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India, Pakistan hold peace talks as Indian soldier loses life in LoC firing

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Amid a growing war of words and firing from across the border, Indian and Pakistani border security forces sat across the table in a meeting to “talk about the future” even as an Indian Army soldier was injured in a cross-border firing.

According to highly-placed sources in the Border Security Force, India did most of the talking on the first day of the director general level peace talks with the Pakistan Rangers. All issues, including ceasefire violations and sniper firing targeting Indian soldiers were raised.

As the peace talks concluded “cordially”, both sides agreed to take steps to start coordinated patrolling at the border, along with the monitoring of ceasefire violations.

Saturday, last day of the director-general talks will also see an accord signed between the two sides.

“India did most of the talking and Pakistan was receptive. The talks concluded in a cordial manner.

“Pakistan mentioned some incidents of the past. We said we would not gain anything from the past. We said if you have 20 points, we have 40 points. Let’s devise a system so that this situation is controlled,” an official said.

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i1.tribune.com.pk/

Meanwhile, the Pakistani delegation, according to the sources, said they were under pressure from the civil society for maintaining peace and had the responsibility of protecting civilians like the Indian side.

The major focus of the meetings was to open more channels of communication, opening sector level communications and take it to battalion and post level.

As the talks went on, an Indian soldier was injured in Pakistani firing on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district.

“Lance Naik Bhupender Singh was injured in Pakistan Army sniper fire on the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector this (Thursday) evening,” defense ministry officials said.

In the meeting, Pakistan raised the issue of airspace violation while India raised the infiltration issue, and questioned how the Pakistan Rangers could not be aware of it.

However, the issue of involving a third party for monitoring truce violations was not raised by Pakistan but the Rangers admitted their failure in being unable to check infiltration.

“They said they don’t have hi-tech infrastructure along the border like India,” an official said.

According to reports, Pakistan had listed in its agenda a revived role for the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) for intervening in ceasefire violations.

The talks assume special significance as earlier scheduled talks between the national security advisers of India and Pakistan was called off following disagreement over the discussion of the Kashmir issue.

Nawaz_Sharif_Narendra_Modi_AP_360x270The decision for reviving the meeting was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at their meeting in Ufa.

It was envisaged in the meeting that the top leadership of both the border guarding forces will meet periodically and discuss issues of relevance to both the forces.

Issues requiring coordinated efforts like dealing with drug menace, smuggling, simultaneous coordinated patrolling, timely exchange of information etc. were to form the core of discussions.

After the meeting in Ufa, there have been over 100 ceasefire violations since Modi and Sharif met in Ufa. Till June, there have been 199 ceasefire violations by Pakistan.

Official figures reveal that around 430 ceasefire violations occurred on the international border while 153 violations were reported on the LoC in 2014. In 2013, the number was at 347.

In August, there was at least one incident of sniper firing that killed a soldier while two similar incidents occurred in July.

 

(With inputs from IANS)

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Afghanistan Led Peace Talks Supported By Nations

Mohib said his government was ready to engage in serious, constructive peace talks with the Taliban.

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Afghanistan, U.N., Taliban
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a U.N. conference on Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2018, at U.N. offices in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday that he had put together a team of diplomats and experts for prospective peace talks with the Taliban.

Ghani spoke at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Geneva that was focused on ending 17 years of conflict with the rebel group, which did not attend the gathering.

The two-day conference shifted its focus from Afghanistan’s development and reform agenda to the quest for peace. U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said that according to delegates, the country has little hope of achieving its goals of stability, security and prosperity without peace.

Afghanistan, Taliban
Tadamichi Yamamoto, U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Perhaps this is the first ministerial meeting when the issue of peace has been taken up with so much weight in addition to the regular issues, which are development, growth, social issues and reforms,” he said.

Yamamoto said the international community had agreed to keep helping Afghanistan now and to continue aid after a peace agreement was reached.

Delegates at the conference were putting the final touches on a comprehensive document of support as a car bomb struck a British security compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said events such as this bolstered his people’s resolve for peace.

Veterans, PTSD, Afghan, Taliban
An internally displaced Afghan woman who fled from recent conflict cooks bread outside a shelter in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2017. VOA

‘Patient focus’ required

“There is consensus within Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan that the time for peace is now,” Mohib said. “We cannot squander this opportunity. It must be handled with patient focus and with a realistic understanding that it will take time to make sure peace is achieved and then implemented in a sustainable manner.”

Mohib said his government was ready to engage in serious, constructive peace talks with the Taliban. He said it was time for the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government, not just Washington.

Also Read: Opium Cultivation Goes Down By 20% in Afghanistan: U.N.

While he appreciated the international support, Mohib said the peace process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned for it to work. (VOA)