LoC remains tense, no response from Pak on flag meeting yet
Jammu: The tension between India and Pakistan continues to simmer on Saturday, a day after cross-LoC firing was reported on at least eight border posts.
Adding to the tension were reports of troop build-up on both sides of the border.
India had reportedly sent requests to the Pakistani side for a flag meeting to de-escalate the tension on the LoC, but there has been no response as yet. In fact, Indian intelligence intercepts of communication at the Pakistani border posts reveal that the Pakistani Army has cancelled all leaves and ordered its troops to report to duty.
The Indian side has been bolstered with the presence of additional Border Action Task Force personnel. Surveillance has been heightened with both the Army and Air Force deploying unmanned aerial vehicles in the areas over Poonch and Rajouri sectors.
Sources said Pakistani troops fired intermittently at eight Indian border posts on the LoC in Krishna Ghati and Sonagali around Mendhar sector and Poonch on Friday. The firing lasted for 20 minutes.
On Friday, India confirmed that Pakistan has suspended cross-border trade. “As per our understanding, because of some circumstances in one sector, neither trucks nor buses could go,” said Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs.
Also, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani summoned India’s High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to protest against “repeated”, “unacceptable” and “unprovoked” attacks by the Indian Army which led to the death of a Pakistani soldier on Thursday. Jilani asked India to “investigate violations of ceasefire by Indian troops” and “emphasised that such unprovoked attacks were against the spirit of the ongoing peace process”.
Sabharwal said India’s troops undertook “controlled retaliation” in the face of “unprovoked firing”.
Akbaruddin emphasised on the sanctity of the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir, established after the Shimla agreement of 1972, and said this was the most important confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan also reiterated its demand for a United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) probe. “It is well known that following the Shimla agreement in 1972 and the establishment of the LoC, the UNMOGIP has no relevance or role to play whatsoever,” said Akbaruddin. “India and Pakistan have a mechanism to try and resolve these issues bilaterally.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was briefed on the tense border situation by National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.
Defence Minister AK Antony said the ceasefire violations were a matter of "serious concern".
"We are closely monitoring the whole development and our people are on alert," Antony said, adding that the Indian Army's Director General Military Operations had been directed to be in touch with his Pakistani counterpart.
"We will take every step to protect our interests and of our soldiers and the prestige of the Indian armed forces," he said.
(With DNA inputs)