Key army commanders of India, Pakistan meet after 14 years

By Jaideep Sarin, Wagah/Attari, Dec 24 : Meeting after a gap of 14 years, key army commanders of India and Pakistan Tuesday resolved to ensure peace on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir and to hold flag meetings between their brigade commanders in volatile border areas.

The meeting between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan in Wagah on the Pakistani side of the border was described as "fruitful" by India's DGMO, Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia.

"To carry forward the positive spirit of DGMO meeting, two flag meetings between brigade commanders will be held on the LoC (Line of Control) in the near future to ensure maintenance of peace and tranquillity," a joint statement by both sides said.

Talking to the media after returning from Wagah where he met Pakistan's Maj. Gen. Amir Riaz for two hours, Gen. Bhatia said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere.

"Both sides discussed the (2003) ceasefire on the LoC and the existing mechanism. It has been decided to ensure (the) ceasefire," he said.

The DGMOs decided to make their hotline contact "more effective and result-oriented".

The DGMO-level talks were held after 14 years. The last time the key army commanders met was in July 1999 after the Kargil war. The two DGMOs usually talk on the hotline every Tuesday.

The LoC, which divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, has seen several ceasefire violations and violent incidents in recent months. Five Indian soldiers were killed in August, leading to tension along the winding LoC.

According to a joint statement, the two sides decided to inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crossed the LoC to ensure his or her early return to his/her country.

Gen. Bhatia led a five-member delegation to Pakistan for the talks. The Indian delegation walked across the zero line at the joint border checkpost between both countries at Attari, 30 km from Amritsar.

He was received by Gen. Riaz and other senior officers.

A brigadier and three lieutenant colonels from each side were present at the meeting.

Pakistan's Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) said the decision to hold the meeting was taken at the political level.

The DGMO of Pakistan invited his Indian counterpart for a meeting to strengthen the mechanisms for ensuring the ceasefire along the LoC -- and the proposal was accepted by India.

Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan decided Sep 29 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to ask their DGMOs to meet in view of the frequent truce violations on the LoC.

Informed sources said the brigade commander meeting was likely to be held in sectors which have seen repeated ceasefire violations. They said the meeting could be held in Krishna Ghati and Bhimber Gali sectors.

There have been 196 ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir till Dec 15. This is significantly more than 93 truce violations along the LoC by Pakistan in 2012.

India has said that specialist troops of the Pakistan Army were involved in the attack and killing of five Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir in August.

--IANS (Posted on 24-12-2013)

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