LoC ceasefire agreement


In a very welcome development, Pakistan and India have recommitted themselves to the 2003 ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control (LoC) and also agreed to address “core issues” that continue to undermine peace and stability between them. This pleasant surprise was announced through a joint statement by the militaries of both countries. It turns out that thaw came about as a result of a “hotline contact” between their directors general military operations (DGMOs), yet the jury is still out on what, or who, actually got the ball rolling. It would have taken considerable diplomatic back-and-forth, after all, before the matter got to the point that the DGMOs could issue the statement.
The chatter dominating the press in both countries so far is hinting at back-channel talks, even though Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yousaf has denied speculation in the Indian media that he and his Indian counterpart engineered this ceasefire behind the scenes. Comments from the US State Department, however, are more revealing. For not only has the Biden administration appreciated the ceasefire, and also advised Islamabad and Delhi to initiate direct talks (which vindicates the former’s position), but its spokesperson Ned Price also said in very clear terms that the US government had demanded from both sides to defuse tension along the LoC. So it could be that it wasn’t some behind-the-scenes talks that led to this de-escalation, but a back-channel crack of the whip from Washington that got the Modi administration to fall in line so suddenly.
Still, welcome though this development is, it’s too early to count it as a complete success. The DGMO hotline was established as far back as 1971, and except for a few years when regular contact helped keep hostility in check, it hasn’t really worked out as intended. Things have been particularly bad since the BJP came back to power under Modi in 2014, of course, even though Pakistan has extended the hand of peace time and again. Yet the good thing is that the international community is now seemingly involving itself much more than before, which goes to the credit of the PTI government in Islamabad. Surely it’s more than a coincidence that India has finally agreed to address core issues just when the US is pushing for direct talks between the two countries; something that Delhi has vehemently avoided in the conflict so far. So just how durable this pleasant surprise is will become apparent sooner rather than later.