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India, Pakistan to step up fight against smuggling, border crimes
Border guards of India and Pakistan Thursday agreed to step up joint efforts to counter smuggling and other trans-border crimes despite differences on issues like fencing of the frontier by India.

A three-day meeting of top officers of India's Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers concluded here Thursday, with both sides agreeing not to let unresolved issues to dominate the talks or stall progress on other fronts, officials said.

BSF Additional Director General A.K. Mitra, the head of the Indian team, said at the end of the meeting that good progress was made in "certain areas" during the talks.

Mitra listed nine areas where agreement had been reached.

These included joint efforts to check trans-border crimes like drug smuggling, exchange of lists of smugglers on either side of the border, dealing with cases of inadvertent crossings by civilians on a priority basis to facilitate their repatriation and quicker verification of people listed as missing.

Both sides agreed to strengthen patrolling and surveillance systems, adjustment of lights on the border fence and return cattle that crossed the border.

"The meeting was held in a cordial manner. Confidence building measures initiated by both countries has changed the atmosphere and that was evident in the meeting," said Maj. Gen. Javed Zia, the head of the Pakistani delegation.

Mitra said: "We should not expect immediate results. Here things move very slowly but progress was made. It was a happy beginning."

The border agencies agreed that each side would inform the other 24 hours in advance of any firing at ranges close to the border. "This was done to take necessary precautions and to avoid injuries to civilians," Mitra said.

The Pakistani side also agreed to a joint survey along the international border for repair of border pillars. Pakistan had earlier been resisting such a survey.

The meeting decided that local commanders on each side of the border would meet more often to resolve local problems.

Officials familiar with the discussions said there were disagreements between the two sides over India's construction of an electrified fence along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and defence constructions on both sides.

India also objected to trans-border infiltration and defensive constructions like bunkers built by Pakistan close to the border, they said.

This was the first time in three years that the border talks were held on Indian soil. An Indian delegation had travelled to Lahore for a meeting in March.

Though a media interaction with officials of both sides was scheduled, Zia excused himself after just five minutes before reporters could put questions to him.

Indian officials claimed the Pakistani delegation had to return home and wanted to pack things in their hotel rooms. However, the Pakistani officials came back for lunch after the media had left.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:22 AM

 

 
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