Indian and Pakistani troops skipped the traditional exchange of sweets at border outposts on Eid for a second year in a row on Saturday against the backdrop of a spike in tensions between the two countries.
The Border Security Force (BSF) denied reports that Pakistan refused India’s gesture of offering sweets, saying the decision was taken at a company commanders’ meeting at Wagah on Friday as Pakistan Rangers were non-committal.
Traditionally, the BSF and Pakistani Rangers mark special occasions such as Eid, Diwali and Republic Day with a customary exchange of sweets at the border outposts of Wagah, Hussainiwala and Sadqi in Punjab as well as Suchetgarh in Jammu.
“A company commanders’ meeting took place between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers at zero point on the Attari-Wagah border on Friday and it was decided there itself that sweets will not be exchanged. The question of offering sweets on Saturday did not arise,” BSF deputy inspector general (DIG) MF Farooqui told Hindustan Times.
“Since the Pakistani Rangers were non-committal, it was decided to skip the gesture on Friday itself.”
BSF officials at Sadqi and Hussainiwala in Punjab also confirmed that Pakistan Rangers were not forthcoming when asked about the tradition during the Friday meetings, prompting them to skip the custom.
Tensions have heightened along the border over the past week with Pakistan resorting to mortar shelling of Indian areas, prompting India to warn of an "effective and forceful" response to unprovoked firing and cross-border terrorism.
But India has not slammed the door on bilateral talks, saying it is committed to the agreement between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, in the Russian city of Ufa to resume dialogue.
However, the BSF and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) continued with their traditional custom along the 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border.
"BSF officials gave sweet boxes to their BGB counterparts at all sectors of the India-Bangladesh border. BGB officials also reciprocated with a similar gesture," said BSF spokesman Lakshya Mehta.
(With inputs from agencies)