ISLAMABAD -  All communication channels between the Indian and Pakistani militaries remain open in the wake of tensions that have gripped the South Asian nations over the disputed Kashmir region, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Asim Bajwa yesterday said.

Stressing the need for resolving issues through dialogue, Bajwa confirmed the director generals of military operations (DGMOs) from both the sides have communicated after escalation in cross-border firing at the Line of Control (LoC).

“All communication channels, including the hotline between the two militaries, are open,” he told Xinhua news agency in an exclusive interview. He said Pakistan wants peaceful neighbourly relations with all countries in the region. “This is the policy of the state of Pakistan; this is the policy of the political government and every element of power in the country follows the same policy,” he asserted.

Bajwa reiterated that India violated the ceasefire along the LoC on Sept 29 and later claimed to have conducted surgical strikes inside Pakistan.

“We did check everything on ground and we found the claim was absolutely false,” he said, adding the UN Military Observer Group in Pakistan and India also monitors the situation.

The ISPR DG said it was India which had violated the 2003 LoC ceasefire agreement and then made a false claim of conducting surgical strikes. Lt-General Bajwa added that since September 29, Indian forces had been firing into Pakistani side on a daily basis. He further said Indian fire was at a maximum on Wednesday with over 25,000 rounds being fired with small arms.

“What we see is that there is more intensified firing along the LoC and, of course, when there is more fire, the situation does escalate. The environment also escalates when there are more statements, more pronouncements and more rhetoric from the Indian side,” Bajwa was quoted by the news agency.

The ISPR DG also spoke of Pakistan being completely cleared of any physical hideouts of terrorists. “I can confirm that there is presently no physical hideout of terrorists on the Pakistani soil,” said ISPR DG Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa, adding areas in North Waziristan, including mountainous Shawal Valley near the Afghan border and Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency, had been cleared.

Asim Bajwa said 3,500 terrorists had been killed and 992 terrorist hideouts destroyed in the military operation while 546 Pakistani soldiers had been martyred and 2,285 injured in the offensive.

The security forces are now carrying out intelligence-based operations (IBOs) and combing operations in urban areas to destroy the network of terrorists, their sympathizers, facilitators and financiers, the general said.

Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said that around 22,000 IBOs have been conducted so far by the intelligence agencies along with civilian law enforcement agencies, including the police. He said that hundreds of suspects have also been arrested during these targeted operations.

To a question about terrorists’ trials in special military courts, the DG ISPR said a total of 166 cases had been finalised by the courts, 107 had been given death sentences and 12 convicts executed after completion of the legal process.