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India confronts Pak over Poonch killings, beheading

Top Indian and Pakistani generals heading the crucial military operations directorates on Tuesday held talks for the first time in 14 years. India confronted Pakistan over the killing of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector and the beheading of an Indian jawan in the Mendhar area earlier this year.
By Rahul Singh and Aseem Bassi | Hindustan Times, New Delhi/attari
UPDATED ON DEC 24, 2013 08:34 PM IST

Top Indian and Pakistani generals heading the crucial military operations directorates on Tuesday held talks for the first time in 14 years. India confronted Pakistan over the killing of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector and the beheading of an Indian jawan in the Mendhar area earlier this year.


A senior official said the Indian army took a forceful stand against the murders that soured bilateral ties and repeated border violations by the neighbouring army at the directors general of military operations (DGMO)-level talks held on the Pakistani side of the border near Amritsar.

The DGMO-level talks, last held in 1999 after the Kargil war, bring hope of easing tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries that have fought four wars.

The meeting between Indian DGMO Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia and his Pakistani counterpart Maj Gen Aamer Riaz took place barely a month after Gen Raheel Sharif replaced Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as Pakistan's new army chief.

Talking to reporters, General Bhatia said, "Both sides have decided to strengthen the existing border mechanisms and uphold the ceasefire pact."

In a meeting that lasted close to two-and-a-half hours, the DGMOs agreed to two flag meetings between brigade commanders on the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch or Uri sectors in the near future to ensure peace and tranquility along the volatile border.

India has accused Pakistan of violating the November 2003 border truce more than 250 times this year.
A joint statement said both sides showed their commitment to maintain the 10-year-old ceasefire and agreed to "re-energise the existing mechanisms." They also reached an understanding to make the weekly hotline contact between the two DGMOs "more effective and result-oriented."

The two armies agreed to inform each other if any civilian inadvertently crosses the LoC to ensure early return.

Recent weeks have been quiet in terms of infiltration attempts from across the LoC due to snow in the higher reaches. But Pakistan's behaviour along the border in the coming months will shape India's response.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif had discussed the possibility of DGMO-level talks during a meeting in New York in September, when border violations by the Pakistani army were at an all-time high.

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