The next time guns boom from across the border in Jammu, India will not fire back immediately. Similarly, if Pakistan receives fire from India, it would spend the next hour establishing contact with the Indian border guarding force. This is the principal understanding arrived at on the first day of the talks between BSF and Pakistan Rangers in order to prevent frequent ceasefire violations and loss of civilian lives on either side.
Opening of more communication channels was the key takeaway of the talks on the first day with directors general of both border forces agreeing to directly talk to each other in the event of unprovoked firing. This is the first time such a channel of communication has been opened, as until now only field commanders or DIGs and IGs on either side spoke to each other in the event of ceasefire violations.
The two sides have agreed that ceasefire violation from either side will not be retaliated immediately and all efforts would be made to first diffuse the situation. “Though the modalities of such an arrangement would be decided on Friday, it has been decided in principle to wait for an hour before replying to any unprovoked firing from either side. This hour would be utilised to establish communication at all levels, including the DGs of the respective forces,” a home ministry source said.
Sources said the meeting began in a “very cordial” atmosphere and ended on a “positive note” with both sides showing willingness to make an effort to resolve issues. “The talks went on in a very cordial manner and we are happy about it,” BSF Director General DK Pathak said, refusing to divulge details.
The agenda from the two sides had already been exchanged and Thursday’s talks dwelt on each issue point by point.
“Though Pakistan Rangers denied all allegations of infiltration and ceasefire violations, and BSF denied allegations levelled against them, this meeting was more cordial than we expected. There were no aggressive posturings from either side, nor did the discussion reduce to a blame game. Both sides seemed willing to resolve the issues that they could,” said a home ministry official.
Pakistan broached the subject of intemperate language used by BSF officers and jawans on the border. It was strongly denied by BSF, but it said if any such stray incident has happened it would look into the matter and train its men better.
Pakistan, too, assured India to increase vigil on the border to stop infiltration and smuggling even though it denied any such thing happening from its side. It also asked India to strengthen its own systems.
On the issue of inadvertent transgression across the border by local villagers, both sides agreed that no action should be taken against such people and that they must be returned on humanitarian grounds.
Sources said both sides agreed to have more confidence-building measures and better communication so that small incidents do not escalate into full-blown conflicts.
According to the set agenda, the talks were to be wrapped up on Thursday. On Friday, the Rangers are scheduled to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
On Saturday, a joint statement would be issued.