India, Pak commit to ceasefire to de-escalate tension on LoC

India, Pak commit to ceasefire to de-escalate tension on LoC

23 June 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Indian Army today took a serious note of unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district for nearly one week, beginning June 12, even as both sides have reportedly agreed to maintain ceasefire, which was enforced by the India and Pakistan Governments in November 2002 on both Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB). At the Brigade Commander level flag meeting for about half an hour at Chakan-Da-Bagh zero line in Poonch district this morning, both sides blamed each other for direct firing on the forward posts in Krishna Ghati sector. Indian side, however, maintained that they were compelled to retaliate after Pakistan Army continued heavy firing. Official sources told the Excelsior that Poonch Brigade Commander Brigadier M K Maggoo, who represented Indian side in the Brigade Commander level flag meeting, which was held in Poonch after a long time, put forth the Indian view point very strongly before Brig Talat Qayoom of 2 ‘AK’ Brigade, Rawlakote saying that Indian response was 'very controlled’’ as compared to heavy firing by Pakistan side that left one Army jawan killed and five others injured. The one-to-one meeting that took place between 11.30 am to 12 noon was held in 'amicable environment’’ and there was no 'animosity’’ between the two sides, Army spokesman Col RK Palta said while declining to share details of the meeting. Sources, however, said Army has prepared a detailed report of the flag meeting including points raised by both sides and sent it to the Ministry of Defence and Army Headquarters. The issue of firing and suspension of cross-LoC weekly bus and trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route by Pakistan Army and civil authorities figured in the report dispatched to the MoD and Army Headquarters, they added. Sources said both sides expressed their commitment towards ceasefire agreement of India and Pakistan Governments and decided to maintain it. The Indian side reportedly asked Pakistan not to violate ceasefire as 'such violations wouldn’t be taken lightly’’ by the troops. According to sources, the Brigade Commander of Pakistan side reportedly declined to make any comment on resumption of cross-LoC bus or trade saying the issue pertained to civil administration. Administration on this side said they were yet to receive any message from PoK administration on whether bus and trade would resume next week or not. While permit of 18 PoK citizens had expired last week, over a dozen others would be completing their term next Monday. Similar could be the case of civilians from this side, who had gone to other side of the LoC to meet their relatives and divided family members. Sources said Pakistan Army has given an assurance that they would not be resorting to firing again. The Pakistan Brigadier unsuccessfully tried to shift blame of firing on Indian Army. Pakistan side also claimed having suffered some fatal and non-fatal casualties in the firing. However, Indian side insisted that they had retaliated only to silence the Pakistani guns. This was after a long time that a Brigade Commander level flag meeting was held in Poonch to discuss the issue of heavy firing by Pakistan Army. Generally, a Commander level flag meeting was held to discuss the issue of border firing or other issues. Pakistan had earlier refused to attend Commander level meeting and delayed holding of Brigade Commander level flag meeting by four days. Pakistan Army had started heavy firing on forward posts of Indian Army in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district on June 12-13 night and continued it till June 19. Pakistan Army had violated ceasefire more than five times in one week by targeting forward Indian posts directly with mortars, rockets, UBGL, heavy machine guns and automatic weapons. Indian response was 'controlled but effective’’. After firing, Pakistan authorities had suspended trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route last Thursday. Even the cross-LoC bus service, connecting people between two parts of divided State, had to be suspended this Monday as Pakistan had refused to open gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh. Trade didn’t take place this week. Sources said the authorities on this side were hopeful that better sense would prevail on Pakistan and they would facilitate resumption of cross-LoC bus and trade. According to sources, Pakistan Army was frustrated over their failure to push any militant into this side from the LoC. The militants on their own have also failed to intrude into this side due to strict surveillance maintained by Army all along the LoC. There has been no successful intrusion bid on the International Border as well. Since June 19, there had been no firing from Pakistan side in Krishna Ghati. Heavy firing had taken place between June 13 to June 19 leading to escalation of tensions on the LoC after which Army had moved additional forces from Mendhar to Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district. Prior to the flag meeting, Indian side had twice lodged protest with Pakistan on the hotline over heavy firing by their Army in Krishna Ghati sector.