, were caught by surprise. Other accounts reported "fire and explosions" from the east bank of the Neelum River in Athmuqam.[27]

According to a BBC report by M. Ilyas Khan on 30 September, citing a police officer in the Poonch region, Indian artillery pounded some Pakistani military posts across the Buttal region and killed two Pakistani soldiers. It further quoted several eyewitnesses from Pakistan's Bhimber, Leepa and Neelum valley regions as confirming that cross-border shelling had taken place, but none reported witnessing "aerial or ground incursions by Indian troops."[189]

On 5 October, India's CNN-News18 claimed that it conducted a "sting operation" where their news correspondent posing as an Inspector General of Police made a phone call to a Superintendent of Police (SP) Ghulam Akbar in Mirpur. In an audio conversation aired on the news channel, a voice claiming to be Akbar reveals details about the military action of 29 September including the places of strikes and the number of Pakistani casualties, quoted as 12 people including 5 military personnel. The voice says that the bodies were said to have been carried away in coffins and buried in the villages, and that an unknown amount of militants ("jihadis") had also died.[190][191][192] On 6 October, Pakistan's Foreign Office said that the voice in the audio conversation did not belong to Ghulam Akbar, and that Akbar had denied the alleged phone conversation. The ministry called the story a fabrication, and hoped that CNN International would take action against its Indian affiliate.[193]

On 23 October, a BBC News article by M. Ilyas Khan quoted an unnamed Pakistani official from Dudhnial sector stating that the Indians appeared to have advanced "well beyond the LoC" on the night of the attack, but only to have their movements detected, following which they were beaten back to their bunkers. The report also took statements from villagers at Madarpur (Poonch District) and Leepa Valley (Bagh District) and Dudhnial (Neelam District) who confided that Indian troops directed heavy fire at several Pakistani border posts. The BBC News could not verify if any militants were hit. Villagers in Dudhnial said that they saw one or two damaged structures close to a Pakistani border post. The villagers in Leepa Valley said that, following the attack, there was an increased influx of militants to the valley.[194]

Earlier on 21 September 2016, the Indian publication The Quint published an unconfirmed report that elite soldiers of the Indian Army had crossed the LoC and conducted a raid earlier that day.[195] However, the claim was dismissed as a "disinformation campaign" circulating as part of war rhetoric on social media, and the Indian army rejected the report.[196] The Quint supports its claim by pointing out that PIA had cancelled flights scheduled to land in Gilgit, Skardu and Chitral on 21 September,[197][198] and claims that Pakistan had also declared a no-fly zone over Pakistan-administered Kashmir.[199]

Shawn Snow in The Diplomat stated that India has not yet developed the "asymmetrical capability" required for airborne strikes, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and precision-guided munitions. He noted that a cross-border air raid by heliborne units or drones was "exceedingly difficult" as Pakistan had highly equipped air defence systems along the Indian border, including surface to air missiles.[200]

Aftermath

Indian intelligence sources claimed that, immediately after the raid, the Pakistan military had buried the corpses of the slain terrorists to erase any evidence and to maintain Pakistan's version of a "skirmish" along the Line of Control.[44] However, Pakistan rejected that any such casualties occurred, questioning: "Where did all the dead bodies go? Where were the funerals? Why haven't the Indians produced any dead bodies if they took them back?".[29] Pakistan's military also pointed to the lack of damage or losses in the site, and welcomed UN observers and journalists to conduct an independent inquiry.[29] Increased firing along the Line of Control was reported the following day.[201]

A senior Indian Home Ministry official subsequently claimed that in the wake of the raid, at least 12 training camps belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad had been swiftly moved from their locations at Pir Chanasi, Aksha Maskar and Tabuk near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Based on satellite images, inputs from foreign intelligence agencies and unnamed "sources in Pakistan," according to the official, the training camps had been relocated "near crowded towns deep inside Pakistan," in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, to "minimise casualties to their assets." According to the Indian official, the camps had housed around 500 militants, 300 of whom belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba alone.[202]

An eyewitness living across the LoC was one of five contacted through intermediaries for covert interviews with the Indian Express. He reported that on 30 September, a day after the surgical strikes, several members of Lashkar-e-Taiba had met for Friday prayers at a Lashkar-affiliated mosque in Chalhana. "The Lashkar men gathered there were blaming the Pak Army for failing to defend the border”, he said, “and [were] saying they would soon give India an answer it would never forget."[27] Several days after the raids, a leading Indian security official who had been closely involved in their planning said that Pakistan's continued denial that any surgical strikes took place was a "stance that suits us."[1] "The surprise element in such an operation is key to its success and there will be no predictable repetition. If provoked yet again, we will amend our operational tactics."[1]

Both Indian Defence Minister Parrikar and National Security Advisor Doval were shown original, unedited footage from the military raids on 1 October. After viewing it, Parrikar informed Prime Minister Modi that he was satisfied with what he had seen, and that there was no need to publicly release any footage. In response to calls from members of opposition parties to release the footage, a senior government official stated, "The Opposition should understand the difference between a covert and overt strike. And it is not incumbent on the Indian Army to release video footage every time they do their duty."[203] On 5 October, two senior ministers in the Indian government said the Indian Army had submitted the footage to the government, but that the government, with the concurrence of the army, felt there was no need to release it to the public.[203]

Analysis

Defence analysts in Pakistan said it was not possible for Indian forces to breach the heavily armed and fenced LoC border undetected, perform operations at multiple sites over several hours, and return without casualties and military resistance. According to one source, the Indian narrative matched a "fantastic movie script" created for public consumption.[204] Ejaz Awan dismissed Indian claims of paratrooper involvement, stating: "For pulling out these troops, you need helicopters on the ground."[204]

