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India wants friendly relations with its neighbours: Indian Home Minister

12 September, 2015

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NEW DELHI: Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh received a high-level delegation of Pakistan Rangers here on Friday and assured them that India would not be the first to breach a future ceasefire between the two sides.

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

Maj Gen Burki said he would convey the message to the Pakistani leadership.

The home minister told the delegation that it should be ensured that no infiltration takes place from Pakistan to India.

He said India and Pakistan must unite against terrorism. “Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism.”

He said India wanted to engage in a 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-i-dil-se’ (from the bottom of the heart),” he said.

Quoting former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr 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 Pakistani Rangers are in Delhi for three-day talks with India’s Border Security Force (BSF) to discuss ways of reducing tension and flare-ups along the border.

On Thursday, Indian and Pakistani border security officers discussed that troopers across the International Border may start speaking to each other more frequently, and at lower levels as well to sort out local issues faster.

Pakistan Rangers raised the need of greater communication between the two border guarding troops at the second day of the meeting in New Delhi today.

Pakistani sources put a slightly different focus on the talks that wound up on Friday.

They agreed that the routine meeting was held in a cordial and congenial atmosphere. “Consensus was reached on various issues between both border guarding forces including no firing along Working Boundary to save lives of innocent civilians on Pakistan side and carryout joint investigation of serious ceasefire violations to maintain peace.”

Both sides showed willingness to amicably resolve minor issues at local level, the Pakistani sources said.

They listed five agreements that were reached or issues emphasised.

“Indians agreed to stop CFVs (ceasefire violations) through enhanced communication via multiple modes at all possible levels along Working Boundary to maintain peace,” according to the Pakistani version, which clearly would not be the way Indians would say it.

“Pakistan “strongly raised the issue” of the killing of Rangers soldiers during flag meeting. The BSF chief was quoted, in this version, as nudging them to forget the past and to move forward while assuring non-repetition of such happenings. India also agreed to conduct joint investigation of serious incidents happening along Working Boundary/international border in future.

While refuting BSF allegations, it was reiterated that Pakistan Rangers did not support any border crossing as a policy. The BSF is maintaining impregnable border control through fence, light, gates and other surveillance means, which minimises any chance of crossing through the fence. “Yet both sides agreed to work out some additional methods to further strengthen border control.

Smuggling was discussed. Responding to allegations of smuggling, DG Punjab Rangers, according to the Pakistani narrative, reiterated that elaborate border controls with Indian BSF ought to enforce a check on cross-border smuggling.

Pakistan has zero tolerance to smuggling of narcotics and Indian liquor, the sources said. The BSF, they added, had agreed to share information about cartels involved behind cross-border activities to help the Rangers in taking necessary actions.

The issue of constructing new defence structures along the Working Boundary came up. “Construction of any new defence structure is against the existing agreed norms due to disputed status of Indian Occupied Kashmir,” the Pakistani sources said. They said the BSF agreed to refer the issue to Indian government.

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