Photographer: Channi Anand/AP Photo

Fury Over Indian Soldier Mutilation, Pakistan Envoy Summoned

  • Foreign Secretary conveyed India’s "outrage": Foreign Ministry
  • Pakistan denies allegations, describing claims as "baseless"

India’s government has summoned Pakistan’s envoy to New Delhi to convey its outrage over the killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers in Kashmir which it blames on Pakistan army personnel.

The move to call in Pakistan’s high commissioner -- which it has done twice in the last 12 months -- comes amid rising tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and follows the soldiers’ deaths along the Line of Control that divides the disputed region of Kashmir.

India shared evidence with Pakistan’s envoy to show their troops were involved in the mutilation of bodies of two Indian Army soldiers near the border, foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay said in New Delhi. “We will have to wait and watch” to see what steps India might take in the future, he said.

The Pakistan military denies its army was involved in the attack, with defense minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif describing India’s allegations as baseless. “It is a deplorable attempt to ignite tensions for internal political motives” and deflect attention from the ongoing tension in Kashmir, he tweeted on May 1.

Pakistan remained “fully committed” to peace along the Line of Control, he said, calling on India to exercise prudence to avoid the situation deteriorating further.

Blood Trail

In a statement on Twitter, India’s foreign ministry said it was “significant that the attack was preceded by covering fire from Pakistani” army posts, adding that a trail of blood “clearly shows that the killers returned across the Line of Control” into Pakistan-administered Kashmir. India demanded Pakistan “take immediate action” against the soldiers and commanders “responsible for this heinous act.”

It is not uncommon for India to call in Pakistan’s top diplomatic representatives in New Delhi. Envoys were previously summoned over what the foreign ministry said were cease-fire violations along the Line of Control and the alleged espionage activities of Pakistani diplomats.

“Foreign Secretary summons Pak HC, conveys India’s outrage, demands action against Pak soldiers and commanders responsible,” Baglay said on Twitter.

Defense minister Arun Jaitley wrote a May 1 Twitter message that India’s armed forces “will react appropriately.”

However defense analyst and a former brigadier in the Pakistan Army, Asad Munir, said India has “no capability to carry out a surgical strike inside Pakistan.” Speaking on the phone from Islamabad, he said India is “trying to divert attention from the Kashmir uprising,” which has reached a level of intensity unseen in the last 20 years.

‘Nationalist Frenzy’

India-Pakistan tensions have been rising for some time. 

In April a Pakistani military court issued a death sentence to a former Indian naval officer that Islamabad said was engaged in “espionage and sabotage activities.” Since the death of the two soldiers, there have been calls within India for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to respond, as it did last September with what it said were military strikes into Pakistan.

“Nationalist frenzy is at its peak in India and Pakistan at the moment and the situation between the two countries could worsen further,” said Husain Haqqani, a scholar at the Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute. “The solution would be for India to deal with the restlessness of Kashmiris and for Pakistan to end its support for Jihadi terrorist groups but that does not seem to be the direction events are taking.”

The developments are also occurring with numerous State Department vacancies under the still-new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings think-tank, who was a senior adviser on South Asia to several U.S. presidents.

“This uptick in Indo-Pak tensions comes at a dangerous time because Washington is neither focused on events in the subcontinent nor staffed in the State Department to deal with a crisis,” Riedel said.

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