September 2001 News

Pak guns on border falll silent after terror in US

14 September 2001
The Asian Age
Asit Jolly

Jammu: Promises of fierce American retaliation against the perpetrators of Tuesday’s attacks in New York and Washington, as well as against their sponsors and harbourers, has clearly frightened the ruling regime in Pakistan. Pakistani guns deployed along the 189-km international border between the Paharpur and Sangam border observation posts in the Jammu sector have fallen completely silent. This after more than a month of relentless night-time firing that has killed one BSF jawan and two civilian farmers, and left more than 40 persons injured. “They have been surprisingly and uncharacteristically well-behaved for the past two nights,” BSF director-general Gurbachan Jagat told The Asian Age on Friday. He reported that the Pakistan Rangers appeared to be responding to some fresh orders aimed at showing the international community that it was actually sincere about de-escalating tension in this region. Throughout this summer, firing had been fairly routine along this border, which stretches from the northern tip of Punjab near the Madhopur Headworks all the way to the beginning of the LoC north of Akhnoor. Pakistan began referring to it as a “working boundary” since 1988. What commenced as sporadic firing to prevent the BSF from building or repairing its defences underwent a huge escalation following the failure of the India-Pakistan summit in July. The Pakistan Rangers, supported by regular Army units and commandos, without warning (the BSF and Rangers usually apprise each other of any substantial change in their respective drills) deployed heavy machine guns, including 14.5 mm air defence guns, in a ground role. From a mere 231 rounds fired by the Rangers in the month of January, the count for August was a staggering minimum of 300,000. Mr Jagat said that despite the apparent, possibly temporary, change in Pakistan’s strategy, the BSF battalions deployed along the Jammu frontier have clear orders to remain vigilant. “We are not prepared to tolerate even the slightest incursion from the other side,” he said. However, over the past two days (following the attacks in New York and Washington) not only have the Rangers ceased firing, but have also been extremely careful about any action that the BSF may construe as unfriendly. There are reports that Pakistan’s “good behaviour” extends all along the LoC in the Kashmir region. Even the Kargil sector, where the Pakistanis had celebrated Pakistan independence day on August 14 by letting of 1,500 rounds of heavy artillery in a single night, is silent.


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