TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
- Security challenges and their management in border areas
In News: In what has come as a surprise development, the armies of India and Pakistan announced that they had begun observing a ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir from the midnight of February 24th. A joint statement issued by the militaries of both countries said the move followed a discussion between India’s Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Paramjit Singh Sangha, and his Pakistani counterpart, Maj Gen Nauman Zakaria, over their established telephone hotline.
The statement said: 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 the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence. Further, both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding.
The United Nations and the United States have hailed the move by India and Pakistan, calling it a positive step towards greater peace and stability in South Asia.
The 2003 ceasefire understanding
- Facilitated the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot routes, paving the way for bus and truck services linking the two Kashmirs for the first time in six decades and encouraging cross-LoC contacts, exchanges, travel, and trade.
- Enabled India to complete the construction of a fence near the LoC to prevent Pakistan’s infiltration of terrorists into Kashmir, a project that it had begun a couple of decades earlier but had to suspend due to Pakistan’s artillery fire.
Will this ceasefire last?
This is not the first time that India and Pakistan have agreed to give peace a chance on the LoC to make the lives of civilians living along the line easy. The original ceasefire agreement was reached in November 2003, four years after the Kargil War.
The 2003 ceasefire agreement remains a milestone as it brought peace along the LoC until 2006. It paved the way for the Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting in Islamabad on the side-lines of the SAARC summit. That meeting kickstarted the much talked about peace process from 2004-2008 before the whole thing got blown apart by the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks by Pakistani terrorists. From November 2003 to November 2008, the ceasefire was scrupulously observed. Post 26/11, ceasefire violations started happening more regularly. But it was around 2012-13 when these violations spiked.
After tensions peaked in 2018, yet another agreement was reached between the two DGMOs to “fully implement the Ceasefire Understanding of 2003 in letter and spirit forthwith and to ensure that henceforth, the Ceasefire will not be violated by both sides”. But this didn’t survive more than a couple of months and since then ceasefire has been observed more in its violation with over 5,000 incidents reported in 2020.
According to data provided by the Ministry of Defence in Parliament earlier this month, there were 5133 instances of CFVs along the LoC and other areas in Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in 46 fatal casualties in 2020, and 3,479 CFVs in 2019. In May 2018, the DGsMO agreed during a similar hotline conversation to observe the ceasefire strictly, but subsequent tensions over the Pulwama attack, Balakot air strikes and the Article 370 move led to a sharp spike in CFVs.
We will have to wait and watch as to how long the fresh commitment to ceasefire along the LoC can hold especially with summers approaching. As a matter of annual routine, terror infiltration bids from Pakistan increase as summer begins in the Kashmir Valley. Melting of ice on the high mountains offers Pakistan an opportunity to foment terrorism in the Valley.
Must Read: Shimla Pact and Lahore Agreement
Connecting the Dots:
- Is war a necessity to teach Pakistan a lesson?