Bruce Riedel, a United States security expert, said that while India's "surgical military response" was "limited and calibrated," it would send a sharp signal to the Pakistani establishment. He added that India could legitimately cite a right to self-defence in taking such strong action, following the example of United States operations in Pakistan against Osama bin Laden and Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Riedel observed, however, that regardless of outside support for India's position, its situation in Kashmir would only worsen unless Prime Minister Modi addressed "the legitimate demands of Kashmiris." This, according to Riedel, would require Modi to adopt a policy on Kashmir "independent of how he deals with Pakistan," though his "strong popularity gives him much room to act."[205]

Reactions

India

Across India, the military raid was widely praised. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi lauded Prime Minister Modi commenting- "for the first time in his tenure, he has taken an action that is worthy of the status of a Prime Minister."[206]

Following the military raid, in anticipation of cross-border shelling from Pakistan, Indian authorities evacuated 10,000 residents of villages located within ten kilometres of the border, in the states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Military surveillance was also stepped up along the Line of Control.[53]

Pakistan

Pakistan rejected the claim of a surgical strike, stating that Indian troops had only engaged in firing upon Pakistani soldiers, killing two Pakistani soldiers and wounding nine.[47][51] Journalists surveyed the area where the 'surgical strikes' are said to have taken place, and spoke to locals who said: “They are lying...they never crossed the L.O.C.”[29][207] The spokesperson for the Pakistani Army asked: “Where is the damage?”, referring to the lack of any evidence of surgical strikes.[29] ISPR spokesman Asim Bajwa termed the "surgical strike" claim an "illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects" and a "fabrication of the truth".[47]

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convened an all-parties conference and an emergency cabinet meeting. He stated Pakistan would take any steps necessary to safeguard its territorial integrity. "We will defend our homeland against any aggression. The entire nation is standing shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces."[208] He condemned the "unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces," which he said resulted in the death of two Pakistani soldiers.[67][68]

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif termed the Indian claim a "drama", adding that "If Pakistan were to conduct a surgical strike, it would become a chapter in Indian textbooks."[209]

Other states

  •  Afghanistan – Shaida Abdali, Afghanistan's ambassador to India, expressed support for the military raids by India, stating the actions in Pakistan-administered Kashmir had been conducted in "self-defence." He added his hopes that "no one will allow safe havens for terrorists to be used against neighbours."[210]
  •  Bangladesh – Iqbal Chowdhury, the advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, stated India had the "legal, internationally accepted right" to take action. "Bangladesh always believes that any aggression or attack on the sovereignty of the independence and legal right of a country is not acceptable and Bangladesh always feels that any country must honour and respect the sovereignty of a third country."[211]
  •  Bhutan – Bhutan have backed India on cross-border stand.[212]
  •  China – Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Sheung stated that China, "as a shared neighbour and friend to both India and Pakistan," was concerned about the "continuous confrontation and tensions" between the two nations. He said China called on "all relevant parties to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that would escalate tension," and expressed hopes that both parties would address their differences through dialogue.[213]
  •  European Union – Vice President of the European Parliament Czarnecki said that it was necessary for India to maintain pressure on Pakistan for eliminating cross-border terrorism. He praised Indian army and Indian government for its professional approach to the situation.[214]
  •  Germany – Martin Ney, the German ambassador to India, expressed Germany's support for the military raids and that it stood beside India in its counter-terrorism efforts. Stating that under international law, every nation was obliged to ensure that terrorism did not emanate from its territory, he said there existed a clear international law "that any state has the right to defend its territory from any form of global terrorism." [215]
  •  Russia – The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern over "aggravation" of the situation along the Line of Control, and stated it expected Pakistan to take "effective" steps in stopping the activities of terrorist groups operating from its territory. "We are calling on the parties not to allow any escalation of tension and to settle the existing problems by political and diplomatic means through negotiations. We stand for decisive struggle against terrorism in all its manifestations."[216] Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin subsequently said that the Russian Federation was the only country to directly state that terrorists came from Pakistan; he called upon Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism and welcomed India's surgical strikes. "[The] greatest human rights violations take place when terrorists attack military installations and attack peaceful civilians in India. We welcome the surgical strike. Every country has [the] right to defend itself."[217]
  •  United States – White House spokesman Josh Earnest encouraged continued talks between India and Pakistan, to avoid further escalating the situation.[46]

Supranational organisations

  •  United Nations – Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, stated the Secretary-General was following the developments "with great concern," adding that the United Nations "calls on the governments of India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and encourages them to continue the effort to resolve their differences peacefully and through dialogue."[218] In a press conference on 3 October, Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations and the President of the UN Security Council for that month, refused to comment on the India-Pakistan situation, stating the Security Council had not been discussing the matter.[219]

De-escalation

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs was confirmed to be attending the 7th Heart of Asia Conference, the first visit by a high-level Pakistani official since December 2015. This was seen as a move to help de-escalate tensions by the Indian media.[220] The situation de-escalated after 23 November, with no incident being reported except the injury of a BSF personnel in Pakistani firing on 2 December.[221] Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit also offered hosting bilateral dialogue at Heart of Asia Conference.[222] But the conference ended without any peace talks and the delegates returned to their countries. Media said that there was a short conversation between Aziz and Indian leaders as soon as he landed. But it was denied this was not billed a de-escalation of border tensions.[citation needed]

See also

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External links

  • Surgical strikes: Full text of Indian Army DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh’s press conference, The Indian Express, 29 September 2016.
  • Timeline of terror attacks and ceasefire violations in J&K after Indian army's surgical strikes across LoC, News Nation, 29 November 2016.
  • CNN-News18 News360: PoK Cop Confirms India's Claim of Surgical Strike on YouTube
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