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India-Pak begin DG-level border talks in Delhi

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New Delhi: India and Pakistan today began a three-day DG-level border dialogue here with the host nation set to flag the “most important” issues of ceasefire violation and cross-border infiltration, weeks after parleys between the NSAs of the two countries was called off.

Amidst escalating tensions and continuing cases of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, with two fresh instances reported yesterday, a 16-member Pakistani delegation today reached the Border Security Force headquarters here for the talks that are being held between after a gap of over one-and-a-half years.

Talks between the two sides were last held in December, 2013, in Lahore.

Pakistan Rangers Director General (Punjab), Maj. Gen. Umar Farooq Burki, who is leading his country’s delegation, was accorded a guard of honour at the BSF headquarters and later welcomed by BSF DG DK Pathak and other senior officers prior to the formal commencement of the deliberations.

The Pakistani delegation, which had reached Delhi last evening via Amritsar, includes officials of Sindh Rangers, the country’s interior ministry, Survey of Pakistan, anti- narcotics force and immigration department, among others.

Led by Pathak, the 23-member Indian side is is expected to raise issues like ceasefire violations in J-K, including sniper attacks on BSF personnel, and cross-border infiltration.

It is the first high-level interaction between the two countries after the National Security Adviser (NSA)-level talks scheduled in Delhi on August 23-24 were cancelled due to differences over the agenda.

According to sources here, extra stress would be laid on the “most important” issue of ceasefire violations in J-K, which have led to the loss of lives of civilians and soldiers and “unprovoked” firing by the Rangers along the International Border (IB).

The issue of “no response” by the other side when BSF raises the ‘white flag’ that is used to indicate suspension of firing to allow a meeting of on-ground commanders of the two sides will also be taken up, the sources said.

“The talks will also endeavour to focus on positive issues like different levels of communication, more simultaneous coordinated patrolling and other confidence-building measures,” according to a BSF statement.

BSF said it will also take up the issue of intrusion into the ‘Harami Nallah’ area in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, smuggling of contraband from across the border and illegal movement of suspects up to the ‘zero line’ area along the IB.

Meanwhile, a Punjab Rangers spokesman had said that the issue of frequent armed exchanges along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary would be on the top of the agenda for the Pakistani delegation.

 

 

—IANS