Pakistani delegation in India for DG-level talks between border forces

Amritsar, September9: A 16-member Pakistani delegation today arrived here for DG-level talks between border forces of the two countries to be held from tomorrow after a gap of over one-and-a-half years on key issues including ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration.

The Pakistani side led by Rangers Director General (Punjab) Major General Umar Farooq Burki was received at the Attari-Wagah land border near Amritsar by senior BSF commanders of the Punjab frontier. "The delegation crossed over to the Indian side at 12.35 pm," senior officials said.

Burki was accorded a ceremonial salute and guard of honour by the Indian border guards and the delegation was flown to Delhi in a special BSF plane. The talks were last held in December 2013 in Lahore.

The delegation included officials of Sindh Rangers, the ministry of interior, survey of Pakistan, anti-narcotic force, immigration etc. 

The 23-member Indian side would be headed by BSF DG D K Pathak during the talks and is expected to raise issues like ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including sniper attacks on BSF personnel, and infiltration.

It is the first high level interaction between the two countries after their NSA-level talks that were to be held in Delhi on August 23-24 were cancelled due to differences over the agenda.According to Indian 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 International Border.

The issue of "no response" by the other side when the 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 sources said.

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

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.

A spokesman of Punjab Rangers said that the issue of frequent clashes along the Line of Control and the working boundary will be on the top of the agenda.

Pakistan's NSA Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan will raise the issue of "unprovoked firing" by India forces on the LoC.

According to Pakistan High Commission sources, the issue of alleged infiltration from the Indian side in Punjab and Rajasthan will be raised during the talks.

The ties between the two sides have remained strained because of repeated ceasefire violations along the IB and the LoC.  

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