By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan on Sunday claimed that Indian border guards opened fired on a civilian helicopter carrying the prime minister of Azad Kashmir near Kashmir border.
Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider told reporters in capital Islamabad that he was on his way to condole the death of a local politician in a civilian helicopter near the Line of Control (LoC) when he heard his helicopter was fired upon from an Indian border forces' post.
However, he said the helicopter that was also carrying some ministers were not hit by the firing.
Azad Kashmir’s Information Minister Mushtaq Minhas, who was also in the helicopter, confirmed the incident to Anadolu Agency.
He said the helicopter made a safe landing soon after the incident.
Indian media quoting border force sources claimed that the border guards fired at a military gunship helicopter which trespassed into the territory of Kashmir controlled by India.
Raja Farooq Haider rejected the claim saying he was flying in a civilian helicopter.
The two border forces, he added, are informed in advance about the high-profile movement near the LoC — a de facto border that divides the Himalayan valley between the two nuclear neighbors.
Pakistan's local Geo TV quoting official sources, reported that the helicopter "slightly" crossed over the LoC because of the porous nature of the border.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.