Ufa U-turn? India, Pakistan trade blame over ceasefire violations, ‘spy drone’

Days after the leaders of India and Pakistan held an ice-breaking meeting in Russia resulting in “actionable propositions” to improve strained ties, the two countries are getting back to the depressingly familiar pattern of blame game. Senior ministers in India met on July 16 to discuss ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops and an out-of-the-blue controversy arising out of Islamabad’s claim of having shot down an allegedly Indian spy drone.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, with NSA Ajit Doval, discussed the latest developments that could undermine the much-hyped breakthrough meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the Russia city of Ufa on July 10.

Pakistan has summoned the Indian envoy in Islamabad after it claimed to have shot down an Indian spy drone, which it said, was being used for aerial photography across the Line of Control (LOC).

India has strongly refuted Pakistan’s claim and said that it was “a strange coincidence that Pakistan claimed it shot down an Indian drone soon after reports of ceasefire  violations. The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force denied Pakistan’s claim and said none of their drones had been shot down or had crashed.

“Some reports of a drone crash in PoK are being referred to. No drone or UAV crash of the Indian Army has taken place,” said the spokesperson of the Indian Army.

Ceasefire Violations: India lodges protest

Meanwhile, India has lodged a strong protest against Pakistan after its Rangers targeted five border outposts in Akhnoor sector and civilians in R.S. Pura and Tawi belts, in Jammu. This was the seventh ceasefire violation in July month alone.

According to the government’s report, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan conveyed New Delhi’s concerns to Pakistan’s foreign office. In an apparent tit-for-tat, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit raised the drone office in New Delhi.

The recent attacks, carried out by the Pakistani Rangers on Indian troops and civilians, have killed one woman and injured six people, including two soldiers. The heavy firing and mortar shelling continued till 0530 hours on July 16.

The ceasefire violations, preceded by Islamabad’s attempt to rake up the Kashmir issue which was conspicuously missing from an admirably precise joint statement that came out of the July 10 meeting, portent ill for the Ufa spirit, which was based on pointed recommendations for injecting a semblance of normality in a perennially accident-prone relationship. Maintaining peace on the Line of Control was central to the Ufa declaration, and if this doable commitment is being breached, it’s indeed bad news for prospects of reviving India-Pakistan engagement in the near term.

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