ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Three Pakistani soldiers were killed by Indian artillery in the disputed Kashmir border region on Monday, officials said on Tuesday, just two days after several Indian troops were killed nearby by Pakistani gunfire.
The back-to-back deaths were part of the latest round of military clashes between Pakistan and India across the Line of Control, and further dashed any faint hopes that the two estranged nations could soon normalize relations.
Three Pakistani soldiers were killed and one was injured on Monday, in what the Pakistan Army described as “unprovoked” Indian shelling in the Rakh Chikri Sector of Poonch District.
On Saturday, the Indian Army said four Indian soldiers, including an army major, had been killed after Pakistani troops opened fire in Rajauri District in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir.
Cross-border fire between the two militaries, despite a 2003 cease-fire agreement, has become a frequent occurrence in Kashmir, the picturesque Himalayan region the two nations have fought over since they both declared independence from Britain in 1947. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety and they have fought several wars over it.
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While Kashmir continues to remain a point of contention in the diplomatic standoff between the two neighbors, accusations of fomenting terrorism have also strained relations.
On Monday, however, a small concession to diplomacy was made when Pakistan allowed the wife and mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian accused of espionage, to visit the imprisoned man in Islamabad for the first time.
Pakistan sentenced Mr. Jadhav to death in April, a year after his 2016 arrest on charges of espionage and terrorism. Pakistani officials called the arrest a major counterintelligence victory and claimed that Mr. Jadhav had been working for India’s spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.
India maintains that Mr. Jadhav was a retired naval officer, who was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence agents while on a business trip to Iran.
The International Court of Justice temporarily stayed Mr. Jadhav’s execution.
Mr. Jadhav’s family members flew from India for the brief reunion at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and declined to talk to the news media. Pakistan released pictures of Mr. Jadhav, clad in a blue suit, sitting behind a glass partition as he spoke with his mother and wife.
Mohammad Faisal, the spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the family visit was granted on humanitarian grounds, adding that Pakistan considered Mr. Jadhav “the face of Indian terrorism.”
“The fact that despite simmering tensions, the two sides successfully worked out details of the meeting is a positive development,” noted a Tuesday editorial in The Express Tribune, a Karachi newspaper, adding that the Pakistani move should “serve as a template for India to follow.”
But deep skepticism continues to exist within Pakistan — and the killing of three Pakistani soldiers just hours after Mr. Jadhav’s meeting added to that sentiment.
“To be fair, Pakistan made a good-will gesture which was not reciprocated at the strategic level,” said Sherry Rehman, a prominent politician and former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.
“The martyrdom of three Pakistani soldiers sends a very disappointing message from Delhi, not that the Modi government has ever responded rationally to Pakistan’s overtures for talks,” Ms. Rehman said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
“This is all quite unfortunate for the people of South Asia who remain hostage to this impasse, as space for peace shrinks when hostility is normalized as policy by Modi’s government,” Ms. Rehman said.