Brigadier-level officers from India, right, and Pakistan at a flag meeting at Chakan-da-Bagh, in Poonch, on Jan. 14. Indian and Pakistani commanders traded protests over recent deadly exchanges in disputed Kashmir as the Indian Army chief of staff in New Delhi ordered an "aggressive" response to any fresh cross-border firing. (Press Information Bureau (PIB) via AFP)
NEW DELHI — Relations between India and Pakistan are on the downswing again and the Indian Army chief says he has instructed commanders to respond aggressively to any Pakistani provocation.
Addressing a news conference here Jan. 14, Gen. Bikram Singh said a Jan. 8 attack in which one Indian soldier was beheaded was premeditated.
“Such an operation requires planning, detailed reconnaissance,” said Singh.
“We expect our commanders to be aggressive. The orders are very clear — when provoked, I expect my unit commanders should fire back,” Singh warned.
For the past week there has been firing along the border with Pakistan, called the Line of Control (LOC). The beheading of the soldier evoked outrage here among the media and political circles.
Despite the firing, Singh said, the cease-fire in place since November 2003 has been holding except for “some aberrations.”
The Army commanders of both countries, meanwhile, are trying to defuse the tension through talks on a hotline, said sources in the Indian Army.
Both Pakistan and India have nuclear arsenals and delivery methods to hit each other within a few minutes of launch.
Talks between India and Pakistan broke down after the Mumbai terror attack of 2009 and diplomatic engagements resumed in 2011. The two countries, which have fought four battles since they gained independence in 1947, came close to conflict again when large numbers of troops massed along the border in 2002 after the December 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament by Muslim terrorists.