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Pakistan and India have agreed on four conventional (arms) confidence building measures (CBMs) aimed at avoidance of conflict between both the countries in the third round of Pakistan-India expert level dialogue on conventional CBMs held here on Thursday, however, India rejected Pakistan's proposal of demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir.
Tariq Osman Hyder, Additional Secretary (United Nations), Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Pakistani side during the talks, while Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, led the Indian delegation.
A joint statement issued after the meeting said that as mandated by the foreign secretaries both the sides continued consultations on security concepts to develop measures for confidence building in the conventional field aimed at avoidance of conflict and agreed on the following conventional CBMs.
(i) Finalisation of Border Ground Rules for implementation along the international border, which remained suspended since 1971.
(ii) Modalities for holding quarterly flag meetings, and on needs basis, at sector level commanders in already agreed sectors. Modalities for communication in this context would further be discussed.
iii) Elaborating, consistent with its intent, the agreement reached on no development of new posts and defence works along the Line of Control (LoC) and
(iv) Finalisation of an agreement on speedy return of inadvertent line crosser(s).
The statement said that as indicated in the joint statement of January 18, the Pakistani side presented a draft agreement to the Indian side on the Prevention of Incidents at Sea in order to ensure safety of navigation by naval vessels and aircraft belonging to the two sides.
It also said that both the sides agreed to periodically discuss further CBMs and to review and monitor implementation of existing conventional CBMs as called for in the Lahore MoU of 1999 and as mandated by the foreign secretaries in the composite dialogue process.
Later addressing a joint press conference at the Foreign Office, Tariq Osman Hyder and Dilip Sinha said both the sides held discussion on conventional CBMs and exchanged ideas to strengthen mutual confidence in a cordial and constructive atmosphere.
Dilip Sinha said that India could not accept Pakistan's proposal for demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir. "We have made our position quite clear that the deployment of forces on any part of India is our sovereign right, and in conjunction with the security situation, will be decided upon," he added.
Tariq Osman Hyder said that Pakistan had made a serious proposal that Pakistan and India should re-deploy their heavy guns, rockets and mortars, etc, outside the boundary of Jammu and Kashmir to reduce threats along the Line of Control as a part of the conventional CBMs.
He said though India has claimed that it was not Pakistan centric as it also has long borders with Bangladesh and China and other countries, deployment of its 90 percent forces is Pakistan targeted.
He said that this proposal was in line with our national policy of resolving the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means and to promote conventional stability along with the strategic stability in the region, which is needed for economic, social and cultural development of the people of both the countries.
He said that Pakistan would not be part of arms race in the region because of introduction of ballistic missiles by India and US-India civilian nuclear agreement, but it would maintain credible deterrent for its national security.
Pakistan and India held expert level dialogue on nuclear CBMs here on April 25-26 and announced substantial progress on a nuclear accord likely to be signed in July this year to reduce the risk of accidents relating to nuclear weapons.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2006

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