Asia - Pacific

India, Pakistan agree to de-escalation along Kashmir border

2 countries’ director-generals of military operations hold discussions, agree to ‘strict observance of all agreements’

Ahmad Adil and Islamuddin Sajid   | 25.02.2021
India, Pakistan agree to de-escalation along Kashmir border

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD

The militaries of India and Pakistan said on Thursday they have agreed to a cease-fire along the disputed Kashmir border.

The director-generals of military operations of the two South Asian nuclear-armed neighbors held discussions via a hotline.

"The two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Control and all other sectors in a free, frank, and cordial atmosphere," a joint statement released after their talk said.

The Line of Control (LoC) is a de facto border that divides the disputed Himalayan region between the two countries.

The two sides "agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb the peace and lead to violence."

"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," said the statement.

Up until now, the Kashmir border has witnessed an increase in cross-border shelling with both armies regularly accusing each other of violating the 2003-signed cease-fire.

Thursday's statement said both sides "reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilized to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding."

Pakistani, Indian experts weigh in

Sameer Patil, a fellow for international security studies at Mumbai-based Gateway House think tank, told Anadolu Agency that the fresh agreement means both countries would go back to the 2003 cease-fire agreement.

"I will be a little cautiously optimistic about the present agreement, because we have seen how India, Pakistan security initiatives [have] had a grand beginning, but they falter as they proceed," he said. 

Retired Gen. Amjad Shoaib, a Pakistani security analyst, said the two countries had an "understanding on cease-fire along the LoC since 2003."

"It worked until 2013 and then came [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi and thereafter we had rampant violations of the cease-fire and civilian casualties on our side, military casualties on the Indian side," Shoaib told Anadolu Agency by phone from Islamabad.

He said contacts made on the hotline are a regular affair and normally address complaints against each other.

"This time, Indians have internal issues," he said referring to ongoing farmer protests and other issues concerning minority rights. "On the other hand, Indians are engaged with China," Shoaib added.

China and India were stuck in the worst border standoff in decades which resulted in 24 casualties on both sides. The two countries disengaged early this month.

The UN has deployed two teams in Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, capitals of the Indian- and Pakistani-administered sides, respectively, to oversee the fresh cease-fire.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965, and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

Also, on Aug. 5, 2019, India stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomous status and divided it into two centrally ruled territories -- creating fresh tensions in the restive region.

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