India, Pak to hold flag meeting in Poonch today

FP

In an attempt to de-escalate the recent tension along the Line of Control (LoC) following the beheading of an Indian Army soldier by Pakistani Army regulars and the brutal killing of another, Islamabad has agreed to a flag meeting at Poonch on Monday.

Meanwhile, a brief exchange of fire was reported in the area on Sunday evening. Five Pakistani posts are reported to have violated ceasefire and opened fire on Saturday night too. The Indian side alleged an infiltration bid by seven-eight people while the firing was on.

The Brigadier-level flag meeting tomorrow is scheduled to be held at the Chakkan Da Bagh border crossing point in Poonch at 1 pm, and will be attended by the brigade commanders of both sides.

Confirming this, the Army spokesperson said India would raise the issue of the recent ceasefire violations and would present evidence that Pakistani Army troops are engaged in a series of firings on Indian posts in contravention to the rules of engagement that were framed to ensure the continuity of the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

The Indian side had called for a flag meeting after two of its soldiers belonging to the 13 Raj Rif regiment were killed by Pakistani Army regulars who had crossed over to the Indian side of the border on January 8. This was preceded by the killing of a Pakistani Army soldier in Uri sector on January 6. One more Pakistani soldier was killed on January 10.

After the spate of incidents, there have been moves to de-escalate the tension. The Indian Army has been of the view that a border flag meeting would be the ideal platform to defuse tension, as the understanding is that the firings took place due to issues at the local level.

Accusing India of resorting to unprovoked firing, Pakistan has already suspended the cross-LoC trade and passenger bus service at Chakkan Da Bagh. However, trade and travel on the Uri-Muzaffrabad road has not been stopped.

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