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Thursday, 9 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 09 Oct 2014

Hit Pak back with full force: Govt
* Border fire India says troops prepared for long haul
* 2 killed as Rangers shell 40 villages
Ajay Banerjee/Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Jammu, October 8
The Union Government has reportedly given the country’s security apparatus a free hand to deal with continuous truce violations by Pakistan. The move came as Pakistani troops on Wednesday resorted to heavy shelling in border areas in Jammu and Kashmir, killing two persons and injuring 13 others.

In a stern message to Islamabad, New Delhi has made it clear that its forces were ready for a long haul in case the cross-border firing continues. “Our forces are not going to stop. We are giving a massive reply to their firing and are prepared for a long haul,” said top government sources. “There will be no flag meetings or talks till the firing stops,” said sources, adding that the Army and the BSF have been given a free hand to retaliate and respond in full measure to all firing originating from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was attending a function at house of IAF Chief Air Chief Marshall Arup Raha, said: “Everything will be fine soon”. At the same function, Modi talked separately to Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is expected to brief the PM on the border situation. BSF Director General DK Pathak will hold a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Two women of a family were killed and 13 others, including three BSF men, were injured in extensive shelling by Pakistan Rangers on more than 50 forward posts and 40 villages along the 198-km International Border in Jammu. The firing has triggered an exodus of over 20,000 people from border villages to safe zones.

“The Rangers targeted Chilyari village along the IB in Samba district around 7.30 am. In the shelling, Shankkuntla Devi (60) and her daughter-in-law Bholi Devi (30) were killed. Four other members of the family also sustained shrapnel injuries. They have been hospitalised,” said SSP Samba Anil Mangotra. Two BSF men were injured in in Arnia while another was hurt in Pargwal sector. In Jeora Farm, five Gujjars were injured in the shelling. In the past one week, seven persons have died in the firing by Pakistan and over 70 have been injured.

A senior Indian government functionary said the recent offensive by Pakistan is a result of its frustration of having failed to highlight the Kashmir issue on the international stage. “The recent snub at the UN General Assembly in New York has hurt them,” said the functionary.

India, in July this year, had asked the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to close down its Delhi office saying it was irrelevant after the 1972 Simla agreement. Pakistan also seems to be troubled over the fact that its efforts to woo the J-K separatists have not been accepted by India. “Talks with Pakistan cannot be held under any kind of duress. Islamabad cannot dictate the terms for dialogue,” said the functionary. In Jammu, a BSF officer said: “Almost all posts in Arnia, RS Pura, Hiranagar, Ramgarh, Samba, Kanachak and Pargwal sub-sectors were targeted in the overnight firing by the Rangers.”

“We have been retaliating strongly and the border population has been asked to take optimum safety measures,” said BSF Director General, DK Pathak. On Tuesday, nearly 8,000 residents of 21 villages on the Zero Line in Hiranagar sub-sector of Kathua district shifted to 16 relief camps.

Kathua DC Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said: “Apart from 16 relief camps, 61 school buildings, 30 health institutions and 18 panchyat ghars have been identified to house border residents.”

“Eight camps have been set up in Samba district where 500 persons have moved in. Another 500 are expected to join them. People are pouring in and if needed more camps would be set up,” Samba DC Mubarak Singh.
Change of guard in Afghanistan
Opportunities and concerns as Karzai relinquishes office
G Parthasarathy
EVEN as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was cautioning Americans in New York against any precipitate withdrawal, Afghanistan was preparing for a momentous change in Kabul. Mr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was taking over as Afghanistan's President from Mr. Hamid Karzai. Despite efforts to malign him personally and destabilise his government by worthy Americans like Peter Galbraith and Richard Holbrooke and a vicious propaganda barrage from Pakistan, President Karzai succeeded in establishing a measure of effective governance in Afghanistan. He skillfully brought together the country's fractious ethnic groups, to deal with challenges posed by the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and their Islamist allies, including Al-Qaida.

The change of guard from Mr. Karzai to Mr. Ghani was not smooth. The first round of elections in April produced no clear winner. The second round in June, which was expected to be close, produced a stunning result. Mr. Ghani secured an astonishingly large victory over his rival, Mr. Abdullah Abdullah, a former Foreign Minister. Mr. Abdullah had a substantial lead in the first round of elections, securing 46% of the vote, against 32% for Ghani. A report by the European Union declared the second round of voting as “massively rigged”. A US report held that it was mathematically impossible for Mr. Ghani to have secured the margin of victory that he did. With controversy over the electoral result spiralling out of control and assuming divisive ethnic dimensions, the Americans brokered and virtually imposed an uneasy compromise between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah.

