Flag meeting to diffuse border tensions today


Close watch: Indian Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the border fence about 27km from Wagah. AFP

Jammu:  The Indian and Pakistani armies will have a "flag meeting" today, after Pakistani troops opened fresh fire at Indian border posts in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said yesterday.

The meeting, to be led by brigadiers, will be held at 1pm at Chakan da Bagh on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir's Poonch district.India had been seeking a brigadier-level meeting to discuss escalating tensions on the LoC but Pakistan, which had called for a UN probe into the incidents, responded only  yesterday.

Meanwhile, Pakistani troops again fired at Indian border posts along the LoC, which divides Kashmir between the two countries, triggering a response from the Indian Army.

The latest firing in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch began overnight at 10 and continued an hour past midnight on Saturday, an official said.The military said the Pakistani firing was a violation of the ceasefire effective on the LoC since 2003, and the Indian Army offered a "calibrated response to silence Pakistani guns".

"Pakistani troops used medium and heavy machine gun fire. There was no loss of life or injury on the Indian side," a source said.

Ceasefire violation
This was said to be the seventh ceasefire violation since Jan 8 when Pakistani troops intruded into Jammu and Kashmir and killed two Indian soldiers, causing nationwide outrage.

Since then, tensions have soared along the winding LoC.Trade between the Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, which takes place four days a week (Tuesday to Friday), stopped on January 9 when Pakistani authorities did not open the border gates on the LoC.

The LoC ceasefire agreement of November 2003 is considered the mother of all confidence building measures between India and Pakistan aimed at improving their bilateral relations.

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