The bilateral relations of the India and Pakistan seemed to have taken a new turn with the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries deciding to observe the informal Ceasefire Agreement of 2003 at the Line of Control (LoC) in “letter and spirit”, on 29th May 2018. Had it been 2003, it would have been sufficient to celebrate such a development as it was for the first time that such an agreement of peace was agreed upon. However, revisiting the agreement and recognizing the same terms in 2018 poses some major questions before us.
Firstly, an agreement to observe the understanding of 2003 in 2018 highlights how the implementation of the same had failed on part of both the sides over all these years. The Ministry of Home Affairs, India, has recorded as many as 1250 violations of the ceasefire in the first five months of the 2018 and 971, 449 and 405 violations of the 2003 understanding in years 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively. The brunt of these violations is not only borne by the military troops, involved in almost regular firing processes that have followed since 2003, but also or rather majorly, by the civilians on either sides. In an article The Hindu actually talks about the data presented by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and states that just between “18 to 22 January, 14 people including seven civilians were killed and over 70 were injured in firing from the Pakistan side along the International Boundary in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts as well as along the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts.” This is just one reference; there are several other unfortunate examples which pose a humungous question upon the sustainability of agreements like that of 2003.
The second important problem associated with the resolution of the border conflicts is the narrative around infiltration activities in the Jammu and Kashmir region. India was always willing to abide by the ceasefire proposals be it in 2003 or its revival in 2018, but one of the main reasons for India to resort to violations of the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement was the need to respond to the infiltrations carried out by terrorist outfits across the Line of Control (LoC) for example the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army in 2016 on terror launch pads. If we go by the reports from The Hindu about last year’s hotline talks between India and Pakistan, whereby “Lt General Chauhan had again told his counterpart that firing by Indian troops is only carried out on the LoC in response to the support given by the Pakistan Army to armed terrorists, who infiltrate across the border and target Indian Army posts,” then it won’t be wrong to conclude that even if the Pakistan army agrees to abide by the ceasefire, even then peace cannot be guaranteed.
Thirdly, another question that has come up before India is that of a lack confidence in the consequent prevalence of peace. India has failed to come out with any concrete rhetoric around the assurance of peace and confidence in the observation of 29th May 2018. While on one hand Indian Border Security Force (BSF) continues to claim to be stationed with a strong vigil in the Jammu and Kashmir region on account of the infiltrations, on the other the Defence Minister of the India continues to re-emphasize upon the fact that India will definitely react if provoked, such a statement indicates a lack of confidence in the recognition of the Ceasefire Agreement of 2003, on part of the authorities. What is unfortunate is that after so many violations of the Ceasefire Agreement of 2003 such an attitude becomes inevitable.
All of the above questions clearly indicate the poor efficiency of the Ceasefire Agreement of 2003 as well as its observation once again. Today the crises, to which both the countries are brought to on account of the long drawn conflict over Jammu and Kashmir region, calls for a concrete bilateral dialogue and absolute solution rather than short term temporary measures. It’s high time that the suffering of civilians on either sides ceases and the potential solutions to put an end to the issues between India and Pakistan be given directed attention.
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