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India, Pak to hold flag meet at Poonch today
Tribune News Service

Poonch/New Delhi, January 13
Pakistan has agreed to hold a Brigadier-level flag meeting with India to defuse tension along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch where Pakistani troops had on Tuesday intruded into Indian territory and brutally killed two Indian soldiers before retreating to their territory.

The meeting, proposed by India, will be held in Chakan da Bagh at 1 pm tomorrow, sources said.

The Indian Army had sent a hotline message to the Pakistan Army on Friday and asked for a flag meeting to discuss the issues of the killing of two jawans by the Pakistani troops - reportedly belonging to 29 Baloch Regiment - and increasing incidents of firing and ceasefire violations in the Poonch sector. The Pakistan Army did not reply for two days, fully using the timeframe of 48 hours to respond. This morning, Pakistan sent a message agreeing to the meeting on Monday afternoon.

When Brigadier TS Sandhu, Commander of the Indian Army’s 10th Brigade, arrives at Chakan da Bagh at the LoC for the flag meeting, he will be carrying an unyielding and strong message for his Pakistani counterpart.

New Delhi will make it clear that the beheading of Indian soldiers, carried out by the Pakistani Army on January 8, was not expected of any professional and civilised army. It will also be conveyed that the Pakistan border action teams (BAT) that attempt any adventure into Indian territory would be dealt with strongly, sources said.

Confidence-building measures (CBMs) by restoring cross-LoC trade and travel are also expected to come up for discussion during the flag meeting.

“The focus will be on the killings, beheadings, firing to facilitate entry of militants into India and ceasefire violations,” said a top functionary.

India will raise the 117 ceasefire violations in 2012.

The tone and tenor is expected to be on the line followed by Defence Minister AK Antony who, on Friday, termed the beheading of Indian soldiers as a “turning point”.

It was seconded by IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, on Saturday who talked about “other options” to ensure compliance of peace along the LoC.

All discussions will be narrowed down to the repeated ceasefire violations since January 6 and not beyond that. This means that India is looking to localise the issue while Pakistan is trying to internationalise it by calling for an intervention from the United Nations. Pakistan has been repeating there was “no better forum” than a UN observer group for this task.

The first group of UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) arrived in January 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir after the hostilities of 1948. The UN Secretary General and the monitoring group under the command of the military adviser appoint these observers.

Following the Simla agreement in 1972, India does not recognise the role of UNMOGIP saying matters have to be decided bilaterally between India and Pakistan.

What is flag meet

  • There are four hotlines: At Chakan da Bagh, Uri, Tangdhar and Balnoi (all in India) enabling communication with Brigade Commander at the other end.
  • Either side can ask for a flag meeting over the hotline. The four designated places at the LoC have meeting points where the Brigadiers can come and sit to thrash out matters.

Fresh firing in Poonch

Hours before the scheduled Brigade Commanders’ flag meeting at Chakan-da-Bagh crossing point, Pakistan again fired indiscriminately at several Indian posts along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector late Sunday evening. The firing, which started around 6.15 pm, continued till reports last came in. “Pakistan troops targeted several Indian posts like Kranti, Dogra, Chajjaman, etc. with heavy fire,” a source said, adding that Indian soldiers gave a calibrated response to the firing. — TNS 





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