PM Gives Forces "Free Hand" to Deal With Pakistan Firing: Government Sources

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PM Gives Forces 'Free Hand' to Deal With Pakistan Firing: Government Sources

Villagers show mortar shell marks after firing by Pakistan in the Samba sector, Jammu (Press Trust of India)


New Delhi:  The Prime Minister is not likely to respond to political opponents who allege that he is too pre-occupied with campaigning for state elections and should instead be focusing more on the escalating tension with Pakistan.

Sources in the government tell NDTV that the PM "has left the management of the crisis to his team led by the National Security Advisor after indicating broad guidelines about not succumbing to any blackmail and responding appropriately." (India Warns Pakistan it's Not Afraid of Escalating Fire: Sources)

The Prime Minister has been holding multiple rallies every day in Haryana and Maharashtra, which vote on October 15; his party, the BJP, is hoping to wrest both states from the Congress. Parties like the Congress have suggested he should prioritise dealing with Pakistan crisis instead. (PM, Focus on Border with Pakistan, Not Maharashtra, Says Shiv Sena)

This week has seen the maximum civilian casualties in Kashmir since India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire in 2003.

India has lost at least seven civilians since Monday night; more than 30 have been injured with Pakistan's military firing machine guns and mortars at dozens of Indian army posts and villages. (Ceasefire Violations by Pakistan Escalate, 12 People Injured)

India has retaliated aggressively; the government has told the Army that no talks are to be held with Pakistani commanders till the firing ends entirely. India has also warned that it is willing to escalate its action. (Ceasefire Violations: Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Meets Service Chiefs)

India said the shelling by Pakistan has been intense and has occurred along the internationally-recognised border as well as the Line of Control or LoC.

India believes Pakistan's attacks are trying to distract from its internal politics, which have been highly volatile in recent months. Officials believe that Pakistan wants to use the violence to help nearly 700 militants infiltrate Kashmir from across the border.

Government sources who did not want to be named said  that Pakistan is trying to "test the PM's resolve" especially after India cancelled talks with Pakistan that were scheduled in August because Islamabad insisted on consulting with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the session. They say Pakistan is also unnerved by the PM's recent talks with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama who stressed that India is of huge strategic importance to their countries.

When the Prime Minister won the national election in May, he surprised many by inviting South Asian leaders including Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony.  But relations have soured considerably since then.



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