ISLAMABAD: In a rare positive development, Pakistan and India agreed on Tuesday to restore cease­fire on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB) whose violation has left over 100 dead during the last nearly a year and half on the Pakistani side.

The agreement was reached during a hotline conversation between the Directors General of Military Operations of Pakistani and Indian armies. The conversation between Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was held on a Pakistani initiative.

It was unprecedented for both sides to issue almost identical statements on the conversation, which unlike before did not accuse the other of wrongdoing. It could have easily been made a joint statement had it not been for the difference in their terminology like Working Boundary versus International Border and some other minor details that the respective sides decided to put in.

From the timing of the conversation, which was stated by India to be 18:00hrs and the immediate release of press statements afterwards, which normally does not happen and takes at least a few hours, it looked that the agreement had been reached earlier and the two commanders spoke only to formally commit to the understanding.

Accord reached during hotline conversation between directors general of military operations of both countries

It is a possibility that the agreement was formally approved by Pakistan’s National Security Committee that met earlier in the day and pledged to continue efforts for peace and stability.

“Both DGs MO agreed 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,” the similarly phrased operational part of the statements issued by both sides said.

The other operational part that too had similar phrasing carried the commitment of commanders on both sides to show restraint. Both directors general further agreed that “in case of any issue, restraint will be exercised and the matter will be resolved through utilisation of existing mechanisms of hotline contacts and border flag meetings at local commander’s level”.

The original 2003 agreement on having ceasefire along the LoC and WB was also reached during the hotline conversation of the DGs MO.

Dawn had reported on January 15 that India and Pakistan were considering fresh confidence-building measures for lowering of tensions along the LoC and WB, including a possible meeting of the DGs MO. The story was then rebutted by the defence ministry.

Ceasefire violations had been on the rise for several years now but a sharp spike was seen during the Modi government. India last year committed 1,881 ceasefire violations — the highest number of breaches since the 2003 ceasefire understanding. Those violations left 87 martyred on the Pakistani side, civilian and military casualties included. This year 1,050 ceasefire violations have been committed by India in just five months leaving 28 civilians dead. Scores of soldiers have also been martyred but the military has not released the casualty figure this year so far and just in one instance four troops were martyred in January.

Indian troops had moreover been sniping with heavy calibre weapons and targeting women and children terrorising the civilian population and had also targeted line of communication. The Indians had for this purpose employed artillery, heavy mortars, missiles, rockets and heavy automatics, besides using deadly air bursts.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018

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