Mr. Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as President and Mr. Abdullah as “Chief Executive,” a post which has no constitutional sanctity. The road map for this transition includes the convening of Loya Jirga to convert the post of “Chief Executive” into that of an “Executive Prime Minister”. It remains to be seen whether the contemplated changes with two separate centres of executive authority can provide stable and effective governance in a country beset with long-standing ethnic rivalries and tensions. Within 24 hours of the assumption of power by President Ashraf Ghani and “Chief Executive” Abdullah, Afghanistan and the US inked a security agreement, which will result in the 9,800 US troops remaining in Afghanistan beyond 2014 for a training and counter insurgency role. An agreement giving immunity to foreign forces against prosecution in Afghan courts was also inked. The agreements will allow the Americans to retain air bases across Afghanistan.

Apart from formal statements by Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and the Foreign Office welcoming the agreements, a meeting of the top brass of the Pakistan army also welcomed this development as a “good move for peace in Afghanistan”. This is an astonishing turnaround as Pakistan’s establishment has been uneasy with the American presence in Afghanistan. It comes at a time when 80,000 Pakistani troops and paramilitary, backed by air power, are pounding positions of the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan, in an operation resulting in an estimated one million tribal Pashtuns fleeing their homes. At the same time, the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban have been on the rampage this year across Afghanistan, prompting the soft-spoken President Ghani to say: “We ask the opponents of the government, especially the Taliban and Hizb e Islami, to enter political talks”.

Pakistan's massive military offensive in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan has been selectively undertaken. Long-term ISI “assets”, including the Haqqani network, the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban and even the Al Zawahiri-led Al-Qaida have evidently received safe passage and been accommodated in ISI safe houses. They will be kept prepared to move into Afghanistan at a time of Pakistan’s choosing. Afghanistan is going to remain dependant on NATO for military and economic funding for the foreseeable future. NATO funding of Afghanistan’s military of $5.1 billion annually till 2017 has been agreed upon. A similar amount of external funding will be required for Afghanistan’s administrative and developmental needs.

The joint declaration issued after the Obama-Modi Summit spoke of “dismantling of safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks, to disrupt all financial and tactical support for terrorist and criminal networks such as Al-Qaida, Lashkar e Taiba, Jaish e Mohammed, D-Company and the Haqqanis”. Significantly, there is no mention in the declaration of the Mullah Omar-led Taliban, which has been primarily responsible for the killings of 2,229 American soldiers in Afghanistan, the training of terrorists for jihad in Jammu and Kashmir and for colluding with the hijackers of IC 814. It has been obvious that the Americans are keen to do a deal with the Taliban. They may piously assert that any internal reconciliation process has to be “Afghan led”. But the reality is that the Americans have sought to give the Taliban international legitimacy ever since they encouraged Qatar to host a Taliban office in Doha. While an enraged President Karzai torpedoed this American effort, President Ghani will reluctantly have to accept American moves brokered by Pakistan, to accord legitimacy and a measure of territorial control in southern Afghanistan to the Taliban.

India cannot be sanguine about these developments. A priority of the Obama Administration will be to safely take out its military equipment from Afghanistan through Pakistan. The Taliban will, therefore, be viewed more benignly than in the past. Militarily, the ISI/Taliban effort will be to seize control of large swathes of territory in southern Afghanistan, compelling a reduction of India's assistance in that part of the country. Contradictions in the priorities and compulsions of President Ghani and “Chief Executive” Abdullah in Kabul appear inevitable. Our membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will have to be utilised to fashion a more coordinated and harmonious approach with its members -- Russia, China, Iran and the Central Asian Republics. A more focused effort on developing the Port of Chah Bahar in Iran and on meeting Afghan requirements of defence equipment will be imperative. The post-9/11 “end game” for the Americans in Afghanistan is just beginning. The United States will, however, continue to significantly shape the course of developments in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s internal security challenges
The Pakistan army's counter-insurgency operations in North Waziristan have been stuck in a groove. There can never be a purely military solution to an insurgency. Political solutions to counter the alienation have to be worked out with the local leadership
Gurmeet Kanwal
THE deteriorating internal security environment in Pakistan has gradually morphed into the country's foremost national security threat. The Pakistan army has been battling the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan since mid-June 2014 with only limited success. The Al-Qaida has been quietly making inroads into Pakistani terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayebba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HuJI), Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Recently, Ayman Al-Zawahari, the Al-Qaida Chief, announced the launch of a new wing in South Asia, to be based in Pakistan.

