Brigade commanders of Pakistan and India were expected to meet on the Line of Control (Loc) in Poonch district in Indian Kashmir on Saturday in an effort to end 10 days of skirmishing which has left six soldiers dead and led to artillery deployment close to the LoC for the first time in a decade, according to The Hindu.
The meeting between 6 Sector Commander Amir Sohail Ashraf and his Indian counterpart 10 Brigade Commander T S Sandhu comes a week after Pakistan apparently rejected an appeal for a colonel-level flag meeting, the newspaper said in a report.
The fighting began on June 11, after India’s Border Security Force soldier P K Mishra was shot dead by a sniper. Soldiers at the post, where Mishra was stationed, code-named ‘Kranti’, returned fire. Two days later, soldier Harvinder Singh was shot dead in firing on a nearby post, code named ‘Kripan’. Four Pakistani soldiers were also reported dead, The Hindu quoted intelligence sources as saying.
In response, the Indian Army had pushed 155-millimetre Bofors guns into firing positions along the LoC from Mendhar to Poonch, fearing escalation of the skirmishes.
Islamabad has not offered any official comment on the clashes. However, Pakistan shut down the Chakan-da-Bagh border outpost for local trade on June 19 and suspended the weekly bus service from Rawalakot to Poonch. The bus service was inaugurated by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi in 2006, and is seen as a key element in the India-Pakistan peace process.
Pakistan has in the past complained that Indian troops engage in unprovoked firing across the border, when the fencing disintegrates in the winter snowfall. India blames Pakistan for its aggressive stance against groups of infiltrating militants.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.
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