Home Minister Rajnath Singh met the 16-member Pakistani delegation who is in India for DG-level talks on border issues.
Rajnath told the delegation that India was keen on having cordial relations with Pakistan. On the issue to cross-border firing Rajnath also said that India will not fire the first bullet to hit Pakistan.
“India wants friendly relations with all its neighbours. India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan along the border,” Singh told the delegation of Pakistan Rangers which is headed by Director General Maj. Umar Farooq Burki.
In response, Burki said that he will convey Singh’s message to the Pakistani leadership. Burki chose not to comment saying that he is just a “DG of a force and not the leadership” of the country.
The Indian Home Minister also asked the Pakistan Rangers to ensure that there should be no infiltration from the Pakistani side into Indian territory.
On the issue of terrorism, Rajnath said that both the neighbouring countries must unite to fight the menace of terror.
“Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism,” Rajnath told the visiting delegation.
Rajnath stressed on the need for a dialogue at different levels between the two countries for better cooperation. He also added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in July this year only so that both countries could further the dialogue.
“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-e-dil-se’ (from the bottom of the heart),” he said.
Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 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 ongoing three-day talks so far have been positive. General Burki suggested the initiation of joint patrolling along some mutually identified areas on the border which India has agreed to, officials said. Ceasefire violations at the border were a big concern for both sides and a mechanism has been finalised to restore peace at the border.
“The most significant takeaway of the talks has been that the two sides agreed that maintenance of peace and tranquillity on this border is the most important issue and this needs to be implemented on the ground,” officials said.
“I wouldn’t say anything beyond that the talks went on in a very cordial manner and we are happy about it… Talks are meant to end the animosity and I am very happy with talks. It has progressed in a positive atmosphere,” Pathak told PTI.
BSF also put forth its agenda points of stopping infiltration from across the border, smuggling of narcotics and construction of unauthorised defence structures by Pakistan on the frontier, sources told PTI
The delegation will leave for Pakistan on Saturday after signing a joint record of discussions with India.
This is the first high-level interaction between the two countries after the National Security Adviser (NSA)-level talks scheduled in Delhi on August 23-24 were cancelled due to differences over the agenda.
The Pakistani delegation includes officials of Sindh Rangers, the country’s interior ministry, Survey of Pakistan, anti- narcotics force and immigration department, among others.
DG-level talks between India and Pakistan were last held in December, 2013, in Lahore.
(With inputs from PTI)