Saturday, April 10, 2021

India, Pakistan militaries agree to Kashmir border truce in rare joint statement

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between the neighbours, which both claim the region in full but rule only parts.

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The militaries of India and Pakistan said in a rare joint statement on Thursday that they have now agreed to observe a ceasefire along their disputed border in Kashmir.

In recent months they have exchanged fire hundreds of times.

“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors,” the joint statement said.

The nuclear-armed neighbours signed a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kashmir region in 2003, but recently there have been armed clashes and mounting casualties among villagers living close to the de facto border.

There has been a significant increase in ceasefire violations since 2014, leading to nearly 300 civilian fatalities, a source in the Pakistan military said.

“In just two months this year, there have been 253 ceasefire violations in which eight civilians were wounded,” the source said.

Since the start of the year, India had counted 591 violations by Pakistan.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between the neighbours, which both claim the region in full but rule only parts.

Tensions were renewed after New Delhi withdrew the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir state in August 2019 and split it into two federally administered territories.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the violence levels and tensions along the LoC will come down,” an Indian official in New Delhi told Reuters, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Politicians in Indian Kashmir said they welcomed the commitment to return to a ceasefire, one of the few signs of cooperation in recent years between the neighbours who have fought three full-scale wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Kashmiri politician Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “Dialogue is the only way forward if both countries want to stop the unending cycle of violence & bloodshed across the borders.”

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