Nine civilians were killed Friday in an exchange of fire between India and Pakistan along their disputed border. Both India and Pakistan have had numerous altercations over their borders, so much so that two wars resulted from the dispute. With their renewed tensions over border lines, concern is spreading over an increased loss of lives by both sides.
In Pakistan, six people were killed and 46 others wounded in the exchange while three were killed and eight others wounded in India.
Both sides proceeded to blame each other for the deaths and the breach of a peace agreement signed between the two in 2003.
Pakistan security officials said that Indian forces began “unprovoked firing” at them to about 3am local time, Friday, and proceeded to do so after morning.
Rakesh Kumar Sharma, from India’s Border Security Force, provided a different account. He said Pakistan was to blame for the “unprovoked mortar fire.”
A casualties come after a meeting between security officials from the two countries was called off on Sunday. Pakistani national security advisor Sartaj Aziz was scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval for two day talks in New Delhi, India. However, due to disagreements on whether the Kashmir border was to form part of the discussions, India objected to the visit by Aziz.
Since independence from British colonization in 1947, the two neighbors have fought three wars, two of which were inspired by the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
In November 2003, the two states agreed to bilateral peace talks and a cease fire over the India-controlled Kashmir. The peace accord has maintained peace between the two regions for over a decade, until recently.
Recent months have seen an increased hostility between the two nuclear armed neighbors, threatening to completely erase a decade of peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation.
On Wednesday, Pakistan authorities announced they would be meeting with their neighbors for security discussions next month in New Delhi.
Peace and acceptance between India and Pakistan has been elusive. Since independence, the two countries have been squabbling and trading accusations constantly. The involvement of live fire, however, completely changes the scope of things, especially when innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire. Only through diplomatic means will the two countries find peace, a reality both parties seem increasingly unwilling to accept.