Border forces’ talks: Pak Rangers team to arrive tomorrow

A high-level delegation of Pakistani Rangers will arrive here tomorrow to hold the much- anticipated bilateral talks with their counterparts BSF on Thursday on key issues including ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration.

The talks between Indo-Pak border forces come after more than one-and-a-half-year. The last round was held in December 2013 in Lahore.

Despite it cancelling the NSA-level talks with India which made it clear that there should not be any meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz during his visit here, Islamabad had agreed to New Delhi’s proposal on a meeting between the two border guarding forces.

While the 15-member Pakistan delegation will be led by the senior Rangers Director General (Punjab) Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki, the 23-member Indian side would be headed by BSF DG D K Pathak during the talks and expected to raise issues like ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including sniper attacks on BSF personnel and infiltration.

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

According to sources, extra stress would be on the “most important” issue of breach of ceasefire in J&K which has led to loss of lives of civilians and troops and “unprovoked” firing by the Rangers along the IB. The issue of “no response” by the other side when BSF waves the ‘white flag’ which is used to indicate stopping of fire and meeting of on-ground commanders of the two sides will also be taken up.

The BSF will also take up the issue of intrusion in the ‘Harami Nallah’ area of 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 in order to facilitate illegal activities.

Pakistan had last month sent confirmation and agenda for these DG-level which included issues like the alleged use of objectionable language by troops on the Indian side and air space violations by suspected unmanned aerial vehicles.

According to Pakistan High Commission sources, serious concerns on the infiltration from the Indian side in Punjab and Rajasthan and who were involved in sabotage activities there will be raised during the talks.

The Pakistani delegation will also stress on the activation of the UNMOGIP (UN Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan), they said. However, India has always maintained that the UN group has lost its relevance and therefore, was redundant.