India wants 'normal relations' with Pakistan

India wants 'normal neighbourly relations', Pakistan scotches speculation about back-channel talks

Both sides agreed to strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the LoC

India and Pakistan on Thursday announced a ceasefire along the Line of Control from the midnight of February 24-25. Credit: iStock Photo

India on Thursday expressed its desire to have “normal neighbourly relations” with Pakistan, as the armed forces of the two nations agreed to stop firing across the Line of Control (LoC).

Pakistan, however, dismissed speculation in media that its agreement with India to stop cross-LoC firing was the result of back-channel talks between the two nations, particularly between Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on National Security, Moeed W Yusuf, and his counterpart in New Delhi, Ajit Doval.

“There is nothing more than meets the eye here,” Yusuf posted on Twitter, denying reports about his back-channel talks with Doval. He stated that no such talks had taken place between him and the National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan issued a joint statement, agreeing that the soldiers of the two nations would strictly adhere to all pacts reached between them earlier and cease firing across the LoC. The agreement was reached after months of allegations and counter-allegations by both sides blaming each other for violation of the 2003 ceasefire pact.

The agreement between the DGMOs came two years after New Delhi’s relations with Islamabad reached a new low over the February 14, 2019 attack on India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist organization based in Pakistan. The attack was followed by India’s air-strikes at a JeM training facility in Pakistan.

Also Read | India, Pakistan reach agreement on ceasefire along LoC

“India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan. We have always maintained that we are committed to addressing issues, if any, in a peaceful bilateral manner,” Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said.

He, however, did not clarify if India was planning to restart its talks with Pakistan to resolve outstanding issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

“On key issues, our position remains unchanged. I don’t need to reiterate it,” said the MEA spokesperson.

India has been maintaining that while it remains ready to hold talks with Pakistan, the neighbouring country must stop exporting terror to create conducive atmosphere for such engagements.

“The welcome development on the LoC is a result of discussions through the established channel of (the) DGMOs. Obviously these are by their very nature not in the public eye and done privately and professionally through the direct channel,” tweeted Khan’s Special Assistant on National Security. “Pakistan has continued to call for the 2003 ceasefire agreement to be honoured and I am glad we have reached the understanding. It must be followed in letter and spirit. Doing so will save innocent lives so no one should question the intent. Nor should wrong inferences be drawn. There is nothing more than meets the eye here.”

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