Pakistani officials claimed Wednesday that they shot down an Indian “spy drone” in the Pakistani-controlled area of the contested Kashmir region. The incident comes days after a meeting between between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference. Talks focused on shared regional interest, such as fighting terrorism.
According to the Pakistani Army, the drone entered the Pakistani-controlled area of Kashmir; the Indian Army denied the incident, stating, “Some reports of a drone crash in PoK [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] are being referred to. No drone or UAV crash of the Indian Army has taken place.” India’s envoy to Pakistan was called to Islamabad in order to formally accuse India of ceasefire and airspace violations. Pakistan claims that on the same day as the alleged drone incident, unprovoked shelling from India killed four and injured five civilians. Indian border guards counter that Pakistani artillery hit Pargwal killing one and injuring three.
Troops along the Indian border with Pakistan. (Photo: BBC)
The conflict between India and Pakistan centers around the tumultuous Kashmir region, where two heavily armed military forces are posted in close proximity to each other. The disagreement over Kashmir dates back to 1947, when Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of the then independent Kashmir, opted to join India instead of Pakistan. That decision was problematic because Singh was Hindu, while the vast majority of people living in Kashmir are Muslim. India and Pakistan fought several wars over Kashmir throughout the late 20th century, and ultimately reached a ceasefire agreement in 2003.
Even with the agreement in place, skirmishes between the two rival countries throughout the last several years killed scores of civilians and soldiers. In addition to outright violence, frequent military accidents occur, which escalate the already tense situation. Last February, two Indian pilots died in a helicopter crash. In May, a Pakistani helicopter crashed and killed seven people, including ambassadors from the Philippines and Norway. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made attempts at detente, including talks in Russia and an invitation for Modi to visit Pakistan. Even with progress made in trade and security cooperation, tensions between these two powerful South Asian countries put regional stability at risk.