On Thursday, Pakistan and India said they were bound by a 2003 ceasefire agreement. Both also agreed to tackle “major issues” that could undermine peace and stability.
The surprise announcement came in a joint statement by the two countries militaries about their “contact hotline” between their general military operations (DGMO), which appeared to have taken place the day before.
The conversation between Pakistani Major General Nauman Zakaria and his counterpart, India’s Lieutenant General Paramjit Sangha, was described as “free” and “open” and took place in a “friendly atmosphere”.
The agreement reached between them took effect the night before. So, the breach of the LoC ceasefire ended at midnight on 24 and 25 February.
“Qureshi terms agreement a positive development; Delhi says India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan“
“The two sides have agreed to strictly adhere to all agreements, understandings and ceasefires with respect to the LoC. Also at all other sectors from February 24-25 2021 at midnight,” the statement said.
While in November 2003, Pakistan and India agreed to a ceasefire at the LoC and on the border. The deal has been upheld for several years, but violations have occurred regularly since 2008. Since 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in India, there has been a sharp increase in ceasefire violations. In the past year, Indian troops committed more than 3,000 ceasefire violations, in which 28 people were martyred.
The statement said the two sides had agreed to revitalize existing mechanisms – contact hotlines. Also for flag meetings – to “resolve any unforeseen situations or misunderstandings”.
When was ‘Hotline’ established?
The hotline is one of the oldest military trust-building measures between Pakistan and India. Hotline contacts were originally established in 1971, but their use has had ups and downs in the relationship. During their secretarial talks in August 1992, the two sides agreed to continue communication with DGMO via a weekly hotline. However, the practice cannot be permanent and will depend on the circumstances of the bilateral relationship.
One of the main pieces of a statement that doesn’t get much attention is a commitment to addressing the main problem plaguing the relationship.
“In order to achieve a mutually beneficial and sustainable peace, the two militaries agreed to jointly address the main issues/concerns. Issues which disturb peace and lead to violence,” the statement said.
In practice, this means that the understanding reached between the two countries goes beyond the 2003 agreement and is committed to solving the real problem – Kashmir from the Pakistani point of view.
The announcement, whether intentional or deliberate, came on the eve of the second anniversary of the February 2019 air strikes between the two countries following the attack on Pulwama.
How the agreement has reached?
The outcome of DGMO’s conversation was significant, but people were curious to see how the two sides could get to that point despite all their differences.
Without a convincing explanation from Islamabad or Delhi, diplomatic observers believe this is the result of some reverse channel talks that may be under way. But who has involved?
Sources claim that this happened between the intelligence services of the two countries with the blessing of their respective military leaders. Almost everyone agrees that not many people know both sides.
In India it reported that Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval engaged in a feedback dialogue. Several Indian media organizations have speculated that the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for National Security, Moeed Yusuf, was a Pakistani man.
However, Yusuf tweeted that he involved in backchannel conversations. He tweeted, “There is no such conversation between me and Mr Doval.”
In another tweet, he said the deal was the result of a DGMO dialogue “carried out personally and professionally through direct channels”.
In an audio clip he made earlier that day on social media, Pak Yusuf heard saying, “These things are happening behind the scenes. There is a lot of effort involve. Do you think it happened without effort or pressure?”
Pakistani views on Occupied Kashmir issue
Yusuf in interview with Karan Tapar in October 2020, the first carried out by a Pakistani employee in Indian media. Since India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir in August 2019, and said India had sent a message expressing a desire for talks.
It should also be remembered that Army General Qamar Bajwa made a gesture aimed at resolving tensions in two statements earlier this month. At the PAF Academy he said, “It is time to reach out in all directions peacefully.”
Another meaning of the agreement is that the Pakistani government has committed itself to India. Even though it has determined that it will not do so until India revokes its annexation of imprisoned Kashmir. Also ends human rights abuses there.
Positive developments after agreement
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi welcomed the agreement and said it was positive. “This could be a good start for the future. India must sincerely uphold this ceasefire agreement.” How can we make progress in occupied Kashmir if the environment is not supportive, “he said.
Mr. Qureshi believes the deal can keep the situation from getting worse. “Pakistan seeks peaceful relations with its neighbors,” he added.
Responding to this, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “India wants normal neighborly relations with Pakistan. We always say that we are committed to solving any problem peacefully and bilaterally.”