Islamabad/Jammu: India and Pakistan on Tuesday agreed to end skirmishes and to observe calm in the Sialkot sector of the international border so that farmers from both sides can harvest their crops.
The agreement was reached during a flag meeting between commanders of the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers. The BSF lodged a strong protest against frequent ceasefire violations from across the border.
â€œNow the farmers can harvest their paddy crops till the border line without any fear as it was decided to observe calm. The meeting passed in conducive atmosphere and there were some very good decisions taken in the meeting,â€ DIG (BSF) J C Singla said after the meeting held at a border outpost along the border in R S Pura.
A Pakistani security official, who did not want to be named, said in Islamabad that the two sides agreed to respect the ceasefire agreement of 2003 and not to use force against each other. He refused to give more details about the meeting.
Singla said the BSF lodged a protest with Pakistani officials over ceasefire violations, shelling in civilian areas and sniping incidents.
Both sides will monitor the international border and â€œwe will ensure that peace prevailsâ€, Singla said.
This was the first successful attempt at holding a flag meeting of border commanders after similar efforts failed on October 18 and on October 20.
The flag meeting began at 11.30 am and continued for three-and-a-half hours. A brigadier from the Rangers led the Pakistani side.
There have been several incidents of heavy shelling along the nearly 200-km border in Jammu-Sialkot sector, resulting in casualties on both sides.
The worst flare-up since the more than a decade-old ceasefire created tensions despite newfound goodwill in the wake of the election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May.
The intermittent cross-border firing started in January but intensified in August, when India said five of its soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Since October 14, Pakistan Rangers shelled border villages and outposts with mortars and rockets. They also resorted to heavy firing with machine guns and automatic weapons along the border in Jammu frontier, Indian officials said.
One Indian soldier was killed and 32 others, including 17 civilians, were injured.