SIALKOT/SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI - ZAFAR MALIK/AGENCIES - As tension along the Line of Control escalated with four days of trade of intense fire, Pakistan and India on Saturday agreed to hold a meeting between the director general military operations (DGMOs) to explore the ways for keeping the ceasefire agreement intact.
“Pakistan had proposed strengthening and expanding the existing mechanism to ensure peace on the LoC,” the Foreign Office said on Saturday, in response to an Indian statement.
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed said the prevailing tension on the LoC was a serious issue and needed to be resolved at the earliest possible and the DGMOs of the two countries will hold talks soon. Indian-held Kashmir Chief Minister Omer Abdullah asked Indian government to talk with Pakistan in a harsh tone on the issue of tension on the LoC.
According to BBC, the meeting between the two DGMOs is expected to take place on Monday.
Saturday was the fourth consecutive day Indian troops pounded Pakistani border villages intermittently targeting Rangers posts in Bajwat, Chaprar, Sucheetgarh, Charwah, Umeraanwali and Bajra Garhi sectors with heavy machine guns and mortar shells, sending shocks of fear and chaos among civilian settlements near Sialkot.
Exchanges are not uncommon but had Rangers not retaliated in a befitting manner, damages could have been colossal.
Pakistan has repeatedly called for dialogue over LoC violations, but Indian side has always shrugged off these offers. Observers say Indian political and military leaders were trying to divert attention of the masses from their corruption and other grave social issues.
FO spokesperson Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said, "Pakistan and India have agreed to hold a meeting between Director General Military Operations (DG MOs) to explore ways how to ensure that ceasefire agreement remains intact."
"Dates for the proposed meeting are being worked out. It is important that ceasefire is maintained along the LoC to ensure peace and security in the region,” added the spokesperson.
According to Rangers officials, two people – a civilian and a Chenab Rangers official –were killed and two others fatally hurt, as India fired across the border between Thursday and Friday, violating the ceasefire pact.
Officials said Indian side continued firing till early Saturday morning – almost the whole night between Saturday and Sunday. Had Rangers not retaliated in a befitting manner, damages could have been colossal. Reports said many houses in Sialkot border villages were hit by mortar shells, and a number of cattle head killed.
Two civilians were injured and another Muhammad Sajjad Ali killed late in the evening on Saturday in Khokhar-Harpal village along the working boundary. Sources in Combined Military Hospital said the injured, Iqbal and Bashir Hussain, were still in serious condition. Earlier on Thursday Rangers official, Abrar Hussain, was martyred due to Indian shelling.
India called for a flag meeting, as it accused Pakistan of ceasefire violation Friday night at 25 Indian posts in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The firing, that began around 7:30 pm yesterday and continued through the night, has stopped for now," NDTV said of Friday’s firing.
The television claimed, "Two BSF personnel were injured and one infiltrator was killed as Indian Army foiled multiple infiltrations bids through the night." It went on to report, “Pakistani authorities have refused to identify the body of the terrorist.”
In a similar report CNN-IBN said, "Haeng village in Handwara has been cordoned by after reports of terrorists being holed up surfaced."
Heavy firing was reported between Rangers and BSF in RS Pura sector in Jammu on Saturday morning in which two Indian officials were killed.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah meanwhile requested Indian government to take up the issue with Pakistan.
"I appeal to the Government of India to take up this matter with the Pakistani authorities concerned. Ceasefire has been the biggest achievement of the peace talks and if it is violated, the situation will be difficult to handle," Abdullah was quoted as having said by CNN-IBN.
He said he would take up the matter with Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde when he would visit the state next week.
BSF said Pakistani Rangers posted opposite to them resorted to unprovoked firing and shelling. Officials said two BSF men were wounded in the exchange. "The Pakistani Rangers posted at the border outposts began targeting our posts at around 7:30 pm local time on Friday and the firing continued until 4:30 am on Saturday," Rajwant Singh, a BSF officer, told the media.
The BSF officials also claimed foiling an infiltration bid in Samba district and said an intruder was killed. "There was movement of suspected persons along the International Border in Kulian-Suchetpur Border outposts in Samba district. When the alert BSF personnel challenged them, they came under heavy fire and during the exchange an intruder was killed," said Singh.
On Thursday, five people including three children were wounded after a shell fired by Pakistani Rangers landed in premises of a residential house.
According to India's official broadcaster -- All India Radio ( AIR), firing was reported along Nikowal border belt, Pura, Pargwal, Samba, Hiranagar and Jagnockah border belts in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.
Reports said skirmishes took place at 25 places along the border. The firing between border guards of the two countries has terrified villagers living close to border.
Independent observers say the ongoing tension and violations of ceasefire agreement was well planned and objective was to use anti Pakistan sentiment in favour of ruling Indian political parties in the upcoming general elections.