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India, Pakistan agree to refrain from ceasefire violations

October 16, 2008 20:54 IST

Amid New Delhi's [Images] serious concerns over repeated violations of the border ceasefire, India and Pakistan on Thursday decided to refrain from such actions and preserve the sanctity of the significant four-year-old confidence-building measure.
    
The border guards of the two countries also agreed to complete the joint verification, repair and maintenance of
boundary pillars.
    
At a two-day bi-annual meeting between the Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force on issues related to border management, the two sides agreed that peace be maintained along the Line of Control [Images] and the international border in Jammu and Kashmir [Images].
    
Both sides agreed to refrain from actions amounting to violation of the ceasefire which has been in place since November 2003.
    
Addressing a joint press conference in Lahore [Images], additional inspector general U K Bansal of the BSF and senior Pakistan Rangers official lieutenant general Muhammad Yaqoob Khan acknowledged that there had been ceasefire violations recently.
    
"Troops of both sides have been directed to refrain from such actions in future as they lead to loss of lives," Khan said reading out a joint statement.
    
There has been several incidents of firing from the Pakistani side in the last few months, prompting New Delhi to convey its concerns to Islamabad [Images].
    
India, which has raised the issue with Pakistan at the highest level, has warned that if such incidents continue, the future of the dialogue process could be in difficulty.
    
The two sides also described smuggling and drug trafficking as a mutual concern and agreed to eliminate the menace by handling it firmly.
    
Khan said the regular meetings between the Pakistan Rangers and BSF provided an opportunity to return inadvertent border crossers and enhanced mutual understanding between the two forces.
    
"Furthermore, the trend of levelling allegations against each other has been considerably reduced and an enhanced sense of better working relationship and openness is being felt," Khan said.
    
Khan said an attempt was made to minimise miseries of families of individuals who were in jails in India and Pakistan despite completing their term of punishment.
    
This was due to "complicated repatriation procedures", he added. The Pakistan Rangers gave the BSF a list of 188 Pakistani prisoners currently being held in Indian jails and demanded their release.
    
Responding to a question, Bansal said it was against Indian policy to torture prisoners though Pakistan had the right to probe all allegations of torture.
    
Bansal said 43 inadvertent border crossers had been repatriated within the stipulated 24-hour deadline in the past six months. A new system will soon be introduced to stop fishermen crossing into the maritime boundary, he said.
    
The two sides also agreed to maintain status quo along the border with regard to defensive structures. No such structures will be built by either side as such a move would be against mutually agreed norms and decisions reached during previous meetings, Khan said.
    



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