During the interaction, Singh said India wants peace with all neighbours, including Pakistan, and will not fire the first bullet but asked the Rangers to ensure no infiltration takes place from their side.
In his response, Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki, the head of Pakistan Rangers’ delegation, told Singh that he was the “mere DG of a force and not the leadership” like the Home Minister and could not give any commitment in this regard. He said he would convey Singh’s message to the Pakistani leadership.
Burki said his country also wanted peace along the border and cordial relations with India and that there could have been some incidents at the border where firing took place due to misunderstanding or by mistake.
Singh said that “Like India, Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism” and both countries must unite against the menace.
The Home Minister noted that India is home to all the 72 ‘firkas’ (sects) of Muslims, which no other country has.
“India has more Muslim population than Pakistan. India can be called as more Islamic than Pakistan,” he said.
Burki, who is here for talks with BSF DG D K Pathak, responded, “Your country is very big and vast. It is a great nation. We also want to have very good relations with India.”
He also mentioned that both sides hope to defuse the situation along the Indo-Pak border in future amicably.
Singh said India wants friendly relations with all its neighbours and that was the reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited all heads of neighbouring countries when he took charge and even met his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia.
“India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan along the border,” Singh told Pakistan Rangers.
The Home Minister further told the Pakistan Rangers it should ensure that no infiltration takes place from Pakistan to India.
The Home Minister said the forces should stop firing at each other and an “illumination bomb” should be used instead.
He said India wanted to engage in dialogue with Pakistan at different levels and that was why Modi had met Sharif at Ufa in July.
“Unfortunately, the NSA level talks did not take place.
But we want to have a good relation with Pakistan. I am saying this not for formality’s sake, but ‘tah-e-dil-se’ (from the bottom of the heart),” Singh told the visiting delegation.
Quoting former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Singh said “we can change friends, but not the neighbours” and that was why it was necessary to have cordial relations with all neighbouring countries.
Singh complimented both border guarding forces for having a meaningful interaction, and said forces or civilians should not be targeted on either side. He said both the countries are affected by terrorism and all countries have to cooperate to fight this evil.
He said the uniform of the security forces is of great value and should be respected, not targeted. Nobody should fire towards uniformed personnel, he said.
Singh told the Pakistan Rangers delegation that if the forces of the South Asian region can come together, they can become ‘shaktiman’ (strong) and handle any situation.
The Home Minister said he was happy that the two forces had agreed to use the faster fax and email as the new means of communication between their commanders as compared to the conventional procedure of organising flag meetings.
The meeting of the Rangers and BSF delegations with Singh lasted for about 30 minutes.
Pathak told reporters outside the Home Minister’s office that the talks had been very cordial on the first day.
“The meeting yesterday took place in a very cordial atmosphere. We have raised all the issues. The response was very positive. The meeting was extended by a day, which is unusual. This is because of the positivity in the meeting,” he said.
The Directors General of the two forces are expected to sign a joint record of discussions tomorrow following which the visiting delegation will leave for Pakistan.