Indo-Pak border talks likely in Lahore in July

New Delhi: Border guarding forces of India and Pakistan are expected to hold their bi-annual DG-level talks on issues related to ceasefire violations, infiltration and digging of illegal tunnels along the International Border in July in Lahore.

The last such meeting between the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers was held in the national capital in September last year.

While the forces have mutually agreed to hold the talks between July 21 and 24 at the Rangers’ headquarters in Lahore sources said, a final call on travel will only be taken by the governments of the two countries.

The proposed visit of an NIA team to Pakistan to probe the Pathankot terror attack is awaiting Islamabad’s approval.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan had visited Pathankot early this year.

Sources indicated a positive movement on NIA’s proposed visit could pave the way for the BSF-Rangers meeting.

Officials said though the IB has been “relatively less volatile” in nearly eight months since the last meeting between the two forces compared to the frequent ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 2015, infiltration and drugs smuggling continue to be a matter of concern.

They said the bi-annual meeting between the two border guarding forces has been already delayed due to a number of bilateral issues.

The Indian side will also raise issues related to smuggling of arms, contraband items and detection of illegal tunnels running across the IB.

“The agenda for the proposed talks is in the making,” they said.

The last time the two sides had met in Delhi it was decided not to fire heavy artillery like mortar shells and ensure that civilians living along the IB were not harmed.

The two forces had also decided that their officials, right up to the level of Directors General, will exchange mobile numbers, email ids and fax numbers for swift communication to resolve disputes on the IB running through Indian states of Jammu and Kashmit, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The DG-level talks between the two sides are a bi-annual affair but many a time these meetings have not taken place due to strain in relations.

The last time BSF travelled to Pakistan for these talks was in December 2013.