Pakistan Rangers team in Delhi, peace talks begin

10 September 2015

Amidst heightened tensions along the border and the Line of Control (LoC), India and Pakistan are today holding director general-level talks between the border forces of the two countries in New Delhi.

Image: A 15-member delegation of the Pakistan Rangers arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday evening for the talks. The team is led by Major General Umar Farooq Burki, Director General of the Pakistan Rangers (Punjab).

The Indian delegation is led by Border Security Force (BSF) Director General D K Pathak and comprises 22 other officers. The talks were scheduled to start at 10.00 am and continue till 12 September.

These talks are held alternatively in India and Pakistan. Both border guarding forces will discuss professional matters related to border management.

The main agenda of the talks is ceasefire violations. Just yesterday, at least two BSF personnel were wounded in firing in Nowgam sector of Jammu and Kashmir (See: Pakistan violates ceasefire on eve of talks)

The Pakistani Army also fired at Indian positions on Wednesday along the LoC in Poonch district.

Pakistan on its part has given official agenda to the Indian side as part of BSF-Pakistan Rangers talks accusing India of carrying out infiltration from Punjab and Rajasthan.

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 since the National Security Adviser-level talks were cancelled by India due to Pakistan's insistence on discussing Kashmir.

The Pakistan Rangers delegation entered India via Attari, and was welcomed by senior BSF officers including DG Pathak before boarding a special aircraft to Delhi.

The Indian delegation to talks also 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 of talks."

With some 100 ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border since the Ufa talks, the issue is likely to dominate 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.

Pakistan has also placed on agenda 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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