PAKISTAN and India on Thursday(25) pledged to end all firing along their disputed Kashmir frontier, according to a joint statement from their militaries, after months of violence between the nuclear-armed rivals.
The two nations regularly exchange artillery and machine-gun fire along the ceasefire line known as the Line of Control (LoC) that has separated the countries for decades.
“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,” read the statement.
Director generals of military operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan also reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding, it added.
The announcement follows months of clashes with each accusing the other of being responsible for thousands of ceasefire violations in the past year alone.
According to the Pakistan military, approximately 1.7 million civilians live along the LoC and increasingly rely on hundreds of bunkers to shelter during frequent skirmishes.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their acrimonious separation in 1947. The region has been a cause of two of their three wars since then.
The nations agreed in 2003 to a ceasefire along the LoC, which has prevented another full-blown war from erupting but has largely failed to quell the skirmishes.
Both countries claim large portions of the Himalayan region, where India is also fighting an insurgency that has left tens of thousands dead since 1989.
New Delhi regularly accuses Pakistan of supporting the insurgents.
The portion of Kashmir under Indian rule has been under a heavy security blanket since the government imposed direct rule in August 2019, sparking a fierce rebuke from Islamabad.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
In written response to a question in Lok Sabha earlier this month, minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said a total of 10,752 cases of ceasefire violations have taken place along India’s border with Pakistan in the last three years, in which 72 security personnel and 70 civilians were killed.
Khan calls for dialogue
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said that Kashmir is the only dispute with India and it can only be resolved through dialogue.
While addressing the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Trade and Investment Conference which he co-chaired with Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo, Khan said that he offered India an opportunity to hold peace talks after being elected as prime minister in 2018 but nothing happened.
Earlier this month, India said it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.
“Immediately when I came to power, I approached India and explained to prime minister Narendra Modi that the way forward for the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue,” Khan said.
“I didn’t succeed but I am optimistic that eventually sense will prevail. The only way the subcontinent can tackle poverty is by improving trade relations.”
Relation between India and Pakistan worsened after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups. Subsequent attacks, including one on Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship.
The relationship dipped further after India’s war planes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
In August 2019, India withdrew special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and divided the state into two union territories.