Can India Pakistan return to negotiation table? Shafaqna Special

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India and Pakistan issued a joint statement saying both sides have agreed to stop firing along their disputed border in Kashmir starting Thursday. The director generals of military operations for the two countries held discussions where they reviewed the situation along the Line of Control – the de facto border between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir – in a “free, frank and cordial atmosphere,” according to the statement posted by India.

According to the Pakistan army, there have been13,500 ceasefire violations since 2003 which have claimed the lives of 310 citizens and injured 1,600. Last year in 2020, there have a staggering 2,900 ceasefire violations by Indian forces in which 33 civilians were martyred and 260 were injured along with loss to property.

Despite the hostile Indian forces, both sides should realize that dialogue is the only way forward to the peaceful resolution of all disputes including Kashmir. Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he had approached India immediately for dialogue after coming to power and remains optimistic that better sense will prevail but found no response from Modi.

Islamabad has been clear on its vision for a cooperative and mutually prosperous region. For that, Delhi needs to move past its policy of subversive activities both within and against Pakistan. Perhaps the PM’s recent visit to Sri Lanka and reiterating our commitment to development and economic success was the catalyst for this dialogue. Or it could be Pakistan’s successful efforts to beat back any adventurous attempts from India. Either way, we stand vindicated.

This is not the first time that India and Pakistan have agreed to maintain ceasefire along the border. There has also been hotline contact since 1987 but the agreement has been violated on numerous occasions and both sides have often again sparred over the border. Both sides should agree to abide by the agreement in letter and spirit before it further escalates.

The agreement comes just before the anniversary of the purported Balakot strike and the humbling Indian forces received in 2019 for violating territorial sovereignty. The peace overture at this juncture when both the countries are looking hostile may help to maintain peace in the future. This contact may pave way for future dialogue between the two rival counties. US has also welcomed this move but more than welcoming Joe Biden administration must work to bring both the countries to negotiation table.

Shafaqna Pakistan

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