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India-Pakistan DG-level talks: Cordial and a few takeaways

The talks are going ahead against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the two countries

Written by Sagnik Chowdhury | New Delhi |
Updated: October 7, 2016 5:05:05 pm

After talks between the National Security Advisors of the two countries were called off last month, Director General-level talks between India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers is now underway in New

The talks are going ahead against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the two countries over comments by its Army chiefs, as well as the Gurdaspur and Udhampur terror attacks and continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops.

On Tuesday, just a day before the Pakistan delegation arrived, ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in Poonch district. The next day, there were two fresh cease fire violations by the Pakistani army in the Krishna Ghati sector, while on Thursday two BSF personnel were injured in firing by Pakistani troops in Kupwara.

Despite these violations, the talks are learned to be proceeding in a cordial atmosphere, with both sides enthusiastic about proposed confidence building measures.

The biggest take-away for both sides so far is an understanding between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers that in case there is firing from either side, the other side will restrain itself for the next hour which shall be spent establishing contact with aggressor. The idea is to de-escalate tensions on the border and prevent frequent ceasefire violations and loss of civilian lives on either side.

Opening new lines of communication was the biggest achievement on the first day of the talks, with the DGs of both border forces agreeing to directly talk to each other in the event of unprovoked firing. Earlier, only field commanders or DIGs and IGs on either side spoke to each other in the event of ceasefire violations.

The BSF has 16 issues on its agenda for the talks, with the priority being on unprovoked firing or shelling by Pakistan Rangers on BSF posts and deliberate targeting of Indian villages, sniper firing on BSF troops by Pakistan Rangers, infiltration attempts by terrorists from Pakistan at the Jammu International Border (IB), narcotics trafficking, extensive defence construction activities by Pakistan Rangers close to the IB and mutual understanding on routine maintenance of defences on the border.

The Pakistani Rangers, meanwhile, have 30 points on their agenda that include “Firing by BSF on Flag Meeting party, ceasefire violations, killing of innocent Pakistani farmers, fake encounters, construction of additional line of defence, illegal defence construction by BSF along working boundary and international border, repair or maintenance of flood damages, installation of sophisticated surveillance devices or cameras, and air violations.”

How far these concerns on either side will be addressed will be known after talks end on Saturday.

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