New Delhi: The first day of talks between the border forces of India and Pakistan concluded on a positive note, with both sides agreeing to take steps to ensure peace on the frontiers, while India said it wanted to look ahead and "talk about the future".
"The most significant outcome of the talks today (Thursday) was that both nations agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity on this border," a BSF official told IANS. The talks, between the Border Security Force (BSF) of India led by Director General D.K. Pathak and Pakistan Rangers led by Maj.Gen. Umar Farooq Burki, focused on ceasefire violations. Pathak told IANS that the Indian side was "satisfied" with the talks on the first day. "The talks were cordial," he said.
According to sources, India asked Pakistan to "talk about the future", and the two sides will come out with a joint record of the talks on the concluding day on Saturday. Highly-placed sources in the BSF said India did most of the talking on the first day, and all issues including ceasefire violations and sniper firing targeting Indian soldiers were raised.
The talks concluded "cordially" and both sides agreed to take steps to start coordinated patrolling at the border, as well as to monitor ceasefire violations. An accord will also be signed between the two sides on Saturday, the last day of the director general-level talks.
"India did most of the talking and Pakistan was receptive. The talks concluded in a cordial manner," an official told IANS. "Pakistan mentioned some incidents of the past. We said we would not gain anything from the past. We said if you have 20 points, we have 40 points. Let's devise a system so that this situation is controlled," the official said.
The Pakistani delegation, according to the source, also said they were under pressure from the civil society for maintaining peace, and said they had the responsibility of protecting civilians as the Indian side. The sources said the major focus was to open more channels of communication, opening sector level communications and taking it to battalion and post level.
As the directors general talked, an Indian soldier was injured in Pakistani firing on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Thursday, defence ministry sources said. "Lance Naik Bhupender Singh was injured in Pakistan Army sniper fire on the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector this (Thursday) evening," the sources told IANS here.
In the meeting, Pakistan raised the issue of airspace violation. India raised the issue of infiltration, and questioned how the Pakistan Rangers could not be aware of it. Sources said the Rangers said they were unable to check infiltration. "They said they don't have hi-tech infrastructure along the border like India," an official said.
The sources added that Pakistan did not raise the issue of involving a third party for monitoring truce violations. According to reports, Pakistan had listed in its agenda a revived role for the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) for intervening in ceasefire violations.
The BSF and the Pakistan Rangers are meeting amid a growing war of words and firing from across the border, and the talks assume special significance as earlier scheduled talks between the national security advisers of India and Pakistan was called off following disagreement over discussing Kashmir issue. The decision for reviving the meeting was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at their meeting in Ufa.
It was envisaged in the meeting that the top leadership of both the border guarding forces will meet periodically and discuss issues of relevance to both the forces. Issues requiring coordinated efforts like dealing with drug menace, smuggling, simultaneous coordinated patrolling, timely exchange of information etc. were to form the core of discussions.
The last BSF-Pakistan Rangers meeting was held on December 24-28, 2013 in Lahore. There have been over 100 ceasefire violations since Modi and Sharif met in Ufa. Till June, 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. There was at least one incident of sniper firing that killed a soldier in August and two in July.