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August 26, 2000
UN team visits forward posts on LoC
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
A team of United Nations officials made an unusual visit to a post on the Line of Control after Pakistan complained to the world body that Indian troops had occupied at least three peaks on their side of the LoC.
UN officials are also believed to have visited some areas across the Uri sector, where there had been heavy shelling in the past few weeks.
The three posts, which Pakistan claims are under Indian occupation, are: Nishan (Point 4900) in Mushkoh Valley, one point in Batalik and another in Drass.
Sources said officials from the observer mission came very close to Nishan post in Muskhoh Valley, after informing Indian side of their visit. However, Naga regiment soldiers, who guard the post, refused them access to the peak, sources said.
There was no firing during the visit, but the UN officials are believed to have called off their visit some distance from the post.
The post in Batalik is reportedly controlled by soldiers belonging to the Sikh regiment, while the post in Drass is under the control of Grenadiers.
Reliable sources said UN observers were expected to visit the other two posts too.
The UN officials are also reported to have visited Pakistani villages opposite Uri sector where there had been heavy shelling recently. In the sector, both the sides have been exchanging heavy shelling ever since the Hizbul Mujahiddin declared a cease-fire in the valley.
The cease-fire was withdrawn after talks between the Hizb and some government representatives failed.
The UN officials also conducted an inspection in Forward Kahuta area, probably in villages damaged by Indian shelling sometime early this week. The visit took place on Wednesday or Thursday.
General Pervez Musharraf, sources said, was visiting Sharda, a forward locality close to the Forward Kahuta area, around the same time.
There is, however, no independent confirmation yet if General Musharraf met the UN officials.
It is not common for UN military observers in the sub-continent to visit such sensitive military posts. Visits by UN officials to border villages affected by shelling is also quite rare.
Pakistan has been silently stepping up its international campaign on Kashmir. Army sources believe that General Musharraf is preparing his ground for his first ever visit to a gathering of world leaders at UN in September.
Recently, a group of journalists, mostly foreign photographers and TV crew, were taken on a conducted tour of the LoC by the Pakistani government.
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