United States urges India, Pakistan to avoid steps that escalate tensions

WASHINGTON: India and Pakistan should improve their communications to avoid an increase in tensions over Kashmir, the US State Department said on Thursday after Indian troops reportedly fired across the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“An attack like [this] that escalates tensions,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said, adding: “Our message to both sides is the same, to encourage them to increase communication to deal with this threat and avoid steps that escalates the tension.”

Know more: United States to urge India for holding talks with Pakistan over Kashmir issue

At least two Pakistan Army soldiers were killed as Indian troops fired across the LoC, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. The Pakistani military,however, dismissed the Indian claim of ‘surgical strikes’.

Moreover, an Indian soldier has been captured by the Pakistan army, while Indian soldiers have also been killed in the episode of firing across the LoC.

Soaring tensions

The latest incident of cross-border firing comes as tensions simmer between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue.

Last week, India initiated a diplomatic drive to isolate Pakistan after blaming it for the Sept 18 attack on the Uri army camp in IHK which killed 18 soldiers ─ a claim which Pakistan has rejected.

Tensions between the South Asian rivals have been high since an Indian crackdown on dissent in IHK following the killing by Indian forces of Burhan Wani, a young separatist leader, in July.

On Wednesday, India pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit scheduled to be held in November in Islamabad. Several other Saarc members followed suit, leading to the postponement of the summit.

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