New Delhi: India and Pakistan have agreed to observe a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), which could pave the way for diplomatic and political-level talks between the two countries after a hiatus.
India and Pakistan had signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003. That was the period when India-Pak talks met a roadblock in the wake of the Kargil War, failed Agra summit, and the Parliament attack. There were also apprehensions over the SAARC Summit, which was to be held in Islamabad in January 2004.
In this scenario, the Indian and Pakistan militaries had then agreed for the ceasefire along the LoC and Siachen. Based on this pact, diplomatic-level talks were held, paving way for the then-Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's Islamabad visit for the SAARC summit.
In the parallel talks held with the Pak leadership during the summit, Pakistan gave an assurance that they would not allow their territory to be used to carry out terror operations against India. The Indo-Pak ties also improved subsequently.
Apart from restoring the Samjhauta Express train service and the Lahore-Delhi bus service, more transportation facilities were made available along the LoC and international border during that time. However, the peace process was hit by the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Still diplomatic and political-level interventions continued during multilateral summits.
In 2014, the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in India for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister. Then Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore, while on his way back from Kabul, and met Sharif. This was expected to strengthen the ties between both the countries.
However, Pak High Commissioner held ‘consultations’ with the separatist leaders from Kashmir ahead of the talks to be held in Delhi, provoking India. Talks were soon called off.
And since then, the ceasefire agreement, which had been in existence from 2003 with rare violations, was hardly followed. Then terrorists struck in Pathankot, Uri and in Pulwama. India carried out retaliatory airstrikes in Balakot within Pakistan in late February 2019, within a fortnight of the Pulwama attack. The pact, which was thus derailed, is now being restored.
The 2003 ceasefire agreement was observed without any violations only in one area - Siachen. For 18 years, both Armies have not resorted to any serious military provocations.
India and Pakistan share a total of 3,323 km of border, including the LoC and the International Border (IB). Of this, 961 km is in Jammu and Kashmir (LoC 740 km & IB 221 km).