New Delhi: In a significant development, India and Pakistan have agreed to strictly observe ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 February, a joint statement said Thursday.
The Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact, said the statement issued by the Army.
It said the two sides reviewed the situation along the LoC and all other sectors in a “free, frank and cordial atmosphere”.
“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence,” it said.
“Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding,” the statement added.
While India and Pakistan had signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003, it was never implemented in letter and spirit after the initial few years.
According to official data, there were 5,133 instances of ceasefire violations along the LoC last year, which resulted in 46 fatalities. This year, as of 28 January, there were 299 violations, and one fatality had been reported till 1 February.
Pullback of specialised elements
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that according to the understanding, both countries are pulling back specialised offensive units from the LoC starting Thursday evening.
Specialised units operate along the LoC on both sides, carrying out offensive operations against each other. The pullback means these units will move away from the forward positions at the LoC and will be re-inducted as and when necessary.
The move comes after at least three months of back-channel talks at various levels, ThePrint has learnt.
It also comes just weeks after Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa called for resolving the Jammu and Kashmir issue in a “dignified and peaceful manner”.
The LoC equations had changed over the last three months with units being strictly asked not to carry out any offensive action like snipping, among others, sources said.
Several offensive units posted along the LoC have been asked to pull back while the regular soldiers meant for anti-infiltration grids will remain, they said. The agreement is limited to ensuring peace along the LoC as “peace along the LoC was mutually beneficial”, added the sources.
They also said the people living along the LoC will also heave a sigh of relief as they were the worst affected due to ceasefire violations.
The sources also explained that past peace initiatives have been hampered by inimical elements in Pakistan, which used terrorists to launch attacks, and India is “cautiously optimistic” this time. They underlined that the Army remains committed to fighting terrorism and any terror activity will be given “befitting response”.
“There will be no let up in counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism operation,” said a source.
It was not immediately known if Pakistan Army had given an assurance on shutting down terror launch pads and camps along the LoC, but sources said India raised this issue.