India, Pakistan Clash at Border and at U.N., Whose Peacekeepers Watch On in Kashmir

India and Pakistan's deadly border fight has continued to rage on, threatening to destabilize South Asia as U.N. peacekeepers struggle to keep up with mounting casualties along the disputed boundary, while only able to operate on one side.

The Indian military announced on Thursday the death of three soldiers, blaming a Pakistani "ceasefire violation" in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district and in the Nowgam sector of the Anantnag district, both located along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed region of Kashmir.

Indian armed forces vowed a "befitting response" as it reported yet another "unprovoked ceasefire violation" in Keran and Machhal sectors.

The clash is only the latest in the decades-long feud between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors. The two rivals have fought four wars since their 1947 partition by their colonizer, the United Kingdom, and much of the contention has been over vast valleys of Kashmir, where blood continues to be shed on both sides.

Earlier this week, Pakistan said Indian troops killed a soldier and civilian teenager in "indiscriminate and unprovoked firing" that also injured four other civilians, including an elderly woman, at Baroh and Tandar sectors. Islamabad said it summoned New Delhi's charge d'affaires Guarav Ahluwali "to register Pakistan's protest" over the incident.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry charged the Indian side with some 2,387 ceasefire violations this year.

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Members of the Indian Army Northern Command fire artillery in this photo shared on September 28. New Delhi and Islamabad have clashed for decades along their disputed Line of Control, the subject of both skirmishes and wars that have killed scores on both sides of the conflict. Indian Army Northern Command

Islamabad also charged New Delhi with "the deplorable targeting of innocent civilians" linking them to the humanitarian situation in India-administered Kashmir, which has been in an effective state of lockdown since last August, when a constitutional change removed its autonomy.

"These egregious violations of international law reflect consistent Indian attempts to escalate the situation along the LoC and are a threat to regional peace and security," the Pakistani statement said. "It was added that by raising tensions along the LoC and the WB, India cannot divert attention from the grave human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK)."

The statement also urged India to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to operate on its side of the Line of Control. New Delhi has refused UNMOGIP's mandate since the end of its last all-out war with Islamabad nearly half a century ago.

But UNMOGIP presses on despite a challenging political and security environment.

"The Mission investigates alleged ceasefire violations complaints in a timely fashion within the constraints of a difficult operating terrain," a U.N. Peacekeeping spokesperson told Newsweek.

"Only Pakistan has continued to lodge alleged ceasefire violation complaints with the Mission over the past years," the spokesperson said. "India has maintained that UNMOGIP's mandate has lapsed since the signing of the Simla Agreement in 1972."

India's cooperation with UNMOGIP was further urged in a letter sent earlier this month by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the U.N. Security Council and later obtained by Newsweek.

The letter noted that the U.N. peacekeeping force's mandate to monitor and enforce ceasefires along the Line of Control "is being severely constrained by the limited number of UN observers and India's non-cooperation with UNMOGIP."

Pakistan argued for more U.N. forces with greater freedom of movement.

"The group should be further strengthened and India must be obliged to allow free movement of the observers on its side of the Line of Control to enable UNMOGIP to effectively perform its mandated role of observing all ceasefire violations and reporting to the Security Council," the letter added. "Timely and accurate information will enable the Council to prevent escalation."

The Pakistani top diplomat's letter came ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's virtual address last week to the U.N. General Assembly. For a second year in a row, the Pakistani leader spoke at length about alleged abuses on the India-controlled side of Kashmir and warned of potential war should the U.N. Security Council not step to in to "prevent a disastrous conflict" by implementing resolutions.

"There will be no durable peace and stability in South Asia until the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved on the basis of international legitimacy," Khan said. "Kashmir has been rightly described as a "'nuclear flash point.'"

Indian diplomat Mijito Vinito, first secretary to New Delhi's mission to the U.N. walked out of the room during Khan's speech. He later exercised his country's right to reply in retort to the Pakistani leader.

"The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India," Vinito said. "The only dispute left in Kashmir relates to the part of Kashmir that is still under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. We call upon Pakistan to vacate all areas that it is in illegal occupation of."

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A protester waves a Kashmiri flag during clashes with government forces in Batamaloo area of Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir on September 17. India has flooded the share of Kashmir it controls with troops and paramilitary forces in a bid to assert order against an insurgency it ties to Pakistan, but Pakistani officials and rights group have raised concerns about a worsening humanitarian situation there. TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

In his own speech that same day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not bring up the issue of Kashmir, eliciting accusations from Pakistan permanent representative to the U.N. Munir Akram that the leader was "silent on international issues and divorced from the reality of an intolerant, divided, brutal and economically failing India, locked in disputes with all its neighbors."

Akram told Newsweek last month of deteriorating conditions in India-administered Kashmir. He warned that "things could escalate at any moment, so there is an ever-present danger of war between Pakistan and India."

The Indian side, for its part, has championed its consolidation of federal power over Jammu and Kashmir state as a successful measure to develop the restive region and combat a three-decade insurgency New Delhi blames Islamabad for backing.

Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of the attack launched by the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad against the State Assembly Complex in Srinagar, the summer capital of India-administered Kashmir. India to this day blames Pakistan for the assault that killed 38 people.

Another deadly Jaish-e-Mohammed attack last February killed 40 Indian paramilitary forces and served as the catalyst for the first cross-border strikes conducted by the two countries since their 1971 war. Frictions were further inflamed by India's move on the share of Kashmir it controls, where fighting could erupt at any moment.

"The situation at the LoC remains tense and unpredictable," the U.N. Peacekeeping spokesperson told Newsweek.

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A map shows the disputed borders of Kashmir, which is partly held by India, Pakistan and China, which has also recently clashed with India, raising fears in New Delhi of fighting a two-front war. Central Intelligence Agency