Young voices on Kashmir

Ceasefire in Kashmir: A Road to Possibilities

Hunain Mahmood
In a sudden move, Pakistan and India had recommitted themselves to the 2003 ceasefire arrangement at the Line of Control (LoC) agreeing to address the core issues that could undermine peace and stability. The surprise announcement was made in a joint statement on a ‘hotline contact’ between the Directors-Generals Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan.

The statement reveals that both sides agreed to strict observance of all agreements, understandings, and cease fire along the LoC and all other sectors, with effect from midnight 24/25 February, 2021.

It reminds us of the years 2001-2002 when India and Pakistan were on the brink of war. After decades of tension along the Line of Control, India and Pakistan finally agreed to a ceasefire in 2003 to stop the war from happening which was sustained by and large until 2015. However, tension along LoC kept on increasing since Prime Minister Modi assumed power in New Delhi.

The Line of Control is a 740 km-long military-controlled line between India and Pakistan which divides Jammu and Kashmir into two parts. It was officially marked in 1972. The area under Indian occupation is divided into areas called Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The Pakistani-controlled part is divided into Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Although the dividing line was established in 1971 shortly after the end of the war but its functional status followed ups and downs due to the fluctuating relations between both countries.

The international media and world powers gave a very positive response to the announcement of the ceasefire. The UN spokesperson Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The Secretary-General is encouraged by the joint statement issued by the militaries of India and Pakistan on their agreement to observing the ceasefire at the Line of Control in Kashmir and engaging through established mechanisms.”

The European Union has also welcomed the agreement to observe a ceasefire and engage through established mechanisms. “This is an important step in the interest of regional peace and stability on which to build further bilateral dialogue,” said Nabila Massrali, EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The United States White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also applauded the joint statement issued by India and Pakistan. She said, “This is a positive step towards greater peace and stability in South Asia, which is in all shared — is in our shared interest. And we encourage both countries to keep building upon this progress.”
Additionally, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “we encourage continued efforts to improve communication between the two sides and to reduce tensions and violence along the Line of Control.”

The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan also hailed the ceasefire agreement and remarked on his official Twitter account, "I welcome restoration of the ceasefire along the LoC. The onus of creating an enabling environment for further progress rests with India."

The people living near the LoC villages often find themselves caught in cross-firings from both sides during conflicts and skirmishes. Such incidents lead to the destruction of homes and public properties. The sufferings of these people, although covered broadly by the local media, are still ignored by the international media.

Being forced to leave their homes, denied education and healthcare can have an unfavorable effect on these communities.

It is reported that more than 13,500 incidents of ceasefire violations since 2003 have claimed the lives of 310 citizens and injured 1600. While talking to this scribe; Muhammad Latif, an inhabitant of the region across the LoC, expressed his joy over this development and hope that it would sustain. He recalled how the last 5 years had been a nightmare for him and his family due to periodic cross-firing. He confided that his sister lost her right leg and could not pursue her education due to the fear of losing her life. This is not only Muhammad Latif’s story but almost every household located near the LoC shares a similar tale. This proves that a ceasefire on the Line of Control was imperative and the real need of the hour.

Hunain Mahmood

The writer is a student of Public Administration and Governance at NUML University, Islamabad. She can be reached at hunainmehmud101@gmail.com

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