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Army chief in Kashmir ‘to take stock’ as ‘fragile’ ceasefire with Pakistan completes 100 days

While there has been no ceasefire violation along LoC since 25 February, sources say, terror infrastructure like training camps continues to operate in PoK, though on a smaller scale.

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New Delhi: Army chief General M.M. Naravane has reached Srinagar to take stock of the security situation in Kashmir and along the Line of Control (LoC), where the ceasefire with Pakistan has completed 100 days.

Sources in the defence establishment said the chief will be briefed on the operational matters and overall security scenario by 15 Corps Commander Lt Gen. D.P. Pandey and his team.

India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire along their tense border in 2003, but it was never followed in letter and spirit after an initial spell of silence. On 25 February, the directors-general of military operations on the two sides decided to strictly implement the ceasefire. The ceasefire, the sources said, has held up since then bar one round of firing between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers along the International Border.

According to official figures, the total number of ceasefire violations this year stands at 592. Of this, 591 took place before 25 February. In comparison, between 1 January 2020 and 1 June 2020, Pakistan violated the ceasefire a total of 1,531 times.

In all, 2020 saw 4,635 ceasefire violations, up from 3,233 in 2019.

Despite the ceasefire, sources in the defence and security establishment said terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) remain in place, if at a reduced scale. Infiltration, they added, has come down, with sources in the security establishment saying there was zero terror infiltration in March, April and May.


Also Read: Pakistan keeps making bad decisions with India. Its insecurity is hurting peace


‘Fragile ceasefire’

Sources in the security establishment describe the ceasefire at the LoC as “fragile”, saying Pakistan will turn up the heat when it feels the time is right.

They said peace along the LoC is in favour of both countries, but more so for Pakistan.

“There are multiple factors behind the ceasefire initiative, like the global scrutiny, pullout of US-led forces from Afghanistan, and the need for them to refocus away from the LoC. There is a section within the Pakistan Army that wants peace but they seem to be facing opposition,” said a source.

“Moreover, none of the other peace initiatives is yet to be formalised. Hence, the current ceasefire can be termed fragile,” the source added.

The sources said it is important for other initiatives — like resumption of diplomatic ties with the appointment of high commissioners, and bilateral and multilateral forum talks — to take off for the ceasefire at the LoC to be successful.

Terror infrastructure continues

While there has been no ceasefire violation along the LoC since 25 February, security and defence sources said terror infrastructure like training camps continues to operate in PoK.

However, security sources said the training camps have been scaled down a lot, an assessment that is shared by the defence establishment.

While defence sources said infiltration has come down, sources in the security establishment claimed there was no terror infiltration in March, April and May.

However, they did say that arms and ammunition continue to be pumped into Kashmir through other routes besides the LoC, on a much smaller scale than before.

“The terror infrastructure continues across the LoC, though on a smaller scale. This was actually reduced after the Balakot strike (2019). The terror support to elements in Kashmir continues through hawala operators and other means, though again on a smaller scale than before,” a source said.

Another source added that while a feeling of alienation is still high in Kashmir, the situation remains under control.

“From a security point of view, the situation remains under control. It is at a level that can be managed. There has not been any infiltration since the ceasefire announcements. This is the season of infiltration and hence one needs to be watchful,” the source said.

This is an updated version of the report

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)


Also Read: Under Modi, India more likely to respond to Pakistan provocation with military force: US intel


 

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