As part of suggesting certain confidence-building measures to reduce violence on the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistan is considering to propose to India a meeting of Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries. This was mentioned by a Pakistan defence ministry official during a briefing of the Senate Defence Committee on Monday. According to a report in Dawn newspaper, the official said that a “fresh proposal of DGMOs’ meeting is being considered”.
Government sources in New Delhi told The Indian Express that no such offer has been made by Pakistan so far, and if such a proposal is mooted by the Pakistan army, “a decision will be taken at an appropriate level”. Unlike the Pakistan army, sources added, such a decision “cannot be taken by the Army on its own here”. During his annual media briefing on Friday, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had mentioned that the Pakistan army was feeling the heat after its posts on the LoC, being used as terror launch pads to send militants across, were being proactively targeted by the Indian Army as part of a counter-terror strategy.
“Because of the pain felt, Pakistan army is again and again going back to the 2003 ceasefire on the LoC,” General Rawat had said, “Should we go for a ceasefire? If there is a drop in infiltration (from Pakistani side), we are willing to call a ceasefire?” Sources said that Pakistan has been mulling the idea of proposing DGMO-level talks since early last year but refrained from making the offer because it would be taken as a sign of Pakistani weakness by India. The Pakistan army, sources said, is now feeling the pressure on both its borders, with Afghanistan and with India, and is looking for ways to find some relief. “Earlier it was us who wanted talks between the two DGMOs to reduce terror, now it is the Pakistanis who want these talks,” sources added.
Although Indian and Pakistani DGMOs have a regular telephonic hotline contact, they last met physically in December 2013 at Wagah to discuss ways to ensure peace along the LoC. The meeting between the two DGMOs took place after a gap of 14 years. The Pakistan defence ministry official also told the Senate committee that 87 people, including civilians and military personnel, had died on the LoC in ceasefire violations. Official figures show the Indian Army lost 32 soldiers on the LoC last year.
As per the Dawn report, one of the confidence-building measures being considered for the planned meeting of DGMOs is ‘calibre reduction’ of the arms being used at LoC. The Pakistani defence ministry official told the Senate Committee that the Indian forces were using “artillery, heavy mortars, missiles, rockets and heavy automatics besides employing deadly air bursts” on the LoC “for terrorising civilian population”. Military sources said that while Pakistan army can employ only small arms fire in heavy volume to provide cover to infiltrating militants, the Indian side uses weapons in indirect firing role — mortars, rockets etc — as it “fires only for effect”. There is no likelihood of any proposal of ‘calibre reduction’ being accepted by New Delhi, they added.
In its briefing of the Senate, the Pakistan defence ministry said that there had been 1,881 ceasefire violations by India last year, including 66 air violations by Indian UAVs. Indian official figures, however, state that there were 860 ceasefire violations on the LoC last year.