India won't fire first bullet along border: Rajnath Singh to Pakistan

New Delhi: India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan as it wants cordial relations with all its neighbours, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday told a visiting delegation from the country which is here for border talks.

"India wants friendly relations with all its neighbours. India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan along the border," Singh told the delegation of Pakistan Rangers, headed by its Director General Maj. Gen. Umar Farooq Burki.

In his response, Burki told Singh that he was the 'mere DG of a force and not the leadership' like the Home Minister and could not give any commitment in this regard.

Burki, however, said that he would convey Singh's message to the Pakistani leadership. The Home Minister further told the Pakistan Rangers delegation that it should be ensured that no infiltration takes place from Pakistan to India. He also said that both India and Pakistan must unite against the menace of terrorism.

"Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism," he told the Pakistani delegation. Singh said India wanted to engage in dialogue with Pakistan at different levels and that was why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia.

"Unfortunately, the NSA level talks did not take place. But we want to have a good relation with Pakistan. I am saying this not for formality's sake, but 'tah-e-dil-se' (from the bottom of the heart)," he said.

Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh further said that "we can change friends, but not the neighbours" and that was why it was necessary to have cordial relations with all neighbouring countries.

The Home Minister said that the uniforms of the security forces are great and should not be targeted. Nobody should fire towards uniformed personnel, he averred.

"If firing takes place for some reason, the other side must verify first before retaliating by using 'elimination bomb'," he said.

Singh told the Pakistan Rangers delegation that if the forces of the South Asian region can come together, they can become 'shaktiman' (strong) and handle any situation. Saying that all 72 'firkas' (sects) of Muslims exist in India and no other country in the world has all these 72 'firkas', he opined that "that is why India is more Islamic than Pakistan".

Pakistan Rangers DG Burki said his country also wanted peace along the border and cordial relations with India.

"Your country is very big and vast. It is a great nation. We also want to have very good relations with India," Burki said.

The Home Minister said he was happy that the two forces had agreed to use the faster fax and email as the new means of communication between their commanders as compared to the conventional procedure of organising flag meetings.

The meeting of the Rangers and BSF delegations with Singh lasted for about 30 minutes following which the visitors left for another set of discussions with their Indian counterparts.

Meanwhile, BSF Director General DK Pathak told reporters outside the Home Minister's office that the talks had been very cordial on the first day.

"The meeting yesterday took place in a very cordial atmosphere. We have raised all the issues. The response was very positive. The meeting was extended by a day, which is unusual. This is because of the positivity in the meeting," he said.

The Directors General of the two forces are expected to sign a joint record of discussions tomorrow following which the visiting delegation will leave for Pakistan.

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