Fissiparous tendencies in Balochistan and the restive Gilgit-Baltistan Northern Areas are a perpetual security nightmare. Karachi is a tinderbox that is ready to explode. Sectarian violence is rampant; the minority Shia community is being especially targeted by Sunni extremists. Other minorities like the Hindus, Sikhs and Christians have also been assaulted. And, there have been several instances of insider involvement in attacks on military establishments like the Mehran airbase and the Karachi naval dockyard.

The realisation about the gravity of the internal security situation took some time to dawn even on the Pakistan army. Over the last decade, the army has deployed between 150,000 and 200,000 soldiers in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA areas for counter-insurgency operations. It has suffered over 15,700 casualties, including 5,000 dead since 2008. The total casualties, including civilian, number almost 50,000 since 2001.

War on terror

Hurt by a series of Taliban successes in “liberating” tribal areas and under pressure from the Americans to deliver in the “war on terror”, in the initial stages the Pakistan army employed massive firepower to stem the rot — as was visible on television screens worldwide when operations were launched to liberate the Swat Valley (Operation Rah-e-Rast, May-June 2009) and South Waziristan (Operation Rah-e-Nijat, Oct-Nov 2009). Fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and heavy artillery were freely used to destroy suspected terrorist hideouts, irrespective of civilian casualties. This heavy-handed, firepower-based approach without simultaneous infantry operations on the ground failed to dislodge the militants, but caused large-scale collateral damage and alienated the tribal population even further. Counter-insurgency operations against the TTP in South Waziristan drove most of the fighters to North Waziristan, but for long the army remained reluctant to extend its operations to this province.

Lack of cohesion

Despite facing the grave danger of a possible collapse of the state, the Pakistan government's counter-insurgency policy had until recently lacked cohesion. The commencement of a peace dialogue with the TTP, despite the abject failure of several such efforts in the past, allowed the terrorist organisation to re-arm, recruit and train fresh fighters. It also gave the TTP leadership the opportunity to cross the border into Afghanistan. In March 2014, the TTP offered a month-long cease-fire. The army honoured the cease-fire and refrained from active operations, but several TTP factions fought on. On April 16, the TTP withdrew its pledge and blamed the government for failing to make any new offers. In the face of mounting public and army pressure, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reluctantly agreed to approve military strikes. The PM is now backing the army fully and has said that he will not allow Pakistan to become a “sanctuary for terrorists” and that the military operation will continue till all the militants are eliminated.

Refugees in own land

On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan army and air force launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb (sharp and cutting strike), their much-delayed offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. The operation began with air strikes and was subsequently followed up with offensive counter-insurgency operations on the ground. Operations of the Pakistan Air Force were supplemented by US drone strikes, which were resumed after six months and caused extensive damage. Approximately 30,000 regular soldiers of the Pakistan army are involved in the operation. As a result of the operation, one million civilians have become refugees in their own land.The army claims to have eliminated over 1,000 terrorists so far, a large number of them foreign terrorists. Most of the others have escaped across the border into Afghanistan.

Good Taliban spared

Though the Army Chief has said that the present operation is aimed at eliminating “all terrorists and their sanctuaries” in North Waziristan, no strikes have been launched against the Haqqani network and two other militant groups that have been primarily targeting the NATO/ ISAF forces and the Afghan National Army (ANA) — the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group and the Mullah Nazir group. These three groups are called the “good Taliban” by the Pakistan army and the ISI and are looked upon as “strategic assets” to influence events in Afghanistan after the NATO/ ISAF draw down has been completed. The Haqqani network has also been employed to target Indian assets in Afghanistan.

North Waziristan has rugged mountainous terrain that enables TTP militants to operate like guerrillas and launch hit-and-run raids against the security forces. When cornered, the militants find it easy to slip across the Durand Line to safe sanctuaries in Khost and Paktika provinces of Afghanistan. So far, only limited success has been achieved in military operations in North Waziristan. The coming winter season will make it even more difficult to conduct effective operations.

Not military solutions alone

There can never be a purely military solution to an insurgency. A successful counter-insurgency strategy is a dynamic but balanced combination of aggressive offensive operations conducted with a humane touch, good governance and socio-economic development. Political negotiations to address the core issues of alienation of the population and other political demands must also be conducted with the local leadership simultaneously. The tribal culture prevailing in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA, with its fierce ethnic loyalties, makes the task of the army and the government more difficult.

