CEASEFIRE ALONG LoC

The proof of the pudding is in its eating. The militaries of India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement saying a ceasefire has come into force since Thursday along the Line of Control. It said that the existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meets will be used to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstand. It remains to be seen how strong is this resolve on the part of both Pakistan and India, given the kind of belligerence that the LoC witnessed in recent years.

Though a ceasefire agreement signed in 2003 was in existence, the recent years saw frequent violations resulting in several deaths. As many as 24 security personnel had been killed in the border firing between Pakistan and India as per counts here in the last one year. There was a 70 per cent increase in such violations in 2020, which meant over 5000 incidents, as against some 3,500 the previous year. India has not lagged behind in the ceasefire violations and the explanation here was they were responses to the Pakistani firings.

What prompted the present thaw is not clear. Overall, the Pakistani military is not as aggressive against India as it had been in the past, at least in terms or rhetoric. The Balakot aerial attack by IAF fighter jets hit the pride of the generals there and a partial loss of esteem for them before the Pakistani public and political leadership. The Imran Khan-led government is not being aggressive against India; and after a long standoff, word now is that bilateral discussions will be resumed.

This fits in well with the thaw along the Line of Actual Control vis-à-vis China, where too tension is easing and peace has beckoned. If China softened its stand on India, it was bound to have a positive impact on Pakistan’s attitudes towards India. The return of peace in the Ladakh region could also help India turn its attention to the western side and keep its powder dry there for any eventualities. Pakistan understands as much if the present ceasefire agreement is any indication.

India is a soft power. It has not entertained any military designs on neighbours or others in the past. It was attacked by China and Pakistan and there were only counter-offensives. In a way, this helps the government to concentrate on the developmental front; something that Pakistan will take more years to learn. Be that as it may, the present ceasefire agreement is a good step in the right direction.

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