Pakistan may have suffered major casualty in ceasefire skirmishes with India, but that is unlikely to deter it from stepping up attack on Indian posts on the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border in the coming days. Firing had stopped for a few days last week but resumed three days back, indicating that Pakistan is also trying to push in terrorists into Jammu & Kashmir to escalate the levels of violence.

Intelligence reports with the BSF said there was presence of heavily armed terrorists close to the border waiting for an opportunity to infiltrate. Sources said that in its review of the situation last week, the Indian Army was of the view that ceasefire violations by Pakistan might have reached a peak and Pakistan might have learnt a lesson or two having lost an Army Major also. Volume of fire on the LoC and the International Border indeed came down for two days, only to see a fresh spurt. Indian officials are now concerned about renewed firing by the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Rangers and use of medium machine gun fire and mortar rounds on populated areas on the Indian side.

Officials said here that the Pakistan Army is resorting to cross-border firing to assuage public feelings within the country which suffered major casualties at the hands of Indian troops. When Pakistan increased the tempo of firing a fortnight back on the International Border and the LoC in Jammu division killing seven civilians and six Army and BSF personnel, security forces retaliated. In one such attack at least four Pakistan Army personnel, including a Major, were killed leading to public outcry in Pakistan.

Normally, Pakistan does not admit casualties on its side unless an officer is killed. Faced with public pressure, it was now upping the ante again on the LoC and it was likely that the International Border will also become “hot” again, officials said. 

In the last bout, Pakistan targeted villages near Jammu forcing evacuation of nearly 30,000 people to safer places. The local administration also closed down schools to ensure safety of children from firing. Officials were apprehensive that a similar pattern may be repeated as the Pakistan Army was desperate to settle scores.

On why the violations was so far restricted to Jammu division, officials said populated areas on the International Border and the LoC are situated very close to the border and Pakistan is trying to spread fear psychosis among the masses by hitting border villages. However, it is not the case in south and north Kashmir as villages are far away from the LoC.

Officials also clarified that almost no infiltration took place in the intense firing last fortnight as Pakistanis were directly firing at the Indian posts with the objective of destroying them and inflicting casualties.

Republic Day celebrations in the State may have passed off peacefully but security forces are wary of militants trying to take advantage of foggy conditions now prevailing in Jammu region. Officials said reports indicated that “fidayeen” squads may try to sneak in taking advantage of poor visibility.

Attempts to de-escalate tension on the International Border failed during the sector commander level flag meeting between the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers on Thursday last. Both the sides, during the flag meeting, traded charges of resorting to unprovoked firing and targeting civilian pockets.

A day later, both the sides did not exchange sweets on the occasion of 69th Republic Day. A clear message was sent out to Pakistan Rangers by their Indian counterparts that it is due to the “trust deficit” between the two countries that the security situation was not improving on ground zero.

The Indian border guards also warned Pakistan Rangers that the Indian side will not tolerate any incident of “unprovoked” firing and will retaliate strongly. On ground zero, thousands of border residents continue to stay away from their homes and hearths fearing fresh escalation of firing.

Due to continuous exchange of border shelling, triggered on January 17 on the International Border and which later spread to LoC across Rajouri and Poonch districts a total of 13 people including seven civilians and six security personnel including four Armymen and two BSF Jawans were killed.