India and Pakistan on Friday decided to resume the meetings between “sector commanders” deployed along the International Border (IB).
The quarterly meeting between officials of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General on the Wagah-Attari border had not taken place for the past year-and-a-half.
At the 44th biannual meeting with the Pakistan Rangers that concluded on Friday, the Border Security Force (BSF) “strongly” raised the issue of unprovoked firing, killing of civilians and use of tunnels for cross-border crimes along the Pakistan border.
The 19-member delegation of Rangers, led by Director-General (Sindh) Maj.Gen. Muhammad Saeed, arrived in India on November 8 for the three-day meet. The Indian side was led by its Director-General K.K Sharma.
“The Indian side firmly and strongly took up specific issues of concern including incidents of unprovoked cross-border firing, smuggling of narcotics, infiltration attempts, tunnelling and defence construction activities,” the BSF said in a statement.
It underlined the discovery of a number of tunnels along the border in the Jammu region that are used by the other side to facilitate cross-border smuggling and infiltration, an official said.
While the Pakistani delegation raised the issue of targeted firing by the BSF, it was made clear that such action is resorted to when unprovoked firing from the other side kills troops, civilians or leads to other damage. The BSF statement said the talks, in the presence of officials from the Home Ministry and anti-narcotics departments of the two countries, were held in a “constructive atmosphere” and the need for cooperation to maintain the sanctity of the borders was stressed upon.
“The issue of inadvertent crossing over by the border population and ways to facilitate their return on both the sides was also discussed,” it said. The BSF said it was agreed between the two sides that “utmost caution and care should be exercised in dealing with the civilians.”
The two sides also decided to ensure that the wild growth of the ‘Sarkanda’ (elephant grass) along the IB will be checked and it will be disposed of within the existing norms. “The talks ended with both sides agreeing on constant endeavour to maintain peaceful and tranquil borders,” the statement said.
Next meeting in Pakistan
The next round of these talks is scheduled to be held in Pakistan.
India’s 3,323-km border with Pakistan runs through four States — Jammu and Kashmir (1,225 km which includes 740 km of Line of Control), Rajasthan (1,037 km), Punjab (553 km) and Gujarat (508 km).
While the BSF guards the IB independently, it works under the operational command of the Army while working at the LoC.