India, Pakistan agree to honour 2003 ceasefire pact

New Delhi: In a major breakthrough after months of cross-border hostilities, India and Pakistan have decided to restore peace along the border by honouring the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

“The officials from India and Pakistan have agreed to fully implement the ceasefire understanding of 2003 in letter and spirit and to ensure that the ceasefire agreement will not be violated by both sides from now on,” the Indian army said in a media statement.


Ranbir Singh Pura district In this photo taken on May 24, 2018 an Indian villager performs prayers outside his house that was gutted following firing from the Pakistan border, at Jora farm village, in Ranbir Singh Pura district near Jammu. AFP

The army said it was mutually agreed that in case of any issue, restraint would be exercised and the matter be resolved through utilisation of existing mechanisms of hotline contacts and border flag meetings at local commanders’ level.

Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan“The hotline mechanism was initiated by Pakistan Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza with his Indian counterpart Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan (pictured). Both the DGMOs reviewed the prevailing situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir,” the army said.

According to an army spokesperson, Lt Gen Chauhan “immediately” agreed with the Pakistani proposal to improve the situation along the borders.

1,088
ceasefire violations along LoC in the first five months of 2018

Political analyst Vivek Mishra said the talks came after repeated ceasefire violations on the borders which caused many civilian casualties in the last two months.

“The announcement fits the pattern of peace between the two countries. But the key issue is whether infiltration from across the LoC stops. For the two countries that came close to war following the December 13, 2001, attack … on Parliament House, the initiative to honour the 2003 agreement is a major step forward in the peace process,”

This ceasefire announcement follows Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s May 16 announcement that security forces would terminate offensive operations in Kashmir during the month of Ramadan.

 The hotline mechanism was initiated by Pakistan Director-General of Military Operations Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza with his Indian counterpart Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan.”

 – Statement by Indian military 

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Pakistan carried out more than 1,088 ceasefire violations along LoC and International Border (IB) in the first five months of 2018.

The firing claimed 36 lives on the Indian side and left more than 120 injured.

Political commentator Vijay Chaturvedi said in order to restore peace, it was imperative to stop terrorism from across LoC.

“India and Pakistan agreeing on honouring the 2003 ceasefire agreement is a welcome step. Two days ago, Army chief General Bipin Rawat sent a clear-cut message to Pakistan that India was willing to extend the ongoing Ramadan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir for the benefit of civilians. But unless cross-border [militancy] and infiltration is completely stopped by Pakistan, no real peace can be achieved through any agreement,” Chaturvedi told Gulf News.

 The onus of de-escalation along the LoC rests with Pakistan Army provided they stop supporting terrorists and put an end to unprovoked ceasefire violations to abet infiltration.”

 – Lt Gen Anil Chauhan | DGMO, Indian military 

The routine talks between India and Pakistan were held between senior military officers of the two countries on May 22. Before that, hotline talks were held between the two DGMOs on April 27.

At that time, Lt Gen Chauhan had told his Pakistani counterpart that firing by Indian troops was only carried out in response to support given by Pakistani army to terrorists.

“The onus of de-escalation along the LoC rests with Pakistan Army provided they stop supporting terrorists and put an end to unprovoked ceasefire violations to abet infiltration,” Lt Gen Chauhan had said.

What does the ceasefire mean?

With minor violations, the 2003 ceasefire agreement had worked well until the end of 2016

A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. The 2003 ceasefire agreement was a result of high-level diplomatic dialogue between India and Pakistan to establish peace following the December 13, 2001 Parliament attacks.

The ceasefire was announced by the two countries on November 26, 2003. Before the 2003 agreement, there had been decisions to lower the level of firing, or even observe maximum restraint.

But it was in 2003 that for the first time India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire that covered the International Border, the Line of Control (LoC) and Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir.

With minor violations, the 2003 ceasefire agreement had worked well until the end of 2016, following the surgical strikes by Indian Army on terror launch pads across LoC.

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