A high-level delegation comprising Pakistan Rangers and Interior Ministry officials today arrived in New Delhi for five-day talks with the Border Security Force (BSF) to sort out border-related issues.

The 18-member delegation, led by Pakistan Rangers Director General (Sindh) Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar, was received by Border Security Force chief U K Bansal and senior officials of the force as they landed here from Amritsar after entering India through the Wagah border in the morning.

The Pakistan delegation also comprises the second Rangers DG (Punjab) Maj Gen Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain, Additional Secretary in the Pakistan Interior Ministry Najibullah Khan and other senior officials.

The top brass of both the border guarding forces are meeting in Delhi for the first time and the talks are aimed at thrashing out a host of issues including recent incidents of firing and ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Indo-Pak border.

Issues to be discussed

BSF, according to sources, is expected to flag a number of issues to the visiting team which include unprovoked firing by Pakistan troops in Jammu and Sialkot sectors, death of two BSF personnel in the last few months because of sniper firing and a spurt in the smuggling of narcotic drugs from across the border.

The BSF delegation will also include senior officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, PWD officials of the Punjab government, sleuths of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and officials from the Survey of India.

The Indian side would also raise the issue of illegal crossing of Pakistani nationals into Indian territory and the return of inadvertent crossers, arrest of fishermen and confiscation their fishing boats off the Gujarat coast and construction of unauthorised defence infrastructure along the International Border (IB).

The talks will begin tomorrow at the BSF headquarters here after a ceremonial guard of honour is accorded by the Indian border guards to the visiting delegation.

A joint record of discussions will also be signed on July 5, when the talks conclude.

Establishing a hotline between the force commanders will also be discussed at the meet, the sources said.

Earlier, talks between field commanders of the forces used to take place in cities like Jalandhar, Amritsar and Chandigarh.

Both the forces have a tradition of holding bi-annual talks, with each side visiting the other country once-an-year.

Regular flag meetings are held by local commanders on a need and emergency basis.

The delegation was brought in two batches by a special BSF plane from Amritsar. The Pakistan Rangers delegation has also been accorded top-level security by BSF and commandos of Delhi Police, the sources said.

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