Army seeks Brig Comdr level flag meet, gets no response

After bus, Pak blocks cross-LoC trade

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 19: Delivering a major blow to the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Pakistan today refused to open gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh for cross-LoC weekly trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route while Pakistan army didn’t respond to flag meeting message given by Indian army officials for second time as there was no let up in tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district for past one week.
‘‘Pakistan army has not responded to a hotline message delivered by Indian Army yesterday for a Brigade Commander level flag meeting over increased tension at Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district due to continued firing from Pakistan side’’, official sources told the Excelsior.
Army had conveyed message to Pakistan troops at hotline yesterday seeking Brigade Commander level flag meeting to discuss escalated tension on the LoC due to continued ceasefire violations by Pakistan for past one week now.
Till late this evening when the reports last came in, there had been no response to the flag meeting from Pakistan army, sources said, noting that earlier also a similar call for flag meeting three days back hadn’t been responded to by the Pakistan army. Army had sought Commandant level flag meeting earlier while this time they had asked for Brigade Commander level meeting to de-escalate tensions.
Pakistan army again opened firing in Krishna Ghati sector at 9.50 am today using medium to heavy fire arms. The heavy firing lasted about half an hour. This was followed by intermittent firing till 12.30 pm.
‘‘Troops didn’t suffer any casualties or damage in today’s firing as they were already maintaining high alert anticipating firing from Pakistan side any time till the flag meeting was convened’’, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that additional troops from Mendhar have already been shifted to Krishna Ghati sector to meet with any eventuality from across the LoC.
Meanwhile, after suspension of weekly cross-LoC bus on Poonch-Rawlakote route yesterday due to Pakistan’s refusal to open gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh, the trade between two parts of divided States was also suspended today for the similar reasons. Trade takes place for four days a week from Tuesday to Friday.
‘‘There were no chances of trade this week as apprehending Pakistan’s refusal to open gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh, the traders hadn’t loaded goods in the trucks. Last week on Thursday and Friday, the traders had to suffer heavy losses as the trucks sent by them from Jammu and Poonch to zero line had to return to Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), Rangarh in Poonch district as Pakistan authorities had refused to open gates against what they called ‘‘heavy firing by Indian Army’’.
Some of the traders from Poonch told the Excelsior on telephone that their counterparts in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) were not even responding to their email messages. The ISD calls made from four fixed points by the traders were also not being attended upon by the traders across the LoC.
As the ISD calls from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan were barred due to security considerations, the administration has fixed four points for them to make the ISD calls.
Sources admitted that Pakistan’s refusal to open gates for cross-LoC weekly bus service and trucks was a major setback to the CBMs taken by India and Pakistan to normalize relations between the two countries.
‘‘Another problem was that Pakistan was refusing to hold flag meeting with Pakistan Army to give reasons for not opening gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh and continued firing at Krishna Ghati. Pakistan media had, however, carried reports that their troops had suffered four to five casualties in firing by the Indian troops’’, sources said, adding that Army from this side had to open firing in controlled but effective manner only to silence Pakistani guns.
They said it was Pakistan army, which had started heavy firing on forward Indian positions in Krishna Ghati sector on June 13. Since they, Pakistan army had violated ceasefire five times till today resorting to firing using UBGLs, heavy machine guns, mortars, rockets and other automatic weapons, they added.
Cross-LoC Traders Association president, Pawan Anand said this was for the first time since the opening of cross-LoC point of Chakan-Da-Bagh for movement of civilians followed by launch of fortnight bus service on Poonch-Rawlakote route, which was subsequently converted into weekly bus that it had to be suspended due to firing.
‘‘Similar is the case with trade, which had been suspended earlier only on the occasions of Diwali or Eid like festivals. This is for the first time that Pakistan authorities had refused to open gates for cross-LoC trade due to firing’’, he added.
Mr Anand pointed out that cross-LoC trade as well as weekly bus service was going on smoothly on Uri-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir.