Kashmir crisis: India and Pakistan agree 'de-escalation'

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Both Pakistan and India, with troops on either side of the Line of Control in Kashmir, deny provoking recent clashes

India and Pakistan have agreed to "de-escalate" military tensions in Kashmir after a spate of deadly shootings in the disputed territory, officials say.

Their chiefs of operations along the Line of Control reached the agreement in a 10-minute phone call on Wednesday.

Pakistan's military earlier accused the Indian army of killing one of its soldiers with "unprovoked firing" in the territory.

Tensions have risen following deadly exchanges along the border last week.

The Pakistani army's director of military operations had agreed the de-escalation after calling his Indian counterpart to "protest strongly" a "ceasefire violation" by Indian soldiers that killed a Pakistani soldier along the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday night.

India has denied the allegation, which comes after separate incidents last week, in which two Indian soldiers and two Pakistani soldiers died.

The Pakistani commander said strict orders had been passed to troops on the LoC to observe a ceasefire that has been in place since 2003, a spokesman for the Indian army, Col Jagdeep Dahiya, told the BBC.

The violence has plunged the neighbours into the worst crisis in relations since the Mumbai attacks of 2008, which were blamed on militants based in Pakistan.

Both sides deny provoking the clashes, which have prompted fears a fledgling peace process under way since February last year looks like it could unravel, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.

On Tuesday, Indian PM Manmohan Singh said the killing of the Indian soldiers last week - one of whom India says was beheaded - was "unacceptable".

For his part, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said India was "war-mongering" and this was "detrimental to the peace process between the two countries".

Claimed by both countries, Kashmir has been a flashpoint for over 60 years and two wars have been fought over it. Exchanges of fire in the disputed area are not uncommon but rarely result in fatalities.