For the first time since a fresh spell of the border skirmishes began in October 2012, lower- and middle- ranking officers of the Indian and Pakistani Armies on Tuesday held flag meetings and exchanged greetings, and sweets at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

Defence sources said ahead of a possible meeting between the Directors General of the Military Operations of the two countries “in near future”, officers of the ranks company commanders held a flag meeting somewhere along the LoC in Kargil sector. Later, an official release from the Army said: “A flag meeting between Indian and Pakistan soldiers was held in the Kargil sector today. The meeting was organised by the Indian side on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi to extend best wishes and greetings to the Pakistan Army soldiers. The meeting was conducted in a cordial manner with pleasantries and gifts being exchanged by the two sides.”

In Kashmir, a similar meeting was held near Kaman Post at Aman Setu, a steel bridge that connects Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to the Valley in Uri sector. Cross-LoC trade and travel operates between two parts of the once unified State of Jammu and Kashmir through Aman Setu in Kashmir and Chakan-Da-Bagh, in Poonch sector, Jammu. “Officers and jawans of both Indian and Pakistan Army deployed on Line of Control greeted each other on the auspicious occasion of Milad-un-Nabi and also exchanged sweets”, Lt. Col. N.N. Joshi, the spokesperson at headquarters 15 Corps, told The Hindu.

“These meetings have added importance in light of the measures being instituted by India and Pakistan to restore normalcy at the Line of Control. This initiative has been widely appreciated by the local population as it further reinforces the commitment of the Indian Army towards ensuring tranquility, peace and prosperity in the region”, an official handout said.

Major violations of the November 2003 ceasefire occurred along the LoC, as well as at the International Border in Jammu province, when Pakistani troops killed two Indian soldiers in Mendhar area on January 8, 2013, and the alleged beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj strained the relations between the two countries. A number of soldiers and civilians suffered fatal casualties while dozens of civilians sustained injuries in exchange of gunfire and mortar shelling. However, the situation improved towards the end of 2013 and no major incident of the ceasefire violation has been reported in more than two months.

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