ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India pledged on Tuesday to uphold the 2003 Line of Control (LoC) ceasefire accord which had been left in tatters by repeated violations this year. The truce breaches had put the nascent bilateral peace dialogue on hold.
The two countries agreed to a number of steps to keep the ceasefire accord intact.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the directors general of military operations (DGMOs) of the two countries. It took place on the initiative of the political leadership of the two countries for ending tensions along the LoC.
“Both DGMOs showed their commitment to maintain the sanctity and ceasefire on the Line of Control,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting of Pakistani DGMO Major General Aamer Riaz with his Indian counterpart Lt General Vinodh Bhatia.
The meeting, requested by Pakistan, was held at Wagah border on the Pakistani side.
“Both sides reiterated resolve and commitment to continue efforts for ensuring ceasefire, peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control,” the statement said.
Pakistan accuses India of 416 LoC ceasefire violations this year while the latter blames the former for violating the accord about 150 times.
Repeated ceasefire violations this year -- first after the attack on a Pakistani post by Indian troops in January and then after another in August on Indian border patrol apparently by insurgents -- increased acrimony between the two countries. However, the biggest casualty was the peace dialogue which the two countries had resumed after the Mumbai attacks and none of its segments could meet this year.
Problems were also faced in scheduling a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. When the two leaders finally met in September they agreed to a meeting of the DGMOs for deliberations on the ceasefire violations.
The DGMOs meeting could not be scheduled for three months for unexplained reasons. The breakthrough finally came with a Pakistani invitation to Indian DGMO, which India immediately accepted.
Both sides described the meeting as “cordial, positive and constructive”. However, details agreed by the two sides showed that they were serious about lowering the temperatures along their de-facto border.
“The positivity at the meeting and the fact that it went so smooth is in itself a great confidence building measure,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said.
Both sides agreed on “re-energising the existing mechanisms” for resolving complaints of violations and making the hotline contact between the DGMOs more effective.
A mechanism for notification of inadvertent crossers was also agreed upon.
“It was also decided to inform each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crosses the Line of Control, in order to ensure his/her early return,” the statement said. Two flag meetings would be held for a follow-up of the decisions taken at Wagah meeting. “To carry forward the positive spirit of DGsMOs meeting, two flag meetings between brigade commanders will be held on the Line of Control in the near future, to ensure maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the LoC,” the joint statement said.
Indian news agency PTI said that on his return from Pakistan, Lt Gen Bhatia told journalists that the aim of the meeting was to work out a protocol to defuse tensions and uphold the ceasefire on the LoC.
Both sides had assured each other that they would ensure there is no violation of the ceasefire in future, he said.
Pakistan had proposed the inclusion of foreign ministry officials in the meeting of the DGMOs, but India rejected the move. Pakistan’s Foreign Office said last week that its proposal for including diplomats in such meetings was “still on the table”.
Lt Gen Bhatia did not respond to questions on whether the Indian side had raised the issue of the beheading of an Indian soldier on the LoC, the Indian news agency said.