Pakistan on Tuesday took a group of foreign diplomats and international media to the Line of Control (LoC) to debunk the Indian Army chief’s false claims about destroying three terror launch pads inside its territory over the weekend. Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat claimed on Sunday that their forces had smashed three terror launch pads in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
The diplomats’ visit was arranged by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and the Foreign Office. Over 20 diplomats including the Chinese ambassador, defence attaches of the UK and France and other countries were accompanied by Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor and Foreign Office Spokesman Dr. Muhammad Faisal.
Tuesday’s visit comes at a time when tensions are high between Pakistan and India, with the former particularly aggrieved over the continuous lockdown of the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Major General Asif Ghafoor said India had no evidence to support its false claim, and announced that foreign diplomats and media would be taken to the area in question to verify themselves “facts on the ground.”
“The Indian side has not joined us in the visit to LoC, neither have they provided coordinates of the alleged ‘launch pads’,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal, who was part of the group, tweeted on Tuesday.
“‘Claims’ by Indian ArmyChief remain just that: ‘claims’,” Faisal said in another Twitter post. He said the productive visit of diplomatic corps had witnessed firsthand intentional targeting of civilians, their houses and shops in Jura town.
During Tuesday’s visit, diplomats were taken to the Nauseri, Shahkot and Jura sectors along the LoC, including Nausada village, which suffered severe damage in attacks by Indian troops on the weekend.
On arrival at Jura Bazaar, the locals warmly welcomed the foreign diplomats, the media, DG ISPR and Foreign Office spokesman. They raised slogans of ‘Kashmir Banay Ga Pakistan’ and ‘Pak Army Zindabad’ as the visitors passed through the bazaar. Diplomats and the media were also shown pieces of shells fired by the Indian soldiers.
Diplomats also visited a local market, met shop owners and residents, and were shown damaged shops and houses. Commenting on the absence of Indian high commission staff from the group, Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet: “What good [is the] Indian High Commission which can’t stand with its Army Chief? Indian High Commission staff didn’t have the moral courage to accompany fellow diplomats in Pakistan to LoC.”
He appealed to the international community to do efforts to go inside the Indian Occupied Kashmir and bring facts and see how eight million Kashmiris were living there amid curfew, which had entered the 79th day on Tuesday.
He offered diplomats to stay in the area for as many days as they liked and investigate if there were any terror launch pads on the Pakistani side of the LoC. He told diplomats that the Indian army had committed 3,038 ceasefire violations in 2018 and 2,608 violations to date in 2019 in which 44 civilians were martyred.
He said the Indian army targeted the civilian population on the Pakistani side of the LoC but the Pakistan Army could not target the Indian side of the LoC as the Kashmiris Muslims lived there.
He said the Indian troops’ target was civilians so that they could claim killing terrorists in order to bring a bad name to Pakistan.
Diplomats’ feelings: The foreign diplomats were surprised to see that contrary to the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s claim of targeting the so-called terror launch pads, it was only the civilian population, a bank and a hotel which were targeted by the Indian troops.
Talking separately to the media, the diplomats said they did not find anything, which could support the false claims of the Indian army chief.
Sakib Foric, Ambassador of Bosnia, said he saw that civilians were targeted and unfortunately there were some causalities. “I see that the people here are patriots having special feelings. They have hosted us and are open to tell what has happened really,” he said.
Deddy Feisal, Deputy High Commissioner of Malaysia, said there was no evidence of any terrorist camp in the area. “They are all ordinary people and ordinary civilians trying to make their living,” he added. Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said he along with other colleagues witnessed the suffering of the local people.
“Along with my colleagues, I witnessed the damage, human suffering, and injuries by the local people,” he said. He said people were suffering and that’s why Kashmir dispute should be settled.
He said it was more important for the international community to pay attention to the dispute and find a peaceful solution according to the UN Security Council resolutions. Christo Janse Van Rensburg, Acting High Commissioner of South Africa, in more blunt comments said the Indian forces were openly violating all principles of civility and humanity.
Meanwhile, talking to the Geo News anchor Hamid Mir, locals said the Indian forces heavily targeted the civilian areas from Nauseri to Keran Sector destroying residential units, schools, shops and banks. They said the Indian military and political leadership was claiming killing terrorists but the world should visit the firing-hit areas and see with own eyes how many terrorists had been killed.
One of locals showed to media a dead crow saying it was the only terrorist killed in the Indian firing. He said the Indians had also killed a crow in Balakot. The locals said they stood behind Pakistan and the Pakistan Army and no amount of Indian firing and shelling could dampen their resolve to get freedom.