India, Pak DGMOs say 2 armies will honour 2003 ceasefire pact; but it doesn’t restrict Indian forces from carrying out anti-terrorist, anti-infiltration ops in J&K
In a major step to reduce tension at the Line of Control (LoC), India and Pakistan on Thursday decided to strictly adhere to a ceasefire for “mutually beneficial and sustainable peace.” The agreement arrived at between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) on Thursday was aimed at avoiding civilian casualties on either side during firing.
However, the ceasefire, which came into force from midnight of February 24-25, will not restrict the Indian security forces from carrying out anti-terrorist and anti-infiltration operations in Jammu & Kashmir, it was clarified here.
Agreeing to adhere to the ceasefire announced by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003, a joint statement issued by both the countries said the two armies will observe all agreements on ceasefire along the 750-km long LoC and other sectors, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday.
The decision was taken during talks between India DGMO Lt General PS Sangha and his Pakistani counterpart Major General Nauman Zakaria on the hotline.
The two DGMOs held discussions and reviewed the situation along the LoC in a “free, frank and cordial atmosphere”, the statement said.
It added that 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.
Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and ceasefire along the LoC and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 February 2021.
Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding. Incidentally, the two armies in 2018 had also agreed to follow the 2003 guidelines. However, situation remained volatile at the LoC.
Sources said the latest pact came about after rounds of back channel talks between the two countries over the last few months, adding National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval held talks in this regard with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant Moed W Yusuf.
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the most powerful figure there to shape the national policies, earlier this month also favoured talks and said it is time to extend a hand of peace in all directions.”
In Pakistan, Army spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar said regarding the joint statement that “there have been contacts between India and Pakistan on a hotline level since 1987. Frequently, the DGMOs of both countries stay in contact through this established mechanism.”
According to media report from there, he also said from 2014 there was a spike in ceasefire violations along the LoC. “Both the DGMOs have agreed that the existing 2003 understanding should be implemented in letter and spirit,” he added.
Dawn newspaper said the latest development is seen as a thaw after years of tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently offered India to resolve all issues through dialogue.
Ties between India and Pakistan nosedived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in the neighbouring country. Subsequent attacks, including one on the Indian Army camp in Uri, deteriorated the relationship.
The relationship dipped further after IAF carried out air strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans were killed on February 15 the same year.
The ties between the two countries worsened after India in 2019 announced abrogation of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir and divided the State into two Union Territories.
There were 5,133 ceasefire violations last year in which 22 civilians were killed and 71 injured on the Indian side. Moreover, 24 security personnel were also killed in the firing while 126 were wounded. Moreover, nearly 300 incidents of ceasefire violation were recorded till January end this year.
In a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha earlier this month, Union 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.
He said 364 security personnel and 341 civilians were injured in cross-border firings along the International Border and the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Friday, 26 February 2021 | PNS | New Delhi