India, Pakistan agree to ceasefire along border

A Pakistani soldier monitors the border with India

India and Pakistan agreed to a cease-fire to end months of fighting along their disputed border in Kashmir.

The militaries of the two nations issued a rare joint statement Thursday saying their respective director generals discussed the situation in “a free, frank and cordial atmosphere” and agreed to ramp down hostilities along the Line of Control. Skirmishes along the border, including exchanges of gunfire and shelling, have killed scores of civilians. 

“In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence,” the statement said. “Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021.

“Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilised to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding.”

Kashmir has long been a point of contention between India and Pakistan. Both nuclear-armed neighbors claim the entire region as their sovereign territory, but each country only controls portions of it.

A number of wars have been fought over the territory, though fighting has increased since 2014. Tensions most recently flared up in 2019 when retaliatory strikes renewed as India stripped the autonomous statuses of Jammu and Kashmir and began to administer federal rule, a move Pakistan panned. 

Politicians in Indian Kashmir praised the cease-fire as a step in the right direction to end further violence.

“A big & welcome development that India & Pakistan have agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC. Dialogue is the only way forward if both countries want to stop the unending cycle of violence & bloodshed across the borders and J&K,” tweeted Kashmiri politician Mehbooba Mufti.

Beyond Kashmir, India and Pakistan have a long history of sour relations. The two countries have fought three full-scale wars since gaining independence in 1947. However, Pakistan appeared to open the door to further dialogue, saying at a conference in Sri Lanka that Pakistan’s only dispute with India is over Kashmir and negotiations could solve the problem, according to Indian media.

Tags India Indo-Pakistani wars Kashmir conflict Pakistan

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