ATTARI (TIP): After a year of hostility along the border in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan agreed to have in place new mechanisms to ensure peace and tranquility along the border. A decision to this effect was taken at a three-hour meeting between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries on the Pakistan side of the Wagah-Attari border today. The meeting, which was convened to draw up a “peace protocol” for the two armies, discussed ways to put in place additional mechanisms to ensure that the 2003 ceasefire in J&K was honoured.
The ceasefire along the 198-km section of the International Border and the 749-km Line of Control (LoC) in J&K has been breached several times over the years. Indian Army’s DGMO Lt General Vinod Bhatia termed the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Maj General Amir Riaz as “cordial, constructive and fruitful”. The two military officers discussed ceasefire violations. “We are looking forward to sustaining ceasefire and have decided to strengthen existing mechanisms for holding the ceasefire,” General Bhatia told mediapersons after the meeting. Major General Riaz walked up to the zero line along with the Indian officer as courtesy. The two delegations also had lunch with menu picked from shared culinary history of the two nations. On whether the matter of killing of five Indian soldiers was taken up during the meeting, Lt General Bhatia said: “We have discussed issues and we are moving forward.” The new mechanisms include two additional flag meetings at the level of Brigadier of either side in operational areas along the LoC.
The number of points for flag meetings will remain unchanged. A joint statement issued later said: “A consensus was developed to make hotline contact between the two DGMOs more effective and result-oriented. It was also decided to inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crosses the LoC in order to ensure his/her early return.” The Indian side had taken along figures of the 195 ceasefire violations that had taken place during 2013. The aim was to substantiate the fact that there was an attempt by Pakistani troops to counter any upcoming event in India by resorting to cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir. The dates showed increased activity ahead of major events, including political, sporting and cultural, in India.
Sources said the Pakistan DGMO reiterated his country’s old stand of allowing United Nationsappointed observers along the LoC to monitor peace. The Indian side turned down the request and the matter was not raised again. The United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was set up in 1949 following the Karachi agreement and New Delhi believed it had become redundant following the 1972 Simla Agreement, which talked about “bilateral resolution of all pending issues”. The meeting was an outcome of talks between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif in New York in September at the height of tension triggered by the LoC flare-ups.