A day after National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz said “they were a nuclear country and knew how to defend themselves,” Pakistan Rangers confirmed to the Border Security Force on Monday they would be attending the Director-General-level talks to be held in New Delhi in September. Sources said India had finalised 11 agenda points to be shared with Pakistan.
The two forces will formally exchange the agenda at the Wagah-Attari border on Tuesday for the talks to be held from September 9-13.
The last time the heads of the two forces met was in 2013 and the forthcoming meeting assumes significance in view of the cancelled NSA-level talks.
The agenda points finalised are the details of cross-border firing from May 1, 2014-August 15, 2015. For five months after the DGs of the two forces met in December 2013, there were no incidents of cross-border firing.
BSF ready with data on infiltration bids
During the talks, the BSF will present a month-wise data to it establishing the number of infiltration bids foiled in the past one year.
“A data compiled on infiltration bids shows a disturbing trend. From May 2014-May 2015, there were 46 such attempts along the 197-km-long International Border (IB) manned by BSF. In the past three months (June-August 20), there have been 49 such attempts,” said a senior official. In June, there were 33 infiltration bids, the highest since May 2014.
The Director-General-level talks are the result of an agreement reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif after the Ufa talks in July.
Tracing the history of ceasefire violations by Pakistan, the official said: “If we look at the figures available, the violations started from May 2014 onwards and they have not stopped till now. Till now we have recorded 589 such incidents.” The firing also coincides with the period when the National Democratic Alliance government led by Mr. Modi came to power last year.
The BSF is also learnt to be taking up the issue of “defence construction on the other side of the border.” “According to the present agreement, both India and Pakistan cannot construct within 150 yards of the IB. We have noticed that Pakistan has constructed bunkers and bunds in the Punjab sector in the past few months. We will be raising this issue as well,” said the official.
Meanwhile, former diplomats said Mr. Aziz’s comment was unwarranted. The Pakistani NSA in an interview to The Dawn has said: “Modi’s India acts as if they are a regional superpower, we are a nuclear-armed country and we know how to defend ourselves.”
Reacting to this provocative comment, former Ambassador G. Parthasarathy told The Hindu : “Flaunting nuclear threats is the habit of Pakistani politicians, who do not realise empty threats are counterproductive. They are warning India that Pakistan will continue with terrorism and if India responds, they will use nuclear weapons. This is nothing short of nuclear blackmail.”
Foreign policy watchers said comments, about Pakistan’s nuclear capacity have been made in the past by the Pakistani army chiefs and political leadership, and their reiteration by the NSA should not come in the way of future dialogue.
Former Ambassador Kanwal Sibal said these comments are made with the twin purpose of making the Western nations “nervous” about tensions between two nuclear neighbours, which in turn force India to continue dialogue; and also for sending a message to the “domestic audiences” that Pakistan will not be “bullied by India.”