NEWS After registering 5,130 ceasefire violations in 2020, along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement for the first time in years, announcing that they would observe the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC).
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS CEASEFIRE
- This announcement is a recognition in New Delhi and Islamabad that they cannot afford to let violence spiral out of control given its inherently escalatory nature as events, evident from Pulwama terror attack in February 2019.
- The significance of this agreement lies in its difference from the routine ceasefire assurances that the two sides made till January 2021. Its two distinct features are:
- This was a joint statement by the two Director Generals of Military Operations (DGsMO),
- Unlike the previous declarations, the recent agreement mentions a specific date, i.e., the night of February 24-25, to begin the ceasefire.
- Also, it will help New Delhi to defuse an ugly two-front situation and a feeling of being boxed in by an inimical Pakistan and an aggressive China.
HISTORY OF INDIA-PAKISTAN CEASEFIRES
- The history of India Pakistan ceasefire pacts and war termination agreements is both complex and instructive.
- The Karachi agreement of 1949 which ended the first war between newly formed India and Pakistan, was the first ceasefire agreement between the two countries which, signed under the good offices of the United Nations, created the India Pakistan boundary in Kashmir called the Ceasefire Line or CFL.
- The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was mandated to monitor the ceasefire along the CFL.
- The 1965 India-Pakistan war also ended in a ceasefire, but since status quo ante bellum was restored after the Tashkent Agreement, the CFL in Kashmir remained unaltered.
- However, the India-Pakistan war of 1971 would change that. The December ceasefire which ended the 1971 war was enshrined into the Simla Agreement the following year.
- But unlike 1965, status quo ante bellum was not restored by the Simla Agreement, a decision that would have important implications for bilateral relations.
- The Suchetgarh Agreement of 1972 delineated the ‘line of control’ in Jammu and Kashmir which resulted from the ceasefire of December 1971 thereby renaming the CFL as the LoC.
- By this smart move, Indian negotiators not only changed the nomenclature of the India-Pakistan dividing line in Kashmir and the physical alignment of the border in Jammu and Kashmir, but also made the UNMOGIP presence in Kashmir irrelevant.
- Though the UN force was mandated to ensure a ceasefire on the CFL, there was no CFL after 1972, and, more so, the UN was not even a party to the Simla Agreement unlike the Karachi Agreement.
- The 2003 agreement between the DGsMO, was a reiteration of the December 1971 war termination ceasefire, therefore, technically even the February 2021 ceasefire too is a reiteration of the 1971 ceasefire agreement.
- A ceasefire does not observe itself, rather it requires a clearly articulated and mutually-agreed upon set of rules and norms for effective observance along with an intent to observe them.
- The February ceasefire is an expression of such an intent, but without the rules and norms to enforce it.
- The Simla Agreement or the Suchetgarh Agreement do not have those rules either.
- The Karachi Agreement, on the other hand, has clearly laid down provisions on how to manage the CFL which, of course, was overtaken by the LoC.
- Therefore, armed forces deployed on either side of the LoC in Kashmir often have to resort to the strictures enshrined in the long-defunct Karachi Agreement to observe the ceasefire mandated by the Simla Agreement.
NEXT LOGICAL STEP
Now that a joint ceasefire has been declared, the next logical step is to arrive at a set of rules to govern that ceasefire, simultaneously engaging with each other to find the probable solution for peace at the border.