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LoC ceasefire outcome of ‘behind the scenes’ contacts: Pakistan’s de facto NSA

Moeed Yusuf, who holds the post of special assistant to Khan on national security and strategic policy planning, said in an audio statement released in Islamabad that the ceasefire, which began at midnight on February 24, is a “very solid and positive” development and should be welcomed
By Rezaul H Laskar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 05:12 PM IST
BSF soldiers patrol next to a stream near the LoC, at Sabjiyan sector of Poonch district. (HT archive)

The agreement between the Indian and Pakistani armies on the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) is the outcome of “behind the scenes” contacts and “more roads will open” in future, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s key advisor on security affairs said on Thursday.

Moeed Yusuf, who holds the post of special assistant to Khan on national security and strategic policy planning, said in an audio statement released in Islamabad that the ceasefire, which began at midnight on February 24, is a “very solid and positive” development and should be welcomed.

“So when people ask what is the [Pakistan] government’s policy and what is it doing on Kashmir, and nothing is happening, they should realise that such things are done behind the scenes. Lots of effort is being made,” Yusuf said, speaking in Urdu.

“This is our success and the success of diplomacy and, God willing, more roads will open in the future,” he added.

As first reported by Hindustan Times, the joint statement by the armies of India and Pakistan on the ceasefire came months after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Moeed Yusuf initiated back-channel conversations to ensure peace on the borders.

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Doval and Yusuf have been in touch directly and via interlocutors from the intelligence community, and the joint statement was the first outcome of these conversations that included at least one face-to-face meeting in a third country.

Yusuf appeared to be alluding to these conversations when he spoke of things being done “behind the scenes”. He added: “Do you think that, without effort and without pressure, this thing happened that India was not agreeing to for so many months and years?”

He also contended that the joint statement was a “victory for Pakistan” as India was not agreeing to a ceasefire. Pakistan, he said, was “repeatedly saying that we want peace and we want that there should be a ceasefire at the LoC” so that innocent civilians aren’t killed.

“Today’s development is very solid and positive and it should be welcomed and it is the success of our policy that is being seen in this development,” Yusuf said. He added: “The problem of Kashmir that we want to resolve, and the way we want to resolve it, will happen.”

People familiar with developments in Islamabad said Yusuf has been playing a key role in efforts to foster a rapprochement with India and that his work has the backing of the powerful military, including Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

Addressing a graduation ceremony at the Pakistan Air Force Academy on February 3, Bajwa had said that Pakistan is committed to peaceful co-existence and the time had come to extend a “hand of peace in all directions”. He had also said that Pakistan and India should resolve the Kashmir issue in a “dignified and peaceful manner”.

Bajwa’s remarks were then perceived as an offer for talks, but the external affairs ministry said on February 4 that the onus was on Pakistan for creating an environment free of terror, hostility and violence to foster normal neighbourly relations.

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