Indian And Pakistani Armies To Meet Amid Intensifying Cross-Border Firing

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LoC (2)
Indian soldiers patrol near the Line of Control (LoC) in Saraie, 150 km (83 miles) west of Srinagar, July 31, 2008.

In an attempt to ease renewed tensions along the India-Pakistan border in the disputed region of Kashmir, the armies of the two countries have reportedly agreed to hold meetings on Wednesday. The region has reportedly seen some of the heaviest bouts of cross-border firing since a war in 1971 between the two countries.

“The two sides have agreed to hold flag meetings at field levels by both Army and BSF (Border Security Force) to defuse the situation,” an Indian army source told the Press Trust of India.

The decision to hold the flag meetings was reportedly reached during telephonic talks between senior military officials of India and Pakistan on Tuesday. During the talks, India lodged a formal protest against alleged violations of a 2003 cease-fire along the heavily militarized Line of Control, or LoC, in Kashmir.

BSF Director General DK Pathak, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, reportedly said that cross-border firing by Pakistan in the last 45 days was "possibly the heaviest" since the India-Pakistan war in 1971. “This month, there was firing throughout the nights and some times during day time also.”

In 1971, armies of the two countries clashed along the western border in Kashmir and the eastern border near East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh. The war, which lasted 13 days, led to the deaths of thousands of army personnel and civilians.

Pakistan too has repeatedly accused India of indulging in unprovoked firing along the LoC. The Pakistani army had earlier alleged that India had violated the cease-fire nearly 130 times this year alone and said that four civilians had been killed in the past two months in shelling by the Indian army, Dawn News reported Wednesday.

However, “Both sides mutually agreed to reduce tension along the Line of Control and working boundary,” a Pakistani military official told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

Kashmir has been at the center of a long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan since they gained independence from British rule in 1947. The two nations have fought three wars over the region and frequent exchanges of fire have been reported along the LoC.

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