India-Pakistan Border Force Talks to Start on Thursday

Published: 09th September 2015 10:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2015 10:17 PM   |  A+A-


NEW DELHI:  Amid a growing war of words and firing from across the border, a high-level delegation from Pakistan crossed over to India on Wednesday and arrived in New Delhi for director-level talks between the border forces of both countries.

A 15-member team of Pakistani Rangers arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday evening, led by Major General Umar Farooq Burki, director general of the Pakistan Rangers (Punjab).

The talks, between the Rangers and the Border Security Force (BSF) will start at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and go on till September 12.

Even as ceasefire violation was likely to be the focus of the talks, at least two BSF personnel were wounded in firing on Wednesday in Nowgam sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistan Army also fired at Indian positions on Wednesday along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district.

The talks, one of the measures agreed upon during a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, gain special significance after the National Security Adviser level talks could not take place due to Pakistan's insistence on discussing Kashmir.

The delegation entered India via Attari, and was welcomed by senior BSF officers.

There, they boarded a special aircraft to Delhi, where the talks will take place.

At the Delhi airport, the delegation was welcomed by BSF Director General D.K. Pathak.

From the Indian side, a 23-member delegation led Pathak will take part in the talks.

The Indian delegation includes officials from the home ministry, the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Survey of India.

"During the conference, discussions will be held on important issues like cross-border firing, infiltration and smuggling etc. 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 official said.

Asked if the talks will reduce tension between the two countries, Pathak said: "That is the objective for talks."

BSF's former additional director general P.K. Mishra, however, said Pakistan may try to divert the agenda from the talks, as reports suggest the country may seek international monitoring of the ceasefire violations.

"Pakistan may try to divert the agenda of the meeting. It has been making attempts to put the blame of ceasefire violations on India by showing the world the damage on its side," Mishra told IANS.

"They have been trying long to bring the UN into the picture. To show the effect of retaliatory fire by India... we don't fire first, but we retaliate when there is firing from the other side," the former BSF officer said.

Mishra also said Pakistan has come on the table under "international pressure" and said he was skeptical about the results.

"We have been seeing these talks for years, ceasefire violations resume as soon as talks end," Mishra said.

With some 100 ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border since the Ufa talks, the issue is likely to dominates the agenda from the Indian side, sources said.

Till June this year, there have been 199 ceasefire violations by Pakistan.

Official figures reveal that around 430 ceasefire violations occurred on the international border while 153 violations were reported on the LoC in 2014. In 2013, it was 347.

According to reports, Pakistan has listed in its agenda a revived role for the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) for intervening in ceasefire violations.

As per sources, issues Pakistan has placed on agenda also includes the alleged use of objectionable language by troops on the Indian side, and lack of response on simultaneous coordinated patrolling along the border.

Pakistan is also expected to raise the issue of airspace violation by suspected unmanned aerial vehicles.

Pakistan had blamed India of violating its airspace when it shot down a drone in July. India, however, said the drone was not like any of those in the Indian inventory and appeared to be of a Chinese variety available off-the-shelf.

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