No Breakthrough At India-Pakistan Flag Meeting

27 August 2014
The Hindu
Zahid Rafiq

Srinagar: After weeks of intense shelling between India and Pakistan along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir, the two countries held a flag meeting on Wednesday to discuss ceasefire violations along the border. According to BSF sources, Pakistan refused to accept any blame and said they had only responded to firing from the Indian side. 'Though there was no breakthrough at the meeting, it broke the ice and hopefully will deter them from violating the ceasefire again,' a senior BSF officer said. 'Flag meet will help reduce tensions' BSF officers see Wednesday's flag meeting with Pakistan security forces as an important one that would de-escalate tensions between the two countries. The Indian side was led by the Commanding Officer of 33 BSF Battalion S.K. Singh while Wing Commander Mohammad Waqar of the 19 Desert Rangers represented the Pakistani side. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. While most of the ceasefire violations happened in the R.S. Pura sector, Pakistan chose to have the flag meeting in the Akhnoor sector, where very few ceasefire violations have happened in the past few weeks. According to the BSF, they had been asking their Pakistani counterparts for a flag meeting since the past two weeks but they did not respond. 'We used to have regular flag meetings in the past till the recent escalation in the ceasefire violations from the Pakistani side,' BSF Inspector-General Rakesh Sharma told The Hindu. 'One week ago, we went with a white flag up to the outposts of the Pakistani Rangers but there was no response from their side.' India on Tuesday lodged a protest with the Pakistan authorities over the ceasefire violations. The protest was lodged during telephonic talks between the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries. In New Delhi, BSF Director-General Devendra Kumar Pathak briefed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the ground situation. The BSF chief visited the affected border areas on Tuesday. Mr. Pathak shared details on the magnitude of the damage caused to the assets of the force and civilians living close to the international border. The Home Minister was apprised of the deaths and injuries caused to the BSF personnel and the civilians. Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami, Secretary (Border Management) Sneh Lata Kumar and other senior officers from the MHA and the BSF also attended the meeting.