Armies of India, Pakistan agree to ceasefire along LoC from Feb 24 midnight
In a surprise development, Indian and Pakistani militaries announced on Thursday that they had begun observing a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir from the midnight of February 24.
A joint statement issued by the armies of both countries said the move followed a discussion between India’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lt Gen Paramjit Singh Sangha, and his Pakistani counterpart, Maj Gen Nauman Zakaria, over their established telephone hotline.
The move comes at a time when the Indian military is largely focused on the standoff with China in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which emerged in the open in May last year, though there has been no let-up in counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
During their discussion on the hotline, the two sides “reviewed the situation along the Line of Control and all other sectors in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere”, 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,” the statement added.
The DGMOs also “agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence” in the interest of “achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders”.
The two sides further said that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be used to “resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding”.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that the established convention of weekly contacts between officials of the Directorate General of Military Operations of the two countries had continued in recent months despite periodic flare-ups along the LoC. The DGMOs speak on the hotline when there is a specific request from one side, the people added.
Troops from the two sides have traded fire since relations between the two countries hit a low after the Pulwama suicide attack in February 2019 and India’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019.
The people said that while the Indian side had agreed on the ceasefire, there was no question of lowering the guard when it comes to operations to counter infiltration along the LoC or terrorism within Jammu and Kashmir.
“The main idea is to have peace along the LoC so that the local population doesn’t suffer,” said one of the people cited above.
India and Pakistan had agreed along a ceasefire on the LoC in November 2003 but it has been frequently violated in recent years.
On Wednesday, the Indian Army chief, Gen MM Naravane, had said India wants peace and tranquillity along all its borders, be it the LAC, LoC or the frontier with Myanmar.
“With our continuous engagement with Pakistan, we will be able to prevail over them (for border peace)...as unsettled borders help no one,” he told a virtual seminar.
Naravane, however, said terror launchpads were active across the LoC, and the army will be prepared for a fresh influx of infiltrators in the summer.