On Thursday, Pakistani and Indian director generals of military operations (DGMOs) issued a rare joint statement declaring ceasefire along the line of control (LoC).
The joint statement said: “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…In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.”
The ceasefire agreement between the two countries was originally reached in November 2003.
The joint statement was welcome by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who tweeted: “I welcome restoration of the ceasefire along the LOC. The onus of creating an enabling environment for further progress rests with India. India must take necessary steps to meet the long-standing demand & right of the Kashmiri people to self determination acc to UNSC resolutions.” (sic) The US and the UN also welcomed this positive development.
To say that the relationship between Pakistan and India is complex would be an understatement. The two nuclear neighbours have come to the brink of war many a time and have also fought conventional wars as well as unconventional ones. It has been two years since the Balakot strikes when they came close to a full-blown war. India could not do any damage to our territory despite falsely claiming otherwise but Pakistan managed to capture Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan after the Pakistan Air Force shot down his aircraft.
In a joint session of parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that as a peace gesture, Pakistan was going to release the Indian pilot. PM Imran also reiterated that there is no victory in a war. “Pakistan wants peace. Our interest lies in peace and de-escalation,” he said back in 2019.
Pakistan has continued to extend a hand of peace towards India over the years but the Modi administration in India has not been very forthcoming.
Thus, it was a surprise to see the joint statement, which could not have taken place without backdoor diplomacy.
Innocent people across the LoC have lost lives due to the Indian violations of the 2003 ceasefire agreement. Now with this joint statement, it will be good for the people living across the LoC. We don’t know yet what prompted the Modi government to agree to this but we do hope that both countries eventually restart dialogue.
Peace in the South Asian region cannot be achieved if India continues its strongarm tactics. Pakistan is committed to peace in the region. Let’s hope this ceasefire is just the first step in the restoration of peace.