ISLAMABAD - The stalled progress on the eagerly-awaited meeting between the top military men from Pakistan and India finally saw a breakthrough on Tuesday with the extension of invitation from Pakistan’s director general military operations (DGMO) to his Indian counterpart for a meeting on the coming Tuesday.
“The Pak Army’s DGMO extended invitation to his Indian counterpart for a meeting on December 24,” said an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) source without giving any further details.
The military sources said the Indian Army has confirmed that the Indian DGMO Lt-Gen Vinod Bhatia would meet Pakistan’s Maj-Gen Aamir Riaz on the scheduled date. The said meeting would be held at a flag-meeting centre located at a forward military post near the Line of Control (LoC) Trade Centre, a few kilometres from Srinagar, the officials said.
Seen as a significant step towards diffusing tension, the apparently major breakthrough on the DGMOs’ meetings follows the recent visit of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to India where he met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The volatile situation on the LoC has been witnessing a series of violent skirmishes for the last year that resulted in the loss of lives of the soldiers from both the sides. The two sides have repeatedly accused each other of violating the LoC ceasefire agreement India and Pakistan reached in 2003.
The military insiders stated the Pak-India DGMOs and directors military operations (DMOs) make regular telephonic contacts on a weekly basis and discuss the security situation on the LoC that is presently calm. “The meeting would further improve the situation,” the sources believed.
The proposed Pak-India DGMOs’ meeting was first envisaged on September 29 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York amid heightened tension following looming LoC hostility then. The two leaders had agreed to establish military contacts through hotline and personal meetings to diffuse the tension. However, the seesaw between the diplomatic relations of the two South Asian neighbours hampered the proposed military men’s meeting which remained uncertain till the latest development at the generals’ meet-up.
Agencies add: Meanwhile, the Indian army confirmed that Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia would be meeting his Pakistani counterpart on the Pakistan side of the Wagah border on December 24.
Around his return from a recent visit to India, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of PM Nawaz, said that strategic issues go hand in hand with trade normalization, adding “war is not an option between the two nuclear neighbours”.
In a media interview, Shahbaz Sharif had said that he believed cordial relations are in the interest of the people of both India and Pakistan and “issues such as Kashmir will also be resolved soon”.
“In the past, both the countries have lived liked unruly neighbours. But I think we should live in peace. We should promote peace, tranquility and prosperity together. We cannot keep on carrying burdens of the past and keep ruining our future,” he said.
The Directors General of Military Operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan will meet each other when they feel the need for it, Defence Minister AK Antony was quoted by a report a day earlier.
“The two DGMOs are talking and let them talk. Whenever they feel, they will meet. It is up to them,” he had told reporters on the sidelines of a function.
The Minister was asked why the meeting between the two DGMOs was not taking place despite directions issued by prime ministers of the two countries in this regard.
“Of late, the incidents of firing on the Line of Control have come down. Not completely, but it has come down of late,” Antony had said on the situation on the LoC.