India was working to secure the release of a soldier held in Pakistan but it will take “some days”, the defence minister said on Sunday (October 2), following a dramatic spike in tensions between the rivals.
India says the soldier was captured on Thursday after he “inadvertently” crossed over into the Pakistani side of the defacto border that divides Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Manohar Parrikar said the capture did not relate to the Indian military’s strikes on militants that sources said on Thursday occurred several kilometres inside Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
“He had crossed over, which happens in border areas. There is a well established mechanism through DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) which has been activated,” the minister said, according to a domestic news agency.
“Since the situation is tense right now, it will take some days to bring the soldier back.”
India has evacuated thousands of people near the Pakistani border in Punjab state following the military raids on militant posts, which provoked furious charges of “naked aggression” from Pakistan.
The move followed a deadly assault on one of India’s army bases in Kashmir that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants, triggering a public outcry and demands for military action.
Indian and Pakistani troops regularly exchange fire across the disputed border known as the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, but sending ground troops over the line is rare.
On Saturday, Parrikar likened Pakistan to a patient under the influence of anaesthesia, amid an increase in derogatory comments between the two sides.
“It is just like anaesthesia. When anaesthesia is given, you don’t realise the surgery is over. It’s been two days and Pakistan has still no idea what has happened,” he said.
The two countries, separated at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, have fought three wars in the last seven decades – including two over Kashmir.
Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fresh fire across their border on Saturday as UN chief Ban Ki-moon offered to mediate, but there were no reports of activity on Sunday. (AFP)