Pak breaks 2-day lull along LoC | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 05, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:27 AM, March 05, 2019

Pak breaks 2-day lull along LoC

Troops fire at border posts in J&K; Indian army retaliates; Islamabad plans crackdown on militant outfits

Breaking a two-day lull in cross-border skirmishes, Pakistan troops yesterday violated ceasefire again by targeting forward posts and villages along the Line of Control (Loc) in Akhnoor sector in Jammu, officials said.

 “The firing from across the border started around 0300 hours and stopped at 0630 hours,” a defence spokesman said.

Pakistan initiated the unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing mortar shells and small arms on forward posts and villages.

“Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively,” the spokesman said adding there was no report of any casualty on the Indian side.

Barring a two-hour cross-border firing in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district on Saturday afternoon, the guns had fallen silent all along the LoC since Friday night.

The lull in the cross-border firing had come as a major relief to the border residents, especially in the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri, where Pakistan had violated ceasefire for over 50 times, killing four persons, including three members of a family and injuring several others.

The ceasefire violations by Pakistan witnessed a spurt after India's air strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on February 26 in a “pre-emptive” action following the terrorist group's February 14 suicide bombing in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Amid heightened tensions, Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat visited Jammu-based White Knight Corps on March 2 and reviewed the operational preparedness of the forces in the Corps Zone in view of the current situation along the LoC and the International Border, reported PTI.

ACTION AGAINST MILITANTS

Pakistan plans to take action against militant groups operating on its soil, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said yesterday.

Chaudhry said the decision to act was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee before the suicide bombing, claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), in Kashmir.

"A full-fledged strategy is now in place," Chaudhry told Reuters. "We have different strategies for different groups, but the main aim is that we have to enforce the writ of the state. We have to demilitarise if there are groups (on our soil)."

Pakistan's English-language Dawn newspaper said a source briefed journalists that a crackdown against militant groups was imminent.

"The action would soon be visible as things progress," Dawn cited the source as saying. It did not identify the source or say whether it was from the military or government.

In September 2017, Reuters reported that Pakistan's military had decided to de-radicalise armed militant groups and try to get them involved in politics.

That strategy was criticised by civil society groups and the previous civilian government after the emergence of a new party linked to Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. Saeed denied a role in the attack but the new party was later banned.

AIRSPACE FULLY REOPENED

Pakistan fully reopened its airspace yesterday, authorities said, days after it closed its skies to all air travel, leaving thousands stranded worldwide.

The decision to close the airspace came last Wednesday after a rare aerial dogfight between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir ignited fears of an all-out conflict.

"All airports across Pakistan are operational and airspace reopened," a spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority told AFP yesterday, adding the process had been completed by 1:00 pm (0800 GMT).

The closure disrupted major routes between Europe and South Asia, with mounting frustration from passengers stranded at international airports.

It also delayed attempts to search for a British and an Italian climber who went missing on Nanga Parbat, Pakistan's "killer mountain" and the ninth highest peak in the world, as rescue teams were forced to wait for permission to send up a helicopter.

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