A day before India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers meet for some straight talk on intensifying ceasefire violations, the atmosphere could not have been more tense, with charges and counter-charges flying thick and fast. In a calculated attempt to provoke New Delhi, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Sartaj Aziz on September 8 accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of following an “anti-Pakistan policy” and insisted that Islamabad will participate in any future talks with India only if Kashmir is part of the agenda.
The comments of Pakistan’s NSA, whose visit to Delhi was cancelled at the 11th hour last month due to differences over including Kashmir in the NSA-level dialogue, are set to vitiate the atmospherics and prove to be self-defeating as the two sides gear up to discuss ceasefire violations, which have strained their relations in the last few months.
For optics, there will be, however, a show of camaraderie. India is all set to lay out the red carpet at the Wagah-Atari border to welcome the delegation of Pakistan Rangers who would arrive in India for a five-day Director General meeting with the BSF. The Pakistan Rangers delegation would be under the BSF cover once they enter India via the border and board the flight to Delhi. While India would present its case on frequent ceasefire violations made by Pakistani forces, Pakistan, which has also accused India of repeated violations, is expected to go on the offensive. In other words, there is a real danger that the meeting would end up as another platform for mutual recriminations that have marred relations between the two estranged neighbours.
Some of the other major issues that are expected to be discussed between the two sides include the issues of infiltration attempts by terrorists from the Punjab border, construction of defence infrastructures near the international border, narcotics smuggling and issues in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
The meeting comes ahead of Mr Modi’s visit to the UN General Assembly, which is also expected to be attended by his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. The meeting between BSF and Pakistan Rangers, if it goes well, could set the tone for re-energising relations between the two countries and even set the stage for a meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan in New York. But such fond hopes are often belied by ill-directed rhetoric and pointless provocations.
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