NEW DELHI: The call came from the Pakistani side, which set the ball rolling on the
The first sign that some degree of softness had crept in between India and
came with a virtual meeting on Covid-19 management held on February 18, where Pakistan was represented by Faisal Sultan,
’s special assistant on health, who, unusually, did not raise the
, as has been the norm with Pak officials.
This week, India allowed Imran Khan’s special aircraft to fly over Indian airspace, as he travelled to
. In Colombo, a more mellow Khan said, “Our only dispute is
and it can only be resolved through dialogue.”
It’s too early to say whether peace is breaking out over the subcontinent, but if the two sides adhere to the ceasefire, it has the limited effect of giving forces on both sides a breather.
Although infiltration has come down in the past year, ceasefire violations have been fairly
. In recent days, Pakistani officials have also complained about civilian deaths.
The immediate goal of the ceasefire agreement is to bring down the use of heavy artillery at the LOC, work out a method to identify civilians on either side. This is particularly hard for the Indian side, because Pakistan has been in the habit of both sending civilians to the frontline as well as infiltrating terrorists.
Former envoy to Pakistan, Gautam Bambawale said, “Intentions on both sides seem positive, but we will have to see if it translates into reality on the ground.”
The MEA reacted coolly to the development. “India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan. We have always maintained that we are committed to addressing issues, if any, in a peaceful bilateral manner,” Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson, said. On the key issues, he said, India’s position has not changed.
Neither has Pakistan’s. On Kashmir Day on February 5, Pak army chief Gen Bajwa, offering to extend a hand of peace in all directions, said, “Pakistan and India must also resolve the longstanding issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a dignified and peaceful manner as per the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and bring this human tragedy to its logical conclusion,” he stressed.
Pakistan analyst, Sushant Sareen took a more realistic view of the developments. “The ceasefire joint statement is a badly drafted document and badly timed. The high-on-verbiage document is unlikely to endure beyond this summer. Already there are indications Pakistan is going to ramp up its export of terrorism in J&K. There are reports of magnetic bombs making an entry in the UT. These bombs have been wreaking havoc in
and now could do the same in J&K. The source of this munition is of course Pakistan.”
The DGMO joint statement said, “In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.” This, top sources clarified, would be limited to keeping the LOC quieter. Its unlikely yet that it could lead to resumptions of peace dialogue just yet.