Islamabad - Pakistan yesterday lodged a strong protest with India over unprovoked Indian firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

“Pakistan Army’s DGMO contacted his Indian counterpart on hotline Sunday afternoon and strongly protested for unprovoked firing by Indian troops on LoC at Nezapir sector targeting Pakistani posts and civilians”, ISPR said.

The Indian troops starting firing on LoC near Rawalakot after midnight. “India used all types of heavy weapons including mortars and artillery. Some rounds landed even (at) civilian houses near LoC,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

No loss of life was reported so far, the media wing of army said, adding that firing started at 0200hrs and continued till 0830 on Sunday (morning). It said Pakistani troops ‘befittingly’ responded to the unprovoked firing.

The latest skirmishes at the disputed region came at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India are simmering due to the ongoing violence in Kashmir.

Pakistan strongly denounced what it called grave human rights violations being committed in the Indian-held part of Kashmir while New Delhi accused Islamabad for stoking unrest in the valley.

The Occupied Kashmir has been in the grip of violence ever since the killing of prominent Kashmiri leader Bhurhan Wani on July 8.

Over 60 people have so far been killed and thousands others wounded with some losing their eyesight due to excessive use of pellet guns by the Indian security forces against the Kashmiri protesters.

Despite war of words and blame game, Pakistan on Friday offered India an olive branch by seeking dialogue on Kashmir in the wake of current unrest in the valley.

For this purpose, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry would soon write a letter to his Indian counterpart. However, India is unlikely to respond positively to Pakistan’s latest offer.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry said while it welcomed dialogue offer but insisted that Pakistan had to address its concerns, including those relating to terrorism, before any meaningful engagement.

In a related development, Pakistani Rangers exchanged sweets with their Indian counterparts at the Wagah-Attari border point on the occasion of their country’s 70th Independence Day on Sunday.

Kashmir has been contentious since Pakistan and India came into being in 1947. Pakistan says Kashmir is unfinished agenda of the partition and under the illegal Indian occupation. Pakistan has recently wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General highlighting the human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and is seeking resolution of the issue in line with the UN resolutions.

Agencies add: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has said that Islamabad will continue extending its full diplomatic, political and moral support to the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir till they get their right to self-determination.

Speaking on the occasion of flag-hoisting ceremony to mark Independence Day of Pakistan at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, he stressed that it was incumbent upon the international community to ensure implementation of the relevant UN resolutions to settle the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Basit said the people of Pakistan were united to overcome the internal and external challenges and thwart all conspiracies aimed at destabilising the country.

He said Pakistan had always desired to have cooperative relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality and peaceful resolution of the bilateral disputes.

Also on Sunday, reacting to Pakistan’s offer for an exclusive dialogue with India on Kashmir, India said it was ready for talks - but only on ‘relevant issues’ that include cross-border terrorism and follow-up on the attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot.

“India would welcome a dialogue on contemporary and relevant issues in India-Pakistan relations,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

The list, India said, will also include “infiltration of terrorists like Bahadur Ali, incitement to violence and terrorism across the border, parading of terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, and follow-up on the Mumbai attack trial and the Pathankot attack investigation in Pakistan.”

Underscoring that addressing terrorism is “central to our engagement”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said, “Unlike in the past, we can’t agree that dialogue with sponsors and supporters of terrorism should carry on without being linked to action in that regard.”

Pakistan’s invitation for talks came as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at an all-party meet on Kashmir yesterday, said, “‘Pakistan-occupied’ Kashmir is ours” and blamed the current unrest in Jammu and Kashmir on cross-border terrorism.