India, Pak agree to restrict firing on border posts

Flag meeting between armies decides not to target civilian establishments and villagers

India, Pak agree to restrict firing on border posts

The armed forces guarding India’s border with Pakistan have decided not to fire on civilian establishments or target villagers in an effort to reduce cross-border firing and de-escalate tension on the western front.

This was decided at a flag meeting between the two armies held at the Poonch sector on Wednesday, which discussed the spurt in trans-border firing, particularly in the RS Pura sector in Jammu region for the last month. Brig S Thakaran headed the six-member Indian delegation, while the five-member Pakistan delegation was led by Brig Dhar. Held at the Poonch-Rawalkot Crossing point, the two sides agreed to strengthen the existing mechanism of maintaining peace along the border.

It was the first flag meeting between the two armies after Indian Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen P R Kumar had a telephonic conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Maj Gen Sartaz Choudhary on August 26, exploring ways to restore peace at the border.

The meeting comes close on the heels of a sector commander-level flag meeting on August 29 between the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers on the international border.

BSF Deputy Inspector General (Jammu range) B S Kasana and the Rangers’ Sialkot sector commander, Brig Mateen, led the delegations in the meeting that lasted for four hours at an Octroi border outpost in Suchetgarh area of RS Pura sector.

Villagers were at the receiving end of Pakistani shelling as cross-border firing between the two sides intensified.

On Wednesday, when delegations from the two armies sat across the table, they also talked about the RS Pura situation besides the Line of Control (LoC).
The two forces, sources said, agreed not to target civilian establishments and restrict firing only at the border posts.

Pakistani authorities said that the BSF initiated the current bout of cross-border firing, after it killed two civilians – a woman and a 60 year old man – in Sialkot.

Across the 740-km long LoC, manned by the Army, there were 96 ceasefire violations till August 25. The trend is similar to what was observed in 2013 when there were 347 cases of ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir – 199 across the LoC and the rest along the undisputed international border manned by the BSF.

At the flag meeting, Pakistan raised the issue of their civilians and livestock crossing the LoC inadvertently and the measures needed to control the escalating trends in the trans-LoC firing.

India, on the other hand, raised the issue of ceasefire violations and terrorists sneaking into Indian territory.

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