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India, Pakistan reach agreement on ceasefire along LoC

As per the statement, both sides agreed to strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the LoC
Last Updated 26 February 2021, 04:26 IST

In a surprise move, the armies of India and Pakistan on Thursday announced that they would stop the cross border firing along the Line of Control from midnight of February 24 and 25 in order to have a peaceful atmosphere along the disputed border.

This was announced by the Defence Ministry after a telephonic conversation between the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) from the two armies over the hotline.

"Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24-25 Feb 2021," the ministry said in a statement.

"In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence."

While India and Pakistan have had a ceasefire agreement since 2003, thousands of ceasefire violations were reported in the last three years, shattering the fragile border peace. The agreement was mostly followed by the two sides till the 2016 Uri terror attack happened.

Earlier this month, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Parliament that in 2020 there were 5,133 ceasefire violations by Pakistan leading to 46 deaths. This year till January 28, there were 299 such violations causing one death.

“The two DGMOs have agreed to instruct their sides to abide by the agreements and also use the Confidence Building Measures of hotline and flag meetings effectively to ensure ceasefire. It is a positive move. However, much will depend upon Pakistan keeping to their part of the agreement. In the short term it may help them at the FATF,” Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, former Indian Army DGMO and director of Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, Delhi told DH.

Even though the hotline between the two DGMOs is in place for many years, generally a junior officer carries out the routine weekly talks. Occasionally a conversation takes place between two Brigadiers and rarely between the two DGMOs.

One such dialogue between the Indian DGMO Lt Gen Paramjit Singh Sangha and his Pakistani counterpart Maj Gen Nauman Zakaria on Monday, coupled with back-channel talks between the diplomats from the two sides led to the surprise decision to restore the ceasefire norms on the western front.

“India's position has always been one of ensuring a sustained ceasefire along the LoC, however, Pakistan initiates firing in contravention of the ceasefire to aid infiltration by terrorists from across the LoC. Indian Army thereafter retaliated,” said Bhatia, who was the last DGMO to meet his Pakistani counterpart at a bilateral meeting at Wagha border in 2013 for exploring ways to check frequent violations of ceasefire on the LoC.

The Defence Ministry in its statement stated that the two countries would utilise the existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding.

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(Published 25 February 2021, 06:49 IST)

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