Impact on India-Pakistan ties

What do these developments portend for India? It is a truism that regional instability always has a negative impact on economic development and trade. Creeping Talibanisation and radical extremism are threatening Pakistan's sovereignty. If the Pakistan army fails to conclusively eliminate the scourge in the north-west, it will soon reach Punjab, which has been relatively free of major incidents of violence. After that, it will only be a matter of time before the terrorist organisations manage to push the extremists across the Radcliffe Line into India — first ideologically and then physically. It is in India's interest for the Pakistan government to succeed in its fight against radical extremism, or else India may have to fight the Taliban at the Atari-Wagah border.

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani's statement after the April 2012 avalanche at the Gayari battalion HQ that peace with India is in Pakistan's interest and that the Siachen conflict zone should be demilitarised, was undoubtedly encouraging as it was the first such overture made by a Pakistani COAS. Given the challenges posed by growing internal instability, the need to cooperate with NATO/ ISAF forces and the fear of major Indian strikes if the ISI-sponsored Jihadi organisations like the LeT and the JeM launch another Mumbai-type terrorist strike, the Pakistan army had until recently curtailed its proxy war operations against India, but had been keeping the pot simmering so that it could ratchet up violence levels quickly when required. Recent incidents on the LoC and the increase in infiltration levels this summer negate the genuineness of moves towards rapprochement. Hence, Pakistan's recent overtures towards India are a tactical ploy to tide over the army's current difficulties at home, rather than a paradigm shift in grand strategy.The Pakistan army is still light years away from a genuine change of heart about the futility of prolonged hostility towards India.Nevertheless, besides talks with the Pakistan government, the Indian government should begin a back-channel dialogue with the Pakistan army as it is the real power centre in Pakistan. Even during war it is always advisable to keep a channel of communication open with the adversary.

The precarious situation in Pakistan is gradually headed towards a dangerous denouement. The government has been unable to deal effectively with the prolonged street protests by Imran Khan and Tahir ul-Qadri. The likelihood of a military coup is being openly discussed again. Pakistan cannot survive as a coherent nation state unless the army gives up its agenda of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan, discontinues its attempts to destabilise India through its proxy war and stops its meddling in Pakistan's politics. The army must substantively enhance its capacity to conduct effective counter-insurgency operations.

Political turmoil, internal instability, a floundering economy and weak institutions make for an explosive mix. Pakistan is not yet a failed state, but the situation that it is confronted with could rapidly degenerate into unfettered disaster. All institutions of the state must stand together for the nation to survive its gravest challenge. In the national interest, the army must give up its dubious role as a “deep state” and accept civilian control, even if it does so with bad grace. Also, the Pakistan army and the ISI must concentrate on fighting the enemy within, rather than frittering away energy and resources on destabilising neighbouring countries.

Pak’s war within

    On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan army launched the operation Zarb-e-Azb (sharp and cutting strike), their much-delayed offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in North Waziristan.
    Approximately 30,000 regular soldiers of the Pakistan army are involved in the operation.
    As a result of the operation, one milion civilians have become refugees in their own land.
    The army claims to have eliminated over 1,000 terrorists so far, a large number of them foreign terrorists. Most of the others have escaped across the border into Afghanistan.
    Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now backing the army fully and has said that he will not allow Pakistan to become a sanctuary for terrorists and the military operation will continue till all the militants are eliminated.
Angry Army Warns Pakistan on Hotline

NEW DELHI: The Army on Tuesday morning issued a direct warning to Pakistan during top commander-level talks on the hotline, saying the response will be “immediate and effective” if troops across the border continue firing at Indian areas. “We have told them that if they continue to provoke us, they will get an effective, appropriate and immediate response. And we reserve the right to respond,” said an officer in the know of the conversation between top commanders of India and Pakistan. In the conversation, which lasted for ten minutes, both sides raised the issue of civilian casualties.

Later in the day, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley met the three service chiefs at his residence here and discussed the situation on the ground. Multiple sources confirmed that the Indian forces have been directed to respond “full throttle” while dealing with the ceasefire violations. Local commanders manning the LoC have been given enough freedom to retaliate appropriately at their end. “Similar instructions are believed to have been passed on to the BSF, manning the International Border in the Jammu sector,” an officer told Express.

