Locals in Pakistan-administered Kashmir say Indian troops have been causing casualties and destroying properties in border shelling along the highly militarised de facto border.

Abdul Aziz (C) was injured when shrapnel from an Indian mortar hit his arm, he told journalists in Chiri Kot sector near the Line of Control divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India. July 22, 2020.
Abdul Aziz (C) was injured when shrapnel from an Indian mortar hit his arm, he told journalists in Chiri Kot sector near the Line of Control divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India. July 22, 2020. (AP)

Pakistani villagers living along a highly militarised frontier in the disputed region of Kashmir have accused India of intentionally targeting civilians, but they vowed never to leave.

"Indian forces have been intentionally targeting us," said Abdul Aziz, 57, who was wounded July 3 when shrapnel from an Indian mortar wounded his arm. 

"Even our last child will fight to defend Kashmir if India attacks us."

Aziz and other villagers spoke with foreign journalists on Wednesday who were escorted by Pakistan's military to the region to witness the plight of residents living along the frontier. 

Indian posts could be seen from the area using binoculars.

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'We are no longer afraid of death'

Indian officials did not immediately comment but in the past, they have accused Pakistan of starting the hostilities in violation of a 2003 accord and causing casualties in the Indian-administered Kashmir. 

Islamabad in turn accuses India of shelling its positions and Kashmiri villagers first. 

Aziz, sitting on a chair in the village of Chirikot with a bandage on his right arm, said most of the people who live along the Line of Control that separates the region between Pakistan and India have either lost family members or close relatives because of Indian firing in recent decades.

Standing next to him, villager Asad Zubair, 23, said he too was wounded by Indian artillery fire two years ago.

"We are no longer afraid of death. It can come anywhere. We will live and die here," he said.

UN-backed plebiscite 

The region’s top Pakistani military commander, Major General Amer Ahsan Nawaz, briefed journalists about Indian ceasefire violations in Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.

Pakistan wants India to resolve the issue of Kashmir under UN resolutions by allowing people living in the Himalayan region to decide whether they want to merge with India, with Pakistan, or prefer independence.

The first war ended in 1948 with an UN-brokered ceasefire that left Kashmir divided, with the promise of an UN-sponsored referendum on its "final disposition" that has never been held.

The UN sent military observers to supervise the ceasefire in January 1949. 

Following renewed hostilities in 1971, a UN mission has remained in the area to observe developments and report to the secretary-general, not to the Security Council as other peacekeeping missions do.

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Kashmiri villagers wait to interact with journalists in Chiri Kot sector near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
Kashmiri villagers wait to interact with journalists in Chiri Kot sector near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. (AP)

Pakistan 'ready for negotiations'

Nawaz asked the international community to play its role in resolving the region's status.

Pakistan is "ready for negotiations (with India), we are ready to talk to them, and we are ready to sit down and settle the issue on level ground", he said.

Tensions in the disputed Himalayan region have been high since last August. 

That's when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing government stripped the part of Kashmir it controls of its limited autonomous status, drawing protests from Pakistan and Kashmiris across the world. 

India has restricted communication in Kashmir and rules the region directly since then. 

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Source: AP