India, Pak Troops Agree Not To Target Civilians Along LoC

4 September 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi: Army commanders of India and Pakistan have agreed not to target civilians, livestock and their property on either side of the 749-km-long Line of Control (LoC) that recently witnessed a spate of cross-border firing. The decision was taken after a three-hour Brigadier-level flag meeting at Chakkan-da-Bagh (Poonch Rawalkote sector) in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, sources said today. Both sides accused each other of stepping up firing across the LoC and repeated violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement. The six-member Indian delegation was led by 10 Brigade Commander Brigadier Sanjay Thakaran, while the five-member Pakistan delegation was headed by Brigadier Atiq Dar. India conveyed to Pakistan that it would respond to each ceasefire violation in equal measure. This was in line with Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag's assertion on August 1 that 'our response to any such act (cross-border firing) will be more than adequate... It will be intense and immediate'. India also expressed concern over terrorists trying to infiltrate into Kashmir. It said the Army would push them back or neutralise them along the LoC. Both sides acknowledged that incidence of firing across the LoC had increased. In the past six weeks, both countries have complained about civilian casualties besides damage to their houses and cattle sheds. Sources in New Delhi said both agreed to ensure safety of civilians on either side. On August 26, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) had spoken over the phone and agreed to conduct regular flag meetings. Indian DGMO Lieutenant-General PR Kumar had conveyed his displeasure to his counterpart Major General Aamer Riaz at increased firing from across the border and loss of civilian lives and property. This was the fourth flag meeting - first at the level of brigade commanders - after the DGMO talks. Three flag meetings were held along the 198-km International Border in which BSF and Pak Rangers took part. One of these involved DIG-level officers. On August 29, India and Pakistan held a sector commander-level flag meeting in the RS Pura belt of Jammu district. India had lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over ceasefire violations. BSF troops and Pakistan Rangers held a Battalion Commandant-level flag meeting at the Ballard border outpost on August 28. On August 27, the two countries held a commandant-level flag meeting at the Nikowal border outpost in the Pargwal sub-sector of Akhnoor in Jammu district. Pakistan has violated ceasefire along the LoC 95 times this year. It has also breached the ceasefire pact 36 times along the International Border this year. Last year, there were over 340 ceasefire violations by Pakistan troops along the International Border and the LoC. Charges fly at Brig-level meet: A Brigadier-level flag meeting was held for the first time after the recent cross-border flare-up, say sources. Both sides traded charges of stepping up firing across the LoC and repeated violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement. India expressed concern over terrorists trying to infiltrate into Kashmir and said it would respond to each ceasefire violation in equal measure.