With over 125 incidents of ceasefire violations along the LoC, top defence sources said the “response from the Pakistani side appears planned and structured”.

Army officers maintained that the continuous firing was a desperate attempt at pushing maximum terrorists into Indian territory ahead of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. According to a senior official in the Defence Ministry, over 1,000 militants are being trained in more than 20 terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Military strategists told Express that most infiltration attempts were being made north of the Pir Panjal range, which divides the Valley, while the firing is taking place south of the range. “We have specific inputs that over 350-400 militants are waiting north of Pir Panjal to infiltrate into India,” said an officer.

25 Jammu Hamlets Shelled in a night

At least 42 outposts and 25 hamlets along the International Border in Jammu sector were targeted by Pakistani troops with heavy mortar shells on Monday night, a Border Security Force report submitted to the Home Ministry said.
Retire the Cheetahs
 Despite several crashes, India’s inability to phase out the decades-old Cheetah helicopters sums up the story of our defence modernisation efforts

The culprit in the Cheetah helicopter crash at Bareilly which robbed the lives of three Army officers is the Indian government, more specifically, the UPA government which enjoyed two successive terms at the Centre. For over a decade, the Indian Army has been pressing the defence ministry for replacing the aged Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, used for transport and surveillance activities. Once known as the lifeline of the armed forces in high-altitude areas like Ladakh, North Kashmir, Siachen and the North-East, the Indian Army went on record in 2012 terming the copters as “death traps” which had outlived their threshold lifespans by 15 years. In the past five years, over 12 officers have been killed in Cheetah crashes. When clubbed with other accidents involving the antiquated Mig-21 aircrafts and the indigenously developed Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, it is distressing that the frequency of air crashes have not impelled the Centre to expedite their procurement efforts. In July, a Dhruv helicopter crashed killing seven Indian Air Force Personnel, while in March, five IAF men were killed when their C-130J Super Hercules aircraft crashed.

The initial bids to purchase 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters were first issued in 2003 and the process repeated in 2008. The CBI inquiry into one of the competitors Augusta Westland and allegations of involvement of top military officers and politicians scared the UPA’s defence minister AK Antony from proceeding despite the process reaching the final stage. The irony is that even the original equipment manufacturer has discontinued production of the Cheetahs, first inducted into the Indian Army in 1971, and their spare parts. That Antony told Parliament in March 2007 that the Cheetah fleet would be replaced indicates that he was well aware that the Cheetah had exceeded its ‘use by date’. Though their airframe life is about 4,500 hours, the Cheetahs have reportedly logged over 6,000 flying hours by 2010-2011 itself. In places like the Siachen glacier, Cheetahs were made to fly at 20,000 feet, despite a flying ceiling of 17,000 feet. Interestingly, media reports indicate that the Army turned in desperation to Hindustan Aeronautical Limited’s Cheetal helicopters which apparently have failed to clear high altitude tests. HAL also faced the ignominy of the IAF grounding its 40-copter-strong Dhruv fleet till checks were carried out after the July accident.

In contrast to the UPA, the new government, has begun on a positive note, opening the defence sector to 49 per cent FDI. Despite decades of State support, India’s defence research and manufacturing capabilities have not kept pace with the armed forces’ needs. Foreign procurement with their involvement of middlemen and the direct exposure of senior officers to the giant financial stakes involved has been riddled with corruption allegations or proceeded too slowly for timely induction. While fears of the indigenous industry getting swamped by the foreign players exist, too many young men have died in vain for their government’s sloth. With the present defence minister also doubling as the finance minister, there are worries about decision-making slacking again at South Block. But the increased involvement of Indian companies like Tata, L&T, RIL and Mahindra portends a future where the hold of sarkari red tape over the defence sector will lessen. If the Cheetah helicopters epitomise the dismal state of affairs in this sector, the new dispensation must not waste any more time in commissioning new purchases. It must put an end to the senseless deaths of officers in routine peacetime operations.
Ceasefire violations: Service chiefs meet Defence Minister
Against the backdrop of ceasefire violations along the border with Pakistan, the three service chiefs on tuesday met Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. The army, air force and navy chiefs are understood to have discussed with Jaitley the prevailing security situation, defence officials said in New Delhi.

The meeting comes at a time when there have been frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and the talks between Army officials of the two sides have failed to resolve the issue.

On October 6, Pakistan had violated the ceasefire thrice in Bhimber Gali, Kerni and Balakote-Mankote in Poonch district of Jammu region. On October 5, there were two ceasefire violations in the Arnia belt along International Border in Jammu in which five persons were killed and 34 others were injured. There was another ceasefire violation during the day when Pakistani troops targeted forward India posts along LoC in Balnoie sub-sector of Poonch district.

On October 4, Pakistani troops had resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling along LoC in Poonch district, drawing retaliation from the Army. On October 1 and 2, Pakistani troops had violated the ceasefire twice along the LoC in Poonch district resulting in injuries to six persons.
India retaliates after Pakistan troops fire heavily on 63 BSF Posts,15 Pakistani rangers killed
 Indian forces retaliated strongly after Pakistan Rangers resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling at 63 BSF posts in Jammu, Samba and Kutwa districts along the International Border in Jammu in which 15 Pakistani rangers were killed.

 Amid escalation of cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir, top military officials of India and Pakistan today discussed the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and International Border but failed to address the issue.

Officials of the Directorate Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) talked over hotline for five minutes during which both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire, Army sources said in New Delhi.

Seven sectors of Jammu and Kashmir - Hira nagar, Sambha, Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak, Pargwal and Ramgarh are under intense shelling  from Pakistani side. Military officials of India and Pakistan discussed on the hotline the cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir but there was no signs of a solution.India decided to put on hold the flag meeting with Pakistan Army .

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley held a meeting with the chiefs of the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force on Tuesday.  In view of the firing, over 1,000 people were also shifted to camps overnight.

 In escalating ceasefire violations that continued  on Tuesday night, Pakistani troops targeted over 40 Border Out Posts and 25 border hamlets with heavy mortar shells in Jammu sector and LoC areas in Poonch district,leaving 12 people including a JCO injured.

 Officials of the Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries talked over hotline for five minutes during which both the sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire, Army sources said in Delhi.

Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire several times during the day and it continued tonight, security and civil fficials said.

Today's incidents came a day after five villagers were killed and 34 injured in one of the worst ceasefire violations by Pakistan.

 Pakistan's night-long mortar-bomb attacks and rattle of heavy guns has sent thousands of residents in border villages scurrying for cover with fear writ large on their face. They fled their mud-houses on buses, tractor-trollies and bullock-carts to safer places in Jammu leaving behind deserted hamlets.

 The three service chiefs met Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi and are understood to have discussed the prevailing security situation on the border. Pakistani and Indian troops along the InternationalBorder(IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in J and K exchanged heavy fire tonight in which a Junior Commissioned Officer(JCO) and two other armymen were injured.

 According to a senior Army official tonight, shelling carried out by Pakistan along the LoC in the Sabjian area of Poonch district left one JCO and two armymen injured. The injured have been hospitalised, the official added.

Fresh firing from the Pakistani side was also reported in Kathua district along the IB apart besides in Jammu and Rajouri districts, police and BSF sources said.

BSF and Army troops are retaliating to the firing, the sources said. "There was fresh ceasefire violations by Pakistan at Banwat and Hamirpur along LoC in Poonch. The firing started at 1620 hours with Small Arms and Mortars", Defence Spokesman Lt
Col Maneesh Mehta said earlier in the day.

"Own forces responded effectively and appropriately. No casualty till last report came in", he added.

 In another ceasefire violation earlier, Defence Spokesman Lt Col Maneesh Mehta said Pakistani troops opened fire with
small arms in Balnoie forward belt along LoC in Poonch district around 1420 hours.

The Army retaliated effectively and the exchange of fire is going on in the area, he said, adding there was no  loss of life or injury to anyone on the Army side.In a ceasefire violation in the morning, Pakistan Rangers resorted to firing and mortar shelling in Arnia town morning, a police officer said.

 A shell also exploded near the compound wall of a police station in Arnia, leaving six persons injured, he said. "Pakistani Rangers had fired mortars and opened heavy fire on BSF posts along the International Border since 2100 hours last night", BSF Spokesman Vinood Yadav said.

 "As many as 40 BSF BoPs were affected by the fire from Pakistan side", Yadav said, adding that firing and shelling was targeted on areas along IB in Arnia, R S Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sub-sectors along IB in Jammu and Samba districts.

There has been heavy firing and mortar shelling on 20 to 25 border hamlets along the International Border in Arnia,R S Pura, Pargwal, Ganjansoo and Kanachak belts of Jammu district since last night, District Magistrate, Jammu, Ajeet Kumar Sahu told .

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