Pakistan, India agree to strictly observe ceasefire along Kashmir border

Pakistani and Indian militaries have come to an agreement to strictly observe a ceasefire at the de facto border between the two countries in the disputed region of Kashmir.

The directors-general of military operations (DGMO) of the Indian and Pakistani militaries held discussions over a hotline between their offices, a joint statement said.

“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the LOC and all other sectors, with effect from midnight,” said the statement.

The statement said talks were held “in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere” between the armies of the two nuclear-armed countries.

A ceasefire has been in place at the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, since 2003, but it is frequently violated by both sides, resulting in civilian and military casualties.

Exchange of fire between the two armies killed 28 civilians and wounded 257 others in 2020 in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, officials Pakistan’s foreign office said.

In 2020, Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the LoC at least 5,133 times, resulting in 22 civilians and 24 soldiers being killed, as well as 197 injuries, according to India’s home affairs ministry.

Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, welcomed the ceasefire announcement, saying “the two countries should also initiate a political dialogue and reconciliation to bring peace in Kashmir”.

India and Pakistan have fought three full-scale wars and several smaller conflicts since they gained independence from the British in 1947. Two of those three wars were over the region of Kashmir, which both claim in full but administer separate portions of.

Relations have come to a standstill since February 2019, when India accused a Pakistan-based armed group of carrying out an attack that killed more than 40 Indian security personnel in the Indian-administered Kashmir town of Pulwama.

India carried out an air raid on Pakistani soil days later, resulting in retaliatory attacks by Pakistan and an aerial dogfight that saw at least one Indian fighter jet shot down by Pakistan.

Hostilities cooled after Pakistan returned the pilot of that aircraft, but relations have remained frozen. India accuses Pakistan of supporting armed groups that target Indian security forces in Kashmir and elsewhere, while Pakistan has made the same allegation against India.