Amid the escalating rhetoric and the hardening of positions between India and Pakistan, the four day Director General level bi-annual meeting between India and Pakistan border guarding forces went underway in New Delhi in a bid to address the prevailing tension on the border.
A 15-member delegation headed by Pakistan Rangers Director General (Punjab) Major General Umar Farooq Burki is in New Delhi holding discussions with the Indian delegation led by Director General BSF Devendra Kumar Pathak.
The meeting is taking place despite the cancellation of the recent NSA level talks between Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz over the differences over agenda of the dialogue and the Pakistan's invite to Hurriyat for consultations. Though the fate of the ongoing DG-level contact was uncertain but the two countries have ensured it goes ahead.
Cross border firing, infiltration and smuggling are among the key issues to be discussed during the meeting. This is a welcome development and one could hope that it leads to re-establishment of the peace on the borders. In recent months, the frequent firing across the Line of Control and International Border in Jammu has wrought havoc along the border areas. Not only has there been loss of lives on both sides, the people have also been forced to migrate from their land and the houses.
However, these violations are not new but have been going on for the past three years. This has frayed the 2003 ceasefire accord which had held for almost a decade. We have come to a point where the two countries do not put up even a pretence of being in some truce agreement. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the new central government wants its forces to effectively respond to Pakistan's transgressions.
And Pakistan has blamed India for starting the violations. As a result, the border exchanges have grown more intense by the day. The DG-level meeting being specific to tackling the LoC violations is expected to find a sustainable solution. And if the neighbours are able to calm the borders, this could clear the decks for a broader bilateral engagement spanning all issues dividing them.