By Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan and India have accused each other of launching deadly attack on the other side and violating the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between the two rivals in the disputed Kashmir region.
A Pakistani army statement said that Indian troops crossed the LoC in Haji Pir Sector in Bagh district and raided a Pakistani checkpoint on Sunday, killing one of its soldiers and injuring another.
India did not officially respond to Pakistan's claim. But on Tuesday, Indian security officials said that Pakistani troops sneaked into Indian-controlled Kashmir and ambushed an army patrol, killing two Indian soldiers.
Pakistani military officials, however, dismissed the Indian accusation of unprovoked firing as 'propaganda'
"It looks like an Indian propaganda to divert attention from the Sunday raid on a Pakistani post by Indian troops in which a Pakistani soldier was killed," a statement issued by the Pakistani military said.
After years of a lull, the cross-border tension between the nuclear rivals has raised serious concerns and calls for de- escalation around the world.
Guns had been relatively silent along the LoC since then Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali announced a unilateral ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003 in view of the civilian casualties on both sides of LoC as troops of the two countries used to routinely exchange fire.
India had positively responded to Pakistani announcement by also declaring ceasefire, which was widely welcome around the world. This resulted in the return of thousands of Kashmiris who had fled their homes due to frequent clashes between the two sides.
Pakistan also mounted pressure on Kashmiri militants fighting for an end to Indian rule to respect the truce. Indian authorities later admitted a substantial decrease in 'intrusion' of militants into its part of Kashmir from the Pakistani side.
The two rivals launched several other mutual confidence- building measures including restarting Kashmir bus service to allow the divided Kashmiris to visit each other, followed by truck service to boost trade and economic cooperation, substantially easing tension between the arch rivals in South Asia.
However, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack pushed the two countries to the brink of conflict after New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based militants for the attack and suspected the role of Pakistani intelligence agencies in the carnage. Pakistan had rejected the claim as absurd.
India suspended comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan following the attack. However, both countries gradually revived diplomatic contacts after the arrests of several suspects by Pakistan.
As the ties warmed up, then Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani visited India to watch a cricket match between India and Pakistan at the World Cup semifinal in March 2011 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. The relations got a further boost when Pakistan granted the Most Favored Nations trade status to India last year.
However, the recent escalation along the LoC have once again cast doubt over the fragile ceasefire and the bilateral composite dialogue process.
One positive sign is that defense ministry officials of the two countries will meet soon in New Delhi to discuss the recent clashes and hopefully de-escalate the tension in Kashmir, according to Indian media.
Neither Pakistan nor India can afford tension as it took the two important countries in South Asia a long time to normalize relationship, which is also the key to stability of the region and even the world.