Indo-Pak truce agreement a significant moment


The latest truce agreement between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors is a significant moment in the tumultuous history of the bilateral tensions. However, the sudden change in Islamabad’s commitment towards maintaining peace along the border should not lull New Delhi into complacence nor is there is any compelling reason to believe that the hostile neighbour has abandoned its long-held policy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It must be remembered that Pakistan is coming under intense international scrutiny for its continued support to terrorist outfits operating from its soil. The country continues to remain on the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog on terror funding, because it has failed to implement the action plan to check terror financing and money laundering. After India revoked the special status of Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019, Pakistan reiterated that its precondition for dialogue was a rollback of the decisions on Kashmir. It is unclear if the latest commitment to ‘strictly observe’ the truce along the LoC means that Islamabad has revised its stand. The latest agreement is essentially a re-commitment to the 2003 truce agreement worked out by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf. Since then, the ceasefire has broken down periodically. In 2020 alone, there were 5,000 ceasefire violations by Pakistan, leading to the deaths of civilians. This year, over 300 violations have taken place so far.

There has been a virtual freeze in the bilateral relations since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Every conciliatory gesture by India was met with Pakistan-sponsored terror strikes. It is an undeniable fact that many of the ceasefire violations by Pakistan were aimed at providing cover to infiltrating militants. However, the latest truce agreement may, hopefully, lead to a significant drop in infiltration attempts and go some way in meeting a key Indian demand on cross-border terrorism. After the 2016 Uri attack, India carried out surgical strikes across the LoC. In February 2019, another ceasefire agreement blew up with Pulwama, with the Balakot strike raising the stakes for Pakistan for terrorism directed at India. For Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is fundamental to its politics and religious identity while for India, terrorism emanating from Pakistan is the fundamental issue. After the constitutional changes in J&K, the Kashmir issue is no longer on the table. While it is a positive development that some back-channel contacts had taken place leading to the agreement at the DGMOs (Director General of Military Operations) level, India needs to proceed in a measured and cautious manner, given the past experiences, and keenly observe how serious the Pakistani military bosses are about ending terrorism irrevocably.

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