October 2016 News

As Tension Escalates, Flag Meetings Virtually Over

8 October 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Amir Karim Tantray

Jammu: As the tension has escalated on the Line of Control (LoC) to an undeclared war level, the flag meeting system between the Indian and Pakistani armies at the local levels is virtually over. These meetings were being held earlier to defuse the tension whenever there was a spike in ceasefire violations on the LoC. It used to be standard procedure between the two armies to hold a meeting at Zero Line and discuss modalities to defuse the situation whenever firing and shelling escalated. However, the last such flag meeting was held on April 12 this year at the Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing in Poonch district on the LoC at the commanding officers' level. Since the Army carried out surgical strike across the LoC on September 29, killing militants present at terror launch pads, the tension between India and Pakistan has increased tremendously and the armies of both countries on 744-km-long LoC, especially in the area falling in Jammu region, are on loggerheads. Shelling and firing from both sides have increased in the past few days and it has escalated to a level where border dwellers have been force to move to safer places. 'There are no plans of any kind of flag meetings between the two armies so far,' said Brigadier PS Gotra, media pointman of the Udhampur-based Northern Command. Now, whatever steps have to be taken to defuse the situation on the LoC will have to come from the government level as the situation is not in the control of commanders at the local levels. So far, no efforts are being made to bring the situation back to normal at the highest level as well. War cries from both sides have left border resident in a great distress as they are being forced to leave their homes. This time of the year is important for the border dwellers as they have to harvest the crop before the onset of winter and store the food for next six to eight winter months.