Pakistan-India Tensions: Will Guns Remain Silent at LoC?

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                  By Sajjad Shaukat PAK VT

In a major development to deescalate tensions, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India have agreed to strictly observe the 2003 ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control (LoC) and other sectors, including Working Boundary from the midnight of February 24 and 25, this year.

In this regard, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar stated on February 25 that the mechanism of military contacts between Pakistan and India had existed since 1987, while an understanding on ceasefire was reached in 2003. Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding—the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core concerns which have the propensity to disturb the peace.

DG ISPR elaborated that after the 2003 understanding, ceasefire was observed with some incidents of violation. However, there had been a spike in ceasefire violations (CFVs) since 2014. Some 92 percent of over 13,500 CFVs from Indian troops occurred from 2014 till now—a total of 310 citizens on the Pakistan side have been martyred, while 1,600 were injured—49 women and 36 children were amongst those martyred in CFVs only during the last four years. The highest number of CFVs was recorded in 2019, while the highest number of casualties occurred during year 2018.

According to a Foreign Office (FO) count, “in 2020 alone, “Indian small arms, and mortar fire and artillery shells killed at least 28 civilians and wounded 257 more in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)…Since January 1[2021],  Indian troops have violated the ceasefire at least 175 times”.

Nevertheless, very tensions escalated between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Indian false flag terror attack at Pulwama in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), when on February 27, 2019, in response to the Indian so-called air strike in the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the IIOJK.

After the episode, without any inquiry, India’s top civil and military officials accused that the militants who targeted Pulwama came from Azad Kashmir. New Delhi created war-hysteria against Islamabad and started mobilization of troops near the LoC.

In the recent revelations, the EU DisinfoLab disclosed the leaked WhatsApp chats of Indian Channel Republic TV-Arnab Goswami who exposed Modi-led government’s sinister designs to blame Pakistan for the false flag Pulwama attack of February 14, 2019 in which 40 soldiers were killed. Regarding Balakot, Goswami added that Modi ventured into dangerous military adventurism to win the 2019 general election”, while he was aware of the Indian plans well in advance.

And Modi-led government unilaterally abrogated the special status of the IIOJK on August 5, 2019 when Indian Parliament revoked articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution. The act split the IIOJK into two territories to be ruled directly by New Delhi. The purpose was to turn Muslim majority into minority. Since then, India has continued military lockdown in the IIOJK. In order to divert attention from the drastic situation of the IIOJK, Indian perennial state terrorism on the Kashmiris, including Indian other internal crises, Indian forces had accelerated shelling inside Pakistani side by violating the ceasefire agreement of 2013 in relation to the LoC and had compelled Pakistan Army to give a matching reply.

Nonetheless, calling a political initiative, the majority of Kashmiris, their leaders and some foreign entities like the US have welcomed the new ceasefire agreement between the two neighbouring countries by remaking that it would lead to a broader settlement of issues between the two countries, especially on Kashmir, as the original 2003 ceasefire agreement was followed by direct dialogue between the two countries.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yousaf stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan time and again had expressed Pakistan’s desire for peace in the region by explaining that it was due to Pakistan’s efforts for peace that India had agreed to peace at the LoC.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed it a positive development. However, he said it would largely depend on India’s good intentions to observe ceasefire.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the move was taken to de-escalate the violence.

Indian former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Tirumallai Cunnuvakum Anandanpillai Raghavan stated that both the countries derive that “prolonged instability is not in either’s interest—the agreement is a limited one, aimed only at maintaining the 2003 ceasefire, reinforcing it.”

Defence analyst Lt. Gen. (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi opined that it could be a positive step, but observed that peace in the region was not possible till India stopped state terrorism in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and resolution of the long standing issue.

A Pakistan’s national security official also pointed out that the ceasefire was a positive development and warned the gains were fragile.

Notably, Indian fanatic Prime Minister Narendra Modi-the leader of the extremist ruling party BJP had got a land sliding victory in the Indian general elections 2014 and 2019. During the election-campaigns, Hindu majority was mobilized on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans and ‘anti-Pakistan’ jargons. Hence, Modi continues anti-Muslim policies. So, he is unpredictable and can, again, take a u-turn, which could result into violation of the recent ceasefire agreement, as Indian past records also shows.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: [email